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Juvenile Watch: Royal Ascot juvenile races under spotlight

By Ross Millar@rosscojmill
Wed 23 Jun 2021

Royal Ascot delivered a hugely enjoyable five days of racing, even if the weather gods did try and put a large spanner in the works.

It was heartening to see the winners in the juvenile division coming from a large cross section of trainers and owners, with only Andrew Balding winning more than one race.

He was noted in the very first Juvenile Watch column for being particularly happy with the health of his two-year olds. Both of his winners at the meeting - Berkshire Shadow and Sandrine – lined up having had only one previous run so its reasonable to expect both to improve once more.

CLICK HERE FOR ALL OF ROSS'S JUVENILE WATCH COLUMNS

On the straight course, those coming out of a high number stall certainly seemed to hold an advantage for most of the week, especially on the first two days. I’m not sure that for a premier fixture it’s entirely satisfactory that a sizeable percentage of the field have their chance compromised before the race has even begun.

THE COVENTRY

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Berkshire Shadow featured in Juvenile Watch after his winning debut at Newbury

Berkshire Shadow was a convincing winner, and given it was only his second start I think the performance can be upgraded even further.

Unlike on his debut he broke nicely, but again was patiently ridden. He had a dream gap open on the stands’ rail and put the race to bed comfortably.

Connections were keen to reference that they still see him as a raw horse; as such he is likely to be campaigned sparingly for the rest of the year. Given his strength in the final furlong I have no doubt that he will certainly get seven furlongs, but I would be surprised if they tried that this season.

Eldrickjones ran a fine race for a maiden in second. He didn’t get the clearest of runs and stayed on well in the closing stages. It will be interesting to see whether connections opt to put him back into maiden company, where he would look a sure-fire winner.

My excitement levels rose a furlong out as I thought Vintage Clarets was going to deliver. He possibly just lacks the class of the winner, although he was fairly keen early in the race and this certainly won’t have helped his cause.

Masseto, Ebro River and The Acropolis all deserve praise as they showed up well given they were racing on the part of the track that was disadvantaged. The Acropolis was slightly hampered late on so is better than the bare result.

Ebro River showed up well for a long way and on the quick ground lacked that final gear. However, he raced far more professionally and I haven’t lost the faith, particularly when he’s back on easier ground.

Masseto looked professional and uncomplicateD. He stayed on well and would be interesting at seven furlongs in an easier grade. The well-backed Dhabab endured a torrid passage and made good late progress having travelled stylishly. He is one to follow.

The Organiser showed exceptional speed in the early stages before weakening out of contention. I’d be keen to see him back at five furlongs.

ONE FOR THE TRACKER: Dhabab has more in his locker and should have a lucrative summer.


THE QUEEN MARY

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 Quick Suzy wins at Royal Ascot
Quick Suzy wins at Royal Ascot

Sometimes you get a horse totally wrong when assessing them and that was certainly the case when I looked at Quick Suzy in the race preview. I believed the drop back in trip on quicker ground wouldn’t suit but she showed good early speed and when she was in contention a furlong it was obvious that the stamina she had previously displayed over six furlongs was going to see her home.

Cheerupsleepyjean compromised her chance by being tardily away, Chris Hayes did well to find a good run up the stands’ rail and she closed late on. She would look to have every chance of staying six furlongs.

Get Ahead looked to hold every chance at the furlong pole before weakening. It was a remarkable effort given her low draw and that on the BHA site she was reported as finishing lame. Let’s hope she can soon get back to the track.

I’m certain that fourth-placed Artos was the best filly in the race. She helped force the pace and stuck to her task determinedly but she had the curse of a low draw and had to race in the middle of the track. If the American-trained filly were to reappear in Europe I would be a keen supporter.

Nymphadora was marginally disappointing given that she was able to race close to the stands. She lacked the necessary speed to hold her position but did stay on nicely, I’m sure her next run will be over six furlongs and she is well capable of leaving this run behind.

ONE FOR THE TRACKER: Nymphadora impressed at York on her penultimate start and can progress again up to 6f.


THE WINDSOR CASTLE

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Chipotle found the ground too soft in the National Stakes, a race that also featured Ebro River and Bond Chairman

Chipotle bounced back to form, suggesting quite emphatically that his previous below-par run at Sandown could be attributed to the soft ground.

He could be called the winner from a good way out as he travelled much the best. His turn of foot was exceptional and he was a very convincing winner. I cannot imagine connections will be in any hurry to move away from the five-furlong trip given how speedy he looks.

He would get a stack of weight from the older horses if connections were inclined to consider the Nunthorpe at York in August.

