Chaldean all set for Royal Ascot clash of the Classic winners

Guineas hero Chaldean will bid to repeat his impressive Newmarket performance when he goes for the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot on Tuesday.

The Andrew Balding-trained Frankel colt headed to the first Classic of the season with question marks having unshipped Frankie Dettori at the start in his intended tune-up in the Greenham at Newbury.

But he silenced the doubters in style on the Rowley Mile to claim 2000 Guineas glory as he showed all the qualities that made him such a formidable two-year-old last year. He now heads to Berkshire attempting to add to his impeccable CV.

Both Jim Bolger’s Poetic Flare and Charlie Appleby’s Coroebus have completed the 2000 Guineas/St James’s Palace double in the past two seasons and connections are not worried about Chaldean’s draw in stall one as he attempts to follow in their footsteps, tackling a round course for the first time.

“He’s pretty uncomplicated. He can jump and be handy and he can jump and take a pull. He’s a versatile horse when you look at his races,” said Barry Mahon, European racing manager for owners Juddmonte.

“Last year at Doncaster he had a small field to contend with and had to make it, then Newmarket he settled in and took a lead, so he’s versatile and it will be great to see him back.

“The horse has never done anything wrong in his career to date and hopefully he can continue his good run. Andrew is happy, everyone at Kingsclere feels he is in the right place and we’re all excited for Tuesday.”

Frankie Dettori celebrates on Chaldean after winning the 2000 Guineas
Frankie Dettori celebrates on Chaldean after winning the 2000 Guineas (David Davies for The Jockey Club/PA)

Chaldean is not the only Classic winner in the line-up as the red-hot contest also features Paddington, who claimed the Irish equivalent in good style at the Curragh.

The Siyouni colt will bid to give trainer Aidan O’Brien a record-extending ninth win in the one-mile Group One and said: “We’ve been happy with him since the Curragh and everything has gone well. He has progressed with every run.

“He won on good ground at the Curragh, we weren’t sure about the ground before the last day but he seemed to be very happy on it.”

John Gosden has won this three times in the last 10 years and alongside his son Thady is responsible for one of the most exciting prospects in the race, Mostabshir, who bounced back from a below-par performance in the Craven to show his class at York when bolting up by five lengths from a subsequent winner.

Mostabshir winning in style at York
Mostabshir winning in style at York (Mike Egerton/PA)

“It’s a fascinating clash with the two Guineas winners,” said Angus Gold, racing manager for owners Shadwell.

“Our horse is very progressive but he’s going to need to be. So it will be interesting to see how he gets on.

“He’s worked very nicely (since York). He’s a very happy horse who enjoys life and enjoys his work and he looks in good shape. Hopefully whatever he is capable of, he will give his best wherever that fits in.”

Another horse on an upward curve and looking to make his mark at the highest level is the unbeaten Cicero’s Gift, who arrives on the back of an impressive display at Goodwood, and is one of two for Charlie Hills in this British Champions Series race alongside 2000 Guineas fourth Galeron.

“We did toy with the idea of running Cicero’s Gift in the Guineas as well (as Galeron), but wanted to keep a low profile with this race in mind,” said Hills.

“He took a bit of time to come to hand last year and is going to get better with age and experience – he might get further in time as well.

“He’s a good-looking chap, improving with each race but he is going into a Group One which will be a different experience.”

Isaac Shelby took advantage of Chaldean’s misfortune to scoop the Greenham back in April and went close to getting on the Classic honours board when denied by the barest of margins in the Poule d’Essai des Poulains.

Brian Meehan’s son of Night Of Thunder, who claimed the Superlative Stakes on home soil last season, brings added spice to a deep contest with his handler confident he has a top-class miler on his hands.

“I really think he has a huge future and I really think it is at a mile, even though we gave him the sprint entries,” said the Manton-based trainer.

“He is much more relaxed in his work since Paris and you can see him maturing. He’s an exciting horse to have but there is nowhere to hide at this level.”

