Royal Ascot Day Five
Day Four Roundup
It’s not like Aidan O’Brien’s supposed second-string to come up trumps is it… Time and time again, we see his bigger price ‘supposed’ second and third in the pecking order outrun their massive odds, and it’s only with the benefit of hindsight you just wonder why you weren’t involved. The thing with the O’Brien runners is, they’re invariably all by the same top class sires (Galileo, War Front etc), and each and every one have the potential to be superstars. Often, you find yourself going on the jockey bookings to decipher the O’Brien puzzle, or as you do in my case, overlook his runners altogether! However, he looks to have another special filly in Brave Anna, who despite being very green, and a little awkward throughout her race, got the job done gamely. She was slow away, and hung slightly when asked to quicken throughout the final furlong, but this was only her third race to date, and you can just see bigger and better things for her the more racing that she encounters.
Sword Fighter won from the front under a brilliant ride from Colm O”Donoghue. Timing each and every fraction to perfection, O’Donoghue was given the answers to every question posed to his mount when pressed by the well-fancied Harbour Law, and Sword Fighter showed a lovely winning attitude. He returned at 33/1, and looking at his form I’m left scratching my head a little as to how his SP was so big. He’s ran in maidens with great credit against some top opposition. The most notable piece of form was finishing 2nd to the Derby winner Harzand (albeit by a good 16 lengths…). Sword Fighter’s win took O’Brien’s winning tally to 5 this week, the man is a genius that has his fleet primed for action whatever their price.
The performance of yesterday has to be that of Qemah in the Group 1 Coronation Stakes. We’ve witnessed so many traffic problems when entering the final stretch this week, and great credit has to be given to Gregory Benoist who kept Qemah off the pace, and took her wide to challenge entering the final 3f. He was as canny tactically as his horse was sheer class. Her dominant display meant that her trainer, Jean-Claude Rouget, again tasted victory in the race after Ervedya last year, and I can’t wait to see Qemah in action again.
Day Five (Saturday) Preview
Right then. Onto today. The Chesham Stakes (2:30) sees a pair of Frankel’s sproggs tackle Listed company for the first time. Both of them won on their respective debuts, and its so exciting to see just how good they might be. I really like the chances of the one in John Gosden’s care best of all however. Cunco was the first of the Frankel lot to make it to the racecourse. He was so coltish that day, kicking and bucking all over the paddock, that his price went out to 9/2, and he wasn’t really given a chance owing to his unruly behaviour. Once those stalls opened however, he simply flourished. He travelled strongly throughout, but when asked the question 3f out by Robert Havlin, he seemingly wanted to do things in his own time. Approaching the 1/2f marker, the penny just dropped, and Cunco flew home to win by 3/4 of a length. That debut was run over 6f, and I think stepping Cunco up to 7f today will see him in an even better light. He took ages to be pulled up after the winning post last time out and will get even further than 7f in time, but I reckon with race experience under his belt he is a solid contender against the 6/4 market leader Churchill.
Back Cunco at 9/2
I can’t help but think that the ground might be slightly against Wesley Ward’s Undrafted in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes (4:20). Last years winner was terrifically powerful in the finish, but the ground that day was good to firm. The clerk of the course has however, stated that the conditions are drying, especially on the straight course, and that there could be a going change by the first race. If that were to happen, then I’d be more than obliged to have a little go at the 8/1 that I’m seeing now. If the ground rides good to soft, then Undrafted’s trademark dash could be blunted, but I don’t think that it’s as soft as they say, so let’s hope the sun bakes the turf before the Diamond Jubilee unfolds. Ward’s speedster warmed up with a nice win in a Group 2 over in Keeneland and has had the ideal prep so I’m quietly confident about his chances.
Back Undrafted at 8/1
The Wokingham Stakes (5:00) is another one of those lottery handicaps that we all love so much… 28 confirmed runners and a market leader at around a price of 9/1 shows the extent to which how difficult picking a winner is. That said, and I can’t help but be drawn towards the chances of Ninjago. Now in the care of sprint handicap expert Paul Midgley, Ninjago has undergone surgery for numerous issues over the winter, and his 4th placed finish in a hot York handicap last time out suggests that his trainer is unearthing his undeniable talent. He has course and distance form to his name, as well as the capable hands of Adam Kirby to steer him through a predictably messy race, and despite slight ground concerns I think Ninjago must surely go close. Paul Midgley can’t get over the price of his new arrival and neither can I. Get on.
Back Ninjago e/w at 20/1
The chances of Oriental Fox in the Queen Alexandra Stakes (5:35) are well highlighted. The runaway winner in this race last season (by all of 7 lengths), Mark Johnston’s expert stayer hasn’t won since, but has solid placed form in Group company. Oriental Fox was last seen finishing down the field on his seasonal reappearance, but that was over an inadequate 12f trip and was no more than a pipe-opener in preparation for today. Often you will try to get the favourite beaten, but the way the results have been this week suggests that it’s best not to overlook the obvious, and with his course form, and proven ability over further distances on the flat, Oriental Fox is the one to side with here.
Back Oriental Fox at 9/2
That’s your lot then. Let’s hope that we can end the week on a high. As always, best of British and enjoy the racing! X