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Royal Ascot 2024

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I thought Voyage's run at Epsom would have been a precursor to better things.  I noticed that he kept a straight line without a jockey to guide him.  So I backed him.  Motherless far kin LAST!!!

I liked Haatem's run at the Curragh,  He got me out.

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Love this…🥰
 

Oisin Murphy was guilty of identity fraud in the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Stakes. Indeed, his impersonation of Jamie Spencer was so good on Khaadem that it wasn't until the camera zoomed in on the three-time champion soon after the line that you realised it was him. 

It was an impression Alistair McGowan would have been proud of as he sat motionless most of the way and only poked Khaadem's nose in front about 100 yards out. It was patience personified. 

But this time last year we were saying the same thing about Spencer following his victory on the sprinter, so it's about time the horse himself got some credit, don't you think?

Khaadem is no Battaash, we know that, but he became the first back-to-back winner of this Group 1 since Right Boy in 1959 and, when he gets out of the right side of the bed, he is seriously talented. 

Charlie Hills admitted he's a real character at home and you never know what you are going to get on the gallops each morning. His character reference was quite amusing actually. 

Hills said of Khaadem: "He’s a wonderful horse, but you just wouldn’t know what you are going to get. He’s got a huge amount of ability, but he's so different one day to the next. One day he’ll pick up the bridle and you think he’s Nijinsky, the next you think he’s a plater.

"He knows more about the game than any of us. He’s a hugely talented horse and has been an absolute pleasure to train."

 

Khaadem keeps Hills guessing and he keeps punters guessing too. Last year he went off 80-1, this time only 14-1, but his odds could have been bigger given he didn't beat a single horse home on his prep run in the Duke of York Stakes at last month's Dante meeting. Spencer shunned him for Mitbaahy and who could blame him. You never know what you are going to get from Khaadem, after all. 

This was the Khaadem in all his glory, though. Sharp, slick and gushing with speed. Everything around him is in slow motion when he's like this and, as William Buick on Mill Stream and Clifford Lee on Swingalong were asking for absolutely everything, Murphy was asking for nothing. It made for beautiful viewing. He pressed go at the perfect time and Khaadem scored by half a length. A glorious ride. 

Murphy said: "I enjoyed that! I was doing my best Jamie Spencer impersonation. But what an amazing horse. He's eight years of age and that was back-to-back wins in this race. That's an incredible training performance from Charlie Hills and his team. It's wonderful.

"To be honest, I thought for the majority of the last two furlongs he would win and I was able to enjoy it a little bit. There was a lot of speed on, particularly after a furlong. When it began to slow down late on he came alive. I just wanted to copy Jamie from last year!"

Hills added of the winner: "What a horse, to win two of these races, plus a Palace House, a Stewards' Cup and a King George at Goodwood. Unbelievable. 

"He got a fantastic ride there off the pace and he never looked like he was going to get beaten. He travelled beautifully through the race. He loves the place and it’s the first time he’s had the ground pretty much since he ran here last time. I think fast ground is key to him."

We must remember that for next year when he returns at a massive price for his hat-trick bid.

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Absolutely fantastic week of racing , the coverage of every aspect of the meeting was top notch , and to be honest it wasn't a vintage quality of horses with the odd exception , but they all put on a show .

One small critique , they have stop all this tradition crap , no place for it in this modern day , they should chop this week up and move it around , it would much more successful . Tradition , Bah humbug .

Oh and one other thing , what's this shit with letting owners get up close and personal with their horses and the people who look after them , no no no , where was H&S for goodness sake , can't be having this , need to keep them well away , don't want the people forking out the cash feeling like they are part of the action .

Well done the Poms , useful for some things .

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3 hours ago, nomates said:

One small critique , they have stop all this tradition crap , no place for it in this modern day , they should chop this week up and move it around , it would much more successful . Tradition , Bah humbug .

As in, chopping up The Auckland Cup Carnival nomates?

That's been a roaring success 🤣

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Gold Cup Day at Ascot – one of the iconic days in the British sporting, let alone racing calendar.

