By Andy Stephens
Connections of 2,000 Guineas favourite Expert Eye said on Wednesday that he would have to satisfy them over the coming weeks if he is to contest the Darley Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket on October 14.
The exciting Sir Michael Stoute-trained colt, quoted at 2-1 favourite by Paddy Power, was a dazzling four-and-a-half length winner of the Vintage Stakes at Goodwood on his latest start, having previously won in fine style on his debut at Newbury. He is a general 4-1 for the first Classic of next year.
He had been expected to put his unbeaten record on the line either in Ireland or at the Doncaster St Leger meeting but a dirty scope scuppered those plans and led to a spell on the easy list.
“Expert Eye is in good shape now, he’s coming back,” said Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to Prince Khalid Abdullah, owner of Expert Eye. “He did a little bit of work on Saturday, nothing too strenuous, and Michael (Stoute) seemed happy with him.
“He’s got to progress and please us in the next few weeks if he is going to make the Darley Dewhurst.
“Both his Vintage Stakes victory and his maiden win look like very solid form - I notice that Seahenge [the Vintage Stakes fifth] won a Group 2 last week and before that Barraquero, who was third in his maiden, also won a Group 2. But unfortunately you can’t throw the form book into the paddock.”
Also among the 45 entries for the £500,000 seven furlong showpiece is the Roger Charlton-trained Herculean, a striking debut winner at Ascot who, like Expert Eye, carries the pink, white and green silks of Abdullah.
“Herculean won his maiden nicely at Ascot first time out and it rode like a decent race,” Grimthorpe said of the Frankel colt. “He has come out of that pretty well but he is a big scopey horse and I don’t think Roger (Charlton) wants to do too much with him [this year].
“We’ll just wait for the next ten days and see where we are going with him - he is also in the Racing Post Trophy. The type of horse that he is, we are very mindful about his three-year-old career.”
Aidan O’Brien has 16 entries, spearheaded by the Group 1-winning filly, Happily; Gustav Klimt, who landed the Group 2 Superlative Stakes and the recent Group 2 Champagne Stakes winner Seahenge. Gustav Klimt is 3-1 with Paddy Power.
Jim Bolger could attempt to enhance his superb record of five Dewhurst victories in its last 11 runnings courtesy of his Group 1 National Stakes winner, Verbal Dexterity, while the Group 2 Railway Stakes winner, Beckford, trained by Gordon Elliott, is also entered.