We start Royal Ascot with Pogo in The Coventry. He’ll be a big price, but he definitely has a squeak. The horse who just beat him at Newbury, Advertise, is 14-1 and if Pogo hadn’t hung across the track he could have well been the winner. The horse who finished third that day is also 14-1. The ground was against him at Goodwood and he could have run into The Albany winner that day. He’ll get the trip no problem and we’d like to think he has place claims. James McDonald will be on board.
The next race will arguably shape our Royal Ascot one way or the other when Battaash runs in The Kings Stand. We are apprehensive about how he’s going to behave, as it didn’t go well on his last trip to Ascot. However we will do our best to keep him calm and happy in the prelims, and get him to the start in the best frame of mind possible. He’s in good form at home and is working well. The team have done a great job with him and hopefully he’ll repay them.
He gave us a bit of a fright but Battaash got his season off to a winning start at Haydock in The Temple Stakes. He had to carry the Group 1 penalty and was up against race fit rivals, however he managed to get his head home in front. He certainly wasn’t fully fit for the race, and he’s still hanging onto his coat so we are confident there is improvement to come for Ascot. Apart from a little blip coming out onto the track he behaved well, which is also a positive. All credit to the Kachy team, they had a plan to take the race away from him and it very nearly paid off.
Mutawaffer is on course to run at Ascot in one of the two year old races after his decisive win at Goodwood. He was a bit keen in the race, which makes us think the five furlongs of The Norfolk may suit better than The Coventry. We also have Glory Fighter in the mix to run in one of the colts races, and we will try and keep them apart.
We were delighted to see Afaak leave his dismal first run of the season behind and win decisively at York. He’s a very good looking horse, who has plenty of ability but he requires fast ground to be seen at his best. He can lack concentration at times but that is improving with experience, and he has plenty of scope for more progress. He has two options at Ascot, The Hunt Cup or the Wolferton Handicap, and a decision will be made nearer the time. Hopefully in due course he can step up into Listed or Group races.
He’s a horse we’ve always loved, but Battaash has definitely put us through the mill. He was very wayward as a two year old, and a big thank you has to go to Michael Murphy who has been very important in getting him to the horse we see today. Michael won on him on his debut at Bath, but he’s also had to endure all the stalls work that’s gone into the horse in conjunction with Gary and Craig Witheford. The relaxed horse we see at home now is a far cry from the sweaty, jig jogger he was this time last year.
What is also a lovely part of this story is that both his sire and dam resided at Faringdon Place in Barn 2 where Battaash is housed. ‘Big Bob’ Grace, who looks after Battaash, also looked after his sire Dark Angel so it’s a real family affair.
As long has he comes out the race well he will be aimed at Goodwood.
We’ll have three runners at Ascot on Saturday starting with Bartholomeu Dias in The Chesham. He’s a lovely horse who’s always gone well at home. His first run at Goodwood was a decent effort, and although he’s got to improve to beat the winner the step up to seven furlongs will definitely suit him.
Magical Memory runs in The Diamond Jubilee. It’s a shame Frankie is injured as he knows the horse well, but we have a more than able man in the saddle in the shape of James Doyle. We’re very hopeful he’ll have a great spin on the horse who is in fantastic form.
Finally Royal Ascot concludes for us with Shanghai Glory in The Wokingham. He’s been off the track for a long time, but we need to get his season started. Fast ground is probably not ideal as all his best form is with give – however the weather forecast is quite changeable so there could be some rain.
Following our experience yesterday with Nebo unfortunately it looks like Rock Of Estonia has a bad draw in one in the Norfolk Stakes. He’s always been very quick away from the gates, but if the race develops away from him it’s going to be tough.
Afaak bids to emulate his dam Ghanaati and win a race at Royal Ascot when he contests the Britannia Handicap. He looks amazing at the moment, and we’re just hoping his relative lack of experience doesn’t count against him.
Never Surrender goes in the King George V Handicap. There is a little bit of a query over him getting the trip, but he has a competitive weight and seems to have gained in confidence from his win at Chester.
We only have one runner at Ascot on Wednesday and that is Barrington in The Jersey. He has a bit to find on form and this is his first attempt at 7 furlongs. However his last run was on unsuitable ground as he much prefers the quick conditions he’ll encounter at the Berkshire track. He’d also been off for a long time before that run so definitely needed it. His work at home has been getting consistently better and he shouldn’t disgrace himself.
Away from Ascot A Momentofmadness aims to continue his love affair with the all weather surface when he runs at Chelmsford. He has come out of his fantastic effort at Epsom in great nick, and if he gets another quick start they’ll find him hard to catch. Star Catch also runs at the Essex track, and is on a bit of a retrieval mission after her last run.
Tuesday will be a busy day for us with five runners. Dutch Connection and Jallota kick things off for us when they take on the best Europe and America have in the Queen Anne. When he’s in good form Dutch Connection tends to be quite grumpy, so we’ve been delighted to hear that he’s been trying to take chunks out of people! We’re still in the dark about whether he truly gets a mile, but conditions are in his favour and he likes Ascot so we’re hopeful of a good show. Good old Jallota has come out of his Haydock race really well and is back at his fighting weight, having been a bit heavy prior to that run. He may not be up to winning the race but he’s certainly capable of getting placed, and there will be a lot worse 66-1 shots this week.
Nebo and Red Roman are our representatives in The Coventry. They are both very laid back individuals so they should handle to occasion with no problem. They’re both pretty talented as well and have been putting in good bits of work at home prior to the race.
Finally Moorside runs in the The Ascot Stakes. She’s stepping up markedly in trip, but she is an out and out galloper and we think it could just suit her. She too is looking well and has been working with plenty of enthusiasm.
Although we were disappointed Jallota got beaten, we were not entirely surprised he got tired in the closing stages. Having missed an intended race at Windsor due to the ground fiasco we thought we could get him ready for Ascot at home. However like most older horses he just goes through the motions at home, and as he got increasingly fresh we decided we needed to get a run into him! He lost a good amount of weight, and as he proved last summer when he ran in four group races in twenty eight days (winning one and being placed in two) he backs up well quickly from a race. The Queen Anne will be a tough ask, and there are a few horses who will be hard to beat, but he very rarely lets us down and should not be disgraced.