Ascot is Upon Us
18 June 2012
Runners have been few and far between this past week but we still managed to hit the scoreboard when Qahriman won at York on Friday. He had been raised 3lb since finishing second at Chester first time up so to put up the performance he did bearing in mind he hadn't seemed to handle softish conditions too well at Ffos Las last year was extremely pleasing. The manner in which he pulled clear towards the finish with the runner-up suggests that 2m will be within his grasp before too long, but before then he will almost take up residence at York as he will return there for the John Smith's Listed Silver Cup in July before heading for the Ebor in August.
Strada Facendo and Sea Smoke did best of our other recent runners. The former will probably be stepped up to a mile after finishing well at Haydock last week, while Sea Smoke shaped with plenty of promise at Sandown on Saturday and is unlikely now to be sent to the Newmarket July Sales.
Sea Fever may have come back too soon at Haydock on Thursday but our hand was rather forced by the handicapper. He was also a bit too keen and he has been gelded since.
We will be short of our usual number of runners at Royal Ascot. Oddly enough, though, our first runner will be the unraced two-year-old Ajmany in the Windsor Castle Stakes. This is the first time that we have run an unraced juvenile at the Royal meeting. The line is, he is going there as a preparation for a median auction maiden! Joking aside, he's entitled to take his chance – he's been working very well at home, is bred to be fast and is a big, strong mature colt. Whether stall 22 of 23 is a good draw, however, remains to be seen.
We have no runners on Wednesday but on Thursday we have Commitment in the King George V Handicap. He has been working well at home since his Musselburgh flop which we still attribute to the poor journey he had to the track. He runs here in preference to the valuable Sales race at Newmarket the following week. He still has to prove he is fully effective at 1m4f but we feel he's ahead of the handicapper and he should go well.
Ibicenco is still in the Gold Cup but he's a 40-1 shot in most books which seems a fair reflection and it may be that we will look instead to the Listed Coral Marathon at Sandown.
Our hopes on Friday lie with Danadana and Kirthill in the Wolferton Handicap. Danadana has only got in the weights because he won the Zetland Gold Cup at Redcar last time but though he is up another 7lb he should go well as he is a strong traveller who will be able to sit close to the pace which is just what you need on the round course at Ascot. Kirthill hasn't run since York in May and might be seen by some as our second string but he came on tremendously for his first run last year, has been working well and shouldn't be dismissed.
The weather will determine if we have a runner on Saturday as Fiery Lad needs good or faster ground and he won't run in the Duke Of Edinburgh if it is soft. The recent rain also means we are playing a waiting game with Afsare (who missed La Coupe at Longchamp on Monday), Quest For Peace and Mount Athos.
We should just like to give our congratulations to our former assistant Ed Walker who has has another five winners since promising Nicholascopernicus started the ball rolling at Doncaster last weekend. We hope he doesn't turn up in the King George V alongside Commitment!