Royal Ascot Review 2019 : Part 1
Below I’ve had a look back on Royal Ascot 2019. There are a handful of ‘eye-catchers’ from Days 4 and 5, a look at a few jockeys and various other musings. With any luck there’s something of use for your future punting.
Let’s crack on…
Yet again the cream rose to the top. The masterful Frankie Dettori was at his imperious best aged 48 (has he ever ridden better?) leading the charge of the Royal Ascot Premier League… also making up the top division, based on no. of winners at the last 5 meetings… are Ryan Moore, William Buick (who missed this year’s meeting), James Doyle, Jamie Spencer, Danny Tudhope and Andrea Atzeni.
Those seven jockeys have now ridden 86 of the 150 winners at the last 5 meetings, 57.33% of all winners. Solid, and worth remembering moving forwards.
This was the meeting where Danny Tudhope arrived on the big stage and confirmed himself as one of the best jockeys around. Hopefully he now gets the recognition he deserves.
From just 10 rides he had 4 winners and a further 3 placed efforts. His 6 Royal Ascot winners to date have been in 16+ runner fields with a couple 27+. His skill set is clearly suited to such races…
…His style this week was reminiscent of Jamie Spencer, who also does well in the big fields at Ascot, especially the straight 8 furlongs where backing him EW should keep the bank ticking over until he retires. No one rides this CD as well but on this week’s evidence Tudhope may well start challenging for that honour.
His approach was to settle his mount and get them relaxed so that they were doing all their best work in the final furlong. Often, they were nearer last than first through the first half of the race, ensuring the horse settled into ‘their’ pace and raced efficiently. He was so strong in the finish.
He is building up a superb record in these big field races here and I’ll be sure to pay much closer attention to his Ascot rides moving forwards, and indeed any of his big field mounts . Clearly such patient tactics require an amount of luck but when the pace is so relentless, being patient is best long term, especially on younger horses.
Of note… he rode two winners for William Haggas and their stats together in 2019 (all rides) now read…
23 runs / 15 wins / 17 wins|places / 65% win sr / +40 BFSP
Firstly, a look at Saturday and Friday, with a close eye on the handicaps…
This run suggested he was returning to form and may have another big handicap in him this summer. Last July he ran well at The Curragh in a decent handicap before winning the Great St Wilfred at Ripon in August. Connections may well be plotting the same path with him.
He’s in the notebook as he ‘won’ his side. Only 6 of them raced on the far side which generally wasn’t the place to be all week on the straight course. The middle bunch dominated this race, ahead from an early stage. I think this run can be marked up as he was doing his best work late and had he been in the centre group may have been even closer to the winner.
6 furlongs on good/good to firm are ideal for him, he tends to race handily and can make all.
I will mention the winner, Cape Byron… more as a reminder to myself in these big races… a fundamental question that should always be asked is whether any horse competing today is potentially a group horse in a handicap… time may tell there was such a horse in this race, and he somewhat hacked up! Connections (trainer/owner) appear to like this route…taking a slowly slowly approach with their well-bred/expensive horses… taking in a few decent handicap pots before rising through the ranks. It would appear they’ve been running this one over the wrong distance- I suspect they’ll stick at 6f for the foreseeable future and it will be interesting to see how high he can climb.
This 4 year old Dutch Art filly ran a superb race here to my eyes. She wasn’t the pick of Danny Tudhope which may have been some indication as to her chance but she out-ran her 28/1 (60/1 BFSP) odds with a solid 7th place.
On only her 13th career start and 9th on turf she was held up on the nearside. Not only was this side always behind the middle group but she had to sit and suffer twice when her jockey wanted to make a move. Mosse had to sit and suffer around 2f out and then when switched he had to wait again before he could fully get after her. She stayed on well once in the clear, but the race had gone.
In 2018 she was 5th in the Sandringham over 8f for Gosden and clearly relishes these big fields – many horses do best when faced with a relentless gallop which allows them to settle. Some also enjoy running through horses and any horse that has demonstrated big field form is worth keeping an eye on, especially when returning to similar conditions.
A strongly run 6f may be fine although I wouldn’t mind seeing her at 7f, and with Tudhope back on board. This was a run that suggested she has a big pot in her at some point. One to watch.
Time will tell what Bolger’s recruit can do on these shores, but I found it strange that Manning stopped riding in the final ½ furlong or so. I’m not sure if he felt the tack go or just felt him go pop – no idea! His previous form was over 5f and it was his first run in 149 days, making handicap debut. The fact Bolger bothered to pitch him into this race would indicate they like him, and he wasn’t unfancied at 16s. One to keep an eye on especially back in Ireland. He may have a decent 5/6f handicap in him.
Onto Friday’s racing…
Modern Millie (midfield, Sandringham)
With any luck this one goes under the radar – maybe it will turn out she isn’t up to much at this level, but I thought this was an eye-catching run. She was making handicap debut here and appeared to relish the big field/strong pace, which may have helped her settle better.
Watching the race back, her jockey Ronan Whelan was one of the last to ‘look busy’ and start riding a finish. Obviously, this doesn’t always mean the horse is travelling best but at one point she was upsides the eventual winner. Hayley switched to her left and got after her mount, while Whelan was stuck behind horses, had to sit and suffer for a while before switching to his right, away from the action and possibly challenging on a slower part of the track. By the time he got her into clean air her chance had gone. However, she finished off her race well and looked to be doing her best work late.
Her breeding wouldn’t suggest that further may suit but it could be she comes into her own over 10f and that may be worth a go as it could be she lacked the require pace in the middle part of the race. In any case I thought this was a run of promise and I’d be surprised if Channon didn’t find a nice race or two before the season is out. She may well need a big field/fast pace to be seen to her best and may pop up somewhere when getting such conditions.
Clearly the winner isn’t one for the notebook but her success was an example of how race conditions can transform a young horse, and that’s always worth a reminder. In her career to date there were times where she’d over-raced in smaller fields, and this affected her ability to finish off her races. Here she was covered up off a strong pace and was able to show her true ability, doing her best work late, with plenty of energy left. I should also praise Hayley Turner as she clearly got her settled and into a good rhythm. Superb ride.
I doubt Hotsy Totsy (way ahead of her mark and maybe should have won) and Coral Beach (Moore was keen to settle her and she ended up too far back but ran on well- she may want further) will go under the radar but they’ve obviously got races in them from their marks. Spencer may be regretting being so patient on his mount, but he has a 50% win/place SR over CD and such tactics work often in these big field cavalry charges. Alas it appears he got his fractions slightly wrong this time.
Ben Vrackie (2nd, Duke of Edinburgh)
No doubt this is a more obvious pick for the notebook and maybe he won’t be much of a price on his next couple of starts. However, this was some performance. I’m still staring at my losing betting slip and alas I didn’t go EW- that will teach me! : ) He somewhat fell out the stalls losing a few lengths and Frankie kept him wide. From his draw, after that start, he didn’t have much choice. He must have covered so much more ground than the winner but nearly got up. He was posted 5 wide or so throughout the race, out the back, before sweeping around the whole field into the straight. It was also his first run in 252 days. He only made his debut last July but on this evidence 104 underestimates him, and by some way. This was the run of a stakes horse running in a handicap and he was beaten by the right opponent.
I suspect he may be even better over 14f and given how he finished it’s no surprise they tried him over longer trips last season. He could be a decent horse in the making.
That’s it for Part 1. I’ll be back later in the week with a few thoughts on Days 1/2/3.
What was your highlight of the week, or a horse that caught your eye?
Please do post a comment below,