Top commentator and presenter Richard Hoiles reflects on Royal Ascot and has four selections to consider on Tuesday.
The latest edition of Royal Ascot was a pretty good one. Stories abounded and Gold Cup day reached a frenzy of excitement - ina marked contrast to the demure receptions that tend to greet even the most fervent finishes on the Flat.
Add to that the achievements of Frankie Dettori, Hayley Turner, Danny Tudhope and the Blue Point double and it was five days to remember.
After the plethora of Group One races and with the generations now to be thrown together here are a few thoughts on the current landscape within the various divisions based on what we saw last week.
Pretty cut and dried. Blue Point was the equine star of the week with his King’s Stand and Diamond Jubilee double, the first since both had achieved Group One status.
A career at stud beckons for the five-year-old following the news on Monday that he has been retired.
Battaash again showed how he needs everything to drop just right to be seen to full effect.
This time it was through no fault of his or Jim Crowley’s that Houtzen was not able to take him further into the race , which resulted in the after burners being lit a little early and again Ascot’s testing finish found him out.
The King George Stakes at Goodwood, which he has already won twice, again looks ideal an ideal fit for him.
This division looks even more muddled than it did beforehand after the Queen Anne, St James’s Palace and the Coronation.
The Queen Anne resulted in a victory for Lord Glitters, who had been well held in the Lockinge behind several of his opponents including last year’s Queen Anne winner Accidental Agent, who out of the blue declined to leave the stalls.
Ridden more quietly helped here as did the fact he appreciates Ascot so a return in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at the end of the year looks the most likely chance of a repeat victory.
One Master looked as if she might have made her effort soon enough in the Queen Anne, displaying the turn of foot she had shown when winning the Foret but just being played a shade early.
She may be a player in the leading mile races and a repeat tilt at the Foret and it is a shame she has not been entered for the Qatar Sussex Stakes.
The other two of note also failed to win their respective races.
King Of Comedy showed he has the ability to win a Group One in the St James’s Palace, if only his temperament will hold.
This makes him an unreliable betting proposition but also one of the few open to improvement whilst slightly more left field, John Gosden should also consider running Turgenev despite his defeat in the Britannia.
Possibly the adrenalin running through Dettori’s veins as he sought his fifth winner urged on by a maniacal crowd, caused him to commit too early as the race was just about the strongest run race of the week.
In a wide open division he could be an interesting participant at Group One level, although he would require supplementing for Goodwood so that seems unlikely.
Crystal Ocean again looked a push-button horse and a joy to ride when deservedly getting his Group One in the Prince of Wales’s.
Completely straightforward, the QIPCO-sponsored King George VI and Queen Elizabeth takes looks the obvious target with others possibly having the Arc more on their mind.
Connections were tormented by the need to get a run into Sea Of Class as against bottoming her on soft ground early in the season.
Commendably frank about the dilemma beforehand, she got a ride that reflected those concerns getting too far back to be seen to best effect and finishing with running left.
It might not have seen her perform to her full potential on the day but will be of benefit going forward and a rematch with Enable will still be eagerly anticipated.
Japan and Bangkok seemed to frank the Derby form in the King Edward VII but this was again very strongly run and both ended up in ideal tactical positions being held up at the back.
At this stage it would make Japan appeal more as a St Leger horse rather than thinking he had taken a giant step forward after Epsom.
The Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby will be a key race in helping determine the pecking order amongst the three-year-olds.
It can be a common misconception that just because a race is over further it will require significantly more stamina and that was the case in this year’s Gold Cup.
Stradivarius clocked the fastest final two furlongs of any winner bar the two-year-old in the 5f Norfolk on the Thursday when winning the 2m 4f Gold Cup over a distance at least double any other race on the card.
While that is a reflection of his ability it also illustrates the steadily run nature of the race and it was surprising Dee Ex Bee was not ridden more aggressively from Swinley Bottom.
It also casts doubt on the view expressed by Charlie Appleby that Cross Counter failed to see out the trip.
More likely, as a hard puller, he became a hostage to fortune being held up in a falsely run race and had to do his running to get into a challenging position.
A rematch between Cross Counter and Stradivarius in the Goodwood Cup may not be so one sided so hopefully it is a challenge they will not duck as otherwise a repeat of the Weatherbys Hamiton million-pound bonus looks very much on the cards for John Gosden’s admirable little horse who has a terrific attitude and a sustained turn of foot for a stayer.
Tuesday’s selections kick off with:
Has been in excellent form since moving to Patrick Chamings and returning to the Flat.
Nicely placed to avoid a penalty after his apprentice race victory last time he is proven at the track and should prove too good again here.
Any support for Luxford in the market should be noted as the Hector Crouch and Gary Moore combination are to be followed at Brighton.
They are 18 wins from 115 when they combine (Actual/Expected 1.35 vs Par 1.00) and Luxford has run consistently since moving to the yard and can improve that record further.
A speculative selection based on the switch to John Long’s yard. This experienced trainer’s ability to improve horses on their debuts for his yard is often overlooked because of the small size of the set up but has yielded 20-1 and 50-1 winners from his last three switchers.
Knockout Blow has placed off higher in handicaps in the past and is worth a small interest.
Scored on his handicap debut at Salisbury with a bit in hand, having met some trouble and looks to have started life in handicaps of a mark which could see him run up a sequence.