Things We Learned » Back from Coventry

Back from Coventry

There were suggestions, in the immediate aftermath of Dawn Approach’s victory in the Coventry Stakes on Tuesday – which elicited quotes of as high as 16/1 and as low as 6/1 from the bookmakers about the son of New Approach for next year’s 2000 Guineas – that the Coventry Stakes was a two-year-olds’ race only, that its relevance to the future was questionable.

Perhaps that used to be the case, but you need to continually update your records in this game, and update your realities accordingly as necessary.

The 2007 Coventry winner Henrythenavigator won the 2000 Guineas, the Irish 2000 Guineas, the St James’s Palace Stakes and the Sussex Stakes, beating New Approach in the former two races and beating Raven’s Pass in the latter two. The 2008 winner Art Connoisseur went back to Royal Ascot the following year as a three-year-old and won the Golden Jubilee over the Coventry course and distance. The 2009 winner was Canford Cliffs, Irish Guineas winner, St James’s Palace Stakes winner (stop me when you like), Sussex Stakes winner, Lockinge Stakes winner, Queen Anne Stakes winner.

Strong Suit won the Coventry in 2010. Okay, so Strong Suit hasn’t won a Group 1 race yet, but he has won two Group 2s, and he was beaten just a head and a nose in the Group 1 Prix Jean Prat at Chantilly last July. Power won the Coventry last year, followed up by winning the National Stakes as a juvenile, and he has already won the Irish Guineas this year, with the promise of more to come.

The reality is that it is difficult to find many juveniles’ races that are stronger pointers to the future these days than the Coventry Stakes.

More power

Sole Power ran a cracker to finish third in the King’s Stand Stakes on Tuesday. You can rarely be certain of the effect of the draw on the straight track at Ascot these days – it can vary from day to day, or even from race to race – but Sole Power was drawn poorly in stall 22 of 22 as things panned out in the King’s Stand.

The race developed on the far side, which meant that Johnny Murtagh had to ask his horse to close from the near side from fully two furlongs out, which is not ideal for a horse who likes to be held up for as late as possible and delivered with one sweeping run. In the circumstances, the Eddie Lynam-trained gelding did remarkably well to go down by three parts of a length and a length to Little Bridge and Bated Breath, particularly when you consider that the ground was probably easier than ideal for him, and that he had under-performed twice in two previous runs at Ascot.

It should be a different story if he crosses the water again for the Nunthorpe Stakes in August, probably back on faster ground, and back at York, a track at which he has put up the best performance of his juvenile year, and won a Nunthorpe Stakes (at 100/1), in just two visits.

Frankie fans

Frankie Dettori fans wrote the script for the Ascot Gold Cup on Thursday, no question. Jocked up on Opinion Poll in provisional listings at the start of the week, the effervescent Italian jumped ship to the other Godolphin horse Colour Vision at the 11th hour, an option that is not apparently automatically open to him any more.

Dettori goes to the front on Colour Vision inside the final furlong, immediately challenged by Mickael Barzalona on Opinion Poll, who looks like he might just go past before Colour Vision veers to his left away from Dettori’s whip and cannons into his hapless white-capped rival before going on to win by a half a length.

You could argue that the incident could have cost Opinion Poll the half-length by which he was beaten, but they were never going to reverse the placings, not at Ascot, not when the two horses were in the same ownership (Crimson Embers v Rose Ravine anyone?), and certainly not after Frankie had done a 6.0 flying dismount. And even if they were seriously considering throwing the winner out, how would you bet in a stewards’ room debate between Dettori and Barzalona?

Ascot Man

As horses-for-courses go, they don’t come more particular than Medicean Man. In a 34-race career, the Jeremy Gask-trained gelding has never recorded a Racing Post Rating superior to 108 at any track other than Ascot. Before this week, he had recorded ratings of 112 and 113 at Ascot, and he recorded another 113 when he finished fourth in the King’s Stand Stakes on Tuesday.

His best form is admittedly over five furlongs but, off a mark of 103, he has to be on your shortlist for today’s Wokingham.


So Frankel lost a shoe at some stage during his Queen Anne one-mile victory charge. Given that the match is not going to happen (enough already), shouldn’t Black Caviar have to race on three shoes today? For comparison’s sake, just to even things up, like.

© The Irish Field, 23rd June 2012