A crowd of around 60,000 enjoyed another fine and pleasant afternoon while the track remained in excellent shape riding Good to Firm despite some overnight irrigation on the straight course.

Once again, many thanks to @Ohokaman for providing the video coverage.

The feature race was the Gold Cup over 4000m and 2022 winner KYPRIOS was backed in to 11/10 to follow up. He faced his conqueror from last autumn’s Long Distance Race on Champions Day, TRAWLERMAN while John Gosden ran both GREGORY and SWEET WILLIAM and last year’s runner up COLTRANE added extra interest.

KYPRIOS duly prevailed under another masterclass from Ryan Moore. He had been out-thought by Frankie Dettori last autumn who had kept his horse away from KYPRIOS who idles in front but rallies when challenged. By keeping TRAWLERMAN wide and not eye-balling KYPRIOS, Dettori got the better of the argument but this time Moore rode a clever race allowing William Buick to challenge first and lead on TRAWLERMAN before rallying and regaining the lead in the final 200m and in the end winning cosily.

They say, well I do, there’s no point getting older if you don’t get wiser and Ryan Moore learns whenever it doesn’t go to plan. KYPRIOS became the first horse since Kayf Tara to regain the Gold Cup and it’s going to take a good one to beat him in the near future. Presumably the plan will be Goodwood, the Lonsdale, the Irish Leger and the Cadran.

TRAWLERMAN will be more of a threat back at 3200m and on slower turf while SWEET WILLIAM ran home well to suggest he’ll be competitive in the staying races for all he was beaten six lengths. VAUBAN didn’t stay and COLTRANE looks a bit slow these days and GREGORY disappointed.

They ran 4 minutes 18.06 seconds for the 4000m which is another very strong time on the quick turf.

The card opened with the Group 2 Norfolk over 1000m for the speedy juvenile colts and geldings and all the pre-race talk was for Aidan O’Brien’s WHISTLEJACKET who was backed into 10/11 but that money never looked like being landed and it was another for Wathnan Racing with SHAREHOLDER coming on from his win in a warm Beverley maiden on debut.

Trainer Karl Burke has a very strong batch of juveniles this year and was quick to suggest SHAREHOLDER was all speed and the long-term aim would be the 2025 Commonwealth Cup. TROPICAL STORM and ARIZONA BLAZE got the minor places in front of WHISTLEJACKET, who didn’t run badly but looked like a step up in trip would help and AESTERIUS, another Wathnan runner.

The Group 2 Ribblesdale over 2400m for the 3-y-o fillies had KALPANA favourite over DIAMOND RAIN and for those who follow Ryan Moore it was another winner as PORT FAIRY, runner up in the Cheshire Oaks, improved noticeably for the better ground. Moore chose this one over RUBIES ARE RED, who disappointed in mid division and not for the first time he was right.

PORT FAIRY just held off northern raider LAVA STREAM who ran a huge race at 20/1. KALPANA ran well enough in third in front of YOU GOT TO ME who, as she had at Lingfield, went too quick too early and poached a big lead but the petrol light was flashing 400m out. To her credit, she kept on well for fourth and she’ll be a decent filly if she can learn to settle and perhaps the problem is she gets lit up going downhill and that didn’t help here. I wonder if they’ll chance her in the Yorkshire Oaks where the flat track will suit.

The winner is in the Irish Oaks as you might expect. The big disappointment was DIAMOND RAIN who was the first beaten and came home last in a week which hasn’t been kind to Charlie Appleby thus far.

The Group 3 Hampton Court over 2000m saw a big gamble on London Gold Cup winner KING’S GAMBIT just go awry. This one looked very impressive winning the aforementioned handicap at Newbury (a race which used to be run at the long-closed Alexandra Palace track in North London, a track known as the “frying pan”).

KING’S GAMBIT was kicked up to 107 after the win but it all went wrong with a tardy start which left William Buick last on the home turn and while the horse found a real turn of foot in the final 300m, JAYAREBE from the Hannon yard had gone beyond recall. JAYAREBE had looked good at Newmarket in April but had disappointed on slower ground at Chester las time. He clearly loves quick ground but I wouldn’t write off KING’S GAMBIT just yet.

