This weekend features a highly competitive rendition of the GI King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot. It’s the return of Royal Ascot Heroine, Love, as well as The Derby winner, Adayar. Don’t forget Lone Eagle, he just missed to Hurricane Lane in the Irish Derby. And of course, your Saudi Cup winner in Mishriff who looks to turn around the form from his last outing. Much like the Coral Eclipse just a few weeks prior, it’s a small field with a lot of firepower.
Outside of the group one action in Europe, we will head down under on Friday night at Caulfield. It will be the final night of the VOBIS Series (Victorian Owners and Breeders Incentive Scheme, like a state bred program in the US) which is highlighted by the GIII Bletchingly Stakes. Another horse to keep an eye on comes up in race 4 on the undercard in La Mexicana, a horse who has two wins over course and distance and is known for her love affair with Caulfield.
And lastly, we will make a trip over to Germany on Sunday for the historic GI Bayerisches Zuchtrennen. Originating back in 1866, this race has seen many top european runners make their way over to Munich and take out the mile and a quarter event, including two of Godolphin’s recent older stars in Benbatl and Barney Roy. This year’s race features heavy favorite Skalleti, a 6 year old son of Kendargent who is coming off a three race win streak, culminating with the GI Prix d’Ispahan at Longchamp back in May.
Friday – Down Royal
Race 5 – Her Majesty’s Plate – 1 3/4 Miles, 3 & Up
1 – Master Of Reality – Last year’s winner and a regular at the Melbourne Racing Carnival in Australia. He had several strong efforts at The Curragh last season prior to his win in this race. The Lloyd Williams runner struggled in listed company at Leopardstown, but go two back and he stayed on well and just missed against eventual Belmont Gold Cup winner and stablemate, Baron Samedi. At first I was thinking of playing against him but the more I looked at it, if he puts in the effort he did two back he wins this no problem. He’s beatable in this spot but someone will really need to step up their form to do so.
6 – Iowa – Stayed on well last time out in handicap company at Leopardstown and now heads back up to Northern Ireland. In his only start at Down Royal, he captured the Ulster Derby Handicap, the day he also broke his maiden. Wayne Lordan gets aboard after riding favorite Master of Reality to victory in this race last year, albeit that most likely is the Coolmore influence that has him staying with Iowa. His proven ability at Down Royal and improving nature makes him a contender here. It’s no Prairie Meadows, but he does seem to like the track.
5 – Federica Sophia – This daughter of Galileo tried this distance for the first time last out and ran a bang up race, fighting well and finishing 2nd to Believe In Love. Only one career win but has placed no worse than 4th. Expect her to be a similar chance to Barbados, however she has the better recent form which is why I am willing to give her the rod.
Caulfield (Melbourne Racing Club) – Friday
Race 8 – GIII Bletchingly Stakes – 6 Furlongs, Weight For Age
9 – The Astrologist – Known for his prowess over the straight six furlongs at Flemington, The Astrologist will try to continue his back to back strong efforts on the other side of Melbourne. He has a win back in 2019 over course and distance and placed in his only other start at Caulfield. It will be a bit different this time for a horse that loves the straight as he has to contend with one turn here, but he’s in fantastic form and I think at this distance he will be very tough to beat.
1 – Streets Of Avalon – A warm welcome back to the GI CF Orr Stakes winner after an attempt at glory in Victoria’s newest major event, the All Star Mile. Although the form out of his two wins last season has not been super strong for major races, his efforts up towards the pace showed an element that puts him right at the top of this field even being first up off a four month layoff. I still remember being so impressed with his win at Moonee Valley in the GII Australia Stakes, a race that has a strong history including two victories by the great Black Caviar. He had a nice trial back on July 7th with regular jockey Zac Spain aboard, should be ready to go for this start.
4 – Brave Song – It’s been some time since Brave Song found the winners enclosure, however the horse gets back to 6 furlongs where he has put his best foot forward in the past. He has put together a couple strong efforts over the track this season, including a game second place finish behind the Godolphin runner Pandemic back in December. It has been a few months since his last start, but produced a nice trial over soft ground at Randwick just a couple weeks ago. A good value play currently at 26-1.
Ascot – Friday
Race 4 – GIII Valiant Stakes – 1 Mile, 3 & Up Fillies and Mares
3 – Lights On – First try in stakes company came last out at Pontefract. She stayed on extremely well up the standside rail and drew clear by 10 with Ryan Moore aboard. Moore is back on for Sir Michael Stoute in this spot. The horse has run well at Ascot in the past and although maybe prefers a bit more give in the ground, does have a strong performance at this distance at Nottingham that says she can handle a firmer surface.
