At this writing, FRANKEL has kicked off Royal Ascot 2012 with a scintillating 11-length victory in the Queen Anne Stakes on the first day of the meeting. As both he and BLACK CAVIAR are the big draws of Ascot this year, one hopes that FRANKEL’s victory augers well for the magnificent Australian champion, who will run on the last day, Saturday, June 23rd. In the meantime, here are more tips on some of the horses in the significant races from Thursday, June 21 to Saturday, June 23.
For those wanting to reread Part One, please see the RECENT POSTS listing on the left side of this page.
THURSDAY, June 21
First up are more 2 year-olds running in the Norfolk. The distance is a reasonable 5 furlongs, the favoured distance for youngsters in UK racing and in many international venues. The wisdom that babies start short and then are lengthened out over time dominates the thinking of most UK and Euro trainers. As we have said earlier, these are babies and while the punters may have their favourites, almost anything is possible when you get a bunch of inexperienced juveniles together.
The favourites are Cay Verde (Bahamian Bounty ex. All Quiet) trained by the talented Mick Channon for Qatar Racing Limited. Cay Verde is 3-2-0-0 going in, having won his last two starts. Second choice is a son of Proclamation out of Rockburst, Annunciation. He too has raced only 3 times before and starts with a record of 3-1-2-0. Trained by Richard Hannon, we can expect he’ll be ready to run. Like Cay Verde, he won his last time out (maiden). A third colt worth mentioning is Gale Force Ten (Oasis Dream ex. Ronaldsay) who races for Coolmore-Ballydoyle. He’s the least experienced though, having only 2 races under his belt, although he won last time out (maiden). An American connection comes in the form of Richard Hannon-trained Mister Marc, by Acclamation ex. Fathoming, a daughter of the beloved Gulch. Mister Marc has only raced twice as well, but ran second his last time out.
RIBBLESDALE STAKES FOR FILLIES (THURSDAY, JUNE 21)
This race is setting up to look very much like a re-play of the 2012 Investic Oaks, with most of the principals nominated to start as of today.
Coolmore-Ballydoyle (Aidan O’Brien) has one Galileo filly, Twirl running. She is 5-1-2-1 and her BM sire is none other than Storm Cat.
Other stars who ran extremely well in the Oaks and are entered in the Ribblesdale include Andrew Lloyd-Webber’s lovely filly, The Fugue (Dansili) who, despite a troubled trip was closing like an express train to finish third in the Oaks. Trained by the brilliant John Gosden, we can expect a great run from her. The Fugue’s race record to date is 4-2-0-1 and punters have her as the favourite.
Another filly to watch, who ran second in the Oaks, is Shirocco Star (Shirocco). Then there is William Haggas’ Vow (Motivator) who will be looking to improve a rather disappointing performance in the Oaks.
Here’s the running of the 2012 Investic Oaks — a kind of “dress rehearsal” for the Ribblesdale, as it turns out. Note the effort from The Fugue in particular. Shirocco Star is also a contender.
ASCOT GOLD CUP
The Gold Cup was the very first race to run at Ascot, decreed by the monarch who discovered the Ascot terrain, Queen Anne, in 1711. So this is a race that relives a rich, historic narrative each and every year.
The current favourite to win this prestigious race is the Aidan O’Brien-trained Fame And Glory, who won it last year. The 6 year-old son of Montjeu has garnered 43% of the betting at this point in time. And no wonder. Out of 22 starts, he’s only ever been out of the money 4 times and goes to post with a record of 22-14-3-1, having come home first in his last 2 starts. He’s a seasoned horse by a champion sire and his BM sire is the great Shirley Heights, the son of British Champion, Mill Reef. But nothing in horse racing is a sure thing and over a distance of 2 m,4 f a good deal will be asked of him.
Two others to watch are Godolphin’s Colour Vision (Rainbow Quest) and trainer John Oxx’s Saddler’s Rock (Sadler’s Wells), both of whom have looked very sharp in their last respective 4-5 races.
Have a look at last year’s Gold Cup. Note that Opinion Poll ran against his nemesis in 2011 as well. But it’s a year later……
FRIDAY, JUNE 22
There are two races on Friday that will spark the greatest interest.
