Last season's champion two-year-old Chaldean has already added 2000 Guineas glory at Newmarket to his CV this term, but Andrew Balding’s charge will need to put his disappointing effort in the Prix Jean Prat behind him if he is to bounce back in Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on Champions Day at Ascot.
The Frankel colt gave Frankie Dettori the perfect farewell in what could turn out to be the Italian's final Newmarket Classic success, but the three-year-old was subsequently beaten in the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Chaldean's debut run at Newbury in late June 2022 didn't give rise to the suggestion he'd be the star two-year-old of the season.
He was a well-held fifth in that 6f contest but it would prove to be his only defeat in five starts as a youngster. He stepped up over 7f at the same track a couple of weeks later for his first win and would add group races via the Acomb Stakes at York and Doncaster's Champagne Stakes in August and September.
He beat just two rivals on Town Moor and some quibbled the strength of that form but Chaldean answered the doubters when repelling Royal Scotsman's late challenge to win the Dewhurst at Newmarket and bring down the curtain on his 2YO season in the best possible style.
His 2023 bow was once more at Newbury, this time for the Greenham Stakes where he was the 5/4 favourite under Dettori – the Italian having got on board for the first time at Doncaster and remained in situ for the Dewhurst win.
Put bluntly, their reappearance was inconspicuous as Chaldean jinked to his left on exiting the starting stalls and fired Dettori into the turf before taking two strides, leaving Isaac Shelby to win the Greenham.
It was a letdown, but not something on which trainer Andrew Balding was going to get hung up. Chaldean galloped the seven-furlongs at Newbury riderless and the plan to head for Newmarket and the 2000 Guineas remained unaltered.
With Dettori having announced that 2023 will be his final year in the saddle, a statement that has since been renounced, every move that he made was going to come under even more scrutiny than normal.
He'll have been as relieved as anyone, then, to have secured a Classic win at the first available opportunity.
Chaldean was always handily placed in the soft-ground Guineas and picked off front-running 125/1 chance Hi Royal inside the final furlong, with Dewhurst second Royal Scotsman behind in third as favourite Auguste Rodin laboured home at the back of the pack for Aidan O'Brien and Ryan Moore.
Twelve years on from one of the definitive performances of modern times by Frankel in the 2000 Guineas, the 2023 Newmarket hero became his first winner in the race as a sire.
The success on the Rowley Mile made it five wins in seven career starts for the Juddmonte-owned colt and, bar that blip in the Greenham, he had been essentially faultless since his debut.
He looked every inch a top miler and with three wins on good ground to his name, the prospect of faster conditions underfoot as we moved into high summer shouldn't have been a worry for this excellent mover.
Chaldean was sent off the 13/8 favourite for St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot in June but the son of Frankel was upstaged by Paddington.
Balding’s runner appeared to hold every chance in that Ascot contest, but the three-year-old faded and many of the rivals that Chaldean had previously slammed in the Guineas finished far closer to the Frankel colt on that occasion.
It’s not hard to have doubts over the form of this season’s three-year-old milers and Chaldean didn’t do much to ease those fears with another disappointing effort in the Prix Jean Prat at Deauville.
Balding’s runner finished way down the field in that French contest and it was clear that he hadn’t given his best running.
That effort came just 19 days after what was a gruelling contest at Royal Ascot and perhaps that can be offered as an excuse for the poor run.
Chaldean's next assignment was to be the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on Champions Day, a chance of redemption and an opportunity to hush his doubters.
Under Dettori's supervision once again, he was sent off a weak enough 10/1 chance for the race, and in hindsight it was clear to see why he was so weak in the betting.
He broke well and tried to serve it up to the tearaway front-runner and eventual impressive winner Big Rock, but he threw in the towel early and was beaten 49 lengths.
Testing conditions couldn't have been to blame as he won the 2000 Guineas on soft ground.
Juddmonte announced Chaldean would be retired to Banstead Manor in October and will stand alongside his sire, Frankel.
He has left behind a legacy of his own, being one of only 18 horses since 1874 to complete the Dewhurst-Guineas double, a feat completed by superstars such as Nijinsky, Rock Of Gibraltar and Frankel.
His trainer Andrew Balding hailed him and said: “Chaldean is just a dream horse; the most professional, uncomplicated and beautifully balanced horse we have had during his time at Kingsclere."
"He showed unusual improvement through his unique sequence of prestigious wins in the Acomb Stakes, Champagne Stakes and the Dewhurst Stakes at two, only to improve again to win the 2000 Guineas."