Paul and Oliver Cole’s Royal Scotsman finished third at Newmarket in the Guineas but has a point to prove following a disappointing effort at the Curragh, while Charyn (Roger Varian) and Indestructible (Karl Burke) complete the crack group of nine heading to post.

Balding staying cool under pressure, as big week looms large

There is no disputing a huge week awaits Andrew Balding at Royal Ascot. But equally it is very much a feeling of “good pressure…the pressure you want” for the Kingsclere trainer, as he prepares to send out a team captained by Classic winner Chaldean.

Balding arrives in Berkshire with a string in fine form, boasting a near 20 per cent strike-rate in the last two weeks, and with leading chances in two of the real showpiece events of the meeting.

The 2000 Guineas hero Chaldean will head his formidable team, as he takes on Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Paddington and unbeaten Cicero’s Gift in a mouthwatering St James’s Palace Stakes on Tuesday.

“Obviously, we were thrilled with his Guineas win. That was his main objective for the early part of the season and this will be his second target. This, we always hoped, would be the plan,” said Balding.

“He had a little break after Newmarket. He has freshened up well and his work has been as solid as ever and we’re looking forward to it.

“There’s pressure, obviously, he is wearing the crown at the moment and that gives you added pressure.”

Balding will run Berkshire Shadow in the curtain-raising Queen Anne Stakes, the first of three Group One races on the opening afternoon.

Beaten just under two lengths in a bunched finish in the St James’s Palace last year, he opened his four-year-old campaign with a Listed win at Wolverhampton and another success in the valuable All-Weather Mile Championship at Newcastle.

Bookmakers appear to be overlooking the Dark Angel gelding, making him a general 33-1 chance.

“He ran well when finishing third in the Lockinge next time,” said Balding, as he ran through his team sitting on a bench opposite the weighing room at Newbury, where he waited to saddle a three-year-old. “We think he’d have an each-way chance again.

Berkshire Shadow is already a Royal Ascot winner
Berkshire Shadow is already a Royal Ascot winner (Steven Paston/PA)

“It is a tough division, but he is a high-class horse, who won a Coventry a couple of years ago.”

Dante Stakes winner The Foxes, who subsequently failed to see out the Derby trip, will not be among the yard’s runners, although Oaks eighth Sea Of Roses will take her place in the Ribblesdale.

Kempton’s Magnolia Stakes winner Foxes Tales and Notre Belle Bete, who has placed three times this year and landed over £100,000 when scoring in the All-Weather Easter Classic at Newcastle, are Balding’s contenders in the Wolferton Stakes.

“He (Foxes Tales) has a (3lb) penalty. He is in the Wolferton.” said Balding. “We have Notre Belle Bete in that too. He’s had a great season.

“We run some two-year-olds, but we don’t quite know what to expect there,” admitted Balding, before citing two horses who may fly under the radar in Imperial Fighter and Sandrine.

Sandrine could be overlooked, according to her trainer
Sandrine could be overlooked, according to her trainer (Adam Davy/PA)

The former was beaten two and a half lengths by Native Trail in the Irish 2,000 Guineas last year, but has not hit the same heights subsequently.

Fifth to Regal Reality in the Diomed at Epsom on his last start, Balding feels he has started to come to hand again.

“Imperial Fighter will go in the Royal Hunt Cup,” he added. “He was third in the Irish Guineas last year but has just taken his time to find a bit of form this year, but I’m happy with him now. I think he’d have an each-way chance.”

Sandrine, owned by Kirsten Rausing, is a dual Group Two winner who landed the Lennox Stakes at Goodwood last July.

She won the six-furlong Albany on heavy ground two years ago and is equally effective on a quicker surface.

Andrew Balding has plenty of big guns to fire this week
Andrew Balding has plenty of big guns to fire this week (Simon Marper/PA)

Having run over seven furlongs and a mile last season, she dropped back to six furlongs at Salisbury last month and was beaten a length and a half. She is a 16-1 chance for the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Stakes on Saturday, yet her trainer remains hopeful.

Balding said: “Sandrine could be overlooked in the Jubilee, because she is high class.

“The return to sprinting will suit her. She was a bit disappointing at Salisbury, but I think there were legitimate excuses for that.

