Stradivarius was unable to replicate Yeats by winning the Ascot Gold Cup for a fourth time with John Gosden's seven year old filling fourth position. Frankie Dettori's mount was still going well turning for home but was a long way back and met trouble in running. From that point onwards, it was going to be impossible for the son of Sea The Stars to reel in the winner Subjectivist, who was given a no nonsense ride by Joe Fanning. A five lengths winner, it was Mark Johnston's fourth win in the race but his first since 2002. The four year old won the Group 1 Prix Royal Oak at Longchamp last Autumn and also produced a very good display to win the Dubai Gold Cup in March earlier this year. The Goodwood Cup will almost certainly be next and the Teofilo colt will continue to be a tough nut to crack.
William Haggas' decision to skip the Epsom Derby with Mohaafeth was justified as the colt made it four wins from as many starts this term when taking the Group 3 Hampton Court Stakes. A son of Frankel, he was held up Jim Crowley during the early stages before making his move on the outside in the homestraight. Despite causing intereference to the runner-up Roman Empire by hanging to his right inside the final furlong, the Shadwell Estate owned runner was always in control. A length and three quarters winner, he is entered in the Coral Eclipse early next month with his trainer believing ten furlongs may prove to be his optimum trip. This didn't look a vintage field, especially with market rival Movin Time (ridden too aggressively), but there is no doubt he is a high-class colt who could make an impact against the older horses later in the year. However, fast ground is the key to him and the underfoot conditions will dictate his programme.
Paul Hanagan rode his fifth Royal Ascot winner as Perfect Power led close home in the Norfolk Stakes. The Ardad colt had only broken his duck at Hamilton eight days earlier but he was rumoured to be Richard Fahey's best juvenile. It was his trainer's eighth Royal winner and he will have no trouble staying six furlongs. The Group 1 Prix Morny at Deauville later this summer wouldn't be the worst idea in the world. Paul has endured a tough spell having suffered a near career ending fall at Newcastle last year when effectively breaking his back in February 2020. I spoke to the Warrington born rider at Haydock last week and he feels as though he has got a second chance and is certainly making the most of it.
It has been a good week for northern trained horses with Juan Elcano (Wolferton Stakes), Perfect Power (Norfolk Stakes), Subjectivist (Gold Cup) and Highfield Princess (Buckingham Palace Stakes) all scoring. Thirsk handler Bryan Smart has run a couple of juveniles this week with both Bond Chairman (4th) and Project Dante (3rd) running blinders in the Windsor Castle and Norfolk Stakes respectively.
The Update has had a decent couple of days with Kemari (advised @ 11/1) winning the Queen's Vase on Wednesday, while Surefire (advised @ 10/1) led home a one two with Sir Lamorak (advised @ 10/1) in the King George V Stakes. In addition, Love (advised @ 2/1) and Mohaafeth (6/4) were also winners during the last 24 hours. I was really pleased by the performance of Nicest (advised E/W @ 66/1) in the Ribblesdale Stakes - indeed, I thought Donnacha O'Brien's filly was going to win turning for home but her effort petered out inside the final furlong. It was still a cracking run though.
The Royal Hunt Cup was a frustrating race to watch with Astro King (advised @ 14/1) finishing runner-up. Sir Michael Stoute's progressive four year old, who was ridden by Ryan Moore, fared best of those runners on the stands' side but he proved no match for the runaway winner Real World. With an official rating of 94, he was considered highly unlikely to 'make the cut' when I wrote the Update and therefore never entered calculations.
Let's hope we can round off the meeting with a good couple of days - the Update is rather light on selections on Friday but that might not be a bad thing with plenty of rain forecast tonight and tomorrow. Jason Hart, who rode the final winner, Highfield Princess, felt the rain was already getting into the ground, which suggest we will wanting soft ground horses on Friday and Saturday.
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