Continuing my search for winners from Royal Ascot 2016! Here’s TEN for your tracker.
THIKRIYAAT 2nd in G2 7F Jersey Stakes.
Nothing really went right for him in this race. He was drawn stands side in a group that raced down the middle and was always two lengths+ off the far side group, switched inside 3F out, got outpaced 2F out but flew when they hit the rising ground inside the final furlong. Ribchester had gone and may still have won anyway.
After his previous race win in the Listed 7F King Charles II Stakes at Newmarket Richard Hills, assistant racing manager to owner Sheikh Hamdan, said: “I thought it was a really good effort. Ted Durcan said he felt the ground going into the dip and idled. But when the other horse came to him he went on again. He is a progressive horse and he will definitely get a mile.”
So we are looking for a Group 3 (Bonhams Thoroughbred Stakes @ Goodwood?), possibly Group 2, over a mile without Firm in the Going and preferably Soft in it. This seasons 3yo male miler’s looks a hot division with the likes of The Gurkha, Galileo Gold and Atwaad but success in a G2/3 could pave the way to taking the big boys on.
If Thikriyaat was to stay to 7F the G2 Park Stakes at Doncaster would seem an appropriate target, especially on a course Paul Hanagan rides well. With a preference for ground on the Soft side if it was to be a G1 shot the Maurice de Gheest at Deauville and the QEII at Ascot on Champions Day would be suitable.
Looking further down the line there is a race in the States they could have their eye on, the Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes (Grade 1) (3yo+) (Turf) at Keeneland on the turf in early October?
MITCHUM SWAGGER 3rd in the C2 8F Hunt Cup (Heritage Handicap).
A remarkable run. No surprise he tagged himself on the back of the far side group as he is a hold up horse. Jockey George Baker moved forward from the 3F pole choosing to go towards the far rail and weaved his way through with nothing finishing stronger.
Trainer David Lanigan told the Racing Post “The stable’s Hunt Cup third Mitchum Swagger, who enjoys soft ground, is likely to have a break before returning for an autumn campaign, as he did last year.”
We know he is a hold up horse who wants Soft ground, gets 8F and could possibly get 10F? Currently has an Official Rating of 110 which would make the Cambridgeshire a big ask but there is a Group 3 at Newmarket, a course he ran well last season, the Darley Stakes in early October which could fit the bill.
CARRY ON DERYCK 9th in the C2 8F Hunt Cup (Heritage Handicap).
Australian jockey James McDonald had an impossible task here. Drawn 25 he had no choice but to weigh in with the stands side group, hampered after 2F that knocked him another place back, when he did come with his challenge it was in the middle of the course all on his own and despite drifting to the leaders the pilot has done really well to get Godolphin’s son of Halling within four lengths of their winner, Portage.
Currently on a handicap mark of OR106 where do they go next with him? As a four year old he has had only eleven starts and as a son of Halling there should be more improvement to come with age and possibly stepping up to ten furlongs. He has had four goes at Listed company without success but I still believe he could be a Group horse in time. Curious that Godolphin bought a 4yo gelding?
He was fourth in the 3yo 8F C2 Britannia Handicap in 2015 on Good to firm, which suggests he likes Ascots straight mile, his better form has been with give in the ground and he has to be on my shortlist for the Balmoral Handicap on Champions Day in October. Mind you it will be interesting to see where he turns up between now and then?
DIPLOMA 5th in the 3yo Fillies Listed 8F Sandringham Handicap
I am not sure what to make of this race. The winner, Persuasive, was the best horse and Frankie Dettori had her in position ‘A’ and got first run with the next four to finish all coming from behind her. I am putting up the Queen’s Diploma for two main reasons, firstly I think she is a better horse at ten furlongs and secondly Ryan Moore didn’t exactly throw the kitchen sink at her to get third! She has an Official Rating of 100 which would be interesting if she chose to carry top weight in a 3yo fillies 10F handicap.
The Listed 10F Lyric Stakes at York for 3yo+ fillies on Friday 22nd July could be a suitable race if she goes off in search of Black Type.
The C2 Britannia Handicap for 3yo’s over the straight mile is as competitive a contest as there is over the five days in Berkshire but is usually full of future winners. Watching it again the 2016 version is notable for two reasons. Firstly it was the only race all week over the straight course where those drawn high actually stuck to the stands rail and were competitive to the line and secondly the race was blown apart by Defrocked at the 2F pole when Jamie Spencer’s mount arrived pulling double before he again hung drastically right and almost threw it away.
I am choosing two to put forward for contrasting reasons.
CHIEF WHIP 3rd in the 8F C2 3yo Britannia Heritage Handicap
Any horse that has gone up 13lb without winning is normally one to be avoided but Chief Whip has finished in the frame in four of the hottest 3yo 7/8F handicaps this season. Third at Sandown to Czabo, who has since finished fourth in a Classic and won at Listed level. Second to Castle Harbour at York when Ryan Moore had to overcome a dreadful draw. Second to Garcia in the Silver Bowl at Haydock when he did everything but win with Garcia leaning all over him in the last hundred yards and then a fast finishing third in the Britannia under the stands rail!
