No potential superstar among Ballydoyle’s juveniles — yet!

This is a big weekend for Ballydoyle and not just with Australia.

Let’s not worry too much about Australia, he will take care of himself, but what I have in mind is Ballydoyle’s failure so far this season to unearth what might be described as a top two-year-old in the making.

They took, presumably, what are currently regarded as their best juveniles to Royal Ascot and they were all blown out of the water.

War Envoy contested the Group 2 Coventry Stakes and ran no sort of race, although easy enough to back at a returned price of 11-2.

However well fancied, or not, War Envoy was, he hardly raised a gallop to finish ninth of 15 behind John Quinn’s The Wow Signal.

In contrast there appeared to be huge confidence behind The Great War in the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes.

Essentially, he was backed as if defeat was out of the question, going off a really tight 5-6 shot.

Again, though, he was sunk without trace, basically buckling when Joseph O’Brien applied maximum pressure.

The Great War was going nowhere through the final furlong, trailing in fifth of nine behind Richard Hannon’s Baitha Alga.

Then there was Dick Whittington, who left the gate as the 15-8 favourite to win the Listed Chesham Stakes.

But he too was well beaten, finishing four lengths third to John Gosden’s impressive Richard Pankhurst.

So does this mean that Ballydoyle have modest two-year-olds and are likely to struggle when it comes to the classics next season?

It’s a possibility, of course, but highly unlikely. The Ballydoyle sample thus far is quite simply far too small to be drawing any wild conclusions.

What we do know, though, is the juveniles that have represented Ballydoyle up to now are no great shakes.

But have no doubt there are scores and scores more to make an appearance in the coming weeks and, indeed, months.

The Curragh this weekend could reveal an entirely different tale. After all it was Derby weekend last year, the Sunday, when Australia was first introduced to the public.

What did those hawking Bless N’ject on Betfair at Kilbeggan on Monday night, think they knew that us mere mortals didn’t?

On all known form Bless N’ject had an outstanding chance in this modest three-mile novice hurdle and you felt the layers in the morning had got it just about right with 5-4 and 11-8 available.

But come that night such offers became almost laughable. Those who wanted to lay him on Betfair had no hesitation going as high as 3.8, which is marginally better than 11-4.

Driven by Betfair, Bless N’ject was returned at 9-4 and, on what we knew of the horse, and the opposition, there was real value to be had just about everywhere.

They say if something walks like a duck and quacks like a duck then the chances are it is a duck.

Well, all you could say about Bless N’ject was that he performed like a duck. He ran a stinker to finish 18 lengths fifth behind King Leon.

Bless N’ject is a nine-year-old now, has obviously had problems along the way and, admittedly, has never been the most reliable.

But he did come into the Kilbeggan contest on the back of a reasonable effort when beating subsequent winner, Star Power, at Punchestown.

There could, of course, be loads of reasons as to why he ran so badly the other night, it is just the notion some Betfair clients appear to have anticipated such an insipid display that was a bit puzzling.

Of course, there is also the possibility that those laying the horse read this far better than the rest of us. Doesn’t bear thinking about!

You almost felt like crying watching the richly endowed Magners’ Ulster Derby at Down Royal last Saturday.

When the race was over — won by Jim Bolger’s Wexford Town — the overwhelming feeling was what a waste of money.

Oh and thank God that no member of the government, on whom this industry relies for handouts, was watching!

Last year the race was open to three-year-olds and upwards. There were 14 starters, it was won by the six-year-old, Sir Ector, and no three-year-old actually ran.

Last Saturday the contest was confined to three-year-olds, perhaps to emphasise that this was after all a ‘Derby’. Oh dear!

On this occasion there were nine runners, with bookmakers having to go 9-2 the field to attract any custom.

It was a €100,000 race and, you suspect, the same motley bunch of horses would have turned up for a third of the money.

In the end it was Wexford Town who delivered and lucky connections took home a whopping €60,000. What a great country!

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