HOW good, collectively, were this year’s Classic winners in the UK? Analyst ANDY STEPHENS of Racing UK gives his views.
The Classic class of 2017 were well up to standard. Not quite a vintage crew, perhaps, but collectively they produced a set of worthy champions who have to rate as being well above average with the promise of more to come from them over the closing weeks of the campaign.
Outstanding among the quintet was Enable (headline photo), the runaway Investec Oaks winner. Would she have won the Derby had she instead run against the colts? Probably. Would she have won the St Leger had connections wanted to take that path? Almost certainly.
She single-handedly prevented Aidan O’Brien winning all the Classics in England and Ireland this year (I reckon he would have settled for eight out of ten at the start of the year) and has to be the best Oaks winner we have seen for many years.
Winter has also shone throughout the year, following up her smooth QIPCO 1,000 Guineas success with victories in the Irish equivalent, Coronation Stakes and Nassau Stakes.
Her winning run was halted when pipped in the Matron Stakes last time, having missed some work beforehand, but, like Enable, she has shown herself to be anything but a one-hit wonder.
The Investec Derby was one of the most exciting races run all year but, sadly, the winner, Wings Of Eagles, was injured when narrowly beaten in the Irish version next time. He seems destined to be remembered as a fluke 40-1 victor, even though he won on merit on the Downs and almost followed up at the Curragh when effectively running on three legs.
The St Leger was a thriller and the right horses came to the fore with Capri, the Irish Derby winner, repelling market rivals Crystal Ocean and Stradivarius in a stirring finish.