With the dust now beginning to settle afrer five superb days racing at Royal Ascot, it is fair to say it was the sprinters who provided the highlights of the week. As discussed, Lady Aurelia was brilliant on Tuesday when winning the King's Stand Stakes. Last year's Coventry Stakes winner Caravaggio produced another devatasting display in the Commonwealth Cup and, in doing so, maintaining his unbeaten record. The son of Scat Daddy quickened inside the final furlong to wear down pacesetter Harry Angel to win going away by three parts of a length. It provided a fantastic spectacle. The runner-up emerged with plenty of credit too, especially having set such a scorching early pace. It wouldn't be a surprise to see Clive Cox's three year old drop back to the minimum trip and be aimed at the Nunthorpe at York. The third Blue Point travelled as well as anything but didn't find as much off the bridle as the first two home. Charlie Appleby's colt probably would have won most renewals of the Group 1 contest but the 2017 version looked of the highest order.
The Tin Man flew the flag for the older horses with a very good display in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes on the final day. James Fanshawe's five year old had only finished eighth in the race last year but had enjoyed a much smoother preparation this time around and he clearly improved from his reappearance at York last month. Despite edging to his left close home, he had enough in reserve to get the better of Tasleet and Limato and set up a possible tilt at the July Cup. Limato may have only finished third but he wasn't beaten far and could turn the tables on the winner in his bid to defend his crown on the July course next month. It was his first start since his below par effort in Dubai and will improve as the year goes on. We all know he will produce one sparkling display this year - he always does.
I was very impressed with September's victory in the Chesham Stakes on Saturday. A wide margin maiden winner at Leopardstown a fortnight ago, the beautifully bred daughter of Deep Impact mowed down the pacesetting Nyaleti before powering clear to win by two and a quarter lengths. Races such as the Debutante, Moyglare Stud and Fillies' Mile Stakes are likely to feature amongst her itinerary. She looks a filly of the highest quality and very much a Classic one in the making.
As regards the Royal Ascot Update, there were 6 winners including the aforementioned The Tin Man (Advised @ 8/1) and Atty Persse (also advised @ 8/1). There were also a fair share of near misses with half a dozen seconds and another six thirds. In many ways, it was a frustrating week. As readers will be aware, I sided with Sir Michael Stoute a lot over the five days but it proved a frustrating week for the head of Freemason Lodge. Mori ran very well in the Ribblesdale Stakes but was, ironically, headed close home by another Top 40 entry Coronet. Mirage Dancer ran a good race in the Hampton Court Stakes but I think his lack of experience cost him dear late on. Ulysses may have benefited from a more patient ride in the Prince of Wales's Stakes but then again he was beaten by six times Group 1 winner Highland Reel, who never knows when he was beaten. The two horses from the stable I was most disappointed with though were Crystal Ocean (King Edward VII) and Khairaat (Wolferton Stakes). The former could only finish third and, while I feel Andrea Atzeni made his move too quickly on the home turn and was forced to race wide, it was still disappointing he couldn't turn the tables with Permian on their Dante Stakes meeting. Perhaps he isn't as good as a I thought he was. It was reported the latter had missed some work and hadnt enjoyed the smoothest of preparations prior to the Wolferton but he still produced a tame effort having held every chance turning for home. This was too bad to be true because we know he is capable of a lot better.
I feel Projection may well have won the Wokingham Stakes had he been drawn on the far side. Roger Charlton's gelding travelled strongly on the near side and emerged best of his group. However, nothing was capable of leading him for long enough and Kieran Shoemark was forced to commit him sooner than ideal because of what was happening on the far side. Only beaten three parts of a length, this was a missed opportunity and frustrating for all concerned. Thank you to all those clients who have emailed, it is much appreciated. It wasn't a disaster but it could have been a whole lot better with a bit more luck.
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