With Italy scoring their first pool victory over Belgium in France on Monday night we are hoping that the winning Italian theme can continue at Royal Ascot tomorrow afternoon, when one of our stable stars, Mr Jon and Sarah Kelly’s Mizzou, lines up in his second attempt at the Group 1 Gold Cup In Honour of The Queen’s 90 Birthday under Andrea Atzeni. We cannot remember a Gold Cup with as many as this year’s 18 runners and the size of the field means there are two important factors: position and pace. As long as there is an even pace and Mizzou manages to find a nice position then he has got a chance. Clearly, Order of St George is the one we all have to beat and if he is what he appeared to be in last season’s Irish St Leger then he is going to be very hard to beat, but, if he is ‘just a normal Cup horse’ then we might have a chance. The rain that has hit the track has brought as many horses into the race as it has ruled out, among them, Clever Cookie who was only a neck behind Mizzou in the Group 3 Longines Sagaro Stakes. He then had Second Step behind him when winning the Group 2 Yorkshire Cup but Mizzou has also won on soft ground and does not appear to have preference in going. Mizzou will need to be alert from the gates (drawn 1), however, he jumped well and was able to grab a good early position when winning his last race and we would certainly rather be in stall 1 than in 18. We have a very good jockey who will be aware of how the race is likely to pan out from an early stage and we are hopeful of a big run.
Mr Leonidas Marinopoulos’ Banksea narrowly failed to make the final field for the Britannia Stakes on the same card and is currently third reserve; however, he has a backup option over a mile and a quarter at Pontefract on Sunday. Also on Thursday we have Mr Chris Wright and Miss Emily Asprey’s three year old Blind Faith making her debut in a 10 furlong median auction maiden at Chelmsford and the Buxted Partnership’s two year old Buxted Dream will make his racecourse debut in the novice stakes at Lingfield. Blind Faith is a filly we like although she has had a few minor problems and, consequently, has not had a hard preparation for this first outing. The first aim was to simply get her on a racecourse but she seems to have good natural talent and should go close as long as she is not too inexperienced. Buxted Dream is by Dream Ahead and a half-brother to War Story so should be most effective over six and seven furlongs and has done enough work to run well. He is a good sized colt, bigger than War Story, and we hope he is as talented.
Mr Geoff Grimish’s War Story was back in action at Sandown last Saturday and he quickly got back on track when a close third in a seven furlong handicap. We were mindful of how War Story ran at Newmarket the time before, where he travelled strongly but failed to see out his race over a mile, and the plan was to get some cover and help him relax which he did very well. As it turned out, it looked as though the trip was a bit short for him on this occasion. We are probably splitting hairs trying to work out whether seven furlongs or a mile is his best trip, however, they probably come alike to him and we will go for a similar race next time.
Unfortunately, nothing has come to light to explain the poor runs of Cryptic at Yarmouth, Tiptree at Newbury and Laurence at York, though Cryptic will probably return to the all-weather for his next start, while Tiptree was possibly a bit too far back in what appeared to be a slowly run race. Laurence ran like he did at Newmarket the time before, travelling well before finding little off the bridle, and we are at a bit of a loss with him now. Such results made Bermondsey’s (pictured) impressive win in a mile and a quarter handicap on his seasonal reappearance at Sandown last Friday all the more welcome. He was given a good ride by Ryan Moore though, unfortunately, his five length winning margin has seen his handicap mark rise by 10lbs since. He has come out of the race well and he holds an entry in the 57th John Smith’s Cup at York on Saturday July 9th, although rather ironically, his new mark of 92 would have got him into the final fields in only two out of the last five years. Normandie Stud’s Stanley made a nice debut when fourth in a maiden at Sandown the following afternoon over a mile and a quarter. Ideally he wants a mile and a half and we shall aim to run him over that trip next time and he has the potential to be a useful performer.
We also had our first two year old runners at the end of last week and were pleased with both Dubara and Party Nights who finished fifth in each division of the fillies’ newcomers’ maiden at Yarmouth last Thursday. We note Timeform have given Dubara the ‘Large P’ for her effort and it is fair to say the race did not go particularly well for her, stuck in behind a filly who was slightly drifting to the right, and she finished well once the penny dropped. It is unlikely that Dubara would have won with a clearer run but she might have managed a place and we are hopeful she can get off the mark soon. If you win first time out as a two year old the step up into your next race can sometimes be too big for what they have learnt so, sometimes, it is nice to be able to go into another maiden and learn a bit more that way. Dubara’s pedigree does suggest she will stay a lot further than six furlongs but that may not necessarily be the case as she has shown plenty of speed at home. Spun Gold had been working as well as those two fillies, so it was disappointing to see him trail home last of six at Nottingham. Adam Kirby said Spun Gold did not like the ground (described as good to firm by Timeform) so it was either that or simply that he got completed lost in terms of what was required from him . We hope he can show his true colours next time out.
Finally, we have stepped up the work of a number of other two year olds over the last week or so, among them Postponed’s half-sister by Nathaniel, St Albans Bloodstock’s God Given and a Frankel filly, Al Shaqab Racing’s Aljezeera. Like everyone, we have been very impressed by the Frankels we have seen on the track so far and we expect there will be plenty of eyes on Aljezeera when she makes her debut. However, these two fillies in particular are still a work in progress, like pictures yet to come into focus, with hopefully a bright future in front of them