Royal Ascot Day 5 Preview
The curtain drops on the most important Flat racing festival in Europe with a truly international field attempting to lift the trophy for the G1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes -- and Godolphin hold an excellent chance with Australian sprinter Holler.
Last year's winner Undrafted comes back to defend his crown, off the back of a good win in G2 company, over five and a half furlongs on Turf at Keeneland. His trainer Wesley Ward is carving a reputation as a master transatlantic raider, always to be respected at Royal Ascot.
Gold-Fun arrives with a record of versatility at the highest level in Hong Kong, Signs Of Blessing comes from France having won seven of his 17 starts, and Godolphin trainer John O'Shea has shipped in Holler, a G1 winner in Australia and a sprinter still climbing to the top.
O'Shea is banking on the six-furlong trip at Ascot allowing Holler to settle into his usual racing rhythm, but it also commits him to a head-on clash with two able and consistent local sprinters, Twilight Son and Magical Memory.
Holler is in good form, according to O'Shea. He has settled in well, and has been gaining experience of galloping in a straight line over an extended distance. In Australia, where most horses train on oval tracks, there is not the same opportunity for that type of match practice. The Commands colt has never raced on a straight course.
Despite these new challenges, Holler can deliver a G1 winner for Godolphin on the final day.
Godolphin field a new juvenile recruit from France in the opening Listed Chesham Stakes -- Aiming For Rio, trained by Matthieu Palussiere. This Rio De La Plata filly won her last start at Deauville by five lengths. But she has Churchill and the two Frankel colts, Cunco and Frankuus, to beat.
The Saeed bin Suroor-trained Best Of Times can make his mark for Godolphin in the Listed Wolferton Handicap. This Dubawi colt was terribly unlucky in a handicap at Chester recently, but a glance at his previous form shows the one-time G1 Derby aspirant to have an edge over his rivals this time.
One race later, in the G2 Hardwicke Stakes, Saeed backs up with Beautiful Romance, a New Approach filly, who has been improving rapidly of late. James Doyle has nominated her as the horse he is most looking forward to ride at the meeting.
She looked very strong at the end of the G2 Middleton Stakes at York and gives every sign that she has developed into a top class middle-distance filly. Her biggest dangers are Exosphere and Astronereus.
Flash Fire, Godolphin's Victoria Cup winner last month, has the credentials to figure in the finish of the six-furlong Wokingham Stakes, though Brando and The Happy Prince are significant dangers.
Then, in the last race of the week, the Queen Alexandra Stakes, the Appleby-trained Pinzolo carries Godolphin hopes, but Grumeti and Oriental Fox, who fought out the finish of last year's Cesarewitch at Newmarket, are two to note, while Simenon, fourth in two Ascot Gold Cups and a Melbourne Cup, cannot be dismissed lightly.