Then he proceeded to demolish the opposition, in the Racing Post Trophy and, suddenly, there were those who believed another Sea The Stars had been born.
That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but one has to say there is a real possibility of St Nicholas Abbey heading down a similar road to the great one all the same.
The son of Montjeu is being quoted at short enough prices for both the 2000 Guineas and Derby, but the more you look at it the more you realise the layers really have no other choice. I mean, Aidan O’Brien took first and second in the Dewhurst at Newmarket with well-exposed Beeethoven and the Dundalk maiden winner, Fencing Master, but not too many think they are top-of-the-range at Ballydoyle.
Steinbeck was fourth, following a long absence, and, I suppose, most of us think he is the best of that trio.
The real point is the English juveniles look poor and the Racing Post Trophy offered more evidence of that.
And outside of those housed at Ballydoyle, you would be scrambling to think of a top-notcher anywhere else in this country.
Certainly, I’m struggling to put forward any two-year-old of note trained by the likes of John Oxx, Jim Bolger, Dermot Weld or Kevin Prendergast.
Right now next year’s classics have all the appearance of a Ballydoyle benefit! Added to St Nicholas Abbey, they have Jan Vermeer, the aforementioned Steinbeck, Midas Touch and Cape Blanco. I’ll tell you what, if Aidan O’Brien only runs one horse in the 2000 Guineas and the Derby, we can sell out.
* THE National Hunt campaign is now in full flow and so are the bookmakers’ representatives. A horse literally only has to leave his yard for them to hit top gear, waving their bits of paper around. I realise they have a job to do and are largely in the PR business, attempting to get as much publicity as possible for their respective companies.
But what really gets under your skin is that most of the firms they represent wouldn’t lay eggs.
Quite frankly, I’ve heard some horror stories this week, with punters being knocked back for wagers that any self-respecting bookmaker should be happy to lay.
They were waving the bits of paper again, and using their electronic gadgets, after Dunguib had made a winning debut over flights at Galway on Sunday.
The idea that anyone should take the slightest notice of their mutterings, regarding Dunguib and his Cheltenham prospects, in the wake of that success, was laughable.
All this moderate contest told us about Philip Fenton’s charge was that he was alive and well and still had four legs.
He coasted through a terrible race and was able to score hard-held, doing half-speed. He remains a terrific talent, but let’s not get carried away for the moment.
You had to be disappointed with Pandorama at Punchestown on Tuesday and the overall evidence now is that he seems to be nowhere near as good as was originally thought.
Certainly, the manner in which he continually jumped away to the left wouldn’t make you feel too comfortable backing him travelling right-handed in the future.
* I HAVE to confess to a feeling of great sadness at the possibility of Thurles racecourse closing at some stage in the future.
As one who couldn’t give a toss about facilities, Thurles has long been a favourite track of mine.
But there seems no doubt it will close, should The Tipperary Venue finally come to fruition.
Mind you that ambitious project has a very long road to travel, so we will have to await developments in the coming months.
* AFTER Ruby Walsh had tasted defeat for the fourth time at Chepstow on Saturday, a Paddy Power punter was heard to mutter the words: “Ruby is f... altogether.” Oh Willie what will we do with you!