Royal Ascot Day 1

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This is the race of the week for me, it pits a horse I’ve been waiting two years to see in the flesh, ABLE FRIEND, against Dubai Turf winner Solow. Throw in last years 2000 Guineas winner, Night of Thunder and Toormore potentially improving and we have a competitive betting heat to begin the week.

My personal opinion is that Able Friend is the best miler in the world and this is going to be his coronation. He’s won his last six races in Hong Kong, he may not have beaten much but it’s the style in which he’s done it. His win in the Hong Kong Mile (below) shows his class, he put the race to bed with a blistering turn of foot to win by four and a half lengths. Joao Moreira, The Magic Man, only had to use hands and heels that day and if/when he is asked the question under pressure I think we could see something special.

I think he should be favourite, but it seems that the below questions are being asked;

Q. Can he run well over a straight mile?
A. He’s a huge horse, in theory he should improve for not having to go around bends.

Q. Will he handle the ground?
A. Despite the watering, the forecast looks good so by the start of racing on Tuesday I’m expecting the ground to be the ‘quick side’ of good, which should be fine for him.

Q. Has the travel taken it out of him?
A. The trainer and jockey appear to be in a very confident mood and it’s not like horses haven’t travelling from Hong Kong, Australia and America haven’t won at Royal Ascot before. Not backing a horse because it had to get on a plane seems like the worst reason to not back something.

I was in Dubai when Solow when won The Dubai Turf, he was so impressive that day however that race was over nine furlongs. A lot of people raved about his d’Isphahan win, but that was over nine and a half furlongs. In Dubai he beat The Grey Gatsby, who is better over further and hasn’t upheld the form since. In the d’Ipshahan his main challenger Cirrus Des Aigles is nine-years-old, prefers more cut in the ground and broke a shoe during the race. Freddy Head is a fantastic trainer, but I just see this placement as a bit odd. Visually Solow looks like ten-furlong races would be perfect for him, I actually expected him to go for The Prince of Wales Stakes this week.

When push comes to shove and these two go clear at the two furlong pole, I expect Able Friend’s quicker turn of foot to be the difference. Able Friend consistently breaks twenty-two second for the final two furlongs of his races, if he repeats something near that, away from Sha Tin then it’s going to be tough for the others to live with him.

Like I said, I’m excited to be seeing this horse in the flesh and I’m expecting to see something special. On the clock, visual impressions and consistent mile form he should be favourite.

Able FREIND

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Back Able Friend at 4.00 – Paddy Power[/symple_box]

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The fact Godolphin have decided to buy every two year old that shows promise makes this race easier for me to make my mind up. Log Out Island would have been a massive player in this race, but he now looks set to go to The Norfolk Stakes. I had an on course bet on Buratino when he won at Epsom last week, that was on the back of what I saw of him at Sandown a week earlier. Godolphin have now purchased him and entered him in this race and that’s a bit of a concern for me. He’s already had five runs in a short space of time, this may be one race too many at his age.

The other Godolphin runner is the one that interests me, ROUND TWO has only had two starts but ‘Team Godolphin’ sound very confident about him and his potential.

That tweet, was posted before he won at The Curragh last time out, it’s difficult to measure the form of that race as none of the placed horses have had a run since, but on visual impressions he looked very good.

The form of his debut has worked out ok, he beat Argentero that day who comfortably won a listed race next time out. If he’s as good as the stable think he is then he’s going to go very close here, but more importantly his price will be a lot shorter than what is currently on offer.

Round Two

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Back Round Two at 3.50 – Coral[/symple_box]

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I have a love hate relationship wit Sole Power, I back him and he gets beaten I take him on and he gets up late on the line. Standing on the rail at Meydan in March was a truly gutting experience, I had a really good feeling about Peniaphobia only for Sole Power to get home late, it reminded me of when he won his first King’s Stand by denying Shea Shea, another horse I’d backed, in the closing strides. So am  going to back him this time around? No, I just can’t bring myself to. Connections were considering retiring him if he didn’t perform in The Al Quoz Sprint, after he ran below par at Meydan in his previous race and that leaves me thinking he could come into this not at his peak. I have the feeling that he was trained to perform to the best of his abilities on World Cup Night, therefore getting him to produce something like that again this year may prove difficult, especially as he’s now an eight year old.

I think this is a race for one of the up and coming sprinters, with MUTHMIR top of my list. The William Haggas trained five year old gained his first group success at Chantilly last time out, on ground that was softer than ideal. On the quicker surface he will be getting here, his turn of foot could put this race to bed pretty easily. I will be amazed if this horse doesn’t land a group one at some stage this season and for my bank balance I hope it’s in this race.

I’m expecting Sole Power to confirm his form over the horses, he beat in this race last year. Mecca’s Angel is a big danger, but the quicker ground may be against him. Muthmir brings a different form line, a turn of foot and has the look of an improver who is about to peak.

muthmir

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Back Muthmir at 6.50 – Coral[/symple_box]

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It’s difficult to make a case against GLENEAGLES here, he won the best two-year-old races in Ireland and France last year and followed that up by winning the best three-year-old mile races in England and Ireland this year. On everything we know he should be winning this race, and winning it well.

The form of Make Believes French 2000 Guineas victory has worked out well, with the second placed horse going on to win The French Derby, but I don’t think he would have been good enough to win the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket. The biggest danger may prove to be the twice raced Consort, who initially made a striking impression on me at Sandown a few weeks ago. It was pulling his head of for the first few furlongs, but still managed to win comfortably. I say he initially made an impressions on me, however when I looked at the clock my confidence in him damped a bit. The time wasn’t great and although I expect him to improve for the run, today may be a step to far for him this early in his career.

I rate Gleneagles a 1.40 (2/5) shot in this field, so despite him being odds-on the 1.66 (4/6)  still represents some theoretical ‘value’.

Gleneagles

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Back Gleneagles at 1.66 – General[/symple_box]

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