Our man at the track Adam Houghton discusses what's next for Inspiral after her victory in the Fillies' Mile at Newmarket.
Unbeaten in four starts as a two-year-old? Yes. May Hill winner? Yes. Fillies’ Mile winner? Yes. Trained by John Gosden? Yes. 1000 Guineas winner? No.
The last answer might sound like a bold statement to make, but it’s one based purely on facts. That’s because I’m not referring to Inspiral – not yet anyway – but rather Rainbow View, one of many examples in recent times of a top-notch two-year-old who failed to claim the classic success that they had promised the following year.
Rewind the clock to 2008 and Rainbow View was far more superior to her contemporaries at that stage of her career than Inspiral appears to be (if at all). Her four wins were achieved by a cumulative margin of over 16 lengths, including a decisive victory by two and a half lengths in the Fillies’ Mile back when it was staged at Ascot.
Rainbow View went into the following year’s 1000 Guineas with a Timeform rating of 119p, the form she had managed at two being such that she already appeared good enough to win a typical renewal of the Newmarket classic. On the day she was clear 6 lb of her nearest rival on Timeform’s pre-race ratings and, with an SP of 11/8-on, she was sent off the first odds-on favourite for the race since Bosra Sham in 1996.
In the event, however, Rainbow View’s performance at Newmarket – and as a three-year-old in general – proved to be something of an anti-climax. Only fifth behind Ghanaati in the 1000 Guineas, Rainbow View was then fourth behind Sariska in the Oaks and, while she did put up a very smart effort to win the Matron Stakes at Leopardstown later that season, it’s fair to say that she failed to build on the huge promise of her two-year-old campaign.
It was back in 2000 when Gosden recorded his first and only success in the 1000 Guineas courtesy of Lahan, who ran out a dominant winner at odds of 14/1, and Rainbow View’s reversal nine years later is far from the only disappointment her trainer has endured on the Rowley Mile during the intervening period.
A first victory in the 2000 Guineas remains elusive for Gosden never mind how many times I watch a repeat of the 2014 renewal, when Kingman, sent off the 6/4 favourite, looked to have the race in safe keeping before being mugged by Night of Thunder in the final strides. Kingman, of course, went on to prove himself a miler out of the very top drawer, that Newmarket defeat being the only blemish on an otherwise faultless record.
Raven’s Pass (fourth in 2008) and Roaring Lion (fifth in 2018) are other top-class horses trained by Gosden who have been beaten in the 2000 Guineas this century, while Starscope came closest to giving her trainer a second triumph in the 1000 Guineas when filling the runner-up spot behind the runaway winner, Homecoming Queen, in 2012.
Starscope’s part in this tale might not be done yet, though. After all, Starscope is now making a name for herself as the dam of Inspiral, the latest star on the Gosden production line who, come Sunday 1 May 2022, will be tasked with trying to break her yard’s losing run in the Newmarket classics.
It is hard to find fault with what Inspiral has achieved in her four starts to date, winning them all by a cumulative margin of over 11 lengths.
Just as it had been in Rainbow View's year, two and a half lengths was the official distance at the end of the latest renewal of the Fillies’ Mile, the result never really in doubt once Frankie Dettori produced Inspiral to lead inside the final two furlongs, just needing to be kept up to her work to beat Prosperous Voyage, Cachet and Mise En Scene – all involved in a bunched finish for the minor placings – in comfortable fashion.
Starscope earned the dreaded Timeform squiggle towards the end of her career after showing signs of temperament but, so far at least, Inspiral has given no cause for concern in that regard and her connections are entitled to go into the winter dreaming about what spring might bring.
Whether she deserves to be as short as 3/1 with some bookmakers for next year’s 1000 Guineas is another matter altogether, however. Inspiral certainly isn’t at the level of Rainbow View as a two-year-old, and possibly not that of Tenebrism either, the highest-rated juvenile filly in 2021 before the Fillies’ Mile had been run.
For context, Inspiral earned a Timeform rating of 105 for her previous victory in the May Hill Stakes at Doncaster, when beating Prosperous Voyage by an even wider margin than she did at Newmarket. There is no doubt that she has more improvement to come, but whether she needed to show much of it (or any at all) here is open to debate.
By way of comparison, Tenebrism earned a Timeform rating of 115p for her recent win in the Cheveley Park Stakes, so it’s hard to argue that she should be double the price of Inspiral for next year’s 1000 Guineas, especially given the yard she represents. Indeed, Aidan O’Brien has won seven editions of that classic since Gosden was successful, including five of the last six.
It’s surely only a matter of time before a yard as powerful as that of Gosden – together now with his son Thady – fires back a reply, but it remains to be seen whether Inspiral will be the one to follow in the footsteps of Lahan or whether she goes the same way of Rainbow View, Starscope and others to have come up short.