6 – Indigo Girl – First start in 2021 for the group 3 winner of the May Hill Stakes as a 2 year old. If you go back to the two year old form she is a deserving favorite, however the form coming out of that Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket has been sporadic. Several fillies such as Snowfall and Mother Earth have come out of that race and went on to win classics. Others such as Pretty Gorgeous, Shale, Isabella Giles and Dubai Fountain have struggled as 3 year olds. It’s tough to say where she lands on that spectrum. Being such a short price, I am willing to take her on with Lights On, but that’s about it.
4 – Waliyak – Was well beaten by Lights On in the Pipalong Stakes at Pontefract. Despite that, the efforts since dropping back to the mile have been pretty good. Outside of just missing second that day at Pontefract, she was a quality 3rd at Ascot in the Kensington Palace Handicap.
Ascot – Saturday
Race 5 – GI King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes – 1 1/2 Miles, 3 & Up
2 – Mishriff – As disappointing as he was in the Coral Eclipse, getting as high as 9/1 on Mishriff in this race is astonishing. His exploits in Dubai and Saudi Arabia were exceptional but took a lot out of him. The Dubai Sheema Classic win was one of the top efforts of the season defeating two high class runners from Japan including multiple group one winner, Chrono Genesis. He gets back to that same distance and has a run under his belt. I personally can’t see why he is so high in the market.
3 – Love – She is a top class filly and the questions surrounding her first up effort were put to bed quickly at Royal Ascot. She showed her class throughout the stretch with Breeders’ Cup winner Audarya fighting on behind her. Following an undefeated 2020 and a first up group one win, the only thing that has slowed her down is wet ground. I still believe she’s one of the best horses in the world, but so is Mishriff and the value is with him in this spot.
4 – Wonderful Tonight – A lot of hype surrounding this filly after a strong start to her 2021 campaign in the GII Hardwicke. Winner of three straight dating back to the GI Prix de Royallieu on Arc Day at Longchamp last year, she continues to improve and has relished a soft track in all three of those wins. She has the ability to take another step forward here and the ground could come up to suit her with rain in the forecast.
York – Saturday
Race 3 – GII York Stakes – 1 1/4 Miles, 3 & Up
5 – Mohaafeth – The William Haggas trainee was set for favoritism in the GI Cazoo Derby but came out due to the ground. He instead shifted course and went to Royal Ascot, contesting the GIII Hampton Court Stakes over this distance. He was strong in victory, however he did lug in a bit in the late stages, almost causing interference with rival Roman Empire towards the inside. It was a game effort and a good prep for this contest. Still lightly raced and possibly still maturing but what we do know is that the horse has ability.
2 – Bangkok – The cutback in distance has caught my eye with Bangkok in this start, a horse that if this race was over the All-Weather at Lingfield, Wolverhampton or Chelmsford would be much shorter price. He’s not been disgraced in his two starts in group two company on turf this season and seems to prefer this distance just a bit better, winning at this distance at 3 and 4 and placing in the Strensall Stakes at York at the mile and an eighth, plus the dam was a winner at 10 furlongs as well. Worth a shot at a big price.
Sunday – Munich
GI Bayerisches Zuchtrennen – 1 1/4 Miles – 3 & Up
2 – Skalleti – When top horses from England, Ireland or France make the trip over for a group one race, they often have success. Skalleti’s form makes him an overwhelming favorite and even the form surrounding his win in the Prix d’Ispahan, a race that is not always the strongest group one race in France, has been outstanding. Runner-up Tilsit came back to win the GII Summer Mile two weeks ago, 4th place finisher Wally went to Italy and won the GII Gran Premio di Milano, 5th place Victor Ludorum took out the GIII Prix Messidor at Chantilly and even Ecrivain, who finished last came out next up and won a group 3 himself. He is the class of the field and his price will reflect it.
6 – Mythico – The German 2000 Guineas winner ran a disappointing race last time out at Dortmund and takes a step up in distance for this start. Despite his top performance so far coming at a mile, his pedigree says he is crying out for more distance. By Deutsches Derby winner, Adlerflug out of a Monsun mare, this colt should be best at a mile and a half. However, he is still young and a slower step up in trip may suit him really well. If you’re looking to take that shot against Skalleti, here is the horse to do it with.
1 – Grocer Jack – He’s been a very consistent type and has early speed which could assist him in an upset bid. A group 3 winner over in Italy, Grocer Jack has raced in 3 different countries this season, with his best effort in Germany coming a furlong shy of this distance in a group 2 at Mulheim. Has raced at the distance prior and has put together some quality runs.