Monday, June 15, 2015

Royal Ascot - Day 1 - Hope of a nation

Royal Ascot is for many the highlight of the Flat season. What is undisputed is the quality of racing on offer at the meeting, particularly when foreign raiders of the highest class come from afar to challenge the superiority of the local or European counterparts. Forget Dubai or the Breeders Cup, this is the place, together with Arc day at Longchamp, where world supremacy forged through a win suffers no question of legitimacy.

And there could not have been a better start to proceedings with the Queen Anne Stakes where world beaters Able Friend and Solow lock horns for the title of best miler in the world. Their form is staggering; They both read 111111 on the race card in their last 6 races. It's Hong Kong against France all over unless Night of Thunder, Britain's top miler, produces an extraordinary effort. Very unprobable. Able Friend carries the hope of a nation, having everything in the Far East. He's nearly invincible at Sha Tin and there are worries that the stiff mile of Ascot will see his stamina out. I think he will be fine, his unbelievable turn of foot should see him through any extended distance to a mile. Solow won the Dubai Duty Free impressively and is in flying form according to trainer Head. The mile is his minimum distance and he is no doubt the best older European horse going to a mile and a quarter. There is nothing else to choose between these two, their class is vastly superior to anything else. It's as close as a match race I can think of and what a duel it should be. I see Able Friend on top at the finish. An Asian miler on top of the world at Ascot, the thoroughbred hierarchy is about to see a revolution of epic proportions!

The St James Palace crowns the best 3 year-old miler and it's hard to see past Gleneagles and Make Believe, the winners of the English and French Guineas respectively. The deserved favourite is Gleneagles, who should be holding an undefeated record were it not for a very controversial disqualification in his last juvenile race last year. The son of Galileo added to his Classic collection after Newmarket by winning the Irish Guineas in impressive fashion. He showed an instant turn of foot in that race coming out of a compromising position towards the finish. Make Believe won the French Guineas impressively and will have the benefit of an extra fortnight of rest than the Ballydoyle champion. That could very play in his favour particularly if the race is run with a lot of pace. I think it will be a close one between the two, with a small preference for Gleneagles.

Win: Able Friend, Gleneagles

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