St James Palace Stakes – Zoffany
The horse was still last turning for home travelling noticeably well in-behind runners. Having to wait for a run momentarily he eventually got the split and began to bear down on the leader Frankel (who obviously went too hard too soon). Frankel is clearly a class above, but the way Zoffany finished his race off here suggests he’s coming to hand at just the right time for Aidan O’Brien and it wouldn’t be the biggest surprise were he to pick up a Group 1 over a mile this season. He is said to have suffered a bout of colic prior to his comeback run in the Ballychorus (and badly needed the run) but he has improved leaps and bounds from that effort and is very smart.
Coventry Stakes – Gatepost
Can be rated better than the bare form suggests given this wasn’t jockey Jamie Spencer’s finest hour on board this smart colt. Spencer elected to explore every blade of grass on the straight mile course allowing the principles to get first run on him. Eventually when realising the winner and second had gotten too far away from him, Spencer made up ground on the Mick Channon trained colt but all was too late and he kept on well into fifth under relatively hands and heels riding.
Ascot Stakes – Zigato
In a race run at a relatively modest pace, this was the first poor judgement in the saddle from William Buick who will feature on Day 2 with another shocker. Positioned miles out of his ground at the back of the field, and making little to no effort to negate that deficit until rounding for home, the front two had stolen a march on Zigato. Zigato kept on eye-catching down the centre of the track under hands and heels riding to finish a going on fourth, and would clearly of won with a more tactically astute ride from his pilot (and I backed the winner).
Jersey Stakes – Western Aristocrat
A horse that was previously unbeaten prior to this run, and after racing rather enthusiastically in the early stages Johnny Murtagh decided to sit in the slipstream of the favourite Codemaster in a bid to get his colt some cover, but that decision proved costly as it left him too much to do when the race quickened. Outpaced when asked for his effort, he was really going on at the finish in the style of a horse needing that extra furlong and judging by this display he could develop into a high class miler for Jeremy Noseda.
Queen Mary Stakes – Caledonia Lady
Almost caused a shock at 100/1 when finishing fast in the closing stages, and I believe she would have won granted a clear passage. Travelling noticeably well approaching the final two furlongs, she began to make her effort down the centre of the track but had to switch around the weakening Gypsy Robin and On The Dark Side meanwhile Best Terms and Shumoos were able to run straight and true to the line. The official distances were (short head, head) and that manoeuvre around beaten horses I believe has cost Caledonia Lady at least a length which is the difference here between victory and defeat. She is an absolute formality to win a maiden and looks to play her hand against her own sex in group races this season – and could well be a decent price being from an unfashionable stable such as Pat Murphy’s.
Norfolk Stakes – Burwaaz
In a race where all the pace came down the centre, Burwaaz raced away from the pace up the stands rail under Richard Hills and was at a disadvantage as the race began to take shape. A horse with plenty of size he quickened up smartly on the stands rail just inside the furlong and put distance between himself and his group of 5 and can be marked up significantly for this effort. He looks the type to improve from this and connections must be itching to take on winner Bapak Chinta on a level playing field next time and I’d favour Ed Dunlop’s colt to come out on top judging by this effort.
Ribblesdale Stakes – Field Of Miracles
Ran an admirable race on the front end going down by the shortest of short heads to quite possibly the toughest filly in training at the moment in Banimpire. In front throughout, she quickened away from her field off the turn for home and had them all on the stretch. She was gradually worn down by the tough as teak Jim Bolger filly but battled back bravely when headed to force a photo finish. She clearly has her quirks but is improving with racing and a group race should come her way before long this season based on this effort and is worth keeping on side.
Britannia Stakes – Tropical Beat
The sequel in the William Buick trilogy of bad rides and this one would have gone very close to winning if things had gone his way. Switching to the inside Buick spent around a furlong trying to remove Tropical Beat from up the arse of a weakening rival and when doing so the horse absolutely took off closing the final furlong faster than anything else in the race to finish tenth. Now this isn’t great for those of us who’ve backed him (myself) but I’m willing to award him the title of the ‘moral’ winner of the race given a clear passage and a more tactically astute effort in the saddle he would have. Of the others Cai Shen and Bahceli look the two to take out the race.
