Food In The Spotlight With Royal Ascot, the Derby meeting and various other high profile racing fixtures to the fore in the spring and early…
Royal Ascot takes place this year between Tuesday 16th and Sunday 20th June with the Gold Cup being the featured race on the Thursday.
Dual Ascot Gold Cup winner Stradivarius will be popular for many in the blue riband contest on the Thursday of Royal Ascot, and in any ordinary year it would be hard to oppose him. However, this is no ordinary year clearly.
The enforced period without racing has meant that Stradivarius has had to make do without his usual prep run in the Yorkshire Cup. That plan has worked well for the last two years, and would usually give John Gosden a smooth passage and five weeks with which to wind Stradivarius up to fever pitch.
This season, he has just 13 days from his third-place finish to the freakish Ghayyaith yesterday, in order to get his star stayer right. Stradivarius has had quick turnarounds before, and been able to cope, but they have been at a lower level or later in the season, when it would be a question of simple maintenance.
In addition to that, if you watch the race at Newmarket on Friday again, and with the hindsight of sectional times, it points to a lung busting effort that Frankie Dettori asked Stardivarius to produce in the third quarter of the race. Yes he was easy on him after that, but on fast ground attempting to close on such a fast 1m4f horse in Ghayyaith – witness the slightly jaunty head carriage before lugging right to the rail – and you’d be hard pushed to suggest this horse will be ready to be at absolute peak level in just 13 days.
So, I have outlined the reasons to take on the favourite, and when it comes to suggesting bets, surely the main focus should be on what positives there are in favour of the selection! This is true, and there are certainly no shortages when it comes to the generally available 4/1 each-way bet on Kew Gardens.
Aidan O’Brien’s next prolific stayer off the conveyor belt that as produced Yeats and Order of St George, is ready to claim his position among those lofty performers. He has already won at the Royal meeting, when spearheading a remarkable 1-2-3 for Ballydoyle in the 2018 Queen’s Vase. The same season he went on to win the oldest classic of all, the St Leger, and stamp himself as a future star in waiting.
The 2019 season didn’t go absolutely to plan, but three second place finishes in the highest quality races, (Ormonde Stakes, Coronation Cup and an Irish St Leger that was dictated from the front), all of which wouldn’t have sufficiently tested his stamina, preceded a brilliant and brave head-bobbing win against Stradivarius in the Long Distance Cup at Champions Day in October.
So, our selection has a 1-0 record against Stradivarius, a win at the Royal meeting, handles most ground other than a bog (surely given the dry summer so far, we won’t see that), and will be prepared fresh and well and to a nicety by a genius trainer.
The only slight negative would be the lack of a prep run, but coming from the best training centre in the land, do you really think he wouldn’t be cherry ripe for his shot at history?