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City Of Troy

October 17th, 2023 | Marten's Current Racing Diary

Hi there,

Well you don’t need me to tell you that the big talking point over the weekend was the performance of City Of Troy in the Dewhurst Stakes, with plenty of discussion afterwards about the relative merits of the colt in comparison with some of the great names of the past, most notably Frankel.

The son of Justify is now down to 2.02 with Betfair for the 2000 Guineas, and a top price of Evens with the bookmakers but shortest, perhaps significantly, with BetVictor at 4/5.

I say significantly because this is the firm in which Michael Tabor, joint-owner of City Of Troy, holds a controlling interest. He clearly does not want anyone backing the horse with him.

We are all aware that there was something of the ‘wow factor’ about the colt’s performance on Saturday but what facts can we draw from the victory?

Well with a BHA rating of 118 before the race, he beat the 107-rated runner-up Alyanaabi by three and a half lengths, which at 2lbs a length over the 7f trip equates to 7lbs. That suggests he ran to a mark of 114, assuming the second reproduced his figure.

The third Eben Shaddad, beaten four and a half lengths, was rated on 98 which would put the winner on just 107, but in reality it is much more likely that John Gosden’s colt ran above his mark.

Henry Adams, rated 108 in fourth, was beaten six lengths putting the winner on 120. I think we can assume Iberian, rated on 110, ran below that having been very weak in the market beforehand.

Haatem, beaten six and a half lengths in the Superlative Stakes, finished eight and half lengths behind him on Saturday. This represented an improvement of 4lbs by the winner.

Taking all these collateral lines into account, I would suggest that City Of Troy did not have to reproduce his figure to win. He has, though, been raised 7lbs, from 118 to 125.

The time of 1m 24.85 was decent, compared with the 1m 27.79 put in by the nursery winner Fair Angellica with 8lbs less later in the day. There were four races over the same distance on Friday, with times of 1m 25.28, 1m 26.08, 1m 28.38 and 1m 28.60, so his was quite comfortably the fastest.

Second, Aidan O’Brien insists the colt would not have been suited to the soft ground, having withdrawn him from the National Stakes last month at the Curragh in what were probably less demanding conditions.

The ground was good to soft when he won the Superlative Stakes on the July Course, so the evidence suggests that he can attain a high level of form on easy ground and it is pure conjecture to assume he will be better on a quicker surface. His sire won two Grade 1 races on sloppy ground, albeit on the dirt.

Third, we have the ratings of Aidan O’Brien’s previous top juveniles to compare him with. Johannesburg was on 126, Fasliyev was on 125, Air Force Blue, George Washington, St Nicholas Abbey and Little Big Bear were on 124. Of these, only George Washington went on to win the Guineas.

From his new mark of 125, City Of Troy is rated 1lb behind Johannesburg so, on BHA figures, he is not the best two-year-old that Aidan O’Brien has trained.

Regarding the colt’s style of racing, Ryan Moore rides him in the manner of a galloper who lengthens rather than a cruiser with an instant turn of foot. On each of his three runs there have been a few strides where the jockey has had to urge him to lengthen and the response has not been immediate. Dancing Brave was similar – he also took a few strides to get going.

The colt’s pedigree is interesting. His full brother Bertinelli ran just five times, winning twice at a mile and 1m 2f and running third in the King George Vth Handicap at Royal Ascot – his sole start over a mile and a half.

His half-brother Military Style, by War Front, never ran beyond 1m 1f. His other half-brothers, also by War Front, were Absolute Ruler, who won a maiden hurdle and a 1m maiden as a two-year-old, and King Of Athens, a winner over 7f at two and untried beyond a mile.

City Of Troy is by far and away the best from the family to date but he is not entirely certain to stay a mile and a half, or at least not at the top level. He has been ridden up with the pace on his three starts to date and that would be an unlikely tactic over the Derby trip. It would, though, be fine at Newmarket.

I am not willing to get into discussion about comparisons with Frankel, despite the subject being raised in the aftermath of Saturday’s race by Michael Tabor. Henry Cecil’s star retired unbeaten in 14 races with a BHA rating of 140, so this is something for further down the line.

What I will say is that both colts race in a similar way, but Frankel was never tried over a mile and half, whereas City Of Troy will possibly be aimed at the Triple Crown.

From a betting perspective I cannot advocate an interest at the current price for the Guineas or for the Derby at 5/2. I have said over the last few weeks that I expect the late-autumn maidens and AW season to yield a few humdingers, while Godolphin showed their hand over the weekend with Group 3 victories for Ancient Wisdom, Arabian Crown and Dance Sequence. The first two are bred to stay the Derby trip.

Looking back to how the weekend went for Daily Bulletin subscribers I nominated just four selections, two placed, but I was annoyed at talking myself out of selecting The Shunter. I was discouraged by market weakness in the morning despite having been keen on him all week, especially when the rain arrived. In the end the race was despatched to the ‘too difficult tray’ which is where, in truth, it belonged.

We have another big day on Saturday, with Qipco Champions’ Day at Ascot. The card features four Group 1s and a Group 2 and, as you would expect, I am writing a Daily Bulletin for the meeting. Please refer to the shop or contact Rebecca to make an order (rebecca@martenjulian.com). The service will also continue for major meetings through the jumps season.

Bye for now

Marten