King Edward VII Stakes
Although he won’t be the favourite going to the post, even in a tiny field of only 7 runners, it will be Frankel’s baby brother, Noble Mission, who is likely to steal most of the attention. Not only is the 3 year-old Frankel’s younger brother — more importantly, he is a full brother. And, keeping it all in the family, he’s got winning ways of his own. With only 4 starts under his belt, the colt has never been worse than second and won his last time out. Trained by Henry Cecil, Noble Mission will have his big brother’s jockey, Tom Queally, to help him turn this Grade 2 event into a real horse race.
As we go to press, the resounding favourite is Coolmore-Ballydoyle’s Astrology (Galileo). The colt raced last in the Epsom Derby, where he came in third and this would be considered a very good effort, given the talent of the winner, Camelot. He’s had 5 starts and always finished in the money. Astrology will be piloted by the great Ryan Moore.
A third colt to watch is John Gosden’s Lingfield Derby Trial winner, Shantaram (Galileo). This is a very sound colt with a good deal of staying power and a really nice turn of foot. Shantaram’s race record to date is 4-1-3-0 and this race is a bit of a step up for him. But with the talented William Buick in the irons, he just might surprise everyone.
Note that all three of these fine colts share the same sire — Galileo.
If you’re looking for an American connection, there’s John Gosden’s Thought Worthy (Dynaformer) who has the legendary Frankie Dettori up and has already beaten Noble Mission once. John Dunlop’s Farhaan is a son of Jazil, but there is some concern that the distance is not ideal for him, even though his sire won the Belmont Stakes.
CORONATION STAKES (fillies)
The Coronation Stakes is a Grade 1 and part of the British Champion Series in the UK and the race brings together some of the best 3 year-old fillies in the world. It is, as its name belies, a very classy race with a number of champion fillies set to compete.
It looks as though Coolmore-Ballydoyle’s Maybe (Galileo) will be a scratch, as she came up with a slight physical ailment that was treated late Tuesday but might not be healed up by Friday. However, it is Homecoming Queen (Holy Roman Emperor) on whom the Coolmore lads will be pinning their hopes. In fact, her sire has already had one win at Ascot this year: Ishvana took the Jersey Stakes on Wednesday for her owner-breeder, Anne-Marie O’Brien (wife of Aidan O’Brien). Homecoming Queen is a lovely individual who has already made 15 starts, winning 4 and in the money with another 3. Last time out, she was beaten by Samitar, who is also due to run in the Coronation. But she is the winner of the Quipco 1000 Guineas and it was a victory that takes your breath away:
A daughter of Rock of Gibraltar, Samitar comes into the race with a record of 9-3-2-2. She’s trained by Mick Channon, who is noted for his success with fillies. She’s very likely the favourite because none of the fillies who’ve beaten her are running, although she has the breeding to get the job done. And: Samitar won the Irish 1000 Guineas impressively earlier this year, beating both Ishvana and Homecoming Queen.
An interesting filly, also trained by Channon, is Laugh Out Loud, a daughter of Clodovil (Danehill). She comes into the Coronation off two wins and might well be the spoiler. As well, she’s bred to run on a deeper turf and Friday might just be her lucky day if there’s more rain Thursday. Then, too, there is William Haggas’ Cardigan (Barathea) who only makes her second start. But she won her maiden going away and has the breeding to go the distance.
All in all, the Coronation promises to be very competitive — a real thrill to watch, especially if Homecoming Queen steps up to challenge her nemesis, Samitar.
SATURDAY, JUNE 23
Any way you slice it, Saturday belongs to Black Caviar — and we’re betting even the hardiest Brit is feeling exactly the same way! In fact, it goes without saying that the Queen will find a way to meet the great mare in person and talk to all of Nelly’s connections, especially trainer Peter Moody and jockey Luke Nolan. As befits a royal equine, Black Caviar’s race will announce the official ending of Royal Ascot, although other races will be run over the course following the Diamond Jubilee.
CHESAM STAKES (2 year-old colts & fillies)
If there’s another race that peaks the curiosity, it has to be the 7 f. Chesam for juvenile colts and fillies.
Keeping in mind that the field won’t be finalized until sometime Thursday, as we go to press it’s a decidedly odd and interesting list of nominees.
