Expectations are built up for many reasons in racing. With juveniles it can be some home knowledge of their work which has lit up the gallop or maybe they have a stellar pedigree or maybe they have shown promise on the track. Darvel ticked all three of those boxes so it was very pleasing to see him ge off the mark at the second attempt when he took the 6f Follow Us On Twitter @chbmedical Novice Stakes at Ayr.
Book 1 at Tattersalls is the premier yearling sale and to get in, consignors must have a good physical with a top class pedigree to match. Darvel had both when Kevin saw the son of Dark Angel for the first time at the sale. Strong, powerful physique with an athletic walk, Darvel also had a mother who had been a high class sprinter. Anthem Alexander won the Gr2 Queen Mary at two before being placed in the Gr1 Cheveley Park Stakes. Everything matched up and Kevin managed to purchase the colt for £380,000 for owner Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum.
Horses do not know their price tags and the expectations of them. Thankfully Darvel impressed in his work from day one and also looked like he could come to hand early enough. Kevin did toy with the idea of getting him out after racing’s resumption to try and get to Ascot but held off for a few more weeks. When Darvel did make his debut at Haydock there was plenty of interest with people taking notice of his pedigree and some recent comments from Kevin. Unfortunately Darvel didn’t have his mind on the job at hand and proved to be very colty in the pre lims as well as at the start. Not understanding what the day was about, Darvel did run well for a long way but his pre race antics and inexperience in the race meant that he weakened late on. Despite the fourth place on his record the run did show plenty of promise and it was clear that Darvel would improve for the run.
Darvel is actually named after a small town in Ayrshire so it was quite apt that his next run would be close by at Ayr. It is one of Kevin’s favourite courses, especially for 2yo’s due to his lovely, galloping nature. The race only attracted 7 runners and the race looked to revolve around 3, according to the market. Darvel would be sent off the favourite once again but he did have some serious market rivals. Toussarok was a debut winner but therefore had to carry a 7lb penalty whilst Captain Magnum had finished second to Darvel’s stable mate Seven Brothers last time out. Kevin Stott donned the yellow silks of Sheikh Obaid and headed to the start on a far better behaved colt this time round.
Stalls were positioned down the centre of the track and Darvel got away well. His market rivals did so too but were quicker into stride and Kevin just had to ride his colt along to get him up to speed. With Toussarok going forward to lead, Kevin managed to get Darvel onto the leader’s girths whilst Captain Magnum shadowed on the other side. This trio were followed but a similar trio who raced in the same line directly behind them. It was a good pace being set and they charged through the first couple of furlongs.
You could see Darvel showing inexperience once again early on his the race. He maintained his position but did just need little bits of help here and there from Stott. The field came straight down the centre of the track and the field dropped the rank outsider to race as half a dozen. Toussarok was not hanging around for anyone and they quickly headed past halfway. If this leader was to be overhauled then he was going to make them earn it. Stott just had to niggle at his mount, making sure he understood to keep moving forward. Darvel stuck to the leader like glue and travelled powerfully into the race.
They got tracing quite a long way from home and the race changed dramatically in a few strides. Toussarok kicked for home from 2 1/2f out and this caused his rivals ton follow suit. Darvel was the one left travelling on the bridle as Stott just continued to cajole him and get him to lengthen. Holding on to his mount Stott was patient but as they moved into the final 2f he got lower in the saddle and asked Darvel to go past the leader. That was easier said than done. Toussarok was finding for pressure whilst Darvel didn’t quite know what to do initially. Although he didn’t just quicken straight past the leader, Darvel maintained his position whilst he got himself gathered up.
Stott had got his colt balanced, had him lengthening and now had to educate his colt. Heading down to the final furlong the market leaders were beginning to dominate as they moved away from the rest of the field. Kevin pulled his stick through to his right hand and gave Darvel a couple of slaps to focus his mind and show him that the next part of the job was to go past his rival. The penny was now starting to drop and Darvel changed his legs and hit the from passing the 1f marker. His advantage crept to 1/2 length and it did look as though Darvel was the one who had more left to give. Toussarok was proving brave, especially shouldering his penalty but Darvel had not even reached top gear. With his head out in front there was again signs of inexperience so Kevin once again had to work and educate his mount. The win looked in the bag but it was important for Stott to show Darvel that he must continue to move forward even when he thinks he has done enough. Stott kept him up to the task and Darvel continued to lengthen away from his rivals. By the time they hit the line he had managed to open up a 2 length advantage to gain his first career success.
Gaining his first success, Darvel has got the monkey of his back and certainly looks like a lovely prospect. He won comfortably but there was still signs of inexperience which shows that there is a lot more to come when he really learns the job. People may question him if he were to take on the runner up again due to the weight difference but the feeling is that Darvel will just continue to improve with every run. He is a strapping colt and has a bright future ahead but Kevin may just have to think about what route he wants to head down going forward. Darvel has the class to step up in grade but whether he has the maturity will be a question that Kevin will answer over the coming weeks. Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum has a lovely colt on his hands again and the yellow silks can hopefully be carried to further success by Darvel.