Yesterday we saw some high quality performances with the main story surrounding Frankie Dettori.
The Derby winning Italian flew home on Osaila to pip a drifting Always Smiling in a photo to claim the Sandringham Handicap. It was another win for Dettori and one where he beat his former employer Godolphin again.
Wesley Ward was right to be bullish about the chances of Acapulco. Mecca’s Angel in second of the Queen Mary is a top class horse too.
A top training performance from Dermot Weld saw Free Eagle make the most of his way home fending off a strong late challenge from The Grey Gatsby, in one of the hard luck stories of the week.
There was a shock in the feature race of the day. David O’Meara is a miracle worker and he proved it again with supplying a shock in the Duke Of Cambridge Stakes with Amazing Maria travelled well before showing her gears.
GM Hopkins won a dramatic Hunt Cup, which saw Spark Plug clip heels with Bronze Angel and take a nasty tumble. Horse and jockey Jimmy Fortune were none the worse. However it was another winner for Ryan Moore taking his total for the week to five.
The course has been watered overnight just to give it some freshness and stop it from drying out any further than good to firm. The action on Ladies Day is competitive with some quite difficult races to call, including the 30-runner Britannia Stakes.
14:30 Norfolk Stakes
We start with a two-year-old 5f sprint. Richard Hannon won this race last year with Baitha Alga and he has a strong hand in it this year with his two runners heading the betting.
His pair of King Of Rooks and Log Out Island set a high standard. On paper they look to be the two to beat and you have to fancy the former to get favourite backers off to a good starts. Al Shaqab owned last year’s winner Baitha Alga and it is there silks that look to be found in the winners enclosure after this.
They own King Of Rooks, who won the National Stakes at Sandown three week ago. He quickened beautifully and drew clear of his opposition to win by 5l. You can’t say there wasn’t much in rivalry. Buratino was second and has since won the Woodcote Stakes and the Coventry here on the opening day. That gives the form a boost, as does the fact the Windsor Castle second Areen finished sixth at Sandown. Richard Hughes says this colt is all about speed, which he has proved. He sets a good standard and despite him already being a short price it would be a surprise if he were to be beaten.
It would be a lesser surprise if stablemate Log Out Island beat him but it still would be an upset. He has only made one start, which was a victory over course and distance. He beat Handytalk, who has been a consistent type for Rod Millman and guess who was in third. Mark Johnston’s Buratino is becoming a recurring theme but he was in third. If you measure the Hannon colts against Buratino then you would say it was advantage Log Out Island. He beat him by a ½l further than King Of Rooks plus that was over course and distance, which can sometimes help. Overall the pair are drawn in two and three respectively, so it’ll be interesting to see how the tactics of the race pan out considering in there most recent races both made all to win.
Of the rest then Waterloo Bridge should get a mention. Ryan Moore has had five winners already but it’d be something to get this Aidan O’Brien colt. It would have more meaning historically considering it will mark the 200th anniversary since the Battle of Waterloo. I digress; this colt has a lot to find to go close. The win was on soft ground, which he isn’t getting plus none of the form has started to take shape. Shanghai Glory came on for his second start and won over 6f at Nottingham on softer ground. That could potentially be more useful if he can stay in touch with the Hannon pair and then use his stamina to be a threat to the duo.
French Encore won a weak maiden on his British debut however the form isn’t strong. Ajaya is one to watch in the market. Second on debut on softer ground and should be better for the experience and run. William Haggas is an in-form trainer. He has a nice looking pedigree and over time is likely to want further. He may be one to take out of the race.
Advice: King Of Rooks (EVS win)
King Of Rooks/Log Out Island (forecast)
15:05 Tercentenary Stakes
It’s an unoriginal selection but Time Test is a lightly-race colt having only had four starts. So far his runs have caught my eye and his form looks solid enough. He has been one that has improved with his racing and he showed boldness when winning at Newbury. He was last turning into the straight but he had the speed and class to weave a passage through the field to beat stablemate Dissolution. He was slow away but they didn’t really matter because he had that touch of class at Newbury despite an absence of over 200 days. However Ryan Moore, who rode him that day, takes the ride on Disegno. The form from that race doesn’t look to bad with the fifth Space Age winning next time out while the third and sixth, Dutch Uncle and Gibeon, finished fourth and second respectively behind Stravagante at Epsom on Derby Day. His final run last season saw him beaten by Latharnach, who went on to finish second to Gleneagles in the St James’ Palace Stakes. The trainer speaks very highly of him holding him high regard and for me there looks like plenty more to come. Usually most horses come on for their first run of the season and if that is the case then he’ll be hard to peg back here. It is interesting to see he holds an entry into the Princess Of Wales Stakes at Newmarket next month, which is a Group 2 event.
