Four feasting courses of a Royal racing banquet completed with just the dessert course to go. The question is what can our master chef serve up to cut through the rich taste of Ryan Moore and Aiden O’Brien who have flooded our palette this week and given us a Michelin starred dinner so far?
Two year olds running over 7 furlongs is always a test at this time of their lives. This is as few entered as I have seen for a while in this race and I am going to concentrate on just three, Ballydoyle first of all has to be considered. if you call yourself Ballydoyle you better be good. That didn’t apply with Pond House, but that’s another story. I will swerve this one as I couldn’t back a horse that looked like that in its first run and is now favourite. It may be a legend but I didn’t see it. I like Tonkinese whose third on debut was top notch and he improved on that performance when winning last time out. The other that a like is Love the Kitten. Bred for further he looks the type for Wesley Ward – already a winner this week.
I have put a ring around 5 horses in this race. Collaboration, who looked a class horse when completing the hat trick at Chester, Mahsoob who created a similar impression with his win at York, although the proxmity of Master of Finance concerns me as little as much as I like the latter. First Flight looks interesting for Godolphin after his performance in coming 3rd to Mahsoob beaten 3/4l and Ayrad who was a good winner at Goodwood on his latest effort. There is no doubting Mahsoob is open to most improvement but I saw Andrew Balding’s, Collaboration put his race beyond that of his competitors at Chester in a furlong and a half and he seemed to do it so easily. He is also over 5 times the price of the favourite.
Eagle Top will be popular with quite few and there is not doubt John Gosden fancies his chances with his 4 yo but so far he hasnt quite been good enough, although his win against Adelaide really looks good in the context of this race. Postponed for Luca looks to have a similar profile but the horse I am taken by is Telescope. It was actually his second place first time out that was the most eye-catching for me. Ryan got it wrong and went too early on him on that day but the acceleration was really impressive and you need that in good races. He is now race fit and will account for these.
Terrific sprinters all. A treat for us with the pen gathering around a group headed by the admirable Tropics, who may have run his best race already this year but deserves his time in the sun. Astaire too may have also peaked with a first time out demolition job. Casper Neitscher ran a blinder last time out and looks to be an improved horse and back to his best. Gordon Lord Byron may need 7 to be seen at his best but he is talented and now that jockey Pat Smullen has got his way and got Mustajeeb sprinting it could be that he becomes a sensation in this form of racing. The Australian sprinter, Brazen Beau will take some beating if he is at his best. He accounted for a good field easily in his last race in Australia and if at his best will win. My problem is that their wonder horse almost got beat when she came here for this race and I am not convinced by sprinters travelling long distances just yet. We are good at moving stayers and middle distance horses but by their very nature they relax better anyway. I just don’t know how much edge it takes off these highly sprung sprinters. I think I will have to err on the side of caution and take two in this race.
5.00 The Wokingham Handicap Class 2 6f
Tough as tough can be. I’m simply concentrating on two horses. Ninjago, who might be a little closer to the pace this time than he was at Goodwood and will appreciate this stiff 6 and strong pace. He was just caught out of his ground last time at Goodwood, a quick 6 furlongs and Kickboxer, who I have watched race since he was 2 and he looks to be finding his feet sprinting.
5.35 The Queen Alexandra Stakes C2 2 mile 5f
A strange race this. The longest flat race of the festival. Like yesterday it could be that Ryan Moore swops riding with one Irish legend trainer for another as he partners Wicklow Brave, a horse who won for us at 25/1 at Cheltenham over timber. I like Marzocco in this race who brings the best flat form and may just relax enough to see this out better than the others