Mark Howard Publications Ltd

Frustrating week

20-June-2021 10:37
in General
by Admin

The final day of Royal Ascot summed up the week for followers of the Update. Point Lonsdale got the day off to a good start with a gutsy display in the Chesham Stakes. The full-brother to stablemate Broome was heavily supported beforehand and backed into odds on favouritism. However, it was far from plain sailing with Ryan Moore's mount forced to dig deep inside the final furlong to wear down the Queen's Reach For The Moon (colty beforehand) by half a length. Aidan O'Brien is already eyeing races such as the National Stakes and Dewhurst Stakes in the Autumn and there is no doubt he is a promising colt. He looks more of a stayer than a speed horse though and strikes me as a Derby colt rather than a Guineas one. Time will tell. The disappointment of the race was New Science who was seemingly all at sea on the testing ground. Charlie Appleby's colt had beaten the runner-up at Yarmouth last time but failed to pick up inside the final couple of furlongs. The son of Lope De Vega is much better than he showed on Saturday.

Even allowing for the ground, my two fancies in the Jersey Stakes were poor to say the least and I wish I had left the race alone. The frustration kicked in during the next three races. There were no excuses though for Broome who was put in his place by the exciting Wonderful Tonight in the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes. Aidan O'Brien's charge had no answer to the winner's turn of foot as she swept to the front in the homestraight. A length and a half separated the pair with the runner-up staying on well. Broome is a smart horse but a Group 2 performer compared to David Menuisier's winner who revels in soft/heavy ground and she looks set to play a leading role in the top middle distance events provided there is plenty of ease underfoot.

There were no complaints over Broome's defeat but I think Art Power should have won the Diamond Jubilee Stakes and would have done if he had been ridden more sensibly. Given a forceful and aggressive ride from the outset, Tim Easterby's grey was forced to do all the donkey work in the near side ground and was committed too soon. Still leading inside the final furlong, it was inevitable he was going to be picked off in the closing stages having gone so fast in such conditions. Plus, he ended up being lonely in the middle of a wide open track. Beaten a length and three quarters by Dream of Dreams, who was winning the event at the third time of asking, it was an opportunity missed. The Haydock Park Sprint in September, in which he finished fourth behind the same opponent last year, could be his best chance of winning a Group 1 this year, although his connections may be tempted to try him over five furlongs again because he doesn't lack speed. 

As regular readers will be aware, the Wokingham Stakes is one of my favourite races of the week and both selections, namely Fresh (advised @ 16/1) and Gulliver (advised @ 25/1), ran crackers in second and fifth respectively. The former travelled beautifully and looked set to provide James Fanshawe with his second win in the six furlongs contest only to be collared late on by the hugely progressive Rohaan, who would have been lining up in the Commonwealth Cup had he not been gelded before he even stepped foot on a racecourse. There was a neck between the pair. Gulliver raced more prominently than usual and led briefly inside the final furlong but couldn't sustain his effort. David O'Meara's seven year old ran very well though. Of those who lined up, the Leading Contenders in the Update (pages 37 & 38) featured Chief of Chiefs (4th), Fresh (2nd), Gulliver (5th), Pendleton (unplaced) and Rohaan (1st) - the only one missing was King's Lynn (3rd) who I didn't expect to run twice during the week having taken his chance in the King's Stand Stakes on Tuesday. 

Fair play to David Evans who has done a wonderful job with the winner. The gelded son of Mayson became the first three year old to win the Wokingham since 1987 and, in doing so, providing his trainer with his first Royal victory. Bought for 20,000gns in October last year having run twice for George Scott, Rohaan has now won 7 of his 12 races for Evans starting with a length and a half win at Newcastle in a six furlongs handicap off a mark of 55 in December. Now a Group 2 and 3 winner, he won off a rating of 112 on Saturday. It is a remarkable story and the July Cup could be next.

Foxes Tales (13/2) was highlighted in the Update for the Golden Gates Stakes and the Zoffany colt crowned a memorable week for Andrew Balding and Oisin Murphy with a two and a quarter lengths win. The half-brother to Fox Chairman was given a patient ride by the champion jockey before being produced on the far rail inside the final couple of furlongs. In contrast, the same owner's Fantastic Fox received a kamikaze ride attempting to make all and going far too fast in the conditions. It was therefore no surprise to see him fade tamely once turning for home.

With six winners over the five days it wasn't a disastrous week but there is a fine line between a very good meeting and an ordinary one. The Royal Hunt Cup and the Wokingham Stakes are arguably the toughest two handicaps of the week and Astro King (14/1) and Fresh (16/1) ran belters in second. Indeed, eight of the selections filled the runners-up berth over the course of the five days. Nicest (advised @ 66/1) and Raymond Tusk (25/1) were big priced placed horses and Surefire and Sir Lamorak (both advised @ 10/1) provided the highlight of the week by finishing first and second in the King George V Handicap on Thursday.

One final thought re Royal Ascot was the standard of riding on occasions. Similar to the Cheltenham Festival, I thought there were a couple of high profile British based jockeys who regularly grab the headlines with big race victories who didn't excel this week due to a poor judge of pace. In contrast, there is a reason why the likes of Moore, Murphy and Dettori (with the exception of his ride on Stradivarius) are at the top of their profession.

It's now time to crack on with One Jump Ahead........



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