Wow! What a week....
Ribchester blowing away the opposition in the Queen Anne, Zhui Feng leading all the way in the Hunt Cup, Big Orange in a wonderful front running win, Permian showing his Derby run to be all wrong, The Tin Man nabbing another Group 1 at Ascot and Snoano finding the gap late on to take the Wolferton.
It was a great week for me, Trends subscribers, the horses to follow list, the ante-post Lucky 15 and, especially, Highway 50 Members.
In fact the only horses to disappoint were all trained by Sir Michael Stoute. His Mori, Ullyses, Mainstream and Dartmouth were all expensive losers for me but, hey, you can't win them all!
Thanks for all the emails, Twitter feedback and kind comments I received over the course of the week. It's very much appreciated and I'm thrilled that I was able to help so many of you have an enjoyable and profitable Royal Ascot. I'm counting down the days until Route 66 starts up again in October...
But before then there are still plenty of big meetings on the flat left to get stuck into and with that in mind here are five horses that ran at Ascot to look out for this Summer...
I spent the early part of last week cursing Aiden O'Brien for running Lancaster Bomber in the St James Palace and not the Jersey Stakes as I was sure he wanted dropping down to 7f. Okay, I was mainly talking through my pocket as I had backed him ante-post for the 7f race, and he actually won more prize money for finishing second in the St James Palace than he would have got for winning the Jersey, but still, on his running behind Barney Roy on the Tuesday the opening race on the Wednesday would have been a penalty kick. In his three runs this Season (Newmarket and Irish 2000 Guineas and the St James Palace) he has travelled into the race strongly at the furlong pole only to fade out of it close home.
But having re-studied the races, and judging by his upcoming entries, it seems Aiden O'Brien is thinking a step up in trip is the answer and not a step down. And who am I to argue with the world's best trainer?
Although I'd love to see him contest the Group 2 Lennox Stakes at Glorious Goodwood over 7f it's looking more likely we'll be seeing him in the Eclipse or some other Group 1 10f race later this Summer.
SANTRY & INDIAN DANDY
It was quite obvious that at the start of the meeting there was a huge bias on the straight course towards horses drawn on the stands side with the first 5 home in every race up to a mile on the Wednesday being drawn in a double figured stall. So the clerk of the course decided to water the track and try and even out the bias but he forgot to take into account the shadow of the grand stand. This meant the stands side dried out slower and as a result, the draw bias was turned around on the Thursday with those drawn on the far side now having the advantage. Well, that's my take on the draw bias anyway.
To me, the two horses that were inconvenienced the most from this were the 2yo Santry in the Norfolk Stakes and the 3yo Indian Dandy in the Britannia Handicap.
Santry was 2 from 2, including an emphatic win at York, when he arrived at Royal Ascot and wasn't unfancied having been sent off the well backed 13/2 favourite but despite overcoming trouble in running he came through the stands side to 'win' by 1 1/2 lengths only to find Aiden O'Briens Sioux Nation had led home the far side and beat him by 1/2 length. I'm sure even Aiden O'Brien would agree that Sioux Nation isn't one of the stables best 2yo's and the best horse didn't win this race. Compensation awaits for Santry with the Molecomb Stakes at Glorious Goodwood looking an obvious target but his trainer has mentioned the Gimcrack at York and the Middle Park at Newmarket as possible targets later in the Summer.
Indian Dandy was the trends selection for the Britannia Handicap and having witnessed Zhui Feng come up the stands rail over the same course and distance the day before in the Hunt Cup I was very confident of a big run from stall 27. A big run I got as he traveled beautifully out the back before switching to the inside rail to finish like a rocket and grab 4th. Unfortunately the far side dominated the race and stalls 3, 1 & 7 came home 4 lengths clear of the stands side group led home by Indian Dandy. If you have access to a replay of the race just watch him finish down the rail. Incredible. He should have no problem picking up a handicap before the end of the Season and we may even see him stepped up in trip for a crack at 10 furlongs.
Another that might be worth noting from the Britannia is the Charles Hills trained Afaak. Well fancied for the race his jockey elected to come stands side from stall 10 and in hindsight I'd imagine he probably regrets that decision. He was close up a furlong out but faded inside the last 200 yards to come home 3rd of the stands side group and 7th overall.
There were quite a few gambles going on in the Duke of Edinburgh handicap on the Friday of the meeting with Sir Michael Stoute's Mainstream, Roger Varian's pair Wadigor and Appeared and the Jeremy Noseda trained Sixties Groove all heading the betting at some stage during the 24 hours running up to the race. As it turned out the Charlie Appleby trained outsider Rare Rhythm took the spoils on his Seasonal debut having not run since he too was beaten in this race when well fancied the year before. The race itself was a slowly run affair that seemed to favour those ridden prominently with the fancied horses that were being held up all finding the winning post appearing too soon for their late challenges. My money was on the Stoute runner Mainstream who I really fancied but he was unable to land a blow having missed the start and after being held up right at the back.
The unluckiest of them all though was Sixties Icon (who was tipped up by quite a few shrewd judges) as he was probably the fastest finishing of them all and least suited to the way the race was run. He'd run an eye-catching race at Epsom on his previous start over an inadequate trip and is one to watch out for over 12 furlongs at all the big Festival's this Summer.
While my big fancy for the race, Zhui Feng, was steering well clear of any trouble by leading all the way to win the Hunt Cup another one of my handicappers to follow, Fastnet Tempest, suffered a nightmare run through the last 2 furlongs and did well to finish as close as he did. Repeatedly denied a run as they approached the final furlong he had to switch twice to get the daylight he needed but once finding the gap he rattled home for 9th place. Despite going up 10lb for two wins in May of this year I don't think the handicapper has quite got his measure yet and with luck in running he hasn't finished winning this Season. The Bunbury Cup at Newmarket or the Goodwood Mile at the Glorious Festival look two possible targets.
So, stick them in your tracker and watch out for these 5 wherever they end up later this Season....
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