Mark Howard Publications Ltd

Day one at Royal Ascot

15-June-2021 18:56
in General
by Admin

Eight years after winning the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, Dawn Approach was responsible for the 2021 winner of the one mile event. Poetic Flare produced the performance of the day on the opening afternoon at the Royal fixture with a stunning display. Successful in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket at the beginning of May, it was the Jim Bolger trained colt's fourth race in 45 days having also taken part in the French (6th) and Irish (2nd) Guineas. Kevin Manning's mount was going strongly turning for home and readily pulled away in the homestraight to register a four and a quarter lengths win. The son of Dawn Approach outclassed his twelve opponents relishing the fast ground in the process. Of those in behind, Lucky Vega and Battleground ran well in second and third but couldn't get near to the winner once Manning asked his partner.

There must be every chance Poetic Flare will cross swords with Palace Pier at some stage later in the year. John & Thady Gosden's four year old record his fourth Group 1 victory in the Queen Anne Stakes. Not quite as explosive as when winning the Lockinge Stakes last month, the Kingman colt was too good for his opponents nevertheless. A length and a half winner, his connections felt the fast ground may not have been ideal. It is still on the cards that Palace Pier will be tried over ten furlongs at some stage with the Juddmonte International at York in August a realistic possibility. 

It was the start I was hoping for as far as the Update was concerned with the form figures of the selections being 69232. Dhabab ran better than his finishing position of sixth in the Coventry Stakes suggests. Robert Havlin's mount travelled well for much of the race but came off the bridle at halfway. However, he was beginning to stay on strongly when checked in his run late on. While it would be pushing it to suggest he would have beaten the winner Berkshire Shadow, I think he could have been second with a clean run. Patrick Sarsfield was my strongest fancy of the day and felt he had everything in his favour, bar possibly the ground, in the Listed Wolferton Stakes. Drawn low, he raced a shade keenly early on but led in the homestraight only to get worn down by a back to form Juan Elcano. Beaten half a length, there were no excuses - he had a dream run through, hit the front, but bumped into a talented horse who had a going day. That's racing - hopefully we have some better luck tomorrow.

Finally, a couple of thoughts regarding the King's Stand Stakes. As highlighted in the Update, there was a lot of early pace on offer and that's the way it panned out. Given the fact last year's winner Battaash was returning from an absence of 298 days and had suffered an injury during the winter, it was therefore surprising to see Jim Crowley commit his mount so far from home - he gave chase with over two furlongs to go and hit the front too soon. Tiring inside the final furlong, he was headed and was beaten two and a half lengths. Under a more circumspect ride, the seven year old would have been much closer and may even have won. 

Top 40 entry King's Lynn ran well in seventh and is another who could have been in the shake-up had he not met interference on the stands' rail. Andrew Balding's gelding, who won a Listed event at Haydock last time, is developing into a smart sprinter and it is not difficult to envisage him winning a top race this summer or beyond. Only beaten three and a quarter lengths, he remains a lightly raced with nine career outings.

Robert Cowell has earned a reputation for being one of the best trainers of sprinters and the Newmarket handler has done a remarkable job with Arecibo. Bought for 50,000gns in October, the six year old has won 2 of his 4 races for his current yard with his official rating rising from 91 to 104 in a couple of months. A dual winner at Newmarket, this was his first run above Group 3 level and he has finished second in the King's Stand Stakes. David O'Meara is one of the best in business but Arecibo only managed one win in 24 starts during his time with the North Yorkshire yard.



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