Thursday, 20 June 2013

A Day Fit For The Queen

No reigning monarch has ever won the Ascot Gold Cup; can history be made today?

Sir Michael Stoute and his team will be certainly be hoping that The Queen’s Estimate will be the one to change the course of history. The filly will be searching for back-to-back Royal Ascot wins having won the 2m Queen’s Vase last year, and back-to-back Ascot wins having won the 2m Sagaro Stakes at the May meeting.

This 2m4f trip will be the furthest the filly has eve run, but she acts well here and has every chance. 

One who is guaranteed to stay is Rite Of Passage, winner of this in 2010. The son of Giant’s Causeway does not run much and has not been seen on a racecourse since winning here at the last Champions’ meeting, but that was his only run in 2012 and his talented trainer will have him primed for a big run.

Last year’s winner Colour Vision and third Saddler’s Rock take their chances again, but both would probably prefer a slower surface. One would will enjoy the ground, is stepping up to 2m4f for the first time, but has placed Group 1 form and was second in a Group 2 over 2m at Longchamp last time is Last Train from the Andre Fabre yard.  He has a big chance at a good price.

When Aidan O’Brien openly tells the press which horse is his best two-year-old of the year, it is wise to pay attention – particularly when the trainer has already had already had one impressive two-year-old winner this week.

Coach House is favourite for the Group 1 6f Norfolk Stakes (2.30) and it is probably sensible just to trust the Irishman’s judgement.

However, is worth taking on the current favourite Alive Alive Oh in the Group 2 1m4f Ribblesdale Stakes (3.05) as all her winning form has coming on yielding or soft ground in Ireland. 

Just Pretending is stepping back in class but up in trip after a third in the Irish 1,000 Guineas and has obvious chances on that form, but Winsili could put Prince Khalid Abdullah on the winner’s podium for the first time this week. A beautifully bred filly, she won the Listed 1m2f Swettenham Stud Stakes at Newbury last time when looking a decent filly in the making. 

The Queen has great chances of a quick fire double on the card with Sea Shanty, who is searching a four-timer in the mile Britannia Handicap (4.05). The gelding is on the upgrade and has more improvement to come.

Secret Talent has only run three times, including when second here in May behind the Professor, a subsequent dual Listed winner.  He has already acted well on a fast surface and has always been held in high regard by trainer Hughie Morrison.

The 1m2f Tercentenary Stakes (5.00) could go to the French invader and Aga Khan-owned Shikarpour, who was a good fifth in the Prix du Jockey-Club at the beginning of the month, while our finale, the King George V takes looks an very open race – no horse on the early prices was shorter than 5-1. 

The early favourite is Bold Sniper, another for The Queen (can we believe Her Highness could get a three-timer on the card?), but preference is for the Mark Johnston-trained and Joe Fanning-ridden Royal Skies, who has won his last two with ease despite being hiked up in the weights by the handicapper after the first of those two victories. The son of Dubawi is sure to get the trip in a race won by Johnston and Fanning last year – in fact, Johnston has won this race an incredible four times in the last ten years.

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