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Ratings Update: Kodi Bear is ready for the big time

Ben Fearnley reflects on a relatively low-key weekend of domestic action, but one which saw an almighty shock Stateside.

Compared to last week’s mammoth post-York Ebor Meeting edition, this week’s Ratings Update falls short in terms of wall-to-wall Group-race action and dramatic 50/1 upsets, but there is still plenty to discuss nevertheless. The weekend’s feature race, the Group 2 Celebration Mile, was arguably a sub-par renewal, but Kodi Bear proved a worthy winner of a contest which has been won by some classy horses in recent times.

The riders’ uncertainty about which route to take in the home straight made it something of a muddling race, and consequently Kodi Bear’s performance is a little hard to pin down. However, Clive Cox’s stable star was well on top in the closing stages and the feeling is that he posted a career-best effort, advertising his Group 1 credentials in the process. Kodi Bear has been given awarded a rating of 125 and that figure marks him down as a credible contender for the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on Champions Day, just 5 lb behind outstanding older miler Solow. Kodi Bear’s likeable attitude and proven ability to handle soft ground should ensure that he gives a good account at Ascot.

The other UK Group race on Saturday, the Winter Hill Stakes, was won by Racing History, a full brother to the top-class Farhh. Racing History showed a big chunk of improvement to win the Winter Hill and, in beating some well-established pattern-race performers on just his fourth start, the future is clearly bright for Godolphin’s well-bred colt. Racing History earned a Timeform rating of 114p and, given his rate of progress, it wouldn’t be a surprise were he to make up into a Group 1 contender next season, mindful of how well Farhh improved with age. The Group 2 Prix Dollar – takes place on the Saturday of Arc weekend - has been earmarked as Racing History’s next potential target and this lightly-raced, rapidly-improving horse needs to be kept on side.

In a welcome break from the norm, Goodwood also hosted Group action on Sunday, which, not for the first time this season, gives us a chance to hail the training expertise of David O’Meara, who has once again impressed by getting So Beloved to improve nearly 20 lb on last term’s efforts. So Beloved, winner of the valuable Betfred Mile at the Qatar Goodwood Festival in July, was given an astute tactical ride on Sunday, but he showed an excellent attitude to rally and pip the favourite Here Comes When, and he is fully deserving of his new rating of 116.

The most notable overseas racing last week came courtesy of Saratoga’s Grade 1-packed Saturday card, which included the latest chapter in the tale of American Pharoah, Timeform’s highest-rated horse in the world. The Travers Stakes is known as the ‘Graveyard of Champions’ due to the three former Triple Crown winners, including Secretariat, who were beaten in the race, and another scalp was claimed on Saturday as American Pharoah was beaten at odds of 1/5.

American Pharoah’s rating - as well as this year's crop of American three-year-olds as a whole - has been reassessed in the aftermath of the Travers Stakes, and, having previously been rated 136, he is now on 134: this figure still leaves American Pharoah as the highest-rated horse in the world based on Timeform ratings. American Pharoah’s Travers Stakes conqueror Keen Ice had actually been soundly beaten in the Haskell Invitational, coming home two and a quarter lengths behind the Triple Crown winner, and, needless to say, American Pharoah was a long way below his best on Saturday. American Pharoah has been on the go for a long time - and has taken in some hard races - but he will still be the one to beat in the Breeders’ Cup Classic should connections go there, though retirement was mooted as an option post-race.

It’s also worth mentioning the performance of Jim Bolger’s two-year-old Smash Williams who extended his unbeaten start by taking the Group 3 Round Tower Stakes at the Curragh in impressive fashion. Smash Williams had run out a wide-margin winner on debut, and he built on that excellent start by taking the step up to Group company in his stride, travelling powerfully through the race and keeping on well to win with a great deal of authority. He’s now rated 111p and looks a candidate for top honours.

 
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