Chief Whip acts on the soft but could improve on better ground and he has the speed for a mile but ten furlongs may be his trip. His Official Rating has gone up from OR86 to OR99 but a 0-100 3yo 8-10F handicap on Good ground with Ryan Moore back on board would be ideal. Indeed in time he could be a Group performer as I hinted at in my pre-season notes. “US bred son of Giants Causeway cost Messrs Magnier, Tabor and Smith $250K and is not at Coolmore but with Richard Hannon. Only ran the once as a 2yo but couldn’t have been much more impressive. Out OK, travelled well but had to sit and suffer just behind the leaders waiting for a gap but when he did get daylight he really quickened up in the style of a good horse. The 2nd and 3rd have both won since suggesting Chief Whip is an OR95+ horse and possibly a Group contender.”
YATTWEE 3rd in the 8F C2 3yo Britannia Heritage Handicap
Another to race in the stands side group in the Britannia Handicap at Royal Ascot and had every chance. That run was only the fourth of his career and although on an Official Rating of OR100 I believe on better ground with more experience he could prove that to be on the generous side. I wouldn’t be bothered if he stepped back a furlong as long as it was quick ground.
BURNT SUGAR 6th in the C2 6F Wokingham Heritage Handicap
On the evidence of this run Burnt Sugar just has to win a big pot C2 6F handicap in the next twelve months!! Another ridden by Australian James Macdonald again having to overcome a rotten draw in 27. Last after a furlong, as the field migrated towards the centre and far side it was Burnt Sugar who made his challenge alone nearest to the stands. He really quickened approaching the furlong pole but the race was gone and he hung a little right and behind close home. Burnt Sugar hasn’t won since his two year old days and both wins were on the All Weather but there are two C2 6F handicaps coming up at Newmarket, Friday July 8th and Saturday August 13th, in which he was 5th and 2nd last year and with a bit of luck and a clear run has to be an each way shot in both in 2016. The Handicapper has dropped him a pound for that Wokingham run to OR105 and if trainer Richard Hannon put up his star claimer Tom Marquand he could take another three pounds off and would be very back-able!
TOOFI 8th in the C2 6F Wokingham Heritage Handicap
Trainer Robert Cowell has firmly established as the “Jamaica” of British horse racing with a stable full of medal-winning equine athletes over any distance as long as it’s a sprint no further than 6F!! I see this morning that Strath Burn has moved from Charlie Hills to Six Mile Bottom.
Can Toofi win a C2 Handicap sprint? He is a hold up horse who goes on any ground off an Official rating of 103 and that means he will always get in the race but needs a large slice of luck to win one!
As long as he is available at a double figure price I would be quite prepared to back him each way in the Stewards Cup at Goodwood, the Gold Cup at Ayr and especially the Portland Handicap over the extra hundred yards at Doncaster. I would love to see the owners persuaded to give Jamie Spencer a go on him or a hot claimer such as George Wood, Josephine Gordon or Adam MacNamara although I think Andrea Atzeni is the most probable pilot.
GUNNERY 6th in the 3yo Listed 16F Queens Vase
Again I’m not happy about a horse going up ten pounds for finishing 6th, OR88 98, but this was a fair effort considering little came from off the pace and the winner, Sword Fighter, made every yard. It was the second time watching this horse that I think he is tailor made for the 3yo 14F Melrose handicap at the Ebor meeting on the Knavesmire at York. This was still only his fifth lifetime race and I could see this son Of Le Havre winning at York and making up into a decent Cup horse next season. Mind you I could also see him in a staying novice hurdle at Newbury for Henderson!
MIDHMAAR 8th in the 12F 3yo C1 King George V Handicap
I wasn’t surprised to see Midhmaar at Royal Ascot but I didn’t expect it to be this race! As my pre season notes suggested “Won once from six starts as a 2yo but now as a gelded 3yo he could be a handicapping money spinner. He was green on debut, ground was Soft on his second run and on his third run in a maiden on the AW at Lingfield ran into two OR90+ horses! He comfortably made all in a C3 8F nursery on Good to Firm at Salisbury. Stepped up to C2 8F at Doncaster, he was too keen early and wouldn’t settle but was still only beaten 1¼L in fifth. On his final run in a C4 nursery over Ripon’s 8F round a bend he was last away in a field of 13, intended or not, but he settled, travelled and stormed up the straight, only to be blocked twice and still got to second beaten only by the progressive Move Up. Ideal conditions for this son of Iffraaj would be 8F on Good to Firm with some pace on and the chance of cover. His current rating is 84 and very workable. An early season win and he could be an Ascot Britannia candidate.”
As a son of Iffraaj this 12F was going to really stretch his stamina especially as the ground was Soft. In the circumstances he ran really well, slowly away, he lobbed along on the rail in the rear of midfield and as the field swung for home he had no racing room when he needed it and although in with a squeak he didn’t see the trip out. The upside is that he remains on the attractive handicap mark of OR90 and a C3 0-90 10F, even a stiff 10F, on good ground or better should have him in the winners enclosure. His previous runs at Sandown, second to Listed winner Czabo and Primitivo, winner of that race at Ascot, suggest the Esher course suits him well. There is a suitable race at Sandown on the Friday before the Eclipse, July 1st.
Whilst Lady Aurelia was blasting away with her WOW performance in the G2 5F Queen Mary for two year old fillies it would have been easy to miss to tidy performances from the fourth and fifth, Kocollada for Richard Fahey and Sylvester Kirk’s 100/1 shot Simmie. Both looked as though they would appreciate a sixth furlong.