“She seems in great nick at home and she goes there, as long as the ground is not too quick, with what we think is a great each-way chance.”

By then, he will know whether it has been a successful Royal meeting or not, particularly since he has another plum chance with Coltrane, who is a general 11-4 chance for the feature on Ladies Day – the Gold Cup.

Coltrane holds a favourite's chance in the week's feature
Coltrane holds a favourite’s chance in the week’s feature (David Davies/PA)

With Aidan O’Brien’s crack stayer Kyprios unable to defend his crown through injury, Balding feels Mick and Janice Mariscotti’s six-year-old – who won the Ascot Stakes, Esher Stakes and Doncaster Gold Cup last season – has every chance of backing up his recent Sagaro success as he steps back up to two and a half miles.

“It looks an open Gold Cup,” Balding said. “The good thing about Coltrane is we know he stays and we know he loves the track. That has go to be a massive plus.

“He seems in great heart and I couldn’t be more thrilled with his Sarago win. I thought that was his best performance ever.”

Acknowledging what is to come, he said: “Of course there’s pressure. But it is a good pressure. This is the pressure you want.

“You are always happy if you get just one winner at the meeting, so fingers crossed.”

Cicero’s Gift makes St James’s Palace leap for Hills

Cicero’s Gift will step into the unknown as he lines up in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot next Tuesday.

Though unbeaten in three starts, trainer Charlie Hills is keen to see how the inexperienced Muhaarar colt fares against the likes of 2000 Guineas winner Chaldean and Paddington, who won the Irish version.

Cicero’s Gift has made rapid strides this spring and is a general 3-1 third favourite for the Group One mile contest, run on the round course.

A unfancied 22-1 chance on his debut in a Newbury novices’ race in October, he ran on well to score with ease and returned in March to take a restricted novice over an extended mile on the all-weather at Wolverhampton.

It was his five-and-a-half-length win in a conditions race at Goodwood last time that propelled him into the reckoning for a mouthwatering clash with a pair of Classic winners, however.

Hills said: “He did it really well at Goodwood last time.

“I was delighted with it. He has improved with every run he’s had.

“Mentally, he has taken a bit of a while to come to himself. Last year we were nice and patient with him. Physically he has strengthened up. His is nice-looking horse, similar to his dad, probably a little bit bigger version.

“It is hard to know where we stack up against the others, as we have come through a different route, but hopefully he will run well.”

Galeron was a little unlucky in the Irish 2000 Guineas
Galeron was a little unlucky in the Irish 2000 Guineas (Brian Lawless/PA)

The Faringdon Place handler is no stranger to recent success at the meeting. Dark Shift (2022) and Afaak (2019) landed the Royal Hunt Cup, while Battaash struck in the King’s Stand (2020).

“We might have quite a big Royal Ascot team – about 20-odd this time,” said Hills. “We are still finalising plans, but we have a nice team.”

Galeron, who was fourth in the 2000 Guineas, did not get the cleanest of runs behind Paddington at the Curragh. He also holds an entry in the St James’s Palace, but could go elsewhere.

Hills added: “Galeron has done very well and they are two nice horses. Cicero’s Gift is less exposed.

“I’m not sure what race Galeron will go for – he’s in the Hampton Court as well. He wasn’t beaten far at the Curragh and was a little bit unlucky not to be closer, as he didn’t get the room when he needed it, and we got a little bit too far back in the race.”

Orazio is the general 8-1 market leader for the Wokingham Handicap. He has won three of five starts on the turf, including the last two, with a clear-cut victory over the same six-furlong course last month filling Hills with every confidence he can complete a hat-trick.

“I’m looking forward to Orazio running,” Hills added. “He is in the Wokingham and he would have a good chance, I would have thought. I think there is a little bit of rain in the forecast, and any rain wouldn’t go amiss for him.

“It was nice to get a bit of course-and-distance form last time. He had a bit of a problem last year, so he had a year off. He is a lightly-raced horse and he is unexposed, too.

