Expert Eye, the red hot favourite for the Group 1 £500,000 Darley Dewhurst Stakes during Dubai Future Champions Festival on Saturday (14th October), looked in superb shape as he stretched his legs on the Al Bahathri gallop in Newmarket this morning.
The son of Acclamation is unbeaten in two career starts having followed an easy Newbury maiden victory with a startling four and a half length success in the Group 2 Vintage Stakes at Goodwood on 1st August. A dirty scope when beginning his preparation for an autumn campaign means that he has not raced since then.
His trainer, Sir Michael Stoute, has held a licence since 1972 but has only won the Darley Dewhurst (which is widely regarded as the best two-year-old race in Europe) on one previous occasion, way back in 1986 with Ajdal.
Stoute won the latest of his ten British Trainers Championships in 2009 but is enjoying an excellent 2017 season and, should Expert Eye justify odds-on favouritism on Saturday, will go past the £3,754,450 of British prizemoney he won in 2003 to register a new personal best for annual earnings.
Expert Eye will face a maximum of 14 opponents in Saturday’s seven furlong showpiece, most notably two Irish colts already proven at this level - the Jim Bolger-trained Group 1 National Stakes winner, Verbal Dexterity, and Aidan O’Brien’s US Navy Flag, winner of the Group 1 Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes on the Rowley Mile ten days ago.
Sir Michael Stoute, trainer of Expert Eye, said:
“Expert Eye seems in good shape. I was contemplating going to The Curragh with him but then we found a bit of an infection when we scoped him which knocked that plan out of the way. It was not so irritating, however, as I would not have wanted to run him on very bad ground in Ireland anyway.”
“I have had precocious two-year-olds in the past but I don’t seem to get them nowadays. It’s an imbalance I don’t desire but it’s a fact.”
“Now this fellow has come along and I am very happy to have him. He’s naturally precocious, very well-balanced, well developed and mature.”
“You would have to say that he’s the best two-year-old that I have had for quite a while. He’s been pretty natural from the beginning.”
“Before we ran him we knew that he was pretty smart as he has always shown speed and been very athletic. And then, when we were preparing him for Goodwood, we began to realise just how good he was – we knew that he would win there but you can never be sure about the opposition and we didn’t know that he would win in the style that he did.”
“The form has worked out but this is quite a while later. We have had plenty of time to prepare him for this so there will be no excuses.”
“The Darley Dewhurst looks a tough race. In the past we never had to go up against a battalion like Aidan’s [O’Brien’s], it’s quite incredible really.”
“Let’s just see what happens on Saturday, when Andrea Atzeni will again be riding him, but I would be surprised if he gets beyond a mile as a three-year-old.”
“I am having a resurgence. I am very happy with the way that the summer has gone – my whole team has done a great job.”