The three other races were competitive handicaps.

Money came from the King’s horse GILDED WATER in the King George V Stakes Handicap over 2400m but the horse never really got out of mid division. This was a strange race as they went very hard and the first two home were the last two entering the straight as the pace collapsed.

Jamie Spencer took the inside route on the 33/1 chance NESKI SHERELSKI but Rossa Ryan went the more conventional route down the outside on GOING THE DISTANCE and just edged the race. The winner is owned by Mark Chang, an old friend of Frankie Dettori and trainer Ralph Beckett mentioned the Ebor as a possible next run.

The Britannia Handicap over the straight 1600m for the 3-y-o had 29 runners – it’s basically the Hunt Cup for the younger horses. The field split into three and at point four groups but MICKLEY proved an impressive winner and this was quite a step forward from a Doncaster handicap. He was formerly owned by a syndicate called Clarendon Racing but they sold the horse last week to one P K Siu and as you might expect this one will be going to Hong Kong. The flow of decent thoroughbreds from the UK to Hong Kong is as much an issue as the flow from Australia or New Zealand. I’m not sure what can be done – money talks, horses walk (or rather fly) and the quality of the generation suffers.

The card ended with a winning favourite in the Buckingham Palace Handicap over 1400m and another winner for Wathnan Racing in the form of ENGLISH OAK who did this very well beating 28/1 shot BILLYJOH. The winner was rated 99 and this will put him into Listed or Group company. He’s been put in as 3/1 favourite for the Bunbury Cup, another warm 1400m handicap at Newmarket next month but he’s also 12s for the July Cup at the same meeting and that would be an interesting move to put him in with the very best.

Those drawn low never stood a chance – it’s a bias we often see at the Royal meeting if the weather stays dry as, despite watering, the ground rides quicker up the stands side.

In terms of jockey and trainer standings, Day Three ended with Ryan Moore on four winners and both Oisin Murphy and James Doyle on three each. Aidan O’Brien had established a stranglehold on the Trainers’ Championship though John Gosden was keeping in touch with some placed runners.

 

 

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The fourth day of Royal Ascot continued the trend of fine and pleasant weather which brought another huge crowd (though I suspect a lot of the same crowd) to Berkshire.

Once again, many thanks to @Ohokaman for supplying the race videos.

Two more championship races, the Commonwealth Cup over 1200m for the 3-y-o sprinters and the Coronation Stakes for the 3-y-o filly milers.

The Commonwealth Cup has had some questions asked in the past three or four years about the quality of the winners and the placed animals and its status as a Group 1 isn’t secure. The 200 Guineas sixth, INISHERIN, looked very good when winning the Sandy Lane at Haydock and was set off 9/4 favourite. Connections paid £14,000 to supplement GIVEMETHEBEATBOYS who went off 4s along with JASOUR.

With the favourite winning the opening Albany (of which more anon) the bookmakers needed a break but they didn’t get it as INISHERIN put up another sparkling performance on the very much quicker ground (to be fair, he had gone well on fast ground in the 2000 Guineas but had simply failed to see out the 1600m that day).

Unlike Haydock, INISHERIN was held up but quickly went on 350m down and was never in any doubt of defeat. He’s been put in 5/2 favourite for the July Cup where he’ll take on the older sprinters from the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee on Saturday but with the weight concession, they’ll do well to defeat him on this evidence.

More of a threat might be LAKE FOREST who ran a huge race on seasonal debut. He won the Gimcrack at York before failing in the Middle Park and has reproduced last season’s July Stakes form with JASOUR almost to the ounce. I just wonder if 1400m might be a better trip as he was finishing well.

JASOUR fluffed the start and used too much petrol getting into contention and weakened in the final 50m losing second on the jamstick. The big disappointment was GIVEMETHEBEATBOYS who for me didn’t look comfortable on the ground and finished last.