For starters, there’s Mick Channon who has entered seven babies, all of whom were sired by Sixties Icon, a very good son of –you guessed it — Galileo. As a runner, Sixties Icon won the St. Leger, Jockey Club Stakes and the Cumberland Lodge Stakes, all in England, retiring with earnings over 1 million and giving his young sire a solid reputation. Sixties Icon raced until he was almost 6 years old and these babies of Channon’s hail from his first crop, making the Chesam a testing ground for sire and progeny alike. Channon’s 6-pack: Chilworth Icon, Rated, The Sixties, Cruck Realta, Effie B, Fadeintoinfinity and Sojoum. Of course, it’s unlikely that all of these will start, but of the group, it is the filly Effie B who is most experienced having had 5 starts, winning once and only out of the money once.
Then there’s Aidan O’Brien and company with another 6 nominated. One colt hails from an untested sire: Count of Limonade, by Duke of Marmalade, one of O’Brien’s favourites during his racing years. The other 5 are all by — you guessed it — Galileo: Kingston Jamaica, Magician, Mars, Ruler of the World and The United States. And, it would appear, Magician, Mars, Ruler of the World and The United States are running for the very first time.
Other babies to watch include Lovely Pass (Raven’s Pass) who is 1 for 1; a Dynaformer filly trained by John Gosden called Chat, who is 1 for 1; Godolphin’s Tha ‘Ir (New Approach, a hot young sire) who won his last time out; and Richard Hannon’s colt, Jalaa (Street Cry) who is also 1 for 1.
DIAMOND JUBILEE STAKES (revised with new info & videos)
The keenly anticipated Diamond Jubilee Stakes is a G1 race, run over a distance of 6f and part of the British Champion Series. It’s also a Global Sprint Challenge.
Although there have been a number of defections, the numbers stand at 57 entrants and this will only be finalized later Wednesday.
The other superstar to grace the turf at Royal Ascot 2012 is Australia’s Black Caviar. She will have her regular jockey, Luke Nolan, in the irons and trainer Peter Moody will also be present, having arrived at Newmarket a few days ago. Nolan, who landed Medicean Man in the King’s Stand on Tuesday and may pick up more mounts prior to the Diamond Jubilee itself, remains confident of the champion’s chances.
Even though there are 57 horses listed, those expected to be the greatest threat just don’t have her numbers.
At present, Black Caviar’s rivals include 4 from Aidan O’Brien: Power (Oasis Dream), Reply (Oasis Dream) and the fillies After (Danehill Dancer) and Wave (Dansili).
Society Rock (Rock of Gibraltar) is a colt who won this race at Ascot last year and loves the going. Roger Charlton’s Bated Breath (Dansili) is expected to be a serious contender. Charlton is rated 4th best trainer in the UK and feels his colt’s chances against the Aussie heroine are better than good.
One never wants to underestimate Freddy Head, the man who rode Miesque to glory and trained the great Goldikova, among others. He comes to the Diamond Jubilee with Moonlight Cloud (Invincible Spirit) who has a record of 10-6-1-0 and won her last time out. Moonlight Cloud is a classic 4 year-old, who has done well on sprints, having already won at 6f a total of three times, including her last win.
Still, as the Australian racing community sees it, their superstar mare will make all of the running, even though she’s had to travel halfway around the world to do it. Her biggest obstacle might be exactly that, since Australian horses have been known to run contrary to their real ability at Ascot due to the radical change in weather and turf conditions. The weather itself is a concern and its impact on the condition of the turf, although it’s safe to say that if the course were dangerous, Nelly (Black Caviar’s stable name) would be scratched. The field itself might be very large, posing stratregic issues.
We want to go on record as stating that this brilliant thoroughbred has nothing to prove. Black Caviar and her team’s contribution to the sport cannot be estimated, except to say that it is huge. The champion’s trainer and assistant trainer have been unfailingly courteous with the press, even though the United Kingdom has gone “Black Caviar mad.” There are few who wouldn’t understand what coming to Ascot means for an undefeated superstar. North Americans appreciate the risk, given the relatively recent career of the amazing Zenyatta who, in defeat at the 2010 Breeders’ Cup, arguably ran the best race of her entire career — as our Australian friends were quick to observe.
We start our video line-up with a recent interview with Black Caviar’s trainer, Peter Moody, followed by an informative chat with Tony Haydon (one of Black Caviar’s best human friends) who talks about Nelly’s personality and some of her more unconventional Newmarket routines. We wind up with Nelly’s Australian fans and their special way of supporting Nelly as she races in the Diamond Jubilee, together with a chat with her jockey, Luke Nolan.
Our love rides with you, Nelly.
Run like a girl ….. and, most important of all, come home safe.