Royal Ascot 2017 - Day 3
A fiendish puzzle to solve at the start of Day 3. Nine Below Zero has looked every inch the professional to date, winning both of his career starts. He travels well and hits the line hard and is a major player.
Frozen Angel was sent off a warm favourite when only managing to finish a never-nearer second to Havana Grey at Sandown Park last time out. Ultimately, Frozen Angel did well to finish as close as he did given he dropped to last 2f out, rallying well under pressure. This conventional track should be much more to his liking.
True Blue Moon is another who arrives here with an unblemished record, winning at Dundalk and Naas. He shapes as if he will appreciate further in time but certainly is not short of pace and has a good chance if the ground conditions don’t hinder him.
The likes of Hawkbill, Time Test, Postponed, Cannock Chase and Mutakayyef have finished in the frame in this race in the previous three renewals, so it has certainly harnessed a reputation for producing middle-distance prospects.
Benbatl brings the best form to the table courtesy of his narrow defeat in the Dante and his good 5th in the Investec Derby. The step back to this trip shouldn’t pose an issue and he seems versatile in regards to the ground. He will be bang there but he may have to play second fiddle to the lightly raced Frankel colt Mirage Dancer. He went in to every notebook across the country with his eye-catching run in the Dee Stakes at Chester. He must improve again a fair bit to challenge those with higher ratings and proven form but he looks more than capable of doing so.
Of those at a bigger price, the German raider Savile Row looks like one who will improve stepping up in trip and with a stronger pace to aim at. The London Gold Cup at Newbury often produces good horses and Mucho Applause was sent off a warm favourite for that before succumbing late on to the challenge of Defoe. His best form has come on soft ground but he can outrun his price if he handles quicker conditions.
Juddmonte Farms will be bidding for a quick-fire double and they have a standout candidate in the form of Mori. Sired by the exceptional Frankel and out of a magnificent racemare in Midday, this filly has a pedigree to die for. She has quickly made up in to a smart performer in her own right. She won a Listed race at Goodwood last time with authority and promises to be suited by this additional yardage.
Nevertheless, she faces strong opposition from Investec Oaks 3rd and 5th, Alluringly and Coronet respectively. Both of those two have solid form and it would not be a shock to see either win, but perhaps Astronomy’s Choice can bounce back from her disappointing run in the Pretty Polly at Newmarket when only finishing third where she was an odds-on favourite. In line with her pedigree, this step up in trip will suit. That defeat at Newmarket is slightly disconcerting, but her trainer John Gosden is adept at bringing horses back from disappointments on their next start. Indeed, Eagle Top got beat off a mark of 92 on his second start before winning a Group 2 at this meeting back in 2014.
A race that revolves around the high-class Order Of St George. He is not one for maximum faith however, evidenced by his short-priced defeats in the Irish St Leger and here at Ascot on British Champions Day. If he brings his A-game to the table, then the opposition are fighting for places at best.
Perhaps the two will give him most to do are Sheikhzayedroad and Simple Verse. Both horses finished ahead of Order Of St George on British Champions Day, finishing 1st and 3rd respectively. Sheikhzayedroad was a model of consistency and progressed a significant amount throughout the course of last season. It will be interesting to see whether he can improve on his 3rd place finish in this race last year.
Simple Verse won the St Leger and the Fillies & Mares race on British Champions Day as a three-year-old before losing her way in the early part of last season. She bounced back with a vengeance with an outstanding performance in the Park Hill at Doncaster last September, before finishing a length behind Sheikhzayedroad in the Long Distance Cup on British Champions Day. She returned with a brilliant effort at York last month, only narrowly denied by the high-class Dartmouth. If she stays this extra distance, she has the right to be bang there.
The Britannia is possibly the most difficult race of the whole week, with so many lightly raced three-year-olds open to any amount of progress. That is before you have factored in ground, draw and pace variables.
Unoriginally, one of huge interest is Son Of The Stars. He certainly has not been missed by the market following his run at Newmarket on QIPCO 1000 Guineas day, where he became severely unbalanced on the undulations and was arguably extremely unfortunate not to have his unbeaten record intact. A 6lb rise in the handicap for that narrow miss underestimates him and he remains well treated.
Following on their success in the Coventry – Rebel Racing, Richard Spencer and Stevie Donohoe have another live candidate in the form of Keyser Soze. Gelded over the winter, this looks to have made a man of him and he looks a completely different animal this year. He has been hit with a 10lb rise for his latest victory at Kempton Park, but he can prove he is still fairly treated with the extra yardage unlikely to inconvenience him.
One of the most fascinating races of the day. Godolphin look to have a very strong hand with multiple runners, but perhaps the most interesting is First Nation. He has finished twice already this season, with a disappointing run at Newmarket sandwiched in-between, but he has been freshened up since his last run. He does have question marks over the quick ground but stepping up in trip to 12f should see him show significant improvement, given his most notable sibling is St Leger winner Mastery.
John Gosden also runs a pair of well-bred sorts. Tartini is a half-brother to a trio of smart stayers, Lucarno, Thought Worthy and Flying Office, so it would be privy to suggest he will appreciate a trip in time and can go well from his nice draw in 6. Likewise, Master Singer is a half-brother to the smart Campanologist and his dam is half-sister to the magnificent Singspiel. He comes here on the back of a facile victory in a Newcastle maiden and strikes as the type to continue to improve and move his way up the ranks.
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