Welcome to Day One of the Ascot Flat season 2013; we’ll have plenty of exciting racing ahead throughout the year and today’s free racing action gets us off to a superb start.
The feature race of today is the Longines Sagaro Stakes (3.30) over 2m in which The Queen’s Estimate, winner of last season’s Group 3 Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot over course and distance, is due to make her seasonal reappearance. She rounded last season off with a good third in the Park Hill Stakes (G2), and with today’s 3lb weight for age claim, she should go close.
"She has wintered well, and we've always been hopeful about her making the progression from three to four," said John Warren, the Queen’s racing manager to the Racing Post.
"Hopefully we will find out at Ascot where we really stand in the big scheme of things. She is bred to be better this year, but it's not going to be easy taking on the colts. We're looking forward to seeing how she fares."
Askar Tau, a consistent type last year, has not run since his good third behind Rite Of Passage here in the Long Distance Cup at the Champions meeting, while Earth Amber is an interesting runner for Nicky Henderson, the new British NH champion trainer. A French-bred she has had one run in Britain when second in April to the Testosterone, a former Group 1 runner-up, having previously finished second to a subsequent Group 1 winner Les Beaufs at Deauville last August.
Irish-based trainer Jessica Harrington sends over Steps To Freedom, third in the Alleged Stakes last month, and this trip to the UK won’t have been made in vain.
Typhoon blown in from Ireland
Typhoon Lily will have kept the Harrington runner company on the boat over from Ireland and runs in the mile Active Navigation EBF Stakes (2.30).
A well-bred filly, this is a step up for the daughter of Unbridled’s Song, but she ran really well when just beaten in an EBF race on the All-Weather at Dundalk last time, comes here fit from two winter outings and has the added assistance of champion jockey Richard Hughes.
Pearl Sea ran against some of the best two-year-old fillies of last season and put in a highly creditable performance when fifth in the Group 2 Lowther Stakes. She has an entry in the Coronation Stakes (G1) and if she has any chance of meeting that engagement she needs to perform with credit here.
Masarah has a similar profile – her best performance so far was when fifth behind Certify in the Fillies’ Mile (G1) – and is entered in all of the big fillies’ races through the early season, while the once-raced Chat also holds a Coronation Cup entry. Keep an ear out for the racecourse vibes concerning this unexposed runner.
Fencing to take the Paradise
Stipulate, Sovereign Debt, Don’t Call Me, and Boom And Bust are all closely matched on the book for The Listed Battersea Dogs & Cats Home Paradise Stakes (3.00), but the four-year-old son of Street Cry Fencing is taken to come into his own this year.
He was lightly raced last year, but he was highly enough regarded to be tried in the 2,000 Guineas in which he ran without disgrace to finish sixth. He followed that up with a third in the Dante Stakes (G2) and, after a disappointing effort in the St James’s Palace (G1), he finished fourth after a mid-season break behind Fulbright in the Dubai Challenge Stakes (G2). He might be in need of the outing here against race-hardened individuals, but he may also just possesses that extra bit of class to make difference.
Three-year-old lock horns in the Pavilion Stakes
The 6f Listed Battersea Dogs & Cats Home Pavilion Stakes (4.10) sees the three-year-olds do battle over a sprint trip. All of these bar Snow King had plenty of outings as two-year-olds with the colt Ahern posting the best form in the book when third in the 6f Group 2 July Stakes at Newmarket, although his season ended abruptly after a subsequent poor effort in the Gimcrack Stakes (G2) in August.
Liberating for Jessica Harrington drops back a furlong after a promising effort in a 1,000 Guineas Trial and earlier in April in the Listed Patton Stakes when behind the Aidan O’Brien-trained Gale Force Ten, however the in-form Zanetto is likely to be sent off race favourite after his Tattersalls Millions success at Newmarket in April.
The Andrew Balding-trained son of Medicean has Group race form in the book when second last season in the 6f Sirenia Stakes (G3) at Kempton with Hasopop, Pearl Acclaim and Intibaah all well beaten behind him.
Don’t dismiss the chances of Mick Channon’s filly Sandreamer, who finished second to Maureen, a 14-1 chance for this weekend’s 1,000 Guineas, in the Princess Margaret Stakes (G3) here last July.
Rock along to the conclusion
Rockalong is an improving sort and Luca Cumani looks to have found a suitable opening for the son of Rock Of Gibraltar in the closing mile Redcentric Handicap (4.45), while the opening 5f Aldermore Conditions Stakes (2.00) looks to be a battle between Anticipated from the Richard Hannon yard and Justice Day trained by David Elsworth.