Royal Ascot 2019: five phenomenal days
I rarely finish in front, financially, at the big racing festivals. And, as I am someone who publicly shares my selections, some of you may find that disturbing.
But back to last week. Once again I had a nightmare with just two winners, although nine hit the frame, including three horses beaten by a neck or less.
But I cannot remember enjoying Royal Ascot as much in years. This may turn into waffle as I am still buzzing. I love this game.
Blue Point, Stradivarius (pictured), and of course Frankie Dettori all helped get our sport on the front pages and that was just the top page of the report. It was fantastic from beginning to end.
Tuesday began with Lord Glitters going one place better than last year in the Queen Anne. And it was the second year running a big priced runner won the opener.
I thought the Coventry was of a good standard and the first three looked decent.
Blue Point won his second Kings Stand with Battaash second again. At the time we thought this was a standout performance by the son of Shamardal. But more was to come from him.
How does Aiden O’Brien do it? I was glad to see that some decent judges agreed with me that Circus Maximus would go up in trip. Yet the Master Of Ballydoyle drops the Derby sixth to a mile and he goes and wins the St James Palace Stakes.
King Of Comedy, a horse I thought would be out of his depth, was a fast finishing second and comes out of the race well.
Magic Wand was my second best hope for the week and she ran as well as expected, although the rain getting into the ground didn’t help. Addeybb, however, relished the softer going and he flew home. This was only a Listed Race but it ran like a Group 2 to me.
Crystal Ocean, after being second in a King George and a St Leger, finally got his Group One when winning the Prince Of Wales Stakes. He was a length and a quarter in front of Magical at the finish.
This mare was my lay of the week. At least I got one thing right. Just. For what it’s worth I think the winner is better over further despite this run being a career best.
And now Thursday. And what a day.
Frankie Dettori had already ridden the first three winners before getting the leg up on Stradivarius in the Gold Cup. This little horse is beautifully bred by Sea The Stars with Bering, the runner up in that never to be forgotten Arc of 1986, his dam sire.
Dee Ex Bee led most of the way and others, as is their right, tried to make it difficult for Stradivarius. But champions are different from the rest of us.
The best horses seem to know they are good. This was his seventh win in a row. I watched the race back again the other day and I am sure it was just pollen that made my eyes water a bit.
In 2005 Westerner won the Gold Cup. That October he was denied an Arc win due to some brilliant horsemanship from Kieren Fallon. I may be crazy but would it not be worth entering Stradivarius for the best mile and a half race in the world? He is not short of speed, and may be even better with a proper pace.
It would give Frankie a dilemma if Enable is in the field but I think Stradivarius is more than just a stayer. I have had a little look and some layers have him in the betting. Some have him as low as 14/1. If he is that on the day I am all over him each way.
Talking of bookmakers. They were running for cover when Frankie won the fourth race as they had flashbacks to 1996 and the Magnificent Seven. And when Turgenev was still leading by three lengths with a furlong of the Britannia to run I am sure clean trousers were called for in the ring.
Fortunately Harry Bentley was on hand to snatch victory. A bittersweet moment for me. In my day three preview I wrote “I wouldn’t put anyone off Biometric but the fact he was dropped to six furlongs last time concerns me”. Arse!
It was reported that the next day some bookies were refusing to take multiples on horses ridden by Frankie Dettori. I am not sure how true this is but, if it is, it seems like a kneejerk reaction to something that happens, oh, about every twenty three years. My question is how much money has been pocketed by the big firms on such bets in the last two decades?
I have given them enough. I am the mug punter who places yankees and super yankees. They love me and the bets I place because one horse loses and straightaway the bet becomes less dangerous.
But every so often a Piggott, Eddery, or Dettori has a very good day and I think they need to stand up and take the hit. I am not talking about the small independents (if there are any left) but the big multi million pound businesses who can wear a loss of a few hundred thousand.
Anyway let’s get on to Friday. Advertise came back to form with a bang. Dropping back to six furlongs he won the Commonwealth Cup going clear in the final furlong. Jash, my biggest hope for the week, was a long way back and I can only think there was a problem.
A surprise result in the Coronation Stakes with dual Guineas winner Hermosa beaten into second place by Watch Me who could only manage sixth in the French Guineas. She was slightly hampered that day and the going was heavy (although jockeys reported no worse than soft) so improvement was always possible.
Hayley Turner became the first female jockey for thirty two years to win a race at Royal Ascot when she steered Thanks Be to victory in the Sandringham Stakes. Some would ask why it has taken so long.
Possibly because the girls are still not getting the opportunities in the big races. Josephine Gordon, Hollie Doyle, and Turner herself are all capable of riding in top races, but when they do it is invariably on unfancied runners.
I have only spoken briefly about the two year olds but Pinatubo looked very impressive when winning the Chesham Stakes going further away at the finish. He has to be an early fancy for next year’s Guineas.
Defoe surprised me. Again. He won the Hardwicke Stakes which had an eventful start with Masar stumbling after leaving the stalls. Czech horse Nagano Gold was also affected and that horse ran a blinder to finish second by just half a length.
The final Group One of the week was the Diamond Jubilee Stakes and Blue Point, in what proved to be his final race, won his second race of the week. What a brilliant performance and what a way to bow out.
Dream Of Dreams was a head away from shattering the dream and was finishing like a train. And good old Kachy showed he can mix it on turf when finishing third.
Every day had something but the Gold Cup is always going to be my favourite race. And the fact we have another dual champion at that distance only heightens my love for the race.
Danny Tudhope, at the age of twenty nine, has really arrived, with four winners across the week.
There are some very nice two year olds to look forward to. I have named a few but Daahyeh needs to go on the list too.
Perfection suffered traffic problems in the Wokingham and I will be looking out for her in the future. She is entered in a couple of group races in Ireland next month.