Click above to watch Toronado winning the Champagne Stakes (Gr2)
(Photo : The Guardian - Footage : At The Races)
CHAMPAGNE STAKES (Gr2)
Doncaster, Turf, 1408m
15 September 2012
On the face of it, the hitherto unbeaten colt Dundonnell, who like Frankel belongs to Prince Khalid Abdullah, looked like the top English juvenile seen out thus far. As a result, they went to Doncaster on Saturday for the long-honoured Champagne Stakes (Gr.2) with Dundonnel as the 5-6 favourite, and the outcome, like Camelot’sTriple Crown bid, was thought to be a formality. Nobody had factored in another unbeaten colt, Toronado though, who like our own new stallion acquisition, Golden Sword, shares a fatherly connection in their sire High Chaparral.
We shouldn’t forget at this stage, that High Chaparral became the first stallion since his own illustrious sire, Sadler’s Wells, to get six Group One winners in his first crop, so this is not altogether unexpected, though you wouldn’t associate him necessarily with precocious two-year-olds, and while this fellow is obviously already very good, it seems he will be better next year.
Allowed to stride to the front from the gate, Toronado was able to wind up the tempo to suit himself, and despite the looming presence of the giant favourite inside the final furlong, stayed in control for the drive to the line. “I’ve always thought he was a good horse, but I can only go on feel, and today he’s proved it” jockey Richard Hughes commented. “I was in a ‘catch twenty two situation’, as this horse needs a mile, but I wasn’t going to go fast enough to set it up for the rest, yet at the same time not going that fast, wouldn’t suit me either. He has a lovely way of galloping, a beautiful action and it’s a pleasure to be on him”. Trainer Richard Hannon Jnr elaborated “He did it very well, and he’s a lovely big horse who will grow into himself and will be one for next year”. It seems his next target will be the Racing Post Trophy (Gr.1) at Doncaster, which has been the forerunner to a stream of Derby winners in Galileo, High Chaparral, Sir Percy, Motivator, Sea The Stars, Workforce, Pour Moi and Camelot in recent times.