Thursday 7 March 2019

The History of the Brocklesby Stakes (1888 - 2019)

Well, it is getting closer to the start of the Flat turf season . I say turf season however I mean the start of the two-year-old campaign. 

In previous years, the first two-year-old race of the season has fluctuated between the all-weather and Doncaster's Lincoln Meeting which features the Brocklesby Stakes as the start of proceedings. I must admit I hate the first two-year-old race being anywhere but the Brocklesby. It really takes away from the merit of the race, which has done well over the last few seasons with impressive winners. 

You can take a look at the Brocklesby Stakes Wikipedia page. 

Recent winners include: 

2023 - Doddie's Impact 
2022 - Persian Force 
2021 - Chipotle 
2020 - Didn't take place due to Covid 19 
2019 - Show Me Show Me  
2018 - Izzer
2017 - Requinto Dawn 
2017 - Santry 
2016 - The Last Lion 
2015 - Ravenhoe 

The standard of the following horses detail the quality of Brocklesby Stakes winners. It really fills my heart with joy to see the Brocklesby targetted by some of the best two-year-olds from high-profile trainers such as Mark Johnston, Richard Fahey, Karl Burke, Mick Channon and a number of supreme talents.

It is worth noting that, historically, we have seen some exceptional horses including Jack Berry's Mind Games (1994) (pictured). He went on to be a stallion, although never quite stealing a win at Group 1 in an impressive race career. 

Hearts Of Fire was the best two-year-old Pat Eddery ever trained. This son of Firebreak won the Brocklesby well in 2009. He improved for stepping up to 7f/1m and loved testing conditions. It was a great day to see him win at Group 1 when winning at San Siro, Italy. 

It's interesting to consider that the best two-year-old to ever win the Brocklesby came in 1888 when Donovan won by two lengths for trainer George Dawson and ended up winning eighteen of twenty-one races in a sparkling career. Although, in those days, the Brocklesby Stakes was run at Carholme Racecourse in Lincoln. It was moved to Doncaster in 1965. It's amazing to think Donovan won the Brocklesby Stakes over 5f but went on to win the Derby & the St Leger a three (1889).    

Other horses worthy of a mention include Provideo, trained by Bill O'Gorman, who won in 1984. It seems incredible these days that he set the 20th-century record for a British two-year-old winning sixteen of his twenty-four races. Provideo had one win at listed class which proved he was far from the best horse. In fact, Timeform detailed that this son of Godswalk was some 20lb inferior to the best that year. In truth, there was nothing inferior about this durable, hard-as-nails colt. Winning juveniles now have the burden of penalties and it simply isn't possible to run the opposition ragged on level terms. It is sad that horses have to be handicapped when running at stakes class. From a promotional point of view, race fans would love to see these winning machines. I guess there would be calls from animal rights about welfare issues. O'Gorman was a class trainer and he would never run a horse unless it was in fine form and capable of racing. These horses were trained on the course rather than the gallops.      

How times have changed. 

Other noted winners include Semolina (1889) who went on to win the 1000 Guineas. 

Another exceptional talent came in 1971 when Deep River won the Brocklesby Stakes by 7-lengths for trainer Paul Davey in the ownership of David Robinson. This son of Gulf Pearl was a rare talent going on to win six major contests including, at three, the Nunthorpe Stakes and Prix de l'Abbaye at Longchamp, France.  

It is a feather in the cap of the Brocklesby Stakes that The Last Lion, trained by Mark Johnston, proved such a powerhouse. This son of Choisir cost just 82,000 euros at the yearling sales. He won the Brocklesby Stakes in fine style in 2016. He went on to race ten times and win four races including the Middle Park Stakes (Group 1). He is now a stallion with the fee of £7,500. 

I can't talk about recent winners without considering the true class of Santry, trained by Declan Carroll. This bay colt was a narrow winner of the Brocklesby Stakes in 2017. That year, there were two divisions of the race due to a large field of two-year-olds. The other division was won by Requinto Dawn, trained by Richard Fahey. 

Santry won well on his second start at York when carrying a win penalty. He then went to Royal Ascot, finishing second in the Norfolk Stakes (group 2). Sadly, Santry was fatally injured at home on the gallops. I have little doubt he would have been one of the greatest success stories of the Brocklesby Stakes. 

The 2021 Brocklesby Stakes is set to be run on the 27th March, at Doncaster's Lincoln meeting.  

We can almost guarantee a sizable field of two-year-olds and fingers crossed we have a winner that goes on to achieve greatness like The Last Lion.