John Gosden’s unbeaten Derby and Eclipse winner Golden Horn has been declared for Ascot’s summer showpiece on Saturday, with the trainer very confident about his chances in the build-up.
I’ve got to really scrape the barrel to find any chinks in his armour, and, with most of the opposition fully exposed, it’s tough to oppose him with any confidence. He’s not had an easy season racing on fast ground, which can take its toll on a young horse, but his unbeatable aura has eased somewhat along with the going – at the time of writing it’s a wet, miserable day in London and his price has drifted to 4/5.
“I have been asked whether we are going to the well too often. My answer is that I am more worried about the forecast of rain at Ascot on Saturday than any fear that we might be overfacing him. I think he will be all right if it is good to soft’ but we will be in unknown territory on soft ground.” – John Gosden on Golden Horn
Now, official going at Ascot this morning was good to firm, so only considerable rain will harm his chances. From what I can tell, neither his sire, Cape Cross, or any of his siblings have won on soft ground in their careers, which brings some interesting outsiders into the mix should the rain continue.
Just two starts ago back at Ascot in October, Madame Chiang won the Group One British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes, proving her stamina on heavy ground. This is a tougher race, but it’s eye-catching course and distance form for a horse who can be backed at 33/1 right now. She’s only been seen once on track this season – finishing 5th in a Group Two at York – and her participation in this alone is a confident tip from her trainer, David Simcock, who surely had plenty of other options. She looks an outstanding each way bet.
And what of the others? Eagle Top and Romsdal also line up from the Gosden yard but bring little form into the race – none on an easy surface. The same applies for Postponed who has done most of his racing on good to firm. Snow Sky has won on heavy ground before as a 2yo, and his proven stamina will be a big asset on a slower surface. He’s also been confidently supplemented, so there’s a lot to like there and his 9/1 price is tempting.
I can’t back Dylan Mouth purely because he shares the same 33/1 price as Madame Chiang, and the latter is a Group One winner at the track with preference for slow ground. The Corsican brings some handicap form into the race – with a win on good to soft since franked by Arab Dawn at Royal Ascot – but he was well beaten in his own Royal Ascot engagement behind Free Eagle (good to firm).
The dual-code 7yo jumper Clever Cookie has won seven times on ground slower than good, but he’s spent his career racing handicaps, hurdles and listed races yet this is one of the biggest prizes in the flat season. Stamina is guaranteed and the 16/1 seems fair on recent form, but he’s up against Golden Horn and I’d question his class.
“I think there’ll be several things that will suit him. The pace will be decent and he thrives on a decent pace, Andre Fabre said he likes going right-handed better, so he has that in his favour and most importantly he likes fast ground.” – Teddy Grimthrope on Flintshire
Flintshire is an excellent horse who has spent most of his career filling the places in the world’s biggest races – the Arc, Breeder’s Cup Turf, Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, Dubai Sheema Classic just to name a few. He’s not raced in France as much as he could have, which suggests he’s not keen on easy ground. If the going remains good, his 14/1 price tag looks another outstanding each way bet and well worth keeping an eye on.
[NB: Flintshire has since been scratched on Friday evening, and John Gosden plans to walk the track before deciding on Golden Horn’s participation]Leave a comment