Middle Park is no Middling Matter

If Pinatubo’s connections (rightly) decide to declare him for the Dewhurst next month, flat racing’s fanbase will be treated to two spectacular juvenile races within the space of a few weeks.

Regardless of who were to oppose Charlie Appleby’s freakish colt at Newmarket, the race will be one to saviour simply to witness the phenomenon first hand once again. Whether he trains on or not, he will go down in history as a special two-year-old and should not be underestimated off the back of this.

His absence from the Group One Middle Park Stakes this week has left the door open for another prodigy to emerge. It also raises a debate: is it more enjoyable to watch a superstar demolish his rivals, or to witness a titanic tussle between a group of excellent equines who may not quite be top notch?

It may, in hindsight, prove a distinct devaluation of the talents of the Middle Park field to declare them below the highest tier of juvenile. Within the line-up are three unbeaten colts, Earthlight, Mums Tipple and Siskin. The first and third are Group One winners whose form not only boasts the label of top-level success, but has a significant number of talented vanquished to suggest there is substance to it too. Meanwhile, Mums Tipple has put in a performance to rival Pinatubo, albeit in far lesser company, after an astonishing rout in a York novice contest last month.

Furthermore, three more horses in the field have been beaten by no more than two rivals. Monarch Of Egypt has fallen foul of Siskin twice, thus he has only ever lost a single individual. Elsewhere, Threat has been second in Group company twice before back-to-back successes and Lope Y Fernandez has seen Pinatubo waltz into the distance twice while only ever encountering Positive’s behind otherwise.

This is an outstanding race. Beastly performances like Pinatubo’s Ireland rout are a joy in small doses and it is wonderful to will a horse to maintain his/her unbeaten record. However, the pulse races faster when a Group One reaches a hoof-clattering crescendo with half a dozen chances still harboured within the final furlong.

I am already a huge admire of Pinatubo and long may he power clear of opponents and dazzle the thousands in Britain and Ireland. However, the Middle Park could well trump his National Stakes victory, or any of his future triumphs, for sheer spine-tingling, hair-raising thrills.

The aforementioned sextet all have their merits and selecting one to carry my money is no small task. Personally, I feel that LOPE Y FERNANDEZ is the value at around 12/1 for all he is significantly imperious to Godolphin’s new flag-bearer. He has bounced back with a Group Three victory over this distance in impressive fashion and he may just have been unlucky to bump into Pinatubo twice to date.

Whoever you follow, savour the race. It could prove superior to any flat contest in 2019.

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