One at a slightly bigger price that I like the look of is Disegno. He is improving for every run and possibly wasn’t suited by the softer ground at Chester when finishing second in the Dee Stakes. He seasonal debut was in the Feilden Stakes at headquarters where he finished third behind the mightily impressive Golden Horn. Peacock was in second that day but this Sir Michael Stoute colt only needs to find a ½l improvement. He didn’t wear a visor on that start, which he did at Chester and that could potentially eek out more of his potential keeping him focussed on the work in hand. The faster ground should suit and with the Moore/Stoute combination winning this race last year with Cannock Chase and back in 2009 with Glass Harmonium then he makes some each-way appeal.
Peacock only won his debut as a two-year-old but his final two races last season showed promise especially the third to Nafaqa at Doncaster in a Listed race. This season his form has picked up with the stepping up in trip. His last start saw him cosily beat Mustadeem at Newmarket and he stayed on well that day to win. However he isn’t one that I can feel I can trust. Nafaqa is the interesting one. He won two of his four starts as a juvenile and was second in the Royal Lodge Stakes behind Elm Park. His first two starts this season have been in Group company where he was second to Kool Kompany and then fourth behind Golden Horn and Jack Hobbs in the Dante, representing some good form. The handicapper gave him 2lb back for his last run when behind Peacock when not showing his full ability. He didn’t show his stamina over this trip last time out however that race was ran when the stable was dreadfully out of form. He could just be too big at around 20/1. Bocca Baciata beat Pleascach on his seasonal reappearance over this trip at Navan; last time out that form was reversed over a mile in the Irish 2000 Guineas, which Pleascach won. Jessica Harrington’s charge went up 14lb for his winning reappearance; that and an inadequate trip probable reasons for defeat. Back up to 1m2f should see him back to his best however his improvement has come on slower ground, which leaves a question mark.
Advice: Time Test (5/2 win)
Disegno (9/1 each-way)
15:40 Ribblesdale Stakes
A Group 2 contest for Fillies perfect for Ladies Day. Pleascach sets the standard after winning the Irish 1000 Guineas. This is similar to the Derby, as the question surrounding the favourite is whether she will she out the trip. Her win two starts ago at Naas suggested it might be within her range, as that was on stamina sapping softer ground. Jim Bolger has got her entered in to three further Group 1’s at this trip, so that is a bold statement about his thoughts about her staying this trip. She has previously won on firmer ground and she is related to a Spanish Group 2 winner at this distance. However I’d rather dodge this Jim Bolger filly at the price she is and go for something at a bigger price.
David Wachman’s filly Curvy is on a real upward curve. She wasn’t a progressive two-year-old but so far this season has won two Handicaps and her last appearance she won the Group 3 Gallinule Stakes at the Curragh. In that race she beat eventual Derby fourth suggesting she could be a useful sort. She deserves a crack at this sort of race and pedigree points towards this trip being a positive. That is said because her half-sister Takafaat won this race back 2005 plus she is a filly from Galileo. She is at a price that I’m happy to take for a filly that can progress further and get better for the extra trip.
Gretchen has only had one start, which was winning a Newmarket Maiden. The form of that 1m4f Maiden is starting to work out well. The second Forever Popular won next time out at Chepstow and was followed home by Mill Springs, who was fifth at Newmarket behind Gretchen. The seventh in Perestroika has also won since while tenth Azamaara improved stepping into Handicap company. She is from a good family and the pedigree shouts stamina. Over time she could go up in trip if the promise is there. Connections have already given her an entry into the Irish Oaks, so could be expecting a big run here. Another thing to note is the 2013 winner of this race Riposte won her first race in the same Newmarket Maiden.
Wedding Vow has been the bridesmaid so far. This season she has placed on all starts and connections turn to blinkers to eek out that improvement; of course first time up they may get a response. She is nicely bred and stayed on strongly in an Oaks trial to finish third, so this test of stamina may be more suiting. Her second start of the season saw her finish behind Guineas winner and Oaks second Legatissimo. Both Pamona and Pandora have to find improvement to get close to the frame. Marked at 98 and 100 respectively they need to show a lot more but Pamona is likely to be best suited by the step up to this trip.
