Good evening from the Major who writes to you from a Defford where the sky hangs heavy with the threat of a downpour, it feels as if it were sagging and clinging to my cheek, cold and damp… my sort of weather.
Tomorrow I ride for Ascot, I am taking my father and meeting a friend there for a beer too. Whatever happens we are in for a terrific day of racing but it would be dishonest to say that if Frankel fails to run, it would not be a touch deflating.The way they have handled this horse has given us every chance to enjoy the champion that he is. On Twitter (@tdl123) I rated my top three Frankel races and decided that my favourite was the Queen Anne. Having had longer to reflect I have changed the order slightly and now have a top four in the following order.
4th – The Guineas
This will be top of most peoples lists – The way he flew from the gates and had them at it from half way. A stunning performance and the way they finished strung out like 3 mile chasers was testament to what the great horse had achieved.
3rd – Royal Lodge
The more I watch the Royal Lodge he won, the more I love it. The move he makes on the bend to put the race to bed was stunning and although Treasure Beach was stopped in his tracks, Frankel would still have won by half a furlong!
2nd – The Queen Anne
What a way to open Royal Ascot – As a performance, this was his highest rated in my view. He did not just win, he destroyed a field of top horses and left everyone gasping for air. Awesome.
1st – His First Sussex Stakes versus Canford Cliffs
Context is important and this race was full of it. Goldikova a winner of more Group One races than seems possible was reaching the end of her career. Canford Cliffs, one of the best Hannon has ever had, lowered her colours and rightfully claimed the best miler in Europe crown. Then Frankel met him at Goodwood. The camber at Goodwood means many horses do not act there. The combination of factors meant that the Major tipped Canford… Then this happened…
Let us hope that Frankel runs – The generosity of connections have given us more than we needed but we are like gluttons and want it all. Treasure the moment. The only possible upside of him not running tomorrow is a possible crack at the States and the breeders cup meeting… Personally I would like him to finish his career at Ascot tomorrow.
To the sports….
Ascot Tips – 1.50 – The Stayers
At this stage of the season, I am looking for the slightly more lightly raced sorts. The Ascot ground will also be very soft which should rule a few out…
In the opener, most of the animals will be fine with the soft conditions. Gold Cup winner Colour Vision beat a number of these including Fame and Glory back in July. Opinion Poll, the other Godolphin horse was second that day and goes off as 3/1 favourite here. Aiken is a horse I really like but feels like he might just be a bit short of top draw. Ile de Re is an interesting runner but has to make a big step up in class. Rite of Passage is a fascinating runner and could play a part at 8/1 if well tuned up.
After some thought though, the Major is going to offer Fame and Glory at 11/2 – A former winner of the race who has lost some of his lustre – If he wins tomorrow, it will be a fitting end to a sparkling career… words that we may well repeated later in the day!
2.20 Ascot – Tips for the Sprint
The sprint is a fascinating contest and I would love to back Maarek, especially with the booking of Jamie Spencer. I am wondering though whether the horse is feeling the effect of the campaign and I may well give him a miss. The muddier the better for that one so if more rain arrives, it may be a persuading factor.
The Major is siding with a horse packed with potential in Slade Power who looked a horse going places in the summer. After a break to freshen him up, I expect a top draw performance and although there are proven G1 horses in the field, I do not want to back Wizz Kid unless in France and Society Rock is the main danger. Blue Square offer 15/2 and a quarter odds the place, have a slice.
2.55 Ascot – Group 2 Mile and a Half
The two to concentrate on seem to be Great Heavens and Sapphire. The former took an Irish Classic in the slop and loves these conditions. She was my idea of the Arc winner as I am a massive fan. She cruised into the straight at Longchamp looking a likely challenger but faded badly and I just wonder if the season and he travels are catching up.
Thus the tip is Sapphire for the Weld team. She is a horse of immense talent and seems to be much better the further she goes, seemingly tapped for toe over 400m shorter in the Pretty Polly. She is a true mud lark and at 10/3 generally I think a great bet to beat Great Heavens who I would like to see racing agin next year where hopefully connections might give her a light schedule with a hopefully soft ground Arc as the target.
QE II 3.30 Ascot
Excelebration is an absolute bolt on here and I suggest a reasonable investment at just shading odds on. He has been beaten by Frankel so often yet is still a top class horse and now placed to avoid a battle with the inevitable, he is gaining very well deserved Group One successes.
The Queen is in attendance and so Carlton House would be a popular winner but it is Excelebration for the Major.
Ascot Champion Stakes
It is not often that the Major here whispers but I have it on good authority that Frankel might be a decent sort! This race requires no bet, it is a moment of historic racing importance. I hope Frankel serves it up to Cirrus Des Aigles
4.45 Amateur Riders Handicap
I find it disappointing that this race exists on the card of what is meant to be the climax of the flat season. It really seems out of place.
Smarty Socks would be the one I would want but I am dubious that these are his conditions. Boring as it may seem, Jack Dexter is the 5/1 selection. The Ayr Bronze Cup winner loves a bit of mud and is surely goi to have a big say. Kingscroft (16/1) and Atlantic Sport (33/1) also make some appeal.
It is so good to see racing back at Cheltenham. Fridays action saw The New One take a decent Novice hurdle. Given that he hit most of them, he must be some animal to still win, I expect a big season.
Rendl Beach should be a good thing in the opener at 6/4. Curtis horses often need a warm up but this one won smartly on reappearance and a big run is surely on the cards tomorrow.
In the second race, I am going to take a chance on 22/1 shot Quito Du Tresor. I think that there may be more to come from this one. The Henderson horse Nadiya De La Vega at 10/1 is decent value too.
Baby Mix and Dodging Bullets are two rising stars and the latter looks a great evens bet based on the 4th position achieved in the Triumph.
In the 4th race, I like the look of two Qianshan Leader at 22/1 catches the eye as does Darna at 16/1. The latter looks an intriguing sort.
In the 4.20 I am a big fan of Irish raider Defence of Duress and suggest a decent investment.
Third Intention should see the field off in the penultimate race if match fit. 3/1 is a very fair price as he should be much better than this field, many of whom have a readiness advantage.
In the last maybe Southfield Theatre on a strict reading of form with The New One but honestly, stick a pin in!
I like Rock Critic in the listed contest and at 2/1 am having it in several selections…
May your dinner be fine, in the company of someone nice. Each day we are above ground is an opportunity so do not waste yours. Let us hope that Frankel gives us something to cheer.
Courage, roll the dice.