Royal Ascot 2017 Review Part 1

Tuesday June 27th

One of the great joys of blogging is the opportunity to watch the races again objectively courtesy of and realise not only what an excellent five days of racing it was but how much I missed in real time when seeing the race through my wallet!!

Let’s start with a couple of general observations. Regular readers of this blog will have heard this before but I would love to see a false rail turning for home so that the horse on the rail turning in was now four or five horse widths off the rail. With that much prize money on offer, that many competing for it, surely we all want the best horse to win and that wasn’t always the case last week. Secondly with modern technology would it not be possible for the Clerk of the Course to engineer a situation where the middle of the track was quicker than both rails and encourage jockeys to race up the centre. The two group scenario seems both unnecessary and unfair.

What about the horses? Well I wouldn’t be in a rush to oppose a few of last week’s winners whilst they stay in their division. Ribchester (4yo+ 8F), Winter (3yo fillies 8F), Caravaggio (3yo 6F) and the pair of Big Orange and Order of St. George (16F+ G1), all were mighty impressive.

As for the 2yo form? September looks a G1 filly and Heartache clearly has talent but as for the rest, especially the colts, looked below par to me. Those that went into the notebook were;

Darkanna (Richard Fahey) This expensive filly is now getting her act together and was doing all of her best work late on in the Queen Mary and is now ready for a sixth furlong.

Marchingontogether (Ivan Furtado) This ridiculously cheap purchase has been moved on to Qatar Racing and this daughter of Havana Gold was always staying on well when others had had enough in the Windsor Castle and is now ready for a sixth furlong. At worst she could be useful in nurseries but could easily pick up some Black Type.

In the 6F G2 Coventry I thought there were four horses who would all benefit from stepping up to 7F, Headway (William Haggas), Murillo (Aidan O’Brien), Prince of the Dark (Clive Cox) and Romanised (Ken Condon).

In the 6F G3 Albany for the fillies, Take me with you (Jeremy Noseda) and Mistress of Venice (James Given) both out ran their odds but were on the ‘wrong’ stands side band both should win at 7F+. On the quicker side Snowflakes (Aidan O’Brien) went with no cover then got bumped when moving into contention. More to come at this level. I would like to see the Albany form franked as I’m wary of its strength.

Likewise the 7F Chesham looked average at best but I thought I spotted three future winners. Bartholomew Dias (Charlie Hills) did enough in the final two furlongs to suggest he’s a shoo-in for an 8F maiden as soon as they start. Bustan (John Quinn) looked a candidate for a decent 7F nursery, possibly York. Further down the line once Hey Gaman (James Tate) grows into his frame he should make a decent 10F 3yo.

Level weight 3yo’s. This year’s two furlong shorter G2 14F Queens Vase produced two likely St.Leger candidates in Stradivarius (John Gosden) and Count Octave (Andrew Balding). For me the horse to take from the race was Desert Skyline (David Elsworth) who raced right at the back under Fran Berry, made progress in the home straight but every time he tried for a run he was pushed back inside. Remains on OR100 and would be of interest in a C2 12F 3yo handicap (Newmarket/Haydock) off that, especially if ?-100.

The 12F G2 Ribblesdale was a close call between two fillies who could both expect to collect a middle distance Group 1 sooner rather than later in Coronet (John Gosden) and Mori (Sir Michael Stoute) although the former wouldn’t want Soft in the Going. Both are in the Irish Oaks. Astronomy’s Choice is clearly highly thought of at Clarehaven stables but once again hated the ground and with a bit more time to fill that large frame and Soft in the going could well reward Team Gosden in an Autumn campaign. June 28 2017, 11:03 Royal Ascot heroine Coronet could take on older fillies and mares in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks in what would be her third attempt at winning a Group One prize. Richard Evans, farm manager for owners Denford Stud, said: “We very pleased with her Ribblesdale run. She bounced back nicely from the Oaks having not enjoyed coming down hill. To be fair, that was her only below-par performance having won twice last year, followed by a third in the Group One Prix Saint-Alary this year, having being forced to come late and wide with a terrific finishing burst.

Where she goes from here will be discussed between the owner and trainer, of course. However, she does have an entry in the Yorkshire Oaks, where the track and distance would suit, and she looks like a filly that could then step up in distance towards the end of the season She is a very genuine filly.”

Evans is already looking to future generations from Coronet’s dam, Approach. “Her dam Approach has a New Approach two-year-old colt in pre-training and he should make up into a very nice three-year-old,” he said. “She also has a yearling filly by Australia, a Kingman colt foal, and is now in-foal to Frankel.”

In the colts equivalent, the G2 12F Edward VII, Permian (Mark Johnston) remains the most reliable yardstick for 3yo middle distance colts but there is certainly no standout performer in the division, yet. Crystal Ocean (Sir Michael Stoute) remains a work in progress. As does his stablemate Mirage Dancer (Sir Michael Stoute) who was third in the G3 10F Hampton Court and it might be both will peak as 4yo’s. In the Hampton court Irish Correspondent (Michael Halford) never got a clear run at the leaders and I think these were his ideal conditions, G3 possibly Listed, 10F, Good to Firm. If he were mine I’d look for a race in the UK as he’ll get the gallop he needs and may not have to contend with a pack of O’Brien Galileo colts or late developers from Messr’s Weld or Bolger!

In the St James Palace G1 8F Forest Ranger (Richard Fahey) struck me as up in trip, 8-10F, down in grade, G3?, could see him back to winning ways. Interesting entry in the 9F G3 Meld Stakes at Leopardstown on July 21st. Ideal methinks.

The older horses 4yo+. Cougar Mountain (Aidan O’Brien) was never put in the G1 8F Queen Anne but did enough late on to suggest he could win a G3 over 8/10F when a Coolmore first choice! Idaho (Aidan O’Brien) returned to winning form in the G2 12F Hardwicke stakes in what looked a scruffy race. Barsanti  (Roger Varian) stayed on late to grab second and although he’s won his last three handicaps rising from OR85-OR105 and now 106 he would head to the Princess of Wales G2 12F at Newmarket’s July meeting as a leading player. Chemical Charge (Ralph Beckett) didn’t have much racing room close home and now up to OR114 may have to go abroad to win a 12F Group race. Across the Stars (Sir Michael Stoute) was bumped 2F out when considering a challenge and I’m sure this talented colt will be winning soon with his shrewd connections.

Amongst the sprinters Aclaim (Martyn Meade) under Jamie Spencer could never find a racing seam until the race had gone and has an interesting entry in the 7F Minstrel Stakes at the Curragh on 16th July. Tasleet (William Haggas) and Librisa Breeze (Dean ivory) strike me as two that could easily pick up a Grade 1 prize this season. I’d back both for sure in any race I could get a double figure price. Tasleet came from a fair way back in the G1 6F Diamond Jubilee and wasn’t the only horse that Jim Crowley asked to make up plenty of ground last week, which surprised me as Hamdan Al Maktoum likes his horses ridden very prominently.


Part 2 to follow. The handicappers – Gimme the money!



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