On the week that his full-brother became the highest priced yearling sold at auction anywhere in the world this year, Too Darn Hot surely cemented his position as Europe’s leading two year old of 2018 with a striking display to land the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket.
It was a nervous day for trainer John Gosden, who said afterwards that he was very worried about the ground which had become firm after un-seasonally warm weather and drying winds had taken the moisture out of it. But Too Darn Hot showed that firmer ground is no barrier to his class as he took his unbeaten tally to four.
Three of the seven runners were trained by Aidan O’Brien and it was one of his runners, Christmas, who made the running. His better fancied stablemate Anthony Van Dyck was in close attendance however and it was clear that the Ballydoyle team were looking to make it a real test.
As they came past the famous Newmarket racecourse landmark known as ‘the bushes’, with two and a half furlongs to go, Donnacha O’Brien pressed the accelerator on Anthony Van Dyck and his rivals immediately responded with eventual runner up Advertise first to bustle up on his outside. Behind them Frankie Dettori’s urgings on Too Darn Hot didn’t draw an immediate response and he was forced to take his horse wide to get a clear run.
But as they approached the final furlong and met the rising ground on the slightly uphill run to the line, Too Darn Hot started to stay on best of all and, just as he had done in the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster, he quickly asserted with some authority and Dettori was able to take time to gesture to the crowd in the final 50 yards.
Advertise ran a big race to finish second with Anthony Van Dyck, who will surely appreciate a longer trip next year, back in third.
Too Darn Hot is owned by musical theatre impresario Lord Lloyd Webber and he was delighted after the race. Asked how the thrill of winning the Dewhurst compared to the thrill of an opening night in the West End he replied ‘This is too darn cool’, referencing the name of the horse who is named for a song from the musical Kiss Me Kate.
He also reflected on the policy of the stud he owns with his wife Lady Lloyd Webber, the Watership Stud, ‘Madeleine never keeps the colts but he had this minor injury so we could certainly never have sold him and no-one knew if he would get remotely near a racecourse.’
The injury proved to be a blessing in disguise and they must be looking forward with relish to the colt’s three year old career. He is already favourite, at a general 6/4, for the 2019 2,000 Guineas although trainer John Gosden was more cautious about the Derby stating that he felt ‘a mile to a mile and a quarter’ may be Too Darn Hot’s optimum trip at three.
Jockey Frankie Dettori, fresh from wining his sixth Arc De Triomphe only last Sunday, was full of praise for Too Darn Hot. “He got himself a little bit unbalanced coming down the hill but once the turbo kicked in I went from being a length behind a furlong out to pulling clear” , he said. “I was able to enjoy the last 100 yards and wave at the crowd,” he added, clearly relishing yet another big race success in what has been a fine season for him.