TDN Weekend

Churchill Is Champion 2-Year-Old

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Churchill | Racing Post

Churchill (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}), the favourite for this year’s G1 2000 Guineas, has been named Europe’s champion 2-year-old of 2016 with the release of the European 2-year-old classification. The Aidan O’Brien pupil, who becomes the ninth European champion 2-year-old for his trainer, is rated 122. The same stable topped the rankings last year with Air Force Blue (War Front) with a mark of 124, and has five of the top 10 this year.

Third on debut at The Curragh in May, Churchill broke his maiden in Royal Ascot’s Listed Chesham S. He added Leopardstown’s G3 Tyros S. a month later, and a further 30 days after that he took the G2 Futurity S. at The Curragh. He notched a first top-level score in the G1 Goffs Vincent O’Brien National S., and wrapped up the year with a 1 1/4-length score in the G1 Dubai Dewhurst S.

Mark Bird, Irish Turf Club Handicapper and delegate at the European 2-year-old meeting, recognised that Churchill’s rating is slightly below the likes of Air Force Blue, Dawn Approach (Ire) (New Approach {Ire}) (124), New Approach (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) (126) and Teofilo (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) (123)–all of whom recorded the National/Dewhurst double. Bird said, “Churchill’s final rating of 122 sits just marginally below this century’s par rating for a European Champion 2-year-old of 123. However, the progressive nature of his form allied to his obvious physical scope and impressive pedigree give rise to hope that his early career may be just the launch pad to greater success as a 3-year-old.”

Second in the rankings, and the top-rated filly, is the American-trained ‘TDN Rising Star’ Lady Aurelia (Scat Daddy) at 121. Lady Aurelia’s highest-rated performance was her seven-length win in the G2 Queen Mary S. at Royal Ascot, and the Wesley Ward charge returned to the continent to win the G1 Darley Prix Morny. She was third in the G1 Cheveley Park S. to close out her campaign.

“How Lady Aurelia will fare in 2017 is one of the more intriguing questions for the season ahead,” said British Horseracing Authority Handicapper Graeme Smith. “Neither her success in the Prix Morny nor her subsequent defeat in the Cheveley Park came close to substantiating her Royal Ascot performance in ratings terms. However, the step up to six furlongs following the Queen Mary may well have been a contributing factor and I for one am keeping an open mind with regard to her 3-year-old prospects.”

Lady Aurelia’s Cheveley Park S. conqueror Brave Anna (War Front) and her Ballydoyle stablemate Rhododendron (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) are the next highest-rated fillies at 116.

Sun Bloodstock’s G1 Jean-Luc Lagardere winner National Defense (GB) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}), trained in France by Criquette Head-Maarek, is a joint-third on the classification with a ranking of 118 with Godolphin’s Thunder Snow (Ire) (Helmet {Aus}). Trained in Newmarket by Saeed bi Suroor, Thunder Snow shipped to France to win the G1 Criterium International and is the highest British-trained horse on the list.

Click here for the complete European 2-year-old classification.

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