The Coronation Stakes is the St James’s Place for the fillies and we had the first three home from Newmarket in the form of ELMALKA, PORTA FORTUNA and RAMATUELLE while the Pouliches winner ROUHIYA was in the field and the Irish Guineas third and last year’s champion juvenile filly OPERA SINGER brought a lot of quality but less enthusiasm from the punters.

RAMATUELLE, third at Newmarket, was backed in to favourite.

It turned out a fascinating tactical race as Ryan Moore on OPERA SINGER and Tom Marquand on PORTA FORTUNA played cat and mouse. Marquand tracked Moore into the straight and when Ryan quickened 300m out Tom responded immediately and sent PORTA FORTUNA by and kept on to win well.

RAMATUELLE never quite got to the leaders and finished third in front of ELMALKA, who was beaten nearly four lengths overall and just held off the outsider SEE THE FIRE who ran a huge race in fifth.

ELMALKA disappointed but this wasn’t the same race as the 1000 Guineas where they went hard and that suited the closers – this was a more sensible race and ELMALKA could never get involved as they weren’t coming back to her.

RAMATUELLE was third again and to me she doesn’t quite see out the 1600m – I’d love to see her in a race like the Foret as 1400m looks right up her street. At the very highest level at 1600m, she just gets found out.

OPERA SINGER ran a fine race in defeat. After the race, Aidan O’Brien said Ryan Moore had told him last season OPERA SINGER could be an Arc horse this year so to run as well as she has over an inadequate 1600m speaks volumes. Given we know she’ll love 2000m or even further and her action strongly suggests some juice in the ground will suit, a trip to Paris in October must be on the agenda.

I wonder if they’ll run her in the Irish Oaks first in the middle of next month.

PORTA FORTUNA loved the firm turf and the turning track as we knew she would from her run in the Juvenile Filly Turf at the Breeders Cup last year. She’s owned by Medallion Racing, an American syndicate, and I suspect the Breeders Cup Mile will be the target and that looks tailor made. One thing is certain – she’ll not go beyond a mile.

The supporting Group 2 was the King Edward VII Stakes over 2400m for the 3-y-o colts and geldings. The money came for DIEGO VELAZQUEZ for team Coolmore and Ballydoyle but this was an impressive win for CALANDAGAN who spreadeagled the field up the straight to win by six lengths.

This was the first French winner at the meeting since 2019 and it couldn’t have been more impressive. He’s not the first French horse to appreciate the much faster ground and different style of racing in England and you just wonder what would have happened had he been trained in England. Nonetheless, a great result for trainer Francois Henri Graffard and jockey Stephane Pasquier and a reminder the Aga Khan family, for all the colours aren’t seen so much in Britain these days, are still  big players in Ireland and France.

They went pretty hard and a number of these didn’t get home including the likes of DIEGO VELAZQUEZ and AGENDA while the Epsom Derby also-rans were also well beaten. SPACE LEGEND was a decent second and could yet be a Leger contender while Italian Derby runner up ROYAL SUPREMACY was third.

The winner was the only gelding in the field and having had the unkindest cut, he can’t run in races like the Arc but there are plenty of options in America and Australia. I think a race like the Japan Cup might be really good – firm ground and 2400m.

On the undercard, the Group 3 Albany for the juvenile filles over 1200m saw an extraordinary performance from FAIRY GODMOTHER for whom everything that could go wrong did go wrong but she still won. Ryan Moore looked like a man who had dodged a firing squad coming back in and he’ll admit that wasn’t his finest hour but the filly got him out of trouble.

She’s by Night of Thunder out of a Siyouni mare and won’t get beyond a mile at most. I imagine they’ll be looking at the Moyglare with this one and she looks a very good type on evidence.

Aidan O’Brien had the 1-3 with HEAVENS GATE in third while Ollie Sangster trained SIMMERING to run a fine second. She’s another with ability and her breeding suggests a mile would be ideal. It’s been a disappointing week for Godolphin but MOUNTAIN BREEZE, who was strongly backed, didn’t run badly in fourth – she’s by Lope de Vega out of a Dalakhani mare so we can say with confidence further and wetter turf would be ideal and she could be the long-range Guineas or even Oaks horse.

