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New Kids on the Champions Series block: Calyx

6 Dec 2018

Will he be a brilliant sprinter or a top miler? This week we focus on exciting Coventry winner Calyx.

Will he be a brilliant sprinter or a top miler? This week we focus on exciting Coventry winner Calyx.

Horse: CALYX

Form: 11. Trainer: John Gosden.

John Gosden’s horses carried all before them this year. Cracksman, Enable, Roaring Lion and Stradivarius were his principal older performers, while Too Darn Hot emerged as champion two-year-old.

Bubbling just under in the juvenile department at Clarehaven was Calyx, who created a great impact during a ten-day period in June before suffering a setback that curtailed his campaign.

Calyx’s pedigree has afforded him a head start in life as a racehorse – he is a son of Kingman, the outstanding miler, and his auntie is the top-class African Rose, the 2008 Sprint Cup winner – and he started 5/2 favourite for his debut on Newmarket’s July Course on June 9.

He initially ran green when Rab Havlin invited him to put his stamp on the race but zoomed clear from the furlong pole to win by five lengths. The time was nothing special but his closing sectionals had clock watchers drooling.

Calyx was initially quoted at double-figure odds for the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot just ten days later – bookmakers seemed to doubt Gosden running him again so quickly – but the colt lined up in the 23-strong field and was the only horse punters were interested in.

Frankie Dettori’s mount was eventually sent off 2/1 favourite and prevailed by a length from Advertise, who subsequently went on to win the Group 1 National Stakes and finish runner-up to Too Darn Hot in the Dewhurst.

Calyx was value for more because his draw, in stall 22, near the stands’ side, was a disadvantage. All the main action unfolded on the far side and the next five home all had single-figure draws.

As at Newmarket, Calyx showed great speed and pulled clear of the opposition on his side of the track.

Debate afterward revolved around whether Calyx would always need sprint distances to be shown to best advantage, or whether in time he could be equally as effective over a mile.

His breeding suggests a mile will suit – his sire excelled over the trip and his dam was a winner over the trip at two – but the speed he has shown (also keen to post for the Coventry) and slightly highly strung nature (he has worn a blanket for stalls entry) casts some doubts. Perhaps he takes after African Rose.

Bookmakers seem divided and he ranges between 6/1 and 11/1 for the QIPCO 2000 Guineas, the first race in next year’s QIPCO British Champions Series.

Should he be betrayed by a lack of a stamina, then the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup over 6f at Royal Ascot would surely loom into view. He is a general 16/1 for that contest.