Churchill, with a rating of 122, has today been announced as the ninth European champion two-year-old to be trained by Aidan O’Brien in the past 18 years as the European two-year-old Classification 2016 is published.
In winning both the Goffs Vincent O’Brien National Stakes at the Curragh and the Dubai Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket, he follows in the footsteps of previous champions Air Force Blue (124), Dawn Approach (124), New Approach (126) and Teofilo (123), all of whom won both of these races en route to becoming the continent’s leading juvenile.
Mark Bird, Irish Turf Club Handicapper and delegate at the European two-year-old meeting, said:
“Churchill’s final rating of 122 sits just marginally below this century’s par rating for a European Champion two-year-old of 123. However, the progressive nature of his form allied to his obvious physical scope and impressive pedigree give rise to hope that his early career may be just the launch pad to greater success as a three-year-old.
“As his namesake once stated, “the price of greatness is responsibility”, so we hope and expect that Churchill will live up to his reputation in 2017”.
Aidan O’Brien would also have been responsible for the top three juvenile fillies were it not for the exploits of the outstanding Lady Aurelia (121), who missed out only narrowly on being rated Europe’s first female two-year-old champion since Ravinella shared top honours with Warning back in 1987. Nevertheless, she is rated the best two-year-old filly in more than a decade, having produced one of the most memorable performances since Arazi when smashing both the opposition and the clock in the Queen Mary at Royal Ascot. That 121-rated performance is trumped only by Queen’s Logic’s 2001 success in the Cheveley Park (122) in the fillies’ division in the last 24 years.
Graeme Smith, British Horseracing Authority (BHA) Handicapper responsible for two-year-olds, said:
“How Lady Aurelia will fare in 2017 is one of the more intriguing questions for the season ahead. Neither her success in the Prix Morny nor her subsequent defeat in the Cheveley Park came close to substantiating her Royal Ascot performance in ratings terms. However, the step up to six furlongs following the Queen Mary may well have been a contributing factor and I for one am keeping an open mind with regard to her three-year-old prospects”.
Both Lady Aurelia and Churchill are hoping to return to Royal Ascot in 2017!Tickets are on sale for all five days of the greatest week in the sporting summer calendar.