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Settle For Bay

Settle For Bay was seriously impressive in winning the Royal Hunt Cup. Always travelling well, he moved easily through his race for Billy Lee, he improved nicely in the centre of the track to join the front rank on the run to the 1f pole, and he cleared away in the style of a classy horse, keeping on well all the way to the line and probably winning with a fair bit more in hand than the 2l winning margin.

The Royal Hunt Cup his traditionally one of the most competitive one-mile handicaps on the racing calendar, and David Marnane’s horse won it really well. He clocked a fast time, 1.11secs faster than the time that Aljazzi clocked in winning the Group 2 Duke of Cambridge Stakes early on the day, when they went a true pace from flagfall, and he probably won with a little bit in hand.

It is probable that his trainer had him primed for this, but it is still reasonable to expect that he can improve again. His rate of progression since last October is fairly astonishing, he won a handicap at Dundalk last November off a mark of 76, and he was winning off 99 on Wednesday. In the interim, he won four of his five races, and finished an encouraging fourth in the other one, a 7f Leopardstown handicap, on his final run before Royal Ascot. The Irish handicapper raised him by 8lb to a mark of 107, but that was fair, and he deserves a chance to step up from handicaps now anyway. To put that mark into context, the first two home in the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes last Tuesday were rated 109 and 107 respectively.

Ascot, 20th June 2018


Zaaki

Zaaki did well to finish third in the Hampton Court Stakes, coming from the rear in a race in which it was probably an advantage to race handily. Restrained early on from his inside draw in stall four, he was keen enough through the early stages of the race. Fourth last of the 16 runners as they turned for home, he made nice ground among horses up the home straight. He moved into sixth as they raced to the 1f marker, and he stayed on strongly from there to take third place. Hunting Horn was an impressive winner, but he got to within a half a length of runner-up Crossed Baton.

The other three horses who, with him, filled the first four places, raced prominently from flagfall. They occupied three of the first five places throughout, and it was difficult for anything to come from the rear. Also, Hunting Horn raced from stall 12, while Crossed Baton raced from stall 15. It is rarely an advantage to race from a low draw over 10 or 12 furlongs at Ascot, as Zaaki did.

Winless in four attempts as a juvenile, the Leroidesanimaux colt won on his debut for Sir Michael Stoute at Thirsk in April, and he stepped forward from that next time when he finished second in a handicap at Chelmsford off a mark of 100, just one length behind Poet’s Prince. The winner finished a good second to his stable companion Comminique in the London Gold Cup next time, and was a little unlucky not to finish better than fourth in the Investec Handicap at Epsom on Derby day. This was another nice step forward from Zaaki, and he should continue to progress. His best two runs have been his last two, both over 10 furlongs, so this looks like a good trip for him. He will be of interest in another Group 3 race, but he would also be of interest in a good 10-furlong handicap off his mark of 104.

Ascot, 21st June 2018


Cross Counter

All the talk after the King George V Stakes was about First Eleven, about how unlucky he was. And he was, but it is probable that he will be over-bet next time. Also, Cross Counter’s run may have gone a little under the radar as a consequence.

Charlie Appleby’s horse stayed on well to finish fourth, coming from midfield in a race in which it was probably an advantage to race handily. The first three home all raced prominently from early, with the Godolphin horse doing best of those who were not prominent.

Winner of both his runs at Wolverhampton during the winter, the son of Teofilo returned after a short break and a gelding operation to a nice race to finish second in a 10f novice stakes at Sandown in June from which the third has since come out and won. This was a good step forward from that and it was just his fourth run ever, so he has bags of scope for progression. The handicapper raised him by just 3lb to a mark of 101, which was fair. He has the potential to progress by more than that.

Ascot, 21st June 2018


Wells Farhh Go

Wells Farhh Go only finished sixth in the King Edward VII Stakes, but there was a lot to like about the performance that he put up. Held up out the back of the field, he was keen through the early stages of the race, and he wasn’t advantaged by the fact that Frankie Dettori was allowed set a relatively sedate pace up front on Raa Atoll.

Stone last of the nine runners as they straightened up for home, he had no chance of catching the leaders at that point, of making up around eight lengths into a quickening pace. Even so, he stayed on nicely down the outside for David Allan to get to within five lengths of the winner Old Persian at the line.

This was just Tim Easterby’s horse’s fourth run. Winner of his two races last year as a juvenile, including the Group 3 Acomb Stakes, he wasn’t suited either by the sedate pace in the Dante on his debut this term. He obviously stays this 1m 4f trip well, he could do even better over further, and he will almost certainly do better when he gets a faster pace. Also, both his juvenile wins were on easy ground, so he could do even better when he gets back on easy ground. He is a horse who remains of interest.

Ascot, 22nd June 2018


Sir Chauvelin

He did really well to run on from the rear as well as he did to take second place in the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes. The other three horses who, with him, filled the first four places, were in the first five as they turned for home. By contrast, Sir Chauvelin was second last.

Moved to the inside initially at the 2f pole, Daniel Tudhope had to check and move back towards the outside in order to get a clear run. Still only ninth or 10th passing the 1f marker, he finished off his race really strongly to move into second place close home, behind Dash Of Spice, who was obviously still a well-handicapped horse.

Jim Goldie’s horse has had plenty of racing, both over hurdles and on the flat, but he ran his best race on the flat for a long time on his previous run when he finished fourth in the Zetland Gold Cup at Redcar last month. This was a good step forward from that, and he can probably be marked up on the bare form of the run. He appeared to appreciate the step back up to 1m 4f here, and he will be of interest again over this trip and on good or fast ground. He goes well at Musselburgh, both on the flat and over hurdles, but he also goes well at Newcastle and Hamilton, and now at Ascot. He is obviously versatile in terms of track configuration, but he probably is at his best on good or fast ground.

Ascot, 22nd June 2018


Soldier’s Call

Soldier’s Call put up an impressive performance to win the Windsor Castle Stakes. It is not easy to make all the running in a big field on the straight track at Ascot, over any distance, but Archie Watson’s horse was quickly into his stride and quickly into a clear lead in the near side group. Sabre came out of the pack on the near side to chase him home, and Van Beethoven and Dom Carlos both finished well on the far side, but Soldier’s Call was always doing enough. The second, third and fourth were all held up, so the winner probably did well to win, given that he led from early.

This was the Showcasing colt’s third run, and he continues to improve. On his racecourse debut, he did well to finish second to the talented Glory Fighter in a five-furlong contest at Lingfield, the pair of them coming clear in a juveniles’ course record time. Also, Glory Fighter had had a run, and Charlie Hills’ horse raced against the stands rail, which is often favoured at Lingfield. Soldier’s Call did well to get as close as he did from out in the centre of the track on his racecourse debut.

On his second run, the Clipper Logistics’ horse proved that he could operate on fast ground when he made all to easily land a five-furlong novice stakes at Haydock.

He is all about speed, so he did well to last home over Ascot’s stiff five furlongs. He could do even better now on a sharper track. He should improve anyway for this, just his third race. His trainer mentioned the Molecomb Stakes at Goodwood as a potential next target, and that makes sense, his pace would be a big asset at Goodwood. He also mentioned the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint Stakes as a possible, a race in which the trainer’s Corinthia Knight finished fourth last year behind Declarationofpeace and Sound And Silence when it was run as a listed race.

Ascot, 23rd June 2018