The Duke of Edinburgh Handicap over 2400m had 19 runners but they went 7/4 ETHICAL DIAMOND, trained by Willie Mullins and ridden by William Buick. That’s a seriously short price and the horse pulled away his chance fading to fourth in the final 50m. The winner was CRYSTAL BLACK and a wonderful story – the horse races for the Wearapinkribbon Syndicate, a group of men who for various reasons got together to buy horses to raise money for cancer research and treatment.

They had True Self who you’ll remember ran in the 2020 Caulfield Cup (well behind one Verry Elleggant) and won the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Flemington the same year.

The aim for CRYSTAL BLACK is the Caulfield Cup and the celebrations after the race, while perhaps more like those seen at Cheltenham and Galway rather than Royal Ascot, will be just as appreciated at Caulfield in October if the horse can win. The winner was trained by Gerard Keane and ridden by his son, Colin, the Irish champion jockey and it was obvious this win meant a lot.

We had another Australian runner in the Sandringham Handicap (1600m, straight, fillies) in the form of KITTY ROSE who went off 7/2 favourite in a huge field of 30 runners. She ran well enough but finished held in fifth behind SOPRANO, a second winner of the week for Billy Loughnane, who is just 18 and is inevitably called “Billy the Kid” by the media. The winner is owned by Highclere Thoroughbreds, one of the first and most exclusive syndicates, managed by Harry Herbert.

SOPRANO had been a decent juvenile and had been third to a certain PORTA FORTUNA in the Albany and second to FALLEN ANGEL in the Sweet Solera at Newmarket. She hadn’t quite lived up to those earlier exertions but this was her first run at a mile and she saw it out well.

John Gosden rarely has 33/1 shots but his filly STRUTTING ran a fine second with ULURU third for Joseph O’Brien. The one I take from the race is INDELIBLE from the Beckett stable who “won” the race on the far side by many lengths but was only fourth overall. She’s in the Falmouth which will be flying high enough but 20s looks a tempting each way play. As earlier in the afternoon, those drawn low had no chance.

The final race was the 1000m Palace of Holyrood House Handicap, a race, in my view, like a good Australian wine, worth laying down and avoiding. They went 5s the field and it was a real charge up the straight. PILGRIM emerged the 18/1 winner and this marked a fourth success for Yorkshire at the meeting – this time it was trainer Nicola Barron (not present as the stable had a lot of runners at Ayr) and veteran jockey Joe Fanning who took the spoils – and another triumph for the smaller owner and trainer which is always welcome.

At the end of Day Four, Ryan Moore stretched his lead in the Jockeys’ Championship with his fifth winner leaving James Doyle and Oisin Murray trailing with three. Aidan O’Brien drew further clear at the top of the Trainers’ table but a decent day for France with CALANDAGAN, Yorkshire with two winners including INISHERIN and Donnacha O’Brien who beat his father to win the Coronation Stakes with PORTA FORTUNA.

 

 

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My three best from the Carnival…

Asfoora - great win for Australia in the King Charles II.

Khaadem - winning his second Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Stks as an 8yo was brilliant.

Calandagan - don’t know about the King Edward opposition but he could be anything on that win.

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The feature Championship race on the final day was the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee over 1200m for the older sprinters. It looked a wide-open heat but money came for the King Charles III fourth BELIEVING who was backed into 3/1 favourite in front of MILL STREAM with support for the Wathnan Racing horse, SHARTASH, into 13/2.

They went hard from the start and the field broke apart by half way. SWINGALONG was always close to the pace as was MILL STREAM but in behind Oisin Murphy was still waiting with the proverbial double handful on the 2023 winner, KHAADEM, and when he asked the horse to go, he took the lead but SWINGALONG rallied and there was only a half-length in it at the line.

MILL STREAM was a length and a half back in third with BELIEVING in fourth and a gap to the others led in by VADREAM who ran a huge race on ground she doesn’t like and it may well be she actually takes more racing than you might think.