“It is always hard to win at the meeting. Just one winner would be nice and if I had to pick one, I think Orazio would have a good chance.”

Tanmawwy could join his stablemate in the same race, despite having been a well-held favourite at Newmarket last month.

Charlie Hills will take a strong team to the Royal meeting
Charlie Hills will take a strong team to the Royal meeting (Mike Egerton/PA)

“Tanmawwy would like a little bit of cut in the ground as well. He ran in the Buckingham Palace last year and seven furlongs was a bit too far,” said the trainer.

Khaadem similarly holds a Wokingham entry. The consistent seven-year-old won the Group Two King George Stakes at Goodwood last July before finishing fourth in the Nunthorpe at York.

Touched off under hold-up tactics on his return to action at Salisbury, Hills would like quicker ground for him.

He said: “I was delighted with his run last time at Salisbury. We were just trying to run him a bit differently and he hit the line really well.

Consistent Khaadem holds multiple entries as Hills keeps a weather watch
Consistent Khaadem holds multiple entries as Hills keeps a weather watch (Steven Paston/PA)

“We have a couple of other entries in the King’s Stand and the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee, so we will just keep a weather watch.”

He added: “We also have a couple in the Britannia. Racingbreaks Ryder has won his last four starts and he might have a squeak. He won at Ascot last time over seven furlongs.

“Bodorgan, if he gets in, will have a chance in that as well. We have a couple of two-year-olds, but they have to step up from their last run, but we have a nice team and as always, we’re really looking forward to the meeting.”

Isaac Shelby on course for red-hot St James’s Palace

Brian Meehan’s French 2,000 Guineas runner-up Isaac Shelby is on course for the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 20.

Winner of the Group Two Superlative Stakes at Newmarket last July, the Night Of Thunder colt began his three-year-old campaign with a three-length success in the Greenham at Newbury, before being short-headed by Marhaba Ya Sanafi in France.

The St James’s Palace is shaping up into one of the races of the meeting with English and Irish Guineas winners Chaldean and Paddington as well as Charlie Hills’ unbeaten Cicero’s Gift lying in wait.

Though Isaac Shelby initially held an entry in the 10-furlong Coral-Eclipse at Sandown, the Manton handler is keen to keep him at a mile for now.

Meehan said: “He is heading to Ascot and he’s in great form. We have been very happy with him. He goes to the St James’s Palace, but he won’t go to the Eclipse.

“We’ll see how he comes out of Ascot before making any plans. He is in everything, but we’ll play it by ear.

“He’s in good form, we couldn’t be happier with him really.”

Indestructible will bid to get back on track at Royal Ascot

Karl Burke’s Craven winner Indestructible will aim to leave a disappointing showing in the 2000 Guineas behind him when he heads to Royal Ascot for the St James’s Palace Stakes.

The Kodiac colt was an ultra-consistent performer when trained by Michael O’Callaghan as a juvenile, chasing home Chaldean in both the Acomb and the Champagne Stakes last term, and threw his hat in the ring for the opening Classic of the summer when striking first time out for Burke in the Craven.

However, testing ground at Newmarket on 2000 Guineas day blunted any chance he had of figuring as old rival Chaldean took home the spoils and Indestructible’s connections are now hoping for a sounder surface when they lock horns for a fourth time at the Royal meeting.

“He’s come out of the Guineas very well,” said Tom Pennington, racing and operations manager for owners Amo Racing.

“The ground probably didn’t play to his strengths at Newmarket. We’ve always said he is not a soft ground horse and it was decent ground when he won the Craven.

“He’s in decent form and is working well, Karl is happy with him, and it is all systems go for the St James’s Palace at Royal Ascot.

Indestructible (purple, centre) will take on Chaldean (right) once again at Royal Ascot
Indestructible (purple, centre) will take on Chaldean (right) once again at Royal Ascot (Tim Goode/PA)

“Quick ground round a bend should see him at his best, he’s a nice horse and you don’t do what he did in the Craven without being a nice horse. I think getting on better ground will see him replicate what he did at Newmarket in the Craven.

“You can’t knock his form and his only disappointing run before the Guineas was when he was second to Chaldean at Doncaster last season. The ground was hock deep that day as well and he’s just not as effective on that sort of ground. He’s much better on a sound surface.”

Modesty set for low-key return at Newmarket

Exciting prospect Modesty looks set to miss the Betfred Derby after connections delayed his return to action following a setback.

Owned in partnership by Aquis Farm and Manton Park, the Dubawi colt showed plenty of dash when taking a mile maiden on good to soft ground at York in October.

A Dante and Derby entry, co-trainers Martyn and Freddie Meade have decided Modesty – who is a general 50-1 shot for the Derby – will not head to York or Epsom. Instead, he will make a belated three-year-old debut at Newmarket on Friday week.

Freddie (left) and Martyn Meade (right) have ruled out a Derby bid
Freddie (left) and Martyn Meade (right) have ruled out a Derby bid (Mike Egerton/PA)

“It has been frustrating. He has just been caught up in a series of pollen allergens we have been having recently,” said Freddie Meade.

“We have been really pleased with the way he has developed, though. He was still really green when he won at York, so the plan with him is to go to a novice at Newmarket, over a mile on May 19.”

Out of Group Three-winning mare I Am Beautiful, whose sire was multiple Group One winner Rip Van Winkle, Modesty is bred to be top-class.

And after scoring by three lengths on his debut, Meade feels the speed he showed on the Knavesmire means he will be better suited to trips short of a mile and a half, this season at least.

“We are looking at him as a mile or a mile-and-a-quarter horse this year, and so we will start him in that novice and see whether there is anything at Ascot that would suit him and go from there, really,” he said.

“I think we have ruled out the Derby. I think he’s got quite a lot of speed and I think we’d rush him to get to the Derby.

“The speed he showed at York, hopefully, with that pedigree, if he can be a good miler, then hopefully he’d make a good stallion.”

The Manton handlers have given him an entry in the St James’s Palace Stakes over a mile at Royal Ascot on June 20.

Meade added: “We’ve put him in that and those are the sort of races we’ll be looking at for him.

“He won on good to soft and he’s a very sound horse, and will seemingly handle anything. He’s one we are really excited about.”

Clock Watcher: Lessons from Harrovian

After an extended pandemic break, Clock Watcher is back! This semi-regular feature aims to highlight interesting performances from a sectional timing perspective. Before we dive into those noteworthy efforts, a quick recap to set the scene.

Sectional Recap

Sectional timing aims to tell us more about how a race was run by splitting it up into segments, or sections. Moreover, we can understand more about an individual horse's performances from these splits as well; and, by comparing with history - what we call 'par' - we can frame races and runs in a much broader historical context.

The idea is to note those horses who may have been inconvenienced either by the run of the race or how they themselves ran within it, and to 'mark up' such efforts for consideration in future. Such mark ups are one more piece of the puzzle: often they'll add little or nothing, but occasionally they are the significant differentiator. Our job as form detectives is to assimilate information from which to make value judgements. Sectional information is another piece of evidence to consider in the general form evaluation case, if you feel so inclined.

Thus, on the basis of a number of previous races over a given course and distance, we can have a reasonable idea of what the optimal energy expenditure might be. A marathon runner will look to run every one of the 26 and a bit miles in a very similar time because that is the way she uses her energy most efficiently and therefore runs her best time.

Because of the configuration of racecourses and races - standing start, bends, undulations, obstacles in jumps races - the shape of a par line will never be flat; instead it will have a curve that intrinsically accommodates all appropriate considerations. It will, in other words, enable us to gauge what happened in any given race against the body of directly relevant 'case law' that preceded it.

There is oodles more insight on how geegeez.co.uk publishes these data in our user guide, here.

What are we looking for?

What we are looking for might vary from race to race, situation to situation. But, more helpfully, two obvious things to spot are fast finishers and solid composite numbers.

Fast finishers are those runners whose closing splits, when compared to their overall time in percentage terms, were quicker. This is often called a finishing speed percentage (or FS%), and a high relative FS% implies a horse finished with more in the tank, more to give. That suggests he might go better next time.

Composite ratings are an attempt to consider FS% alongside the actual speed of a race. After all, if I walk the first 26 miles of a marathon over most of a day, my ability to run the last 385 yards will be far superior to even the best athlete who has run the previous 26 miles at world record pace. My finishing speed percentage will be massive but my overall time - and therefore any attempt at combining final time and finishing speed - will betray how easily I took things earlier on.

That's an outlandishly exaggerated example to emphasise the point that horse races are habitually run steadily and won by the runner with the best combination of track position and finishing speed. Furthermore, not only can we know through sectionals which horse(s) has/have the best finishing kick but we can also overlay that knowledge onto how we perceive today's race will set up.

A horse with a lightning kick may be severely compromised by a strong early gallop but could be a fantastic bet in a paceless heat.

Sectional Examples

Examples make everything more comprehensible, so let's look at a few events since racing returned post-lockdown.

Palace Pier / Pinatubo - St James's Palace Stakes

I'll begin with a fairly banal one - insofar as punting utility goes - but one that very well illustrates the two elements we seek, the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot.

This was the race in which Palace Pier announced himself on the big stage, charging past last year's champion juvenile, Pinatubo, and the controlling race leader, Wichita.

The three-part OMC (Opening, Midrace, Closing) sectionals image below shows the extent to which they quickened in the final quarter mile (the orange/red rectangles) with the upgrade column on the right hand side attempting to quantify how much more each might have been able to give.

The colour bar above the result table contains the 'race' sectionals: those of the race leader at the end of each section (in this case, at the six-furlong pole, the two-furlong pole, and the finish line). The bars inline are for each individual runner.


This slightly more detailed five-part 'Call Points' view illustrates things further:


Here we can see that Palace Pier covered the final two furlongs in splits of 11.68 seconds and 11.71 seconds. That was partly a function of the (relatively) steady first three-quarters of the race but mainly it relates to his talent.

Pinatubo, for his part, has looked to me a slightly doubtful stayer at a mile, particularly in the context of his brilliant two-year-old form. He was quickest from four to one but couldn't quite see it out. A subsequent win in a seven-furlong Group 1 in France last time supports the theory, though not beyond reasonable doubt. The Breeders' Cup Mile, a race contested around a tight oval track where seven-furlong speed is ideal (think Expert Eye), looks a perfect target.

Palace Pier's Topspeed figure for this effort was 108 and relates to how quickly he got from the start to the finish. Alpine Star, the filly who won the Coronation Stakes over the same course and distance 35 minutes earlier, ran a far more even tempo and recorded a slightly faster overall time to be awarded a 110 Topspeed figure.

But Palace Pier's composite rating - a combination of Topspeed and our Upgrade of 23 - brings him to 131. Alpine Star's effort received no upgrade and therefore remains on 110.

Here's the rub: in a steadily-run race, a feature of both his runs this year, all evidence suggests Palace Pier would readily outpoint Alpine Star. But if it was likely to be more truly-run I'd be less bullish at the likely odds.

One of the main problems, as can be seen below, is that there remains - more than a year after RMG (the company in charge of Racing TV's racecourses' broadcast rights) first published data for a meeting at York - no publicly available sectional output for the roughly two-thirds of British tracks that they cover. I wish it wasn't this way, and I yearn for good news on this front soon.

A Spot of Revision for Harrovian

Another of the John Gosden phalanx of top-class equines is Harrovian, who caught the eye when winning in taking fashion at Doncaster over a mile and a quarter on 26th June. He, and second placed Archie Perkins, were almost five lengths clear of the third that day, a gap established exclusively in the final quarter mile.

I've included the 'by furlong' sectional percentage chart this time: this view helps to understand how a runner's energy was expended and can be compared to the par line - which is grey in this case due to the limited confidence afforded by only 73 races in the course and distance sample. Beneath the chart I've also included the OMC splits for Harrovian and Archie Perkins.


Note on the chart how the red and green lines, representing the selected runners, run close to the dark grey par line until half way (five out, 6-5 on the chart); and how they then extend away in the second half of the race. This tells us that the highlighted runners ran close to optimally (though a little slower in the first two furlongs (S-9, 9-8)) in the early stages before finishing well.

One of the reasons I chose this example is because both horses have again run in the same race since, Saturday's John Smith's Cup. Although there are no official sectionals for that race, they looked to go quite fast early (as might be expected for a 22-runner heritage handicap), which may not have suited either Archie or Harrovian.

Here is the Gosden runner's full form profile:


Compare that with his winning form profile, and with sectional data switched on (the box top left):


All three of his career wins have come at ten furlongs, on good to firm ground, and in small fields. Of the two of that trio for which we have sectional insight, both featured fast finishing fractions off even to slow earlier meters. I'll be very interested in Harrovian when he gets this kind of setup again.


Yarmouth Upgrades

There have been a few races of interest run at Yarmouth since the resumption. Its proximity to Newmarket is a factor in enticing very good horses, and here are two I think worthy of note.

The first of the pair was a juvenile on debut called Yazaman, who achieved the biggest geegeez upgrade figure of any horse since racing resumed (at the tracks covered by our data supplier, Total Performance Data). Ostensibly not much of a race, Yazaman was sent off 10/11 favourite in a field of four.

They went pedestrian fractions in the early part of the five furlong contest but then engaged turbo, as best as unraced juveniles can.

William Haggas's winner completed the last quarter mile in less than 21 seconds, which is really very fast indeed, especially for a juvenile debutant.

To some degree this is now ancient history, as Yazaman has run twice subsequently: first he was a gallant second in the Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot. Sent off 20/1 that day, the cat was subsequently out of the bag when he again ran up, at 6/1 this time, to Tactical in the Group 2 July Stakes at  Newmarket's big summer meeting.

He's rapid and a drop back to five should see him just about win in minor Pattern company.

On 4th July, another two-year-old, this time Ventura Tormenta trained by Richard Hannon, rocked up having been pitched in to none other than the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes on his debut. He ran a huge race there to be sixth, and had plenty in reserve when turning away Sidi Mansour and four others over six this day. As can be seen from the running lines below, Ventura controlled things throughout: an even opening quarter, a steady to slow middle quarter, and then a burst of acceleration and 'eat my dust'.

He didn't seem to get home on the July course over seven furlongs in Newmarket's Superlative Stakes but has since confirmed his class by winning the 6f Group 2 Prix Robert Papin last weekend. English-trained horses finished first and second there, French horses comprising the rest of the field, to affirm my (and many others', in point of fact) contention that French racing has lagging behind a little for a season and a half or so.

Second to Ventura Tormenta at Yarmouth, Sidi Mansour has run since and been beaten in a bigger field at Windsor. But, having covered the final half mile at the Norfolk track in the same time (46.70 seconds) as Sunday's Group 2 winner, he may go one better in a small field where he can put his pace to good use.

Looking Forward

There may be a case to answer from the after-time police regarding the above, even if a number of those highlighted have since been beaten and are suggested for another day. With no such subsequent form here is one more, at a slightly lower level, for the future.

The Yarmouth fillies' novice event won by Almareekh might work out all right: the winner has an entry at Doncaster on Saturday and the third, Viola, may run in a handicap at Redcar next Monday. But it is the fourth placed filly, Ice Sprite, who has made my tracker.

This was her second career start, and first of the season, and the William Haggas-trained daughter of Zoffany was a long way (15 lengths to be precise) behind the leader with half a mile to go. More materially, she was between three and six lengths behind the three fillies that eventually beat her at that same point.


As can be seen from the red bars in her result row, Ice Sprite made a big move between the four and the two, and ran the final quarter (24.01 seconds) quicker than all bar the winner (23.95 seconds). Eased off in the last fifty yards, each way backers may have felt miffed that she was beaten a diminishing neck for third; but she looks attractively rated off just 70 for a potential handicap tilt next time. With only two starts to her name, there are all sorts of reasons to believe she can do better in upcoming spins. She is entered in the 3.20 at Newmarket on Friday.