It’s Not What They Cost, It’s How They Run

Pricey yearling underwhelms on debut

Hydrogen

Hydrogen goes under the hammer

The date was 11 October 2012. The scene was the last day of Book 1 of the Tattersalls October Yearling Sale.

Catalogued as lot 557 and named Hydrogen, a Galileo colt out of the Saumarez mare Funsie had been the talk of the sales ground. The colt was consigned by The Castlebridge Consignment, on behalf of breeder Paul Makin, who had purchased Funsie in a private deal. The three-parts brother to Group 1 Derby winner Authorized justified the hype when he stepped into the ring. Interest came from trainers William Haggas and Jeremy Noseda as well as Mandore International’s Nicolas de Watrigant as the price rose past 1 million, before Coolmore’s John Magnier and David Redvers entered the fray. The pair went head-to-head as the price rose to 2.5 million guineas (£2.625 million) before Magnier threw in the towel.

The hammer fall, in favour of David Redvers acting on behalf of Qatari royal, Sheikh Fahad, signalled the highest price for a yearling sold anywhere in the world in 2012 and the third highest priced yearling colt ever sold in Europe.

In November 2012, the Qatar Racing colt arrived at the St Gatien Stables at Newmarket, and into the care of trainer Peter Chapple-Hyam, the man responsible for Authorized’s Epsom Derby win in 2007 as well as Dr Devious in 1992. An injury prevented the colt from racing as a two-year-old and an unsatisfactory scope put paid to his intended Newbury debut last October.

As such, there was little expectation that Hydrogen would dominate on his debut this week – although part-owner Sheikh Fahad said he could still go to Epsom for the Investec Derby if he won the 1m4f maiden convincingly. In a pre-race interview he told the press “Mentally, some horses are sharper than others, so we never know until we get them to the racecourse. We’ve never put a gun to his head yet. If he’s sharp enough and shows us he should be running in the Derby he’ll tell us. We like him a lot.”

The colt finally made it to the racetrack on Friday, 30 May 2014, cantering down in the Lloyds Bank Commercial Maiden Stakes over 2400m (Class 5). Sent off the 4-1 third-favourite by sceptical punters, Hydrogen was held up second-to-last with only Saab Almanal, the favourite, behind him. He found little when rider Jamie Spencer asked him to quicken and kept on at one pace to finish sixth, more than 10 lengths behind the William Haggas-trained winner, Wonderstruck, who is likely to go to Royal Ascot for the Ribblesdale.

Unsurprisingly, connections outlined somewhat more modest aspirations following an underwhelming debut.

David Redvers, racing manager for owner Qatar Racing, said Hydrogen was likely to run in another maiden in about three weeks. “Obviously we would have loved him to have won, but it’s all part of his education and he’s just got very tired at the end. We’re happy he’s had the experience and hope to see a better horse next time.”

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