BELIEVING ran well in fourth – she saw out the 1200m at a much flatter Haydock but just got tired in the final 100m here. She’ll be a player in all the big sprints but whether the July Cup is her race I’m not sure.

MILL STREAM is consistent and reliable and a joy for connections. He’s 16s for the July Cup but I think minor money is all he can hope for at the very highest level. I fancied SWINGALONG for the Duke of York but she disappointed. She was third in the 2023 Commonwealth Cup so had plenty of form on track and ground and ran a blinder and she will be a huge addition to the paddocks when the time comes.

What can you say about KHAADEM? He has at least one huge fan on this site and he followed up his 2023 success (when 80/1, just 14s this time). He loves Ascot and firm ground and Murphy finessed him into the race just as well as Spencer did. He’s 14s for the July Cup and last year he didn’t run badly in defeat on ground which had gone against him. IF it came up quick at Newmarket, you couldn’t rule him out.

The Commonwealth Cup winner INISHERIN is 5/2 for the July Cup, the next British Group 1 sprint on July 13th. KINROSS was a late scratching from the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee on account of the ground.

MITBAAHY, seemingly more fancied in the same ownership, was never travelling and Jamie Spencer reported the ground was too quick and the same was probably true for SHARTASH, SHOULDHAVEBEENARING and WASHINGTON HEIGHTS. They ran the 1200m in 1 minute 12.25 seconds, a notch below standard while the Commonwealth Cup had been run in 1 minute 12.51 seconds so nothing really in it and I look forward to the generational clash of the sprinters at Newmarket last month.

The supporting Group 2 was the Hardwicke over 2400m and this year’s renewal possibly didn’t have the strength in depth of some recent renewals. Favourite was the Voltigeur and Leger winner from 2023, CONTINUOUS, representing the all-conquering Ballydoyle outfit.

The King had DESERT HERO who had won at the meeting last year but hasn’t looked so good this year while MISSED THE CUT represented America, GOLIATH raced for France and MIDDLE EARTH for the Gosdens was second shot. In the end, it was another globetrotter, ISLE OF JURA, who was a convincing winner coming home by nearly four lengths from GOLIATH.

This was a fifth successive victory for ISLE OF JURA who had raced in Bahrain through the winter winning their triple crown and had won at Goodwood on his British return but this was a huge step forward from Listed company and he seemed to relish the 2400m and the firm turf.

GOLIATH was yet another French horse who took to the quick turf like a canard to water (so to speak) and this was a strong run from a horse who is really only Group 3 in France. MIDDLE EARTH finished third while CONTINUOUS looked very one paced in fifth and I wonder if he might join the staying division as on this evidence, he can’t hack it at 2400m. MISSED THE CUT pulled too hard early.

For all the winner did it well, this was a sub-standard renewal.

The Group 3 race on the card was the Jersey over the straight 1400m and this had an intriguing clash between HAATEM, the Craven winner, third in the English 2000 Guineas and second in the Irish 2000 Guineas and RIVER TIBER, who was third in the Irish 2000 Guineas on seasonal debut.

RIVER TIBER flattened out having looked prominent 400m out and it was HAATEM who finally got his big race and another win for Wathnan Racing by just holding off KIKKULI, the half to Frankel, who ran an absolute blinder on his fourth outing. True, KIKKULI was getting 3 lbs from the winner but this was still by far a career best.

Outsider CHICAGO CRITIC ran a huge race in third at 80s with RIVER TIBER another reversal on the Saturday for Ballydoyle ending up eighth.

HAATEM is very tough – he ran nine times as a juvenile and this was a fourth tough race this season. With the stable also having ROSALLION, albeit in different ownership, it’s going to be an interesting second half of the season. He’s 7s for the Sussex and 25s for the Eclipse and while I just wonder if Goodwood will suit him as well as Ascot, I suspect he’ll be heading for the South Downs.

The card opened with the Chesham, a Listed race for the juveniles over 1400m. It’s a race restricted to horses whose sires won beyond 1800m so it is for the staying juveniles and prospective middle distance 3-y-o.

