We have had a fairly quiet spell on the runners front since the last update, with the horses generally performing well without necessarily winning. However, we were over the moon with Jordan Princess’ deserved win in the Listed Newsells Park Stud Stakes at Newmarket last weekend. It was very much a triumph for advance tactical planning, as it seemed evident that there was not an obvious front runner, so instead of sitting at the back of the field and becoming a hostage to fortune, we decided to take the bull by the horns and make the running ourselves. The plan worked admirably, and Adam Kirby could not have produced a more perfect ride. The rest of the field left her alone in front and, as we have seen so many times in middle distance races on the July course this season, she was always going to be difficult to catch from that point. Indeed, she was so strong at the finish that she might have won by further had she set a stronger gallop and, with that in mind, we have to consider the Group 3 Markel Insurance Fillies Lillie Langtry Stakes coming up at the Qatar Goodwood Festival. As we said in a previous update, she is only going to improve as the season progresses and though the Group 1 Darley Yorkshire Oaks is a possibility, she also has an option in the Group 2 Shadwell Prix De Pomone at Deauville as well as the Group 2 Park Hill Stakes at Doncaster which we won last year with Silk Sari. Jordan Princess would not want the ground as soft as it was when Silk Sari won, however, it is very much a case of one race at a time with her and, though the prospect of making the running at Deauville is appealing, the ground there could also be unsuitable.
Our other winner last week was Irish Hawke who had clearly learnt a lot from his debut at Salisbury. Lingfield’s round turf course is a difficult place for an inexperienced three-year-old, so to win as he did, finishing strongly in the last furlong, was extremely encouraging to see. No doubt comparisons will be made with Mizzou who improved a good deal from his first to second start last year before winning a couple of handicaps and, ultimately, progressing to Group 1 company, but Irish Hawke is half the size of Mizzou so whether he makes the same progress remains to be seen. The Betfred Melrose Stakes would be an ideal target but he needs another run to qualify. Whether there is enough time to get a third run into him in order to qualify remains to be seen. That said a step up to a mile and three quarters will suit him perfectly.
Several of our newcomers ran well last week, and there was understandably some public interest in the debut of Beautiful Morning whose dam, Date With Destiny, was the only progeny of the great George Washington. We did not expect her to win first time out, as we had heard good reports about the Godolphin newcomer Bint Al Reem who looked a good prospect as things panned out, but Beautiful Morning ran with enough promise, considering she was far from wound up, to suggest she can win a maiden herself. She was not helped either by being rather isolated towards the far side of the track but the manner in which she kept on suggests she will improve next time out with a mile, this season, likely to suit her better than seven furlongs.
We are back at Ascot this weekend with our main hopes focussed on the Group 1 King George & Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes, which we are hoping to win for the first time with Postponed (pictured). We have made no secret of the regard in which we hold this son of Dubawi, so his results this season might seem underwhelming to those unconnected with the horse. However, so far this season he has yet to have the same conditions that faced him in the Neptune Investment Management Great Voltigeur Stakes at York last year, namely a really strongly run mile and a half on fast ground. So, in view of his continued high class work at home there is no reason for us to revise our opinion of his ability. Once again, however, we will be in something of a quandary regarding race tactics and we are unable to plan anything with great certainty until the final declarations are known. But it appears, at the time of writing, as if there might not be a true gallop which might force our hand a little. We have learnt through experience over the last couple of years how not to ride Ascot’s mile and a half course and we shall have to make sure we are very alert to what is developing before the field reaches the first turn as, after that, the shape of the race is pretty much set.
Ayaar also runs at Ascot in a bid to improve upon recent efforts in the Royal Hunt Cup and bet365 Bunbury Cup although there were legitimate excuses for both efforts in terms of unfortunate race positions. If he gets drawn where the pace is, then he should go well on ground that will suit.
Before then our main hope is with Pamona who has her first run since the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot in the Listed British Stallion Studs EBF Lyric Stakes at York on Friday evening. It is effectively a re-run of the Oaks Trial at Newbury earlier in the season when she was beaten by Crystal Zvezda after getting boxed in. While we are fairly certain of what Pamona is capable of, back on a course that will suit her better than Ascot (she ideally needs a long straight to get into her stride). If Crystal Zvezda turns up in the same form as she did at Newbury we will find it hard turning the tables. However, if the Sir Michael Stoute trained filly turns up in the same mood as she did at Epsom, where she raced too freely and pulled her chance away in the Investec Oaks, then we would be very confident of coming out the better of the two.
Goodwood follows hot on the heels of Ascot this weekend and right now it looks as if we should have a fairly strong team. The aforementioned Mizzou will not run in the Group 2 Qatar Goodwood Cup as we are not sure if the track will suit him, while Ayaar’s participation in the Betfred Mile Handicap depends on how he comes out of Ascot at the weekend. Beyond that we will have Lady Of Dubai in the Group 1 Qatar Nassau Stakes as well as Connecticut in the Group 3 Betfred Glorious Stakes besides a host of handicappers too. Most intriguing of those probably is Ajman Bridge who is being stepped up to a mile and three quarters in the Summer Stakes Handicap in a bid to see whether he has what it takes to become a Betfred Ebor Handicap contender. Penhill also goes for the same race but if he continues to pull too hard he may well be dropped back to a mile and a quarter. King Bolete runs in the mile and a half handicap for three-year-olds and is still unexposed, but sadly there is not an option for Mount Logan over the same distance at the meeting so we will have to keep him at a mile and a quarter in the Qatar Goodwood Festival Stakes.