Friday, 19 June 2020

Royal Ascot Day Five: Pinatubo to Erupt in St James’s Palace

Our two juvenile champions were both placed in their respective Guineas’ this season yet both disappointed, but with those runs under their belts they can prove to be very different propositions now and could light up the last day of Royal Ascot 2020.

1.50 Ascot (Coventry Stakes – Group 2) – CREATIVE FORCE

It would be no surprise if, after what we’ve seen not just in the past but even this week, the Aidan O’Brien runner Admiral Nelson or Mark Johnston’s charge Qaader proved to be too good at this stage but at the odds a chance can be taken on Godolphin’s Creative Force instead.

Charlie Appleby hasn’t had as many contenders for the two-year-old races as we’d expect with only the very best of his early bunch considered, but when looking back at the likes of La Pelosa and Quorto it seems a ton of improvement comes from them at this time of year after their first run which in the case of this horse was 16 days ago.

That is not a gap enjoyed by his two main rivals and so a little less of an upward trajectory may be expected from them, with this son of Dubawi therefore very much in the mix having made a hugely pleasing debut at Newmarket under today’s jockey William Buick.

2.25 Ascot (Coronation Stakes – Group 1) – QUADRILATERAL

Last year’s Fillies’ Mile winner was a little below her best when third in the 1000 Guineas, but it’s more than possible that she needed the run at Newmarket and that the quicker ground wasn’t totally ideal for her.  She still looks every inch a potential champion three-year-old filly and will come good.

Quadrilateral was very fresh in the Guineas and took a keen hold so a different performance is expected now, that difference if it comes about putting her at least back up to the level she achieved as a juvenile which would be enough to win this you would feel.

American raider Sharing is fascinating, but she would like it quicker and in truth she hasn’t got to Quadrilateral’s level, while Alpine Star comes into the event off a long break with no guarantee of her being a Group 1 filly over a mile.

3.00 Ascot (St James’s Palace Stakes – Group 1) – PINATUBO

There has been a lot of talk of horses not “training on”, especially Pinatubo, but it doesn’t happen as often as many believe and it often simply means no further improvement rather than actual regression.

Looking at Pinatubo’s profile overall, it’s more than possible that he simply doesn’t like Newmarket and he wasn’t at his best in 2000 Guineas on the fast ground either, but much like Too Darn Hot it remains probable he will get back to the same level he achieved last year as champion juvenile (if no better) and even being a few under would get him home here.

With the freshness now run out of him, coming back onto what by Saturday afternoon will just be fair racing ground and going round a bend, this will be a little more of a speed test than Newmarket so facing this bunch rather than Kameko in this particular environment can get him some more Group 1 glory.

While Wichita was ahead of him at Newmarket and may run well again, he may not appreciate the change in conditions as much as the selection which could leave Newcastle handicap winner Palace Pier as the main danger given that plenty more improvement is to come and he could yet be a Group 1 winner himself.

3.35 Ascot (Diamond Jubilee Stakes – Group 1) – DREAM OF DREAMS

This has all been about Sceptical since the declarations came out, but it niggles that he may well be better over five furlongs than this six and especially here.

Now the highest rated sprinter in Ireland after bolting home in a Listed race at Naas to make it four in a row, there was talk of the King’s Stand but it appears Denis Hogan and his team were rather put off by Battaash and this race was their second choice.

Hello Youmzain has been well backed, but had this race been at somewhere similar to Haydock and/or the ground had been even softer he’d more fancied more, while Khaadem and One Master both look quality without perhaps being good enough.

With so many holding place chances the field has rather a ‘much of a muchness’ look about, which points us towards the proven quality of Sir Michael Stoute’s Dream Of Dreams instead.

A close second in this race last year behind Blue Point, the ground should hold no fears and despite having finished last year disappointingly a lot is still expected of this six-year-old who has now been gelded and can return to his very best under Ryan Moore.

10.42 Belmont Park (Belmont Stakes – Grade 1) – SOLE VOLANTE

An important race, this is the first leg of the Triple Crown this year due to the delays in getting the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes on and it has also been reduced in distance from 1½ miles to 1m1f.

Maxfield has been injured again, as have the Bob Baffert pair Charlatan and Nadal who would all have held chances so the race has broken up badly in recent weeks.

After solid wins in the Holy Bull and the Florida Derby the market has been dominated by Tiz The Law, also a Belmont winner in the Champagne Stakes, but he keeps producing similar performances without really going on.

Enter the well-drawn Sole Volante then who is just coming to himself now having made a belated debut.  A winner at Gulfstream last time out, his form stands up well but there is clearly plenty more to come and he looks good value against the favourite, Tap It To Win and Dr Post to land the $1million event.

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