The Aidan O’Brien juveniles are starting to fire and the money came for the filly BEDTIME STORY. She was backed into 11/8 and annihilated this lot, winning by nine and a half lengths. This was the most impressive juvenile win of the meeting – she’s by Frankel out of Mecca’s Angel who was a champion sprinter including two Nunthorpe successes in 2015 and 2016.  She’s a half to CONTENT who stays 2400m but what this filly can achieve is unknown.

She’s favourite for the 2025 1000 Guineas and I imagine races like the Fillies’ Mile and perhaps the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf will be on the agenda but to be honest this one could be very special. As to where she stands in the pecking order with FAIRY GODMOTHER, I’m not sure even Aidan O’Brien knows.

PENTLE BAY ran on for second in a bunch finish with the Godolphin colt AGE OF GOLD in trouble at half way and getting hampered 400m out put paid to his chance before keeping on to finish a moderate seventh.

Three races left and the first was the Wokingham Handicap over 1200m on the straight course. This is one of a series of huge field sprint handicaps (including the Stewards Cup at Goodwood and the Ayr Gold Cup later in the year). 25 went to post and there was a big gamble on another Wathnan Racing horse, DARK TROOPER, who was backed from 8s to 4s (and that takes some doing in such a big liquid market).

The draw once again confounded the so-called experts as the bias swung back to the low numbers and from stall one UNEQUAL LOVE, ridden by Tom Marquand, just held off the late finishes of DARK TROOPER and ORAZIO from the high numbers.

The low number group had a clear advantage after 300m and in other sprint races the higher numbers have got back but not this time and UNEQUAL LOVE recorded a first success at the meeting for William Haggas, who has had a quiet week by his high standards, and a second for Marquand. UNEQUAL LOVE won a Listed at Newmarket and was a close fifth in the Group 2 Greenlands at The Curragh last time and ran off 102 (now 107). I thought, given she’s by Dutch Art out of a Pivotal mare, softer ground would suit.

DARK TROOPER ran close to his 2023 English mark but has been racing in Doha since and I suspect he will be one of these who is campaigned both in Europe and the Middle East while ORAZIO ran a blinder from a very poor draw and position and continued the renaissance of Charlie Hills. He’s 10s for the Bunbury Cup, a handicap over 1400m at the Newmarket July Meeting.

38 years ago, to the day, Diego Maradona scored his infamous “goal” in the 1986 World Cup Quarter Final as Argentina beat England. The “goal” was known as the “Hand of God” and the favourite for the penultimate Golden Gates Handicap for the 3-y-o over 2000m was also HAND OF GOD and was solidly backed in to 9/4 favourite.

HAND OF GOD is in the same ownership as the unlucky KING’S GAMBIT from earlier in the week but there was no misfortune here as the horse swept down the outside in the straight showing a really decent turn of foot to win by a length and three quarters from the apparent Aidan O’Brien second string, CAMBRIDGE. APPROVAL found himself in front from the stalls and that’s not been the place to be this week and he faded from 200m out.

This was Harry Charlton’s first Royal Ascot winner since taking over the licence from his father, Roger. He’d run three in the week and had a winner and two seconds and, if anything, I think he’s going to be more successful than his father. HAND OF GOD is in the valuable John Smith’s Handicap at York in the middle of next month for which he’s 6s in the ante post betting.

The meeting concluded with the Queen Alexandra Stakes which has the distinction of being the longest race run in the British flat season (the Newmarket Town Plate, over nearly 6400m, isn’t a recognised race). The Queen Alexandra is over just shy of 4400m and explain that to an American or Australian (or Kiwi) and see how far you get.

Four late scratchings due to the quick ground left a field of just nine and O’Brien had three of them including the top two in the betting – not Aidan, however, but Joseph but who saddled favourite UXMAL, second favourite and 2023 winner DAWN RISING and outsider MAGELLAN STRAIT.

