Sometimes you just have to hold your hands up and admit you were wrong, and that was certainly the case with Tepin (and indeed EVERY OTHER RACE ON THE CARD). She was brilliant, and the gamble for connections paid off in some style.
Caravaggio was spectacular (although amazingly he’s not yet been anointed with the title of best 2yo they’ve seen at Coolmore – give it time), whilst Profitable showed he is the real deal this year under a great ride from new dad Adam Kirby. The St James’s Palace Stakes was almost everything we’d hoped for, and Frankie Dettori showed why he’s such a top jockey by learning his lesson from the Irish Guineas and getting a decisive first run on Awtaad and The Gurkha. I’m sure Ryan Moore and Chris Hayes would both love the chance to ride again and take note of what was happening at the front of the race rather than concentrating on each other.
What price a race between The Gurkha, Galileo Gold, Awtaad and Tepin at Glorious Goodwood?! Jennies Jewel proved me, myself and I correct in that she’s in great form and was guaranteed to stay (sometimes I should just read back what I’ve actually written) and confidence was high in Mister Trader following Caravaggio’s victory. Unfortunately Mister Trader tried to compete with Big City Dreamin’s early speed and he went backwards quicker than Mecca’s Angel, leaving Ardad to run out a worthy winner.
Day Two centres largely around the fillies, although potentially the big story of the day is the appearance of A Shin Hikari, who simply could not have been more impressive when winning at Chantilly last time out. For those of you like me who love the international flavour to the big races, then it would be great for the sport if this brilliant Japanese horse can prevail following Tepin’s victory yesterday. If you do fancy a bet on A Shin Hikari, however, then don’t use the Tote as if the Japanese fans descend on Royal Ascot, they may well destroy the price which is short enough as it is.
2:30, Jersey Stakes, 7f, 3yo.
This Group 3 looks as open as any race at the Royal meeting, with a field of 21 runners declared and only 4 of those in single figure prices. The favourite is likely to be Castle Harbour for John Gosden and Frankie Dettori and it’s not hard to see why. He’s won both his starts over this distance, on soft ground at Newmarket and good ground at York, and crucially has big field experience – his York win was against 19 rivals. However, this is a big step up in class and at the prices I prefer GIFTED MASTER for Hugo Palmer and Pat Smullen. Gifted Master, to put it politely, was a rather exuberant 2yo and once he was gelded, his form went to a new level. However, that gelding operation excluded him from being a Guineas contender – he would have been one and instead has been campaigned over 6f this year in spite of winning over both 7f and a mile as a 2yo. Therefore I think the extra furlong will suit him perfectly and I’m confident he won’t be inconvenienced by the cut in the ground. Of the rest, the Godolphin challenge looks strong and I also like the look of Ibn Malik.
Selection: GIFTED MASTER each way
3:05, Queen Mary Stakes, 5f, 2yo fillies.
Given the monster performance by Acapulco in last year’s renewal, we simply have to start with Lady Aurelia for Wesley Ward. Acapulco was physically head and shoulders above her rivals and would have won over any track against any 2yo filly on that day. The ground was perfect for her that day which won’t be the case this time around, and it is definitely worth taking both a market check and a look in the paddock before deciding whether to lump. I certainly couldn’t put anyone off backing her, but we will try and look elsewhere for value. One which catches the eye is ROLY POLY for Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore. This filly won smartly on her debut at Naas, before finishing 4th at the Curragh next time out on yielding / soft ground. Whilst that bare result doesn’t look strong, she had Caravaggio, Ambiguity and Mister Trader ahead of her, although the latter named two didn’t do the form much good yesterday. Mark Johnston’s runners – Camargue and Katrine – should go well, but in a trappy race I also like AL JOHRAH, whose sire Bated Breath was certainly not lacking in pace and she has form in France on this sort of ground.
Selection: ROLY POLY each way
Alternative: AL JOHRAH each way
3:40, Duke of Cambridge Stakes, 1m, 4yo+ fillies and mares.
The penalty system for this race means that Miss Temple City carries 5lbs for her US Grade 1 win, whilst Devonshire and USHERETTE carry 3lbs each for their Group 2 victories at the Curragh and Newmarket respectively. It is Usherette who is of most interest, however, given that Newmarket win was a clear career best and she has only been beaten once in her 6 career starts to date. Being so lightly raced means she is still open to further progression, and under the watchful eye of the French master Andre Fabre she can take this for Godolphin. Godolphin are coming at this mob-handed, with Devonshire, the smart improver Always Smile and the excellent Lucida providing strong competition.
4:20, Prince of Wales’s Stakes, 1m2f, 4yo+.
This Group 1 feature of day two has unfortunately lost some of its lustre for this year’s renewal, with the withdrawal of Time Test due to the going. As a result, A Shin Hikari has been backed in to odds-on favouritism, and with the likely defection of The Grey Gatsby for similar reasons to Time Test we will probably have just five runners. If A Shin Hikari matches his Chantilly form, he should win in fine style, but Found is a consistent filly and if there are any chinks in A Shin Hikari’s armour, she will surely take advantage.
Selection: No bet.
5:00, Royal Hunt Cup, 1m, 3yo+.
With 33 runners declared for this mile handicap, even with an expected number of NRs it’s still an incredibly difficult race to pick apart. The favourite is Convey, whom I’ve been a fan of since his debut win as a 2yo on the all weather at Kempton. It’s fair to say he didn’t live up to that early promise as a 3yo, but two promising seconds recently at York and Haydock behind Always Smile and Home Of The Brave respectively have given connections renewed hope. I’m not sure I want him on my side at single figures though, even with Ryan Moore on board. The first of two I tentatively like at double figures are DONNCHA, who was fifth behind Convey at York when slowly away and met trouble in running and has Tom Marquand claiming a valuable 3lbs. The second is MR OWEN, who has some very smart 3yo form in France including a 3rd in the French Guineas. Over the past 13 months he has contested four Group 1 or 2 races and won at Listed level, so even though he is fourth in the weights he might be able to translate that into a place.
5:35, Sandringham Handicap, 1m 3yo fillies.
Another huge field and another tough one to unravel, including six last time out winners who could be open to further improvement. They include the lightly-raced favourite Persuasive, who has won all three of her starts for John Gosden, including the last twice under today’s jockey Frankie Dettori. She has posted successive RPRs of 81, 91 and 96 and will take some beating if she improves again. Anamba, Czabo and Aljuljalah all make appeal, as does Mix and Mingle who was a creditable 7th in the 1000 Guineas. However, I fancy the Queen to notch a Royal winner in the form of either DIPLOMA or MAKE FAST. Diploma won last time out at York over an extended 10 furlongs, and that stamina could prove vital if there are further showers during the afternoon’s racing. She must be respected for Sir Michael Stoute and Ryan Moore. Conversely, Make Fast has never raced over a mile, but she was second in a Listed race last year at Newbury on soft ground and was second on Oaks day at Epsom when it was certainly sticky underfoot. She’s a decent-priced alternative for Andrew Balding and David Probert.
Selection: DIPLOMA each way
Alternative: MAKE FAST each way