Tip-top two-year-olds

Helmet’s star son Thunder Snow named Britain’s leading juvenile of 2016, with high accolades for Dubawi, Shamardal and Sepoy and new recruit The Last Lion
Britain's highest-rated two-year-old of 2016, Thunder Snow (Helmet)

The European two-year-old classification for 2016, published on 24 January, certainly made pleasant reading for the Darley stallions with several of their offspring featuring among the top slots.

Helmet enjoyed an outstanding year, being the only first-season sire to record a European G1 winner in Thunder Snow and this talented colt was duly named the highest-rated juvenile in Britain, allotted a mark of 118.

Thunder Snow won in convincing fashion on his racecourse debut and from then on he raced only in Group company for Godolphin, rounding off his season with a sensational five-length win in the G1 Criterium International at Saint-Cloud.

Also topping the British division, this time the fillies, was Dubawi’s Wuheida. Charlie Appleby’s charge may have appeared on the racecourse just twice last year but she certainly made an impact, following up her maiden win at Newmarket with victory in the G1 Prix Marcel Boussac on Arc Day. This performance earned her a rating of 114.

Third behind Wuheida was Sepoy’s daughter Dabyah, beaten less than a length that day and who has now been rated 112.

Blue Point (Shamardal) and new Darley stallion The Last Lion shared joint honours in the six-furlong division, both rated 116.

Blue Point was a remarkably consistent performer last year, finishing in the first two in five of his six starts – the other being a creditable third in the G1 Dewhurst Stakes. After romping to victory in the G2 Gimcrack Stakes, Blue Point found only the The Last Lion too good in the Middle Park.

The Last Lion was himself the most reliable of horses, recording four wins, four seconds and two thirds from his ten starts, with all of his wins bar his Brocklesby victory coming in Black type company. In addition to the aforementioned G1 Middle Park Stakes, The Last Lion also won the G3 Sirenia Stakes and the Listed Dragon Stakes.

While The Last Lion will shortly begin a new career at Kildangan Stud, where he is proving very popular with breeders, there is surely plenty of excitement to look forward to on the racecourse for the talented Darley-sired quartet as they prepare for their 2017 campaigns.