The pick of the seven races on offer on Future Champions Day – from a class perspective at least – is this often influential heat for the juveniles, the Dewhurst Stakes.
Run over a distance of seven furlongs, this was first run back in 1875. In that time, the race has produced many classic winners, the most recent being 2016 winner Churchill who went on to win both the English and Irish 2,000 Guineas for Aidan O’Brien.
Dewhurst Stakes Past Winners
|2020||St Mark's Basilica||10/1||Aidan O'Brien||Frankie Dettori|
|2019||Pinatubo||1/3||Charlie Appleby||William Buick|
|2018||Too Darn Hot||Evens||John Gosden||Frankie Dettori|
|2017||U S Navy Flag||5/1||Aidan O’Brien||Ryan Moore|
|2016||Churchill||8/11||Aidan O’Brien||Ryan Moore|
|2015||Air Force Blue||4/6||Aidan O’Brien||Ryan Moore|
|2014||Belardo||10/1||Roger Varian||Andrea Atzeni|
|2013||War Command||10/11||Aidan O'Brien||Joseph O'Brien|
|2012||Dawn Approach||3/10||Jim Bolger||Kevin Manning|
|2011||Parish Hall||20/1||Jim Bolger||Kevin Manning|
|2010||Frankel||4/6||Henry Cecil||Tom Quealy|
|2009||Beethoven||33/1||Aidan O'Brien||Ryan Moore|
|2008||Intense Focus||20/1||Jim Bolger||Kevin Manning|
|2007||New Approach||6/4||Jim Bolger||Kevin Manning|
|2006||Teofilo||11/8||Jim Bolger||Kevin Manning|
|2005||Sir Percy||9/2||Marcus Tregoning||Martin Dwyer|
|2004||Shamardal||9/2||Mark Johnston||Kevin Darley|
|2003||Milk it Mick||33/1||Jamie Osborne||Darryll Holland|
|2002||Tout Seul||25/1||Fulke Johnson Houghton||Stephen Carson|
|2001||Rock of Gibraltar||4/6||Aidan O'Brien||Michael Kinane|
About the Dewhurst Stakes: Britain’s Top Juvenile Contest
Budding two-year-olds have the chance to end their first season racing on a huge high note thanks to the £400,000 (2020) Dewhurst Stakes. Run every October, the seven-furlong test is the most prestigious contest in Britain for juvenile horses. Both colts and fillies can compete, with the latter handed a 3lb allowance but there is no space for geldings. Often attracting the best young horses around, many Dewhurst winners are names you’ll end up seeing again and again in following seasons so this is definitely a race to watch.
Originally founded all the way back in 1875, this race has a long history of producing some really fine winners. The Hungarian-bred Kisber claimed glory in the inaugural contest before winning the Derby at Epsom a year later. The following three Dewhurst champions also went on to win at least one Classic as three-year-olds. It seems only appropriate then that today the Group 1 race is the feature event of Newmarket’s Champions’ Day meeting.
NO GUARANTEE OF FUTURE SUCCESS
You’d think that winning such an elite two-year-old contest would act as a definite platform for more glory the following season but this is not always the case. For each Frankel or Dawn Approach, there are another two horses whose Dewhurst win ends up being the peak of their careers.
It really is very much a guessing game when trying to predict which horses will make the cut as a three-year-old as there appears to be very little in the way of middle ground. Looking at data since 2003, only one Dewhurst-winning horse that managed a three-year-old win at all, did so at lower than Group 1 standard.
This contest is seen as a sort of birthplace for future Classic champions and there is certainly a degree of truth in this. Churchill (2016), Dawn Approach (2012), Frankel (2010), New Approach (2007) and Sir Percy (2005) won either the 2,000 Guineas or the Epsom Derby the following season. So, while future success is far from a guarantee, Dewhurst winners are definitely worth keeping your eye on when returning from the winter break.
FAVOURITES NOT PAYING WELL
Any punter who put their faith in Beethoven during the 2009 Dewhurst edition certainly wouldn’t have forgotten about that win. Returning £33 profit on a £1 bet, the colt’s victory is one of the biggest shocks in recent times. It’s not the only surprise result this race has seen lately though, Milk It Mick (2003) was also a 33/1 shot, Tout Seul (2002) came in at 25/1, Intense Focus (2009) and Parish Hall (2011) both won at 20/1 while Belardo (2014) also won at a double-digit price.
Favourites have won their fair share in the meantime but they only just trade at a level stakes profit of £0.89 between 2000 and 2019 with the average price of the winning favourites in that time around 10/11.
FROM DESTRUCTION TO DEAD HEAT
The Second World War only forced one cancellation of the Dewhurst Stakes but nearly 50 years later, the British weather was enough to see the race abandoned. In all fairness to the organisers, they had no other choice as powerful winds tore through the nation. So strong were the gales that all temporary structures at Newmarket were completely flattened. Even some of the fences separating horses with spectators had taken a battering so there was no possibility of a quick fix.
Back as usual the following the year, the Dewhurst renewal was one to remember. There was no winner in 1987 due to the cancellation but in 1988 we had two courtesy of a dead heat. It was only the first time since 1910 that two horses couldn’t be separated as they crossed the finish line. Any other result would’ve been a little unfair given how tirelessly Prince of Dance and Scenic battled down the final two furlongs. The two horses gave it their absolute everything during what was a fair and completely unobstructed slog.
You can watch the pair battle their way to shared glory here: