Ross Millar's Juvenile Watch: Havana Gold's stock continues to rise

By Ross Millar@rosscojmill
Wed 9 Jun 2021

In his latest column, Ross analyses the fabulous strike-rate Havana Gold has with his two year-olds this season; suggests a possible Coventry runner to look out for and has two for your Racing TV trackers. And look out for his next column, on Monday, when he will have a tip for all the races for two-year-olds at Royal Ascot.


Havana Gold hit the ground running as a sire when his first crop made their debuts in 2017.

That year, Havana Gold was responsible for 21 individual winners and was the champion among the first season sires in the UK.

His initial offspring included the rapid Havana Grey, a Group winner who at the highest level the following season in the Flying Five at the Curragh.

Flashback: Havana Gold wins at Newmarket as a two-year-old

Since 2017, Havana Gold’s number of two-year old winners has steadily declined year on year. That is until this season, when he has burst back onto the scene.

Already he has recorded 12 two-year old winners from just 23 runners this campaign. That’s a quite exceptional return.

At first glance, this might appear to be an unexpected upturn in fortunes for the Tweenhills Stud resident. However, I think it can be explained in quite a simple way.

Buyers in the bloodstock world are understandably considerably influenced by statistics, most notably which stallions are siring lots of winners. Therefore, a commercial breeder will often be a dedicated follower of fashion and will use a stallion that they believe will be appealing to prospective buyers.

Breeders who saw the great start Havana Gold made to his stallion career in 2017 will likely have been keen to send mares to him in 2018. As a consequence, both the quantity and quality of mares covered by him increased.

The two-year olds that we are now seeing on the track are the result of those 2018 liaisons. And breeders who elected to send him a mare on the back of his excellent first season will feel it was a decision that has been well justified.

 Havana Gold will be represented by gaius at Newbury on Thursday (Focusonracing)
Havana Gold will be represented by gaius at Newbury on Thursday (Focusonracing)

As a two-year old, Havana Gold won four of his six starts and was also unlucky not to win in Listed company at Deauville when unseating Ryan Moore.

He developed into a top class miler at three, the highlight being his win in the Group One Prix Jean Prat.

This stamina for a mile should ensure that his strike rate for two-year olds will not drop off too much as the season progressess as plenty of his progeny should be effective at seven furlongs and a mile.

He could well have another winner on Thursday when the Richard Hannon-trained Gaius runs in the opening novice stakes at Newbury (1.15). Gemina, his dam, was placed at Listed level and was a winner from just two runs as a juvenile herself.

Gaius made a promising debut at Windsor at the end of May when finishing second and the form has some substance as Bastogne, who was third, won at Leicester on Monday.


This was an easy decision to make this week.

The Acropolis, trained by Aidan O’Brien, was a facile three-length winner at Listowel on Sunday. You can watch the closing stages above.

This son of Churchill, for who this was a first winner in the UK or Ireland, was disappointing on his debut when a well-beaten favourite on heavy ground at the Curragh.

At Listowel, he was given a positive ride by Wayne Lordan, sitting close in behind the leader and travelling strongly.

He showed a smart turn of foot to take the lead a furlong out and powered clear. The runner up, Thunder Eclipse, had finished three lengths ahead of The Acropolis the previous time they had met and so this represents a huge step forward.

I’m sure the Coventry Stakes on Tuesday at Royal Ascot will come under consideration. He is one of four possible O’Brien runners in the race and, given the strength in depth Coolmore appear to have with their two-year olds, he would command respect if turning up. Sky Bet make him a best-priced 10-1.


Naughty Nadine (Ollie Pears)

Naughty Nadine met trouble in the closing stages

Has run twice now and on each occasion has endured a far from smooth passage, latterly at Thirsk.

She was again slightly slowly away and did race marginally too enthusiastically.

Graham Lee switched her wide two furlongs out and she looked poised to play a part in the finish only for the gap to close on her. She stuck on well to the line despite being hampered and this was a big step forward from her debut.

She willd be interesting if in the same grade next time or in nursery handicaps later in the year.


Millie Lou (Richard Hannon)

Another filly by the red hot sire, Ardad, she was very awkward coming out of the stalls on debut at Doncaster but travelled well and was virtually the last off the bridle.

When asked to quicken the response was not immediate and, with all chance of winning gone, she was sympathetically handled by Jamie Spencer. If keeping to this same grade I would expect her to win next time.

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