This was a brutal race and only four had any chance on the home turn. William Buick had sent DAWN RISING to the front fully 1000m out and possibly hoped to grind it out. He managed to see off DRAWN TO DREAM but UXMAL was travelling strongly under young Dylan Browne McMonagle, who will likely be chasing champion jockey titles with Billy Loughname in 15-20 years.

UXMAL swept past 350m down and careered away to win by five lengths from last year’s third RUN FOR OSCAR who finished in front of last year’s second, DAWN RISING. FASOL, who normally jumps hurdles for Paul Nicholls was fourth and they were miles ahead of the others with three pulling up in the home straight.

UXMAL clearly loves extreme distance races and I imagine he’ll be aimed at something like the Cadran where he was third last year. He’s behind those at the top of the staying tree but it was a nice win for Joseph O’Brien who has also had a quiet week.

Ryan Moore won the Jockeys title for the meeting with six winners ahead of James Doyle and Oisin Murphy on four each. The Trainers’ title was won by Aidan O’Brien by the proverbial country mile and for all Wathnan Racing made a strong impression especially in the juvenile races, Coolmore made off with the Owners’ title.

I’ll put some closing thoughts in my next.

 

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19 hours ago, Ohokaman said:

My three best from the Carnival…

Asfoora - great win for Australia in the King Charles II.

Khaadem - winning his second Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Stks as an 8yo was brilliant.

Calandagan - don’t know about the King Edward opposition but he could be anything on that win.

Thought we could start from this which is pretty damn good.

I'd add one or two others:

Rosallion - very good colt miler. Likely to be too good for CHARYN at Goodwood.

Auguste Rodin - turned up in the Prince of Wales and on his day as good as anything in the world.

Fairy Godmother - her win was hugely impressive given Moore got into every bit of trouble going.

Bedtime Story - the juvenile "wow" performance of the week. If you win a race nine and a half lengths, it's time for the rest of us to sit up and take notice.

Inisherin - really tough horse.

Crystal Black - look out for him at the Caulfield Cup.

A wonderful week's racing with kind weather and proper summer ground which we've not seen for a while. The French horses always run on wet or slow turf and when they come on to the faster ground in England, some can improve a lot - witness GOLIATH and ZARKAYA. Good to see the Aussies, French and Irish among the winners - pity we didn't have any Japanese runners. 

We saw the English 2000 Guineas form hold up - the second, third and sixth all won races at the meeting. The fourth, GHOSTWRITER, was fourth in the Jockey Club and the fifth, ALYNAABI, was fifth in the St James's Palace.  The seventh, TASK FORCE, was seventh in the Jersey. 

Yet both English Guineas winners were beaten as were both the Poulains and Pouliches winners so make of that what you will.

Among the stayers KYPRIOS remains top dog among the older stayers but you have ILLINOIS and CALANDAGAN who could be serious middle distance horses.

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To round things off, the reckoning on the punting.

**** Warning - the below is not suitable for those of a nervous disposition *******

Tuesday:

Maljoom - £10 Each way - return £26

Symbol of Honour - £5 each way – lost

Regional - £10 win each way – return £22

Crimson Advocate £5 each way – lost

Henry Longfellow £10 each way – return £21

Stake: £80  Return £69 – Loss £11

Wednesday:

Truly Enchanting - £10 win – lost

Highbury £10 win – lost

Rogue Millennium - £10 win – lost

Blue Rose Cen - £10 each way – lost

Stakes: £50 Return 0 Loss £50

Thursday:

Saturday Flirt - £10 win – Lost

You Got to Me - £10 win – lost

Coltrane - £10 each way – lost

Stakes : £40 Return 0 Lost £40

Friday:

Jasour £10 each way – return £19

Porta Fortuna - £20 win @ 4/1 – return £100

Agenda - £10 win – lost

Stakes: £50 Return £119 Profit £69

Saturday:

Continuous £10 win – Lost

Shouldhavebeenaring - £10 each way – lost

River Tiber - £10 win – lost

Stakes £40 – return 0 Lost £40

Final Tally: Stakes £260 Return £178 - overall LOSS £82

Can't quit the day job yet !!

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