Good Evening from the Major who writes tired following a long weekend and a long first day in the office putting my shoulder to the wheel.
It is cooler tonight in Worcestershire and I suspect deep sleep will come easily. I am going to keep this brief. Yet, be warned, the Major is in fine form. Another Saturday Sermon and another batch of winners…. If I had managed to keep my discipline and not fire in some ill-judged, slightly large, borderline moronic machine gun style bets then I’d have a terrific Ascot war chest. Alas.
Still, let us take the form into the finest day of flat racing in the year, the Tuesday of Royal Ascot. Today, a Frankel foal and his mare, again in foal to Frankel sold for a combined £1.15m – Quite apt on the eve of one of favourite runs of his. Who can forget the blistering pace of Frankel in the last two furlongs of the Queen Anne. Go watch it again, at half way, ask yourself how Frankel can possibly win by fifteen lengths over this field of G1 winners he is buried amongst…. then watch the miracle happen. Splendid – Only surpassed by his Royal Lodge and perhaps his defeat of Canford Cliffs just after the Hannon superstar had lowered Goldikovas colours.
The Queen Anne normally goes to a real class act, Paco Boy, the aforementioned Frankel, Goldikova and Canford Cliffs…. This does not quite look the same.
I think the two that have achieved the most are Soft Falling Rain and Toronado. The latter is of clear interest on his Sussex Stakes form but has not always run to his ability and on his first run back is an uncomfortable odds on shot for the Major. Instead I side with Soft Falling Rain who has a globe-trotting profile and superb pieces of form including a highly decent runner-up berth behind Variety Club last time.
In one of the finest days of racing, the Queen Anne is followed up by the Coventry, one of my favourite juvenile races.
You cannot ignore the record of Ballydoyle in this race and the fact that from their abundant riches of youth, they rely on a single runner, it is a great advert for War Envoy. He is another likely prospect out of American standing sire War Front who gave us last years winner War Command and the highly capable Declaration of War.
Hannon is another with plenty of Coventry credentials and I was very taken with Kool Kompany but my selection is from a less fashionable yard, The Wow Signal who absolutely smashed an Ayr field of five ast time out. Now that form may not be a hill of beans, or however the saying goes, but second out (beaten 9l) went on to win by 6l next time out and third place, a whopping 20l down to my tip, went on to win his next race too.
Then it is time for the muscular pumped up sprinters to strut their stuff for Her Majesty. While I respect Shea Shea and Sole Power greatly, I feel it is time for a new injection of class into the sprinting scene and Hot Streak is near the top of my list having won the Cornwalis in very taking style last year, a subsequent loss to Sole Power was very respectable given it was a seasonal debut and I would expect that form to reverse here.
That said, near the top of the list, is not top of the list. That spot belongs to Guerre. For those of you with a dabbling of French, should my selection lose, I can roll out my favourite Victoria Military French quote attributed to Marshal Bosquet on the hills above the Valley of Death, Balaclava, Crimea, shortly after our light brigade had charged under incorrect orders under battery fire from every side into heavily defended Russian positions at the head of the valley; c’est magnifique mais c’est pas la guerre. He saw what the rest of the world would come to understand… receiving an incomprehensibly suicidal command, Lord Cardigan (loved a drink) rode his troops from the front directly into the face of danger, such was the good order of our military. Magnificent, but it is not war. The Kaiser had an account posted to every barracks in Germany to extol the inspiration of these brave warriors, fearless.
From this, you might have guessed correctly that Guerre is another from War Front, well named you see. The appeal goes beyond the sentiment I clearly hold. While it is unusual for a three year old to win this race, it is not unheard of. His Naas run when beating Maarek was very nice indeed, load a cannon at 11/1 with BetVictor (10s generally).
In case you have not had enough Group 1s, then The St James Palace is next. What a terrific little contest with Kingman and Night of Thunder reopposing after what now looks like a tremendous Guineas. All week I have been thinking this market is a bit wrong. Night of Thunder was a less fashionable sort and for many, his drift across the track, the fact that Kingman did not have him to aim at; thee are facts that denigrate his classic victory.
When Kingman subsequently turned up and rampaged in Ireland, their minds were made up. The Guineas was an aberration and it will all be put right in the St James. Well I think this is a classic case of snobbery. Night of Thunder did nothing wrong when having the Irish Guineas winner and the Derby winner back in the places at Newmarket, if anything he would have been better in a straight line! Get stuck in!
Generally speaking if you have the first four races wrong at Ascot on Tuesday, you should head to the bar and forget the last two! The two handicaps that close the card are very difficult to solve.
In the 5pm, I am siding with Villa Royale who at 16/1 is a great price having won a nice race at York last time, her improvement has not stopped it seems.
In the lucky last, I have to go with Hootenanny Ward has bought him over the pond for this and I wish connections all the best for their endeavour.
Courage, roll the dice.