By contrast, Boonie looks to be crying out for an extra furlong. He was one of the first off the bridle and showed exceptional tenacity and grit to stay on for third place.

Armor came to challenge but lacked the necessary speed. He looked quite immature when asked for his effort and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him step forward on his next start.

Dig Two was dropping back in distance from his previous win and that showed as he lacked the ability to quicken at a key stage of the race but stayed on well. He would be capable of winning at this level back at six furlongs.

Bond Chairman is another who would look well suited by stepping up in trip he struggled to hold his position before staying on in good style.

Kaboo was making his racecourse debut and was the subject of a huge gamble in the morning with rumours of exceptional home gallops doing the rounds on WhatsApp and Twitter.

He was possibly unfortunate to find himself posted on the wing of the main group and away from the main action he showed enough to suggest that the rumours were not misplaced. He certainly has ability but has no doubt gone in every tracker and will hence be a short price on his next assignment.

ONE FOR THE TRACKER: Bond Chairman ran well despite finding things happening a bit quick. Look out for him over six furlongs.


THE NORFOLK STAKES

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 Hanagan celebrates after winning the Norfolk Stakes on Perfect Power (Photo: Focusonracing)
Hanagan celebrates after winning the Norfolk Stakes on Perfect Power (Photo: Focusonracing)

Paul Hanagan gave Perfect Power a flawless ride. He was decisive in his move early in the race to get across to the stands’ rail group having been drawn in the middle and then delivered him to lead close home. A winner for the first season sire sensation, Ardad, who is proving he can get quality as well as quantity.

In contrast to Hanagan, I’m sure Graham Lee would love to have this race again aboard the fast finishing third, Project Dante.

He failed to secure a position on the rail from a favourable draw and then drifted in behind a wall of horses before switching late to the stands rail and flying home. I have no doubt that with a smoother passage he would have run out a ready winner. But that’s racing!

Go Bears Go and Cadamosto finished well clear in the group on the far side and both look to have a bright future. Cadamosto certainly has a pedigree that suggests a longer trip could yet see him to better effect.

ONE FOR THE TRACKER: Project Dante didn’t get the rub of the green but has plenty more big days in him.


THE ALBANY STAKES

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 Underfoot conditions had deteriorated by the time Sandrine was in action (Pic: Focusonracing)
Underfoot conditions had deteriorated by the time Sandrine was in action (Pic: Focusonracing)

Sandrine was another Andrew Balding trained two-year old to bely relative inexperience to win on just her second start.

Stamina was certainly required over the stiff six-furlong trip on rain-soaked ground. There is plenty of stamina in the pedigree of Sandrine but she also travelled in a stylish fashion. She was a convincing winner and provided she is given a sufficient test of stamina is a filly to keep on side.

Hello You showed that her wide-margin win at Wolverhampton was no fluke and stuck to her task well. She coped admirably with the ground but I’m sure a sounder surface would suit her more.

Cachet looked to have her speed blunted by the heavy going and never looked comfortable. She remains firmly on my radar when back on better ground.

Connections of Eve Lodge withdrew her from the Queen Mary in the hope of getting softer ground in this. She was never really a factor but I certainly don’t feel she was given a hard time by Jamie Spencer and as such I don’t feel this is a true reflection of her ability.

Flotus was the disappointment given that she had already shown an ability to handle soft ground when winning her debut. She over-raced in the early stages and weakened two out. Maybe the ground was too soft for her, but it still remains to be seen exactly how good the race she won actually is. I will oppose her until she proves me wrong.

ONE FOR THE TRACKER: You can put a line through Cachet’s run on account of the deep ground.


THE CHESHAM

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 Point Lonsdale took the spoils in the Chesham (Pic: Focusonracing)
Point Lonsdale took the spoils in the Chesham (Pic: Focusonracing)

A race that will not live long in my memory. Point Lonsdale got up in a slow motion finish to edge out Reach For The Moon.

Aidan O’Brien was adamant that racing on a better surface will suit Point Lonsdale far more, and that might well be the case. He attracted shortish quotes for the 2000 Guineas and Derby but I was underwhelmed. He looked very green in the closing stages and hung left.

Reach For The Moon stepped forward to emphatically reverse the form with New Science. He got to the front a long way out and just failed to hang on.

New Science was a big disappointment. As a son of Lope De Vega it was reasonable to expect that the ground would be of minimal disruption to his chances, yet he was beaten a long way out.

I’d be concerned that this gruelling contest could well leave its mark on these colts going forward. It’s certainly not a race that I will be using to formulate and opinion on future races, especially if on better ground.

ONE FOR THE TRACKER: None for me. Beware backing any horse who is turned out quickly.

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