Too Darn Hot

Too Darn Hot

TOO DARN HOT HORSE

Too Darn Hot had it all at the end of his two-year-old season in 2018. An unbeaten Dewhurst winner heading into winter quarters as favourite for the 2000 Guineas and the Epsom Derby.

But it took until July 2019 for him to register his first success as a three-year-old in the Qatar Prix Jean Prat at Deauville. He had missed the 2000 Guineas through injury and then suffered defeats in York’s Dante Stakes, the Irish 2000 Guineas and the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Bred in the purple (by Dubawi out of the brilliant Singspiel mare Dar Re Mi), Too Darn Hot was foaled on March 27, 2016 at the Watership Down Stud in Newbury. He would be sent to Newmarket to be trained by the master handler John Gosden, and would run in the colours of owner and famed composer and theatre impresario Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber.

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RACING CAREER

Talk of Too Darn Hot’s prowess had already reached racing’s bush telegraph by the time the beautifully-bred colt made his racecourse debut at Sandown Park on August 9, 2018.

With Frankie Dettori in the saddle, the Dubawi colt was sent off the 8/11 favourite for a one-mile maiden. And he created a lasting impression by displaying stunning acceleration to surge clear for a seven-length victory.

Sandown would again be the venue for Too Darn Hot’s second start, the Group 3 Solario Stakes on September 1, 2018. And again the budding wonder colt didn’t disappoint by justifying Evens favouritism under Dettori with another stunning display. This time the winning margin was four lengths and again he displayed a terrific turn of foot.

Too Darn Hot was out again just 14 days after that Sandown triumph as he stepped up in class to Group 2 for Doncaster’s Champagne Stakes. This time the 4/11 favourite and Dettori were made to work much harder, but when Too Darn Hot quickened again the response was blistering. He repelled the talented Phoenix of Spain by a length and three-quarters to retain his perfect record.

The natural step now for Too Darn Hot was to step up to Group One company for the Dewhurst Stakes in Newmarket - the most prestigious two-year-old race of the year in the UK. He duly ended a brilliant juvenile campaign with another superb victory.

Too Darn Hot headed into winter quarters a warm favourite to add Classic glory to his CV in 2019, but alas it wasn’t to be. He was being trained for a Classic prep in Newbury’s Greenham Stakes when heat was found in a splint bone. Gosden was at that stage still hopeful he would make the 2000 Guineas field at Newmarket on May 4, but a few days later had to admit he had lost that race against time.

With the Guineas now out of the picture Gosden decided to send Too Darn Hot to York to reappear in the Group Two Dante Stakes - a renowned Epsom Derby trial run over 10 furlongs. With Dettori again on board the pair went to post the Evens favourite, but for the first time would not come back victorious. Despite running creditably, his famed turn of foot wasn’t enough to take him past Hughie Morrison’s Telecaster in the closing stages and he could finish only second.

Perceived wisdom - certainly in the Gosden camp - was that stamina had cost Too Darn Hot in the Dante and instead of going to Epsom for the Derby they decided to drop him back to a mile to bid for Classic compensation in the Irish 2000 Guineas at the Curragh on May 25.

The field was a high-class one, with English 2000 Guineas winner Magna Grecia, trained by Ballydoyle maestro, also in the field. The big guns were sent off the 6/4 joint favourites but neither would come home in front. Instead if was the Charle Hills-trained Phoenix Of Spain – beaten by Too Darn Hot in the Champagne as a two-year-old – who scorched to a brilliant three-length victory at surprising odds of 16/1. Too Darn Hot was again second with Magna Grecia a disappointing fifth.

Gosden decided to keep his brilliant two-year-old to a mile for his next outing - the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 18. Again Too Darn Hot (2/1) would go off favourite but again he would fall just short at the highest level - quickening well but failing to outpoint Aidan O’Brien’s Circus Maximus and his own stablemate King Of Comedy. He was beaten a neck and three-quarters of a length.

Gosden, who had blamed himself for the horse’s campaign so far, said afterwards: “Too Darn Hot ran a very good race, came to win his race and got in front. He's built very powerfully. He looks like a sprinter/miler. Frankie (Dettori) said he feels like a Jersey horse and that's what he is. He was champion two-year-old, won the Dewhurst in great style, but stamina wasn't for him today. This is a stiff mile and it just caught him out."

With question marks now very real about Too Darn Hot's stamina, Gosden decided to drop him back to seven furlongs for the Group One Qatar Prix Jean Prat at Deauville on July 7. The champion two-year-old was sent off the 4/5 favourite and bounced right back to winning form at last, leading inside the final two furlongs to scorch three lengths clear of runner-up Space Blues.

TOO DARN HOT DEWHURST STAKES

The pinnacle for any top British two-year-old is the Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket. And so it was for Too Darn Hot when he went to post under Frankie Dettori the Evens favourite for the Group One test on October 13, 2018.

He was faced by six rivals in a high-class renewal, including the subsequent 2019 Epsom Derby hero Anthony Van Dyck, the subsequent 2019 Commonwealth Cup winner Advertise and the subsequent 2019 Hampton Court Stakes winner Sangarius. All had big reputations and this was a proper test for the Gosden wonder colt.

Anthony Van Dyck (11/4) took up the running two furlongs from home before being worn down by Advertise (7/1) a furlong out. But Too Darn Hot still had one blistering card to play and his stunning surge of acceleration took him to the front and he reached the winning post two and three-quarter lengths in front.

It was a fitting end to a sensational two-year-old campaign for Too Darn Hot, and he went into the winter as a hot favourite to move on to even greater things during his Classic campaign at three.

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TOO DARN HOT NEXT RACES

Too Darn Hot is likely to stick to one mile or less for the remainder of his career, and he has an entry in the Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood on July 31.

With one mile stretching his stamina though and a lack of top-class races at seven furlongs, Too Darn Hot could also drop back to sprinting and he has an entry in the 32Red Sprint Cup over six furlongs at Haydock on September 7. The Gosden star also still retains an entry in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown on September 14, but a trip there would now appear highly unlikely given the 10f trip.

Other major one-mile tests which could be targets for Too Darn Hot include the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot’s Champions Day in October, and the Prix du Moulin at Longchamp in early September. The seven-furlong Prix de la Foret at Longchamp on Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe day (Sunday October 6) is another enticing option.

If Too Darn Hot is still in good form approaching the winter then the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Santa Anita in California on November 2, 2019 would appear to be an ideal opportunity. American tracks given their tight turns generally present a lesser stamina challenge and could be just what the doctor ordered for Too Darn Hot and his master trainer.

TRAINING TOO DARN HOT

Too Darn Hot was bred at Watership Down Stud in Newbury and has been owned throughout his racing career by Lord Lloyd Webber. He has been trained throughout by John Gosden at Clarehaven Stables in Newmarket.

Up to and including the Prix Jean Prat in July 2019, Too Darn Hot had been ridden by Italian superstar Frankie Dettori in every one of his eight races.

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