Tercentenary Stakes – Laajooj
Positioned out the back by Mikael Barzalona on a week where this wasn’t the place to be on the round course, the Godolphin colt made a sweeping move down the outside of the pack. I had noticed he was positioned 1L behind Alkimos prior to entering the straight but as they entered he was some 8-9L behind (good race riding by Fallon), the race was pretty much over by the time Laajooj hit full stride and he came home well under the young sensation. This wasn’t Mikael’s finest hour in the saddle but the horse has shown his ability to us to suggest back on a straight track like Newmarket (July course perhaps) he looks capable of picking up a nice prize. Marksmanship who looks another worth keeping an eye out for, and he clearly needs to be upped in trip.
King George V Stakes – Census
Didn’t appear to be overly inconvenienced when hampered as the dash for home began, and he took a while to hit full stride allowing Brown Panther to poach an unassailable advantage. However after looking like getting nowhere near the leader two furlongs out, Richard Hannon’s charge absolutely took off on the approach to the final furlong and closed the race faster than anything else in the field. Although the gap was sixth lengths at the line Census is value to be a fair bit closer than that margin in my book, and it is worth stepping this colt up in distance to 14F where he could potentially be group class.
King Edward VI Stakes – Fiorente
A horse that will without doubt make a better four-year-old, he was taken under the trees by Ryan Moore on the far side in the early stages of the race (along with Mijhaar and Neil Callan). This tactic is often used as an advantage by jockeys (most memorably deployed by Willie Carson on Bahri) when the ground goes soft; however this decision backfired as when they rejoined the pack they were forced to tuck in at the rear of the field (a place of disadvantage on the round course all week). Still at the back of the field turning in, Ryan Moore appeared to fall asleep reading the paper (or maybe he was doing the crossword?) aboard Fiorente allowing William Buick to blast clear on the impressive Nathaniel. Fiorente got going all too late in the end but made up masses of ground in pursuit of the leader, but John Gosden’s colt had gone beyond recall. There is a lot more to come from Fiorente, mark my words.
Buckingham Palace Stakes – Striking Spirit
Ran an absolute screamer from stall 2, in a race where high numbers were heavily favoured. Raced on the far side early before gradually edging across to the centre at the half-way stage, he was still racing away from the pace throughout and as those that had raced around him disappeared out of view, he powered all the way to the line, only to be outdone by the draw bias. Clearly the one to take from the race being beaten only 1.5L after racing at such a disadvantage he looks capable of striking in a similar sort of handicap before long. He has a liking for this track and his trainer Tim Easterby shall be more than capable of placing him to effect in the not too distant future.
Wokingham Stakes – Mac’s Power
On a day where James Fanshawe did so well at Ascot (saddled the Golden Jubilee winner in Society Rock and winner of this race in Deacon Blues). This horse ran a massive race down the now unfavoured stands side. Travelling noticeably well as the camera zoomed in two furlongs from home, Pat Cosgrave asked this smart gelding for his effort shortly after spying a gap to go through and he drew nicely clear of his field. Sadly the action was all over on the far side and there will be other days for this son of Exceed And Excel and looks worth keeping the faith with now that the yard are amongst the winners.
Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes – Rock A Doodle Doo
This really wasn’t the best moment in the saddle Olivier Peslier has had in his lifetime, and it won’t be far from his worst either. All dressed up with nowhere to go out the back of the field as the action began to unfold, he continually ran into trouble as the horse was screaming for an out. Eventually getting a gap when the front two kicked on to fight out the finish he kept on under minimal assistance in the saddle, and can be counted an unlucky loser (he would have been ALOT closer). This goes down as a string of recent awful efforts in the saddle by Olivier, and isn’t anywhere near the form he is usually in at this time of year. Unfortunately every man and his dog will probably have seen Rock A Doodle Doo which will probably mean we’ll struggle to get any sort of price next time but one of these races will come his way before long.
I hope you enjoyed reading my thoughts on the Royal Ascot meeting.