Royal Ascot Round Up

With the spectacle of the Investec Derby meeting and Royal Ascot now behind us; racing takes somewhat of a back seat as the nation focuses its attention on the All England Club, Andy Murray, champagne and strawberries and, with the weather set to hit high temperatures in the coming weeks, Wimbledon once again looks certain to be another fantastic sporting spectacle. Meanwhile, our runners have continued to run consistently well by finishing placed rather more than winning and our week at Royal Ascot followed in the same vein when we had five horses in the first four from our seven runners.

Our week started with Ayaar, who had been saved for the Royal Hunt Cup since winning the Be Wiser Spring Cup at Newbury back in April. Having been allocated the widest draw across the track, he ended up racing far too close to the strong pace and faltered in the last furlong as those held up in rear charged through to dominate the finish. This horse is effective over seven furlongs or a mile and he will now head to the Newmarket July Festival meeting for the Bet365 Bunbury Cup. Thursday was a day of mixed fortunes with neither Mizzou nor King Bolete finishing as close as they should have on an afternoon that had started well with Pamona finishing third in the Ribblesdale Stakes. Drawn wide, the lack of pace did not help her cause as she was inclined to race too keenly without having any cover. She then received a hefty bump in the straight as the eventual winner Curvy pulled out with her challenge with just under two furlongs to go. Overall, third place was a creditable achievement for this lightly raced filly and we will now look for a Listed race next, possibly the British Stallion Studs EBF Lyric Stakes at York.

Mizzou, drawn in the middle of the field, found himself too far back in the Gold Cup and, once the pace increased, he was forced wide and found himself in an impossible position. However he rallied incredibly well and the distance he was beaten at the finish suggests that, had he not been dropped out so far, he would have been much closer at the line. He will bypass the Goodwood Cup as the track will not be in his favour so prospective targets are the Group 2 Weatherbys Hamilton Insurance Lonsdale Cup at York, the Group 2 Doncaster Cup at Doncaster and the Group 2 Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup at Ascot, all on galloping tracks that will play to his strengths, so there is still plenty to look forward to.

The same can be said for King Bolete who finished fourth in the King Edward V Handicap despite finding himself in an unfortunate tactical position as the race was run. While the winner, Space Age, was bounced out from a wide draw and managed to get across to dictate just a fair pace, we were not quite as handy from an inside draw and ended up a hostage to fortune as many others ridden too cautiously from a low draw in big fields at Ascot tend to be. King Bolete didn’t really get going until the race had been won, so he remains unexposed and with plenty of potential. If he improves as much as Second Step, who also found himself in an unfortunate tactical position in a mile and a half handicap at Ascot last year which rather disguised his true merit, then we will be more than happy. King Bolete will return to Ascot (a track which seems to stage a disproportionate number of mile and a half handicaps for three-year-olds compared to other tracks) next time out.

Ajman Bridge ran a career best in the Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes on Friday and might have given the winner Arab Dawn (who was bred by our Fittocks Stud) more of a race if he had not allowed that horse first run. Jockey, Adam Kirby, also dropped his whip just after the horse had quickened impressively into contention. He is a lazy horse at the best of times, so a hands and heels ride through the last furlong might just have made the difference between success and defeat. The 56th John Smith’s Cup at York next month is an option for him but it is more than likely to be Mount Logan who will run in that race as he is probably more the mile and a quarter performer of the pair these days as he proved in the Listed Wolferton Handicap on Royal Ascot Saturday. He would have finished closer had he not met trouble in running when challenging from the rear in a falsely run race and looks to be coming to himself nicely.

Once again, lack of pace combined with a wide racing position throughout the race were among several factors that stole Postponed’s chance to show his true ability in the Hardwicke Stakes. While he and Eagle Top were harassing each other and expending wasteful energy, the winner Snow Sky was allowed to make his own way out in front and seldom looked in any danger of being caught once he started to increase the gallop before the home turn. Postponed will now head to the Group 1 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes back at Ascot and, again, we shall keep our fingers crossed for a good strong gallop throughout the race. The possibility of running a pacemaker for him has been aired, but there are several problems with that approach, in that the cost of the supplementary entry is extremely expensive and finding the right jockey to ride a pacemaker would be difficult. On top of that there is no guarantee the field would follow a pacemaker so it is a huge gamble to take.

The Royal Ascot weekend finished on a high however, with Connecticut’s facile victory in the Totepool Pontefract Castle Listed Stakes race. We have had to wait for his seasonal reappearance as he had suffered with ulcers earlier in the season, but he looked every inch a Group race performer at Pontefract even if the form is very difficult to assess with his rivals not running to their true mark. Connecticut might yet step up to a mile and three quarters at some point but we will keep him to a mile and a half for now and aim him for the Group 3 Betfred Glorious Stakes at Goodwood.

We should also mention our other two winners since our last update – Monotype, who won a Doncaster maiden in some style and, while probably not deserving of his official rating of 87, should go into handicaps, providing the ground is not too fast, with a good chance.  Spiriting won with ease at Leicester although it was not a competitive race and a 7lb hike in his official rating for that is going to prove very difficult to overcome.

Otherwise we have been struck down by a case of seconditis. Both Fibre Optic and Al were arguably unlucky on their handicap debuts in finishing behind one that got first run on them on each occasion, while Saigon City was another to finish second in a handicap on his latest start when running his usual game, honest race. It was good to see Dreamlike second position at Newbury as she has been slow to come to herself this season. She is starting to resemble her half-sister Silk Sari more and more in terms of looking as though she needs easier ground and a step up in trip, so we shall try her over a mile and a half next.  Kleo finished third in the Betfred TV/EBF Stallions Hoppings Listed Stakes at Newcastle and her run in the Dahlia Stakes at Newmarket looks as though it is slightly flattering with neither the winner nor the third having done much since. We will try and find a Listed race for her, possibly back at a mile and a half given there are so few opportunities at a mile and a quarter.

Later on this week we have a couple of exciting runners including Jordan Princess and Penhill who are engaged at Haydock. Jordan Princess is bound for the Bet365 Lancashire Oaks providing the ground remains fast, while Penhill will represent us in the Bet365 Old Newton Cup where we hope he can put his last run at Newmarket behind him as we strongly believe he is better than what he showed on that occasion. The Newmarket July Festival meeting will see Second Step reappear in the Group 2 Princess of Wales Arqana Racing Club Stakes, and White Lake also a probable runner in the Hastings Direct Sir Henry Cecil Listed Stakes on the same day. Second Step had been an intended runner in the Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud last Sunday but that idea was abandoned once it became clear that Treve was very much an intended run. Lady Of Dubai has enjoyed a fairly quiet couple of weeks after her valiant third place in the Investec Oaks at the beginning June and is now set to go the Qatar Goodwood Festival for the Group 1 Qatar Nassau Stakes.