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Five new potential stars in the 2017 Champions Series

5 Jan 2017

We pinpoint a handful of three-year-olds expected to shine this year

Could Churchill be one of the big players in the 2017 Champions Series? Picture: Racingfotos.com

CARAVAGGIO
Trainer
: Aidan O’Brien
Form as a two-year-old: 1111
Caravaggio ended his juvenile campaign with a flawless record. Four runs, four wins and a glowing endorsement from Aidan O’Brien, who says he has never trained a faster horse.

Before Caravaggio won the Group 1 Keeneland Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh in August by four lengths at odds of 1-8 he had apparently clocked 45mph on the gallops. “No horse in Ballydoyle has ever been able to do that,” O’Brien said. “He’s the fastest we have ever had.”

Unfortunately, Caravaggio suffered a minor setback after his win in the Phoenix Stakes and did not run again. Before that he had won at Dundalk and the Curragh (both over five furlongs), plus in excellent fashion at Royal Ascot in the Coventry Stakes over 6f.

His programme for 2017 seems undecided. The son of Scat Daddy is a general 7-1 for the QIPCO 2000 Guineas but will he stay a mile? He is 4-1 favourite for the Commonwealth Cup, run over six furlongs at Royal Ascot in June.

Caravaggio

CARAVAGGIO and Seamus Heffernan easily win the Keeneland Phoenix Stakes (Group 1). Photo Healy Racing / Racingfotos.com

CHURCHILL
Trainer
: Aidan O’Brien
Form as a two-year-old: 311111
Heads the ante-post market for the QIPCO 2000 Guineas and Investec Derby after chalking up two Group 1 triumphs among his five victories as a two-year-old.

The Galileo colt signed off an excellent first season with a length and a quarter victory over Lancaster Bomber, his stablemate, in the Dubai Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket, having previously been a runaway winner of the National Stakes at the Curragh.

Before those victories at the highest level, he had won at Royal Ascot (Chesham Stakes), Leopardstown (in a Group 3) and the Curragh (Group Two).

All his wins have been achieved over 7f but he should have no trouble staying at least a mile, reflected by him being a best-priced 6-4 for the Guineas. He is 6-1 for the Derby.

Churchill and Ryan Moore after winning The Dubai Dewhurst Stakes Newmarket 8.10.16 Pic Dan Abraham-racingfotos.com THIS IMAGE IS SOURCED FROM AND MUST BE BYLINED "RACINGFOTOS.COM"

Churchill and Ryan Moore after winning The Dubai Dewhurst Stakes. Pic Dan Abraham-racingfotos.com

CRACKSMAN
Trainer
: John Gosden
Form as a two-year-old: 1
Frankel’s offspring excelled in their first year on the racecourse and Cracksman is among his sons and daughters who look to have a bright future.

He made his debut four days after QIPCO British Champions Day – over a mile at Newmarket on October 19 – and made a deep impression in beating his nine rivals.

Sent off at 9-2 after late market support, Cracksman came through from off the pace and stayed on well to win by a length and a quarter.

He attracted quotes for the QIPCO 2000 Guineas but John Gosden suggested ten furlongs or farther will suit him better. He is 33-1 to give Anthony Oppenheimer, his owner, a second Derby winner after Golden Horn.

CRACKSMAN (Robert Havlin) wins The Breeders Supporting Racing EBF Maiden Stakes Newmarket 19 Oct 2016 - Pic Steven Cargill / Racingfotos.com THIS IMAGE IS SOURCED FROM AND MUST BE BYLINED "RACINGFOTOS.COM"

CRACKSMAN (Robert Havlin) wins The Breeders Supporting Racing EBF Maiden Stakes Newmarket Pic Steven Cargill / Racingfotos.com

LADY AURELIA
Trainer
: Wesley Ward
Form as a two-year-old: 1113
One of the most breathtaking performances of last year was Lady Aurelia’s scintillating success in the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Trained by Wesley Ward in America, the young raider showed fantastic pace from start to finish to win easily by seven lengths under Frankie Dettori in a time that was rapid given the softish ground.

Lady Aurelia followed up in the Group 1 Prix Morny over 6f at Deauville but was less impressive in winning by under a length.

She then returned to British shores for the Connolly’s Red Mills Cheveley Park Stakes and again showed lots of pace before fading to finish third.

Ward remains adamant she will be fully effective over 6f – he believes removing her usual blinkers will help – and intends running her in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot. She is priced between 7-1 and 14-1 for it.

Lady Aurelia and Frankie Dettori winning The Queen Mary Stakes Royal Ascot 15.6.16 Pic Dan Abraham-racingfotos.com THIS IMAGE IS SOURCED FROM AND MUST BE BYLINED "RACINGFOTOS.COM"

Lady Aurelia and Frankie Dettori winning The Queen Mary Stakes. Pic Dan Abraham-racingfotos.com

RHODODENDRON
Trainer
: Aidan O’Brien
Form as a two-year-old: 21131
Aidan O’Brien dominated 2016 – landing ten QIPCO British Champions Series races and scooping more than £8 million in prize money on his way to becoming champion trainer for a fifth time.

We’ve already highlighted possible new Series stars for him this year in Caravaggio and Churchill – and then there is Rhododendron. She bloomed in the autumn; impressing when beating Hydrangea two and a half lengths in the Dubai Fillies’ Mile with the rest well adrift.

Minding won that race for the stable before winning the QIPCO 1000 Guineas and Investec Oaks, and Rhododendron is among the market leaders for both races. The daughter of Galileo is a general 9-2 to win at Newmarket in May and is a standout 12-1 with Coral for the Oaks.

Rhododendron and Ryan Moore win the Dubai Fillies Mile at Newmarket. 7/10/2016 Pic Steve Davies/Racingfotos.com THIS IMAGE IS SOURCED FROM AND MUST BE BYLINED "RACINGFOTOS.COM"

Rhododendron and Ryan Moore win the Dubai Fillies Mile at Newmarket. 7/10/2016 Pic Steve Davies/Racingfotos.com