There was no greater advertisement for the unpredictability of racing than Watch Me’s success in the feature Coronation Stakes on the penultimate day at Royal Ascot. This meeting has certainly proved to me how foolish it can be to call winners across the board, but there’s only one day left, so I’ll chance my arm once more. Every race on the final day is previewed below.
Immaculately bred and, having fetched a King’s ransom at the sales, Lope Y Fernandez could not have made a better start to his career than when hacking up by three lengths on debut. Few of his charges win on debut and confidence is high in this son of Lope De Vega, but he may just meet a juvenile beast in PINATUBO. The Godolphin runner is monstrous for a two-year-old and the way he fought back to win the Woodcote at Epsom from well off the pace, on a course that evidently did not suit, suggested big things await and this seven furlong trip should bring out even more from him. Heaven Forfend is another who owes a lot to his heritage, but his maiden conqueror was down the field in the Coventry with Year Of The Tiger boasting a similar profile over from Ireland. Rose Of Kildare has already raced five times so is probably too exposed while there must be a lot of stable confidence about Montanari to run him here on his debut and the market may end up reflecting that. Highland Chief showed more speed than would be expected of one of his size and that might hint that he has a fair bit of ability as well.
- Lope Y Fernandez
- Highland Chief
Here’s hoping Godolphin get off to a flyer as SPACE BLUES looks the most solid in this three-year-old contest. He took a while to improve into his reputation, but his Listed win at Epsom over Urban Icon gives him stronger claims than most here as his best is likely to come. Urban Icon only has a neck to make up from Epsom, but he’d have to show something new, as would So Perfect under a 3lb penalty for her latest triumph. Happy Power beat older horses last weekend and is preferred to the same connections’ Bye Bye Hong Kong who needs to get out the stalls quicker than he did at Epsom as a front-runner. Momkin ran a solid enough race in the Guineas and should improve back to seven furlongs having been second in the Craven while Duke Of Hazzard boasts an outside chance if he can recapture the form that saw him finish fifth in the French Guineas.
- Space Blues
- Happy Power
The question will be asked until the off as to whether last year’s Derby winner Masar is fit enough to win a competitive race after 385 days on the sidelines. The suspicion is that, though he won the Craven very easily to begin last season, that this will prove slightly beyond him as many runners will thrive upon a stern test of stamina which Ascot’s stiff 1m4f track will deliver. Defoe finally got the job done in the Coronation Cup, but that seemed to be a bolt from the blue and Lah Ti Dar was soundly beaten that day. She had SOUTHERN FRANCE behind in third in the St Leger, but he went down by under a length to the sensational Stradivarius last time. His re-appearance and non-staying effort in the Cesarewitch can be discounted and this would be within his reach if coping with dropping back in trip: he has shown enough ability to suggest that may well be the case. Mirage Dancer is a big danger as Sir Michael Stoute’s record in this race is outstanding though his horse usually falls short up to this level. Salouen is the only other with a realistic chance if getting his own way up front.
- Southern France
- Mirage Dancer
Blue Point’s appearance in the final Group One of the meeting is of enormous interest. He has already taken the King’s Stand this week and is a Group One winner in Dubai over this extended six furlongs. However, his form at this trip in the UK would leave him vulnerable given his exertions and, particularly at the prices, he’s worth opposing. Invincible Army has looked just that in two starts this season, but the race definitely fell his way at York most recently and that brings Yafta into equations at a working man’s price as his two starts this term have seen everything go against him. The Tin Man won this two years back, but suspicions creep in that his best days have been and gone while Bound For Nowhere is now one of Wes Ward’s last hopes of recording a victory at this year’s meeting. Le Brivido is another who runs for the second time this week, but it is last year’s second CITY LIGHT (nap) who appeals as the likely hero. He missed the break last year and still went down by the narrowest of margins and he warmed up with a highly encouraging second to the top-class Inns Of Court in his native France. If he reproduces last year’s effort, he’ll almost certainly be right in the equation. Of the rest, the in form Dream Of Dreams, Kachy and Keystroke are other runners who could make this a fine contest.
- City Light
- Invincible Army
One of the best handicaps of the season. Bacchus managed to win this on his re-appearance last season, so that cannot be considered a negative for chances again in 2019 off just 3lb higher. Cape Byron won here over seven furlongs in May and could be suited by a strongly run six, while Spring Loaded and Foxtrot Lady have big-field form in the locker that could serve them well from extreme draws. Soldier’s Minute ran right away with a handicap at York in the Spring, but that was not reflective of his previous efforts. Perfection is a Listed winner over the trip while it would now take a leap of faith to support Gifted Master after he disappointed last time, though he is now on a very appealing mark. For his first big handicap, however, it appears that HEY JONESY should be well treated to go close. He was only two lengths behind Eqtidaar in last year’s Group One Commonwealth Cup here and is admirably consistent at a strong level. Watchable has bounced right back to form recently and if the nine-year-old continues to retain some of his old verve, then he will be positioned to challenge while Fighting Irish was also close up in the aforementioned Commonwealth Cup, but has lost his way since.
- Hey Jonesy
The longest race in the flat calendar, so it is no surprise to see the likes of Max Dynamite, Younevercall and Black Corton running in this code. The first named has actually raced most recently on the flat and is the highest rated of these having been second in the Doncaster Cup last year, though the latter two have only ever run in the National Hunt sphere, so it is very tough to gauge if they’ll enjoy this. Cleonte should shoe up better than when only sixth in the Chester Cup as he’d previously been third in the Cesarewitch. Corelli is well worth a step up in trip for Gosden and Dettori, but last year’s winner PALLASATOR may be slightly overlooked. His last two runs have seen him well beaten, but over nearly a mile shorter and he’d need at least this trip to be seen at his best on the level. He is now ten, but enjoys his trips here and Oisin Murphy gets the leg up for Gordon Elliott. The rest look up against it.