Congratulations to Andrew Balding and everyone at Kingsclere after Kameko provided him with his first victory in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket. The son of Kitten's Joy won the Group 1 Futurity Stakes at Newcastle last backend and this was always going to be his first target this year. Given a good ride by Oisin Murphy, he outstayed his rivals to win by a neck. Yet to race beyond a mile, he is likely to be aimed at the Epsom Derby next, although he isn't guaranteed to stay. I would expect ten furlongs to be within his stamina range but it remains to be seen whether he will see out a mile and a half. Last year's outstanding juvenile Pinatubo could only finish third. The odds on favourite had every chance but I feel he would have benefited from a more patient ride. William Buick appeared intent on getting involved a long way from home and paid for it late on. He was conscious of the Ballydoyle runners and not wanting to give them too much rope and that ultimately cost him because his mount had no more to give in the closing stages.
The ten furlongs Listed race earlier on the card proved an anti-climax with defeat for two horses featured in the Top 40 Prospects - there will be more of their performances in the Royal Ascot Update. However, it was still a profitable day for the Top 40 with two more winners, courtesy of Far Above and Palace Pier at HQ and Newcastle respectively.
Far Above was tackling five furlongs for the first time and he produced an explosive performance in the Group 3 Palace House Stakes. The lightly raced four year old was well drawn on the stands rail and made full use of that berth displaying breathtaking speed from the outset. A three parts of a length winner, he doesn't want the ground too quick and it is hoped he skips the Royal meeting later this month. Granted suitable conditions, the Nunthorpe Stakes at York in August looks tailormade for him. When I visited James Tate in February for Ahead On The Flat, he was adamant that the son of Farhh was the fastest horse he has trained. It is difficult to argue with that conclusion following this victory.
Palace Pier skipped the 2000 Guineas and headed north to Gosforth Park for a 0-100 three year old handicap over a mile. The decision was fully vindicated as the son of Kingman ran out a ready three and a quarter lengths winner. A drifter in the market beforehand, he looked rusty early on but warmed to his task and took off as he swept aside the well backed runner-up Acquitted. It will be interesting to see if he heads to Royal Ascot for the St James's Palace Stakes because this year's Guineas winner is highly unlikely to be in opposition.
There is some superb action again on Sunday, including at Haydock Park, which I will be covering for Racing TV. It is my first work for the channel since racing resumed and I am looking forward to it. It will, however, seem straight passing comments from my living room.
There are 5 runners in the Top 40 Prospects on Sunday and they are featured on pages 12, 14, 31, 41 and 44. Don't forget to head to the Publications section of the site, if you haven't already ordered your copy of the Royal Ascot Update.
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