Channel 4

6 Horses To Watch – Post Royal Ascot

Saturday June 20th 2015 - 18:14

(Possibly) the greatest week of flat racing of the year is sadly over, but that doesn’t mean we have to forget about Royal Ascot straight away! We’ve picked out 6 horses for you to add to your trackers who we think either won impressively enough to warrant following or were unlucky in running!

Muhaarar
Solow
Time Test
Acapulco
Eagle Top
Kingfisher

Read on for our full reasoning and thoughts on each of the horses!

Muhaarar

Reasoning: Clear cut winner of the new 3 year old 6f race, the Commonwealth Cup, sweeping round the outside and flying clear of the rest.

The first horse to kick us off, Muhaarar, was actually the highest rated horse in the field of 18, but was sent off 10/1 with Hamdan Al Maktoum’s first string Adaay sent off 8/1. On his Newbury form he was excellent odds but his run over in France saw him finished back in 8th in May.

There’s no doubting this Ascot run saw him not only bounce back to form but put up his best run yet. He’d previously won a Group 2 and finished 3rd in a Group 1 when he was a 2 year old, but the manner of his victory was so striking that the Racing Post put him a full 11lb higher than the second placed Limato (placed last time out in a Group 2) and 17lb higher than Group 2 winning Anthem Alexander who was receiving 3lb. While I’m not sure that huge ratings in difference is quite deserved, there’s no doubt Muhaarer is an exceptional horse and he showed some outstanding pace.

Where he goes next will be interesting. He’s been installed as ante post favourite for the 6f July Cup, but his previous Group 3 victory was over 7f and that may be his optimum distance in time. We wouldn’t be taking the price about him for the July Cup but he’s not one to ignore.

Solow

Reasoning: A surprisingly comfortable winner of the Queen Anne Stakes, he far outperformed the other horses who raced near the pace in this solid Group 1.

The Queen Anne Stakes was run on Tuesday – in fact, it was the very first race of Royal Ascot 2015 – so you’re forgiven if you need a reminder! Bulled as a match up between Able Friend, the Hong Kong champion, and Solow, the Hong Kong raider sweated up and didn’t seem to enjoy the Ascot track. Maybe he was looking for the turn which never came?

Solow was dropped down in distance and given a very clever ride by Maxime Guyon, kicking on and putting the race to bed with nothing able to catch up although Cougar Mountain made a fair bit of distance late in the day. Night Of Thunder and Toormoore who had raced at the front dropped off, finishing 4th and 5th, and it was a decent time.

The most exciting thing about Solow is he’s a gelding, meaning that – unlike, say, Frankel – there will be no retiring him early. According to his trainer Freddie Head, he won’t be retired early, and that’s great for any fans of racing. That was his 3rd win on the bounce, all Group 1s (including the Dubai Turf by 4 lengths from The Grey Gatsby) and it’ll be thrilling to see him back at Royal Ascot next year hopefully!

Time Test

Reasoning: Three years after Frankel destroyed the the Group 1 field of the Queen Anne Stakes, Khalid ibn Abdullah watched Time Test blew away this 3 year old Group 3 field.

Interestingly, the key thing about Time Test’s win is in his name – the time. Run in just 2 minutes 3 seconds without much of a pace to aim at, last year’s was 2 seconds slower on similar ground and this year’s could have been run even quicker if Time Test had been asked for his full effort.

He travelled through the race like a travelly thing and as soon as Frankie asked for his effort he flew away from Peacock without Frankie even needing to show him the whip. It was a massive improvement on his last run, where he won a Class 2 Handicap off 93, but it was far from unexpected given he was sent off 15/8 favourite. The way he did it was the most impressive and he looks to have found his optimum distance having been stepped up from 7f as a 2 year old to 10f this year.

Roger Charlton says he’ll get an entry into the Juddmonte, which would be interesting, but more exciting will be next year as he continues to mature and gain experience. He’ll never be the unbeaten monster Frankel was but hopefully he can continue to develop into something close!

Acapulco

Reasoning: With essentially no form in the bag, trainer Wesley Ward showed just how good Acapulco is winning by over a length. She’s a huge filly with plenty of scope and has an insane turn of speed.

Some would have said Wesley Ward was crazy sending a horse who had only finished 3rd (by nearly 88 lengths) in a 4 and a half furlong in America to Royal Ascot for the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes, and you may have been right had she not blown the field apart. Early prices started as big as 20/1 but sent off 5/2 favourite, she burnt off the majority of the field and then had plenty in her tank to hold off Easton Angel with Ryan Moore merely having to keep her up to her work.

The thing you’ll notice about her in the paddock is she is huge, and as a 2 year old there’s no way she’s filled out properly yet. By Ryan Moore’s comments, she’ll stay at 5 furlongs, and we can only hope Wesley Ward keeps bringing her back to the UK – despite there probably being weaker and more valuable races in America –  but given her esteemed connections (Tabor, Smith & Magnier) we’re hopefully she’ll become a permanent fixture over here for the next couple of years at least.

Eagle Top

Reasoning: We’re not sure Eagle Top would have been a match for Snow Sky, but he would certainly have gone close. Stuck behind Telescope, he got stuck behind Postponed and lost vital momentum.

We were keen on Eagle Top before the race, a combination of his form from Ascot last year and a want to take on Telescope – who ended up being our daily lay so at least we had profit from him! He was one of the best 3 year olds about last year, winning the King George VII Stakes, and came here with something to prove after not quite firing at Sandown last time out.

We put that down to needing the run, and he definitely came on for it. Snow Sky won nicely, but mainly because he had the run of the race, a very clever ride from Pat Smullen, and bad luck for the horses who challenged in behind him. He was 6 lengths behind Eagle Top at Royal Ascot last year and while he’s improved, he’ll want further than 1m 4f to win a Group 1 if it turns out he is good enough.

Of the two, we’d be taking Eagle Top rather than Snow Sky as the one to keep an eye on, especially as a number of them could meet up again in the Melbourne Cup (although Snow Sky would have to be supplemented)

Kingfisher

Reasoning: Nearly certainly the winner of the Ascot Gold Cup but for traffic problems, he finished 2nd and will win a Group race very soon.

In a week where nearly everything went Ryan Moore’s way, this was one race where it didn’t. Given a neat ride, he was settled in mid division with plenty of cover and the rail to keep him settled. When they bunched up before the final bend, Moore angled him off the rails slightly and gave him some encouragement to get closer. He picked up nicely, but found his way ahead blocked by the weakning Vent De Force and Forgotten Rules.

Switched to the inside, he went for a gap between Forgotten Rules and Forever Now, but found that blocked off too. hen the gap did come as Forgotten Rules drifted away from the rails he flew home, somehow grabbing a second place which never looked likely.

In comparison, Trip To Paris found a gap up the rail and had free run the whole way – everything just fell into his lap. If you looked through the rest of the field, we’re sure you could find other unlucky losers – Simenon found himself miles back and stayed on strongly – but nothing that looked as likely as Kingfisher to win. We really hope he’ll stay in training next season to let him get the Group race he deserves.