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:
2018 - Izzer
2017 - Requinto Dawn
2017 - Santry
2016 - The Last Lion
2015 - Ravenhoe
The standard of these five horses is as good, if not better than any winners of the past. 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, Mich Channon and Declan Carol.
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 who ended up winning eighteen of twenty-one races.
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.
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 2019 Brocklesby Stakes is set to be run on the 30th 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.