Racing awaits perhaps the best race of the season?

William Haggas
William Haggas-Adaay looks class

The title doesn’t mention a solitary a winner I am sorry to report but as someone once said to me, “there is more chance of being struck by lightning while buying the winning Lottery ticket than you picking two winners in the same month” and lo and behold, he must be pretty crispy by now after Adaay won the Hungerford Stakes and at odds of 15/2 as well. Bragging over (I have to make the most of the rare opportunities I get), and on to the race itself as William Haggas’ three year old son of Kodiac lapped up ever centimetre of the extra distance to win going away, and open up a whole new World of future opportunities over further and he may even be worth a go at 1600 metres if the right races appear on the horizon.

Elsewhere over the weekend, the softer ground saw a long list of non runners that made punters lives a nightmare, Rule 4 deductions to build in to the payout equations for the lucky ones, races watched without a runner to cheer for the rest of us, and Mother Nature laughing her head off in the background. What the form is worth had to be open to question and I will personally be ignoring it other than back on a softer surface, and even than I am not so sure it can be taken at face value with the soft ground horses originally declared just for a run, and then suddenly and unexpectedly finding conditions to their likings, fully tuned up or not.

Looking ahead and we have a superb meeting from York starting on Wednesday where we can but hope the rain stays away and lets the better horses take their places. The Great Voltigeur is seen as the serious St Leger trial, but at the four-day stage all we have are the thirteen horses – with a stupid nine of them trained by Aidan O’Brien. That has instantly destroyed any ideas of an ante post market for obvious reasons and has also managed to portray racing in a bad light – how can owners continually moan about the lack of opportunities and prize money and then just let this Group Three contest pass them by?

time test
Time Test at Ascot

Whatever that race lacks, the Juddmonte Stakes could make up for with just about the best horses in training all set to do battle over the mile and a quarter, and although it could be tempting fate, it does look to involve the top three in the betting if all run to their best form. Golden Horn won the Epsom Derby and the Coral-Eclipse Stakes and stands tall as the top middle distance three year old colt in Europe bar none, and would perhaps be more feted in the media had he not appeared straight after the retirement of a certain Frankel who still “owns:” the punters hearts, and is the top rated three year old since Sir Henry Cecil’s wonder horse. Rumoured to have improved again for trainer John Gosden, he is odds on and rightly so, but has at least two serious potential challengers. Those who remember the story of the little boy who cried wolf (where a repeated falsehood left no one believing the poor lad) will be wary of the O’Brien quotes that Gleneagles is the best miler he has ever trained (don’t they say that every year?), but then again he has won the English 2000 Guineas, Irish 2000 Guineas, and St James place Stakes at Royal Ascot over the mile trip, but on breeding (by Galileo out of You’resothrilling by Storm Cat), he is actually entitled to be even better stepping up in trip which is a large part of what makes this such an intriguing renewal. Third of the trio is the Roger Charlton trained Time Test – not successful at this grade as yet (though to be fair he hasn’t tried Group One company), but easily the most impressive winner last time out at Royal Ascot when he ran away with the Tercentenary Stakes by an easy three and a quarter lengths from useful yardstick Peacock. That was “only” a Group Three but he really did catch the eye that day and he could be a more serious challenger than his rating implies (he is currently a full stone or 6 plus kilos behind the favourite officially), but deserves his shot at the big time, though we suspect they could have found him an easier race. Lastly, I cannot gloss over Australian challenger Criterion even if I do feel he could be outclassed here. The five-year-old mount of William Buick is certainly top class as he proved with Group One wins at Rosehill and Randwick as well as places at Sha Tin and elsewhere, but he failed to live up to expectations when only fifth to Free Eagle at Royal Ascot and has a lot to prove this Wednesday afternoon. He is said to be working a lot better in Newmarket ahead of this run but will need to be at his very best to give weight away to three year olds of this calibre, and although he could run well, a place is surely the very best he can possibly hope for.




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