The future was of more significance than the present at venues across the codes yesterday. At Ascot, a pair of two- year-olds, Kite Wood and Amour Propre, each took a notable step up their particular ladder, the former as a Classic prospect, the latter as a sprinter. And at Chepstow, the exciting young Crack Away Jack confirmed himself a legitimate contender for the hurdling crown at Cheltenham in March.
The Derby is the light glowing over the horizon for Kite Wood after he outspeeded and outstayed another promising type, Taameer, by a length and a half in the Autumn Stakes, a mile contest that has previously spotlighted Dylan Thomas, Nayef and Daliapour.
Though Kite Wood showed a degree of tension in the preliminaries, his attitude on the track could not be faulted. He set off in front, took a length out of his rivals in the straight as soon as Philip Robinson asked, and looked most determined as he shrugged off Taameer's challenge. In some of the early Epsom markets he is now challenging Sea The Stars and Rip Van Winkle for favouritism.
The son of Galileo, owned by Thomas Barr, is trained in Newmarket by Michael Jarvis, who will wind the colt down for the winter. "He looks a really decent horse," said Jarvis, "and much more of a middle-distance type than one for the Guineas. He tends to take a fair bit out of himself in his races, so that will be it for the year."
The first winner to carry Scots businessman Barr's two-tone blue colours was the top-class hurdler Osana, runner-up in the Champion Hurdle. Kite Wood cost Barr 270,000 guineas at auction last year and he continued his commitment to the Flat at the Newmarket yearling sales last week, buying well-bred colts by Montjeu, Pivotal and Dubawi, for an aggregate 1,180,000 guineas.
Amour Propre, winner of the Cornwallis Stakes, had a rather humbler price tag last autumn – just 1,500 guineas – and earned a glowing tribute from his trainer, Henry Candy, after rocketing along the stands-side rails to take the five-furlong dash by a neck from Waffle under Dane O'Neill.
Candy has had some top sprinters through his hands, notably Kyllachy and Airwave. "This one would be potentially as good," he said of the Paris House colt. "There were no problems with him racing like he did because he goes so fast on the gallops at home he never sees another horse anyway."
Crack Away Jack is now third favourite for the Champion Hurdle, behind Katchit and Binocular, after his bold seasonal debut performance at Chepstow. Carrying top weight, the Emma Lavelle-trained four-year-old, winner of the Grade One novices' handicap at the Festival, gave 19lb and a length-and-a-quarter beating to the well-regarded Squadron.
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