Advice: Curvy (15/2 each-way)
16:20 Ascot Gold Cup
This is the feature race of the day but one where the favourites participation is in doubt. Forgotten Rules heads the market for Dermot Weld and Pat Smullen however there is a doubt due to the quick ground conditions. It is likely that connections wait until after the first race to make their decision to see what sort of impact the watering has had upon the ground. He is a lightly-raced five-year-old only having had four starts, for which he is unbeaten. The quickest ground he ran on is good, which is why the firm description puts a concern mark by his name. In October he won the Long Distance Cup here on heavy ground staying on well to take the glory suggesting that this trip would be right up his street. He is no doubt the class of the race however due to the big question mark by his name I’ll look elsewhere for the selections.
Luca Cumani’s Mizzou is a progressive type and won really well over 2m here in April. The way he travelled, quickened and went away from his rivals to win the Group 3 Sagaro Stakes, suggested this trip would be right up his street. The trainer has stated that he developed well over winter and is a straightforward colt, so shouldn’t get worked up with the race build-up. In that renewal of the Sagaro Vent De Force was in second and he won next time out in the Henry II Stakes making all at Sandown three weeks ago. I just think he is open to improvement and this trip looks like it should suit. He has proved effect on fast ground, so there are no concerns and the trainer says he is at peak condition.
At a bigger price the Chester Cup winner Trip To Paris is one to have on your side. Connections stumped up the £35,000 fee to supplement him into this race, so must be keen on his chances. At Chester he was quietly ridden towards sat towards the back of the field before being switched to the centre of the track to stay on strongly to see off Quick Jack. That turn of foot on good to soft ground was impressive and here on quicker ground should see him go really well. This trip is only 2f more that the Chester Cup distance so is likely to stay. He has won on firm ground previously don’t be concerned by that. He followed up Chester with a second to Vent De Force; again he stayed on strongly but couldn’t peg back the Hughie Morrison colt, which got the run of the race from the front and Ed Dunlop’s charge had a few in-running problems in the straight. I believe this stamina test is something he wants and could be slightly overpriced despite stepping up into Group company for the first time.
Tac De Boistron is like Forgotten Rules in terms that the ground may be too quick. Marco Botti has said he’ll take his chances, which was somewhat surprising as he is one that relishes cut in the ground. Vent De Force has been mentioned and that Sandown win will bring him to peak fitness. He’ll act on quicker ground and he may get a soft lead here like he did that night. He has so find a bit more to get close to Mizzou and I believe if Trip To Paris gets a clear run then he’ll beat this colt too. Aidan O’Brien has a good record in this race with Yeats winning it four years in a row and Leading Light last year. His hope here is Kingfisher but you can’t be too keen on his chances with little form to his name with others having better claims.
Bathyron is the French angle in this race and won the Prix Vicomtesse Vigier at Longchamp last month. He was a strong finished in that race and won it cosily in the end. That was over 1m7f, so this trip still holds a question mark but this late maturing five-year-old needs to improve further to challenge. Havana Beat is one at a big price that is interesting. He has won over 2m at Sandown and was seventh in this last year. He was fourth at Meydan when Brown Panther won the Dubai Gold Cup and if replicating that sort of run he could go close. His most recent run was a third over 1m6f but that was likely to strip him fitter for this run.
Advice: Mizzou (11/2 each-way)
Trip To Paris (12/1 each-way)
17:00 Britannia Stakes
28 runners are set to go to post in this race due to the fact Dancetrack and Azraff are early morning non-runners.
I’m jumping straight in here and putting up one at a big price in Rotherwick. I’m following the Jack Hobbs Sandown form, which has been working out considering the third from that Stravagante won a Handicap over 1m2f at Epsom on Derby day. This Paul Cole colt finished second in that race, first of the chasing pack and the form behind is working out as the fourth Dartmouth won next time out while the fifth Putting Green ended up second to Dartmouth at Sandown. It is really strong form and he just looks too big. This is a more competitive Handicap but he can step up and build upon that form, which was his return to the track, so therefore should be fitter and better here. His draw in stall eight isn’t too much of a concern as it is quite close to the middle and I feel he can run a big race showing better than what the market suggests of him.
