Kieren Fallon was glowing in his praise after Ivan Denisovich powered to an impressive victory in the TNT July Stakes at Newmaket on Wednesday.
The rider, who was initiating a big-race double on the day, brought the winner with a late challenge on the outside in the final half-furlong to score in good style.
The 7-2 chance won by two lengths from Northern Empire, with long-time leader Black Charmer just a further short-head away in a bunch finish for the placings.
Fallon was in no doubt about the winner’s ability, saying: “I was further back than I wanted to be. He got shuffled back early, but he’s picked up really good. He just idled when he hit the front – he’s still a big baby.
“I’ve always liked him. He should have run in the Coventry and I think he would have won it. He has got a big future.”
Aidan O’Brien now trains five of the first six horses in the betting for next year’s 2000 Guineas – but the question is which one is the stable’s number one hope.
Bookmakers were left to draw their own conclusions on the performance, totesport and Coral making Ivan Denisovich their new 12-1 favourite for the colts’ Classic, while Ladbrokes and Cashmans offer 25-1, keeping stablemate George Washington at the top of their lists.
O’Brien, who suggested that York’s Gimcrack Stakes could be a possible target, said: “We shan’t be in any panic now because he has had three quick runs, but he will be back for something at the end of the season,” he said.
“He’s a real athlete, full of life and really bubbly.
“He was very green first time at Newbury, but Kieren liked him a lot and sure enough he won very easily at Leopardstown.
“I know you’ll think I’m just saying it, but there wouldn’t be a line between them (the winner and George Washington) at the moment. They’re both nice horses and Group Two winners, but they’re on two different programmes.
“They are two nice two-year-olds and we have got a good team this season, although it’s early enough to be saying that and there are still plenty to run.”
Howard Johnson’s Original Source was a tailed-off last after running away with jockey Robert Winston on the way to the six-furlong start, while favourite Red Clubs, the winner of the Coventry Stakes, also proved a major disappointment.
The 2-1 chance never travelled well under Michael Hills and faded from the two-furlong pole to finish in seventh.
Peter Chapple-Hyam has the Ladbrokes St Leger in his sights with Mr Vegas after the well-backed favourite made all for a convincing success in the Bahrain Trophy.
Having found only Melrose Avenue too strong at the Royal meeting, the Montjeu colt managed to go one better in landing the Listed race at Headquarters by two and a half lengths.
With only three rivals, Mr Vegas was backed to the exclusion of everything else, being sent off the 2-7 market leader and kicking on at the two-furlong marker under Alan Munro to easily beat his main rival, the imposing grey Detroit City.
“He is still a big baby and will be much better next year,” said Chapple-Hyam. “He was shattered after York, but if all goes well he could run in the Great Voltigeur.
“Whatever happens though, he will be going to the St Leger – that is his big aim.”
Paddy Power left Mr Vegas unchanged at 20-1 for the final Classic of the season on September 10.
Danehill Willy surprised trainer Neville Callaghan when relishing the ground to record a 20-1 shock in the Blandford Bloodstock Joss Collins Stakes.
“I didn’t think that softer ground would help so I am delighted with his performance,” said the trainer.
“He is a nice staying horse and Tom Mohan that owns him also owns Hazyview and has a horse with Jonjo O’Neill. That was marvellous and was definitely his best performance to date.
“I’ve no idea where he will go next as today was a hard enough race. Blandford Bloodstock, who sponsored this race, do a lot of work for us at the yard so it is a dream to win their race.”
Champion National Hunt trainer Martin Pipe is not resting on his laurels during the summer and with the appropriately-named Jimmy Fortune aboard, captured the Gist Handicap from with Fortune Island, who scored by two lengths from Race The Ace.
“He just seemed to have lost his form, though he did win over hurdles last season at Hereford,” Craig Wylie, travelling head lad to Pipe, said of the 33-1 winner.
“He has got ability, though. A couple of years ago he won the Queen’s Prize and was well fancied for the Chester Cup, but he ran disappointingly and has shown nothing on the Flat this year.”
Richard Hannon again displayed his juvenile firepower as Mutawajid got off the mark at the third time of asking in the Capannelle Racecourse EBF Novice Stakes, giving the Lambourn handler his second two-year-old winner of the three-day July meeting.
With Classic FM sponsoring the whole afternoon, the closing five-furlong handicap was named in their honour and it was left to recent Newcastle winner Sierra Vista to take her second race in 11 days and hold off the challenge of favourite Tony The Tap.