Udododontu was gambled at York when winning over 7f. He has previous form at this trip and there has been money for him this morning suggesting a similar gamble could be taking place. However in a competitive race he still has to find more up against some very nice types. If one is to set a strong gallop then Mark Johnston’s Resonant is likely to be the one. He has won over further at Goodwood and Newmarket suggesting that he’ll try and get in front early to use that stamina as a positive. The Goodwood form hasn’t really been advertised too well and he is unlikely to get an easy lead out in front.
Sahaafy is one towards the fore in the market and for me is the one that I prefer. Three starts this year with form figures of 121 over this trip and is now showing that improvement. Barry Hills won this race back in 2010 and this colt is likely to take him close. On his Handicap debut he was second to Always Smile, who should have won the Sandringham yesterday. That looks fairly good and the finishers in behind have ran well since, including Al Bandar (third), who won at Epsom. He latest run was an impressive one at Newmarket where he tracked the leaders travelling strongly, before pouncing and quickening well to win by 5l. It wasn’t really a strong gallop, like this will be, but if he can have luck in running his turn of foot could get him out of it.
Capel Path is the Queen’s runner and should go well stepping back up to this mile trip. His two runs this season have been at 7f where he has finished third and second respectively where he has been staying on well late on. The Queen’s racing manager John Warren was bullish in the Racing Post saying: “The mile will suit him and we’re expecting him to run very well.” He could provide Her Majesty with a winner two years since Estimate won the Gold Cup. Andrew Balding trained the winner of this last year. He runs Make It Up and on paper that is something they are probably doing as they are unsure what his best trip is. He was second to Al Bandar at Epsom 13 days ago and if building on that where he clinched second late on he could be close however he is unproven at this trip. He does hold an entry to the 7f Bunbury Cup suggesting that is going to be more up his street. Edward Greatrex had an Epsom winner and is proving to be a talented claimer; that is an interesting jockey booking. Mutarakez is worthy of a mention. Unbeaten so far on two starts this season, over this trip. A strong stamina test will suit him and he is well drawn down the middle therefore is one to watch. If strong in the market then he could be the main danger to the selections with the form he has shown so far.
Advice: Rotherwick (25/1 each-way)
Sahaafy (10/1 each-way)
17:35 King George V Stakes
The final race of the day is this 1m4f Handicap and on paper it looks tricky to try to solve. However I’m willing to stick to that Jack Hobbs Sandown form again in this race where there are two runners. Both at nice each-way prices too.
Dartmouth is another runner for the Queen and I fancy this colt’s chances stepping up in trip for the first time. On his seasonal reappearance he was well behind Jack Hobbs however he stayed on strongly in the final furlong to take fourth. He followed that up by again staying on strongly to deny Putting Green at the same track. The handicapper has put him up 5lb for his success by a nose but with him being a progressive type he could still build upon his promise. The step-up in trip is one that should him very well looking at his pedigree where there is lots of winners at this trip and slightly further. He should go well despite not the best of draws.
Putting Green is seeing support in some areas but in places is still at around 20/1. This is a trip that should really play to his strengths and he could be one to utilise his attractive mark. Dartmouth finished a neck ahead of him in the Jack Hobbs races but he closed the gap next time out only losing by a nose and that was on the nod. He has been building well on his runs and this seems the perfect opportunity, especially trip wise, to finally get his neck in front. Cam Hardie takes the ride and can claim 3lb. I fully think he’ll go off shorter than what he is now, so take the price!
Four of the last five winners have carried between 8st 13lb and 9st 1lb. Only Scottish fits that bill and his Maiden win 34 days ago should see him build on his progress. That Maiden form is working out with the second, fourth and fifth all taking each other on at Goodwood finishing first, second and fourth. The only slight concern is that his trainer Andrew Balding thinks he needs a little more rain.
Dissolution is a strong favourite and if Time Test wins the Tercentenary Stakes then he is likely go off shorter. He is another that the step up in trip should suit and can overcome the 6lb rise for his second to Time Test last time out. Ryan Moore takes the ride, so is likely to be punted just for the jockey booking. A good draw and has conditions to suit, so all things could be in his favour to put up a bold showing for his trainer who last won this race in 2008. Dutch Uncle has solid each-way claims on his form. He has finished behind some good horses including a 3l second to Jack Hobbs in a Maiden at Wolverhampton. Last month he was third to Time Test in the London Gold Cup that usually provides some nice winners. Dissolution was second but well clear of this Ed Dunlop colt. Just 12 days ago he put in another good effort at Epsom but the concern is that he is more exposed than a few of these.
Advice: Dartmouth (14/1 each-way)
Putting Green (20/1 each-way)