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Royal Ascot Day 1 - Coventry Stakes

ROYAL ASCOT TUESDAY

Ah, a proper festival without any twigs in the way. And possibly, just possibly, the sun will be out. It baffles me why this day isn't always sold out - it's the best card of the week, by a long way. For me the Coventry is the premier 2yo race of the season, despite only being a G2. A big field, down the straight, usually on a dry track. Bring it on.

Expect a blog preview for each of the feature races, with a quick scan of the handicaps. More races to be added later.

COVENTRY STAKES
Group 2, Six furlongs, for 2yo
£175,000
1505 local, 0005 (Wed) AEST


1.Al Qudra

Won a Lingfield novice at his third start, after finishing behind today's rivals Arran and The Actor at his first two runs. Making steady progress but those he beat on the AW last time out were mostly debutants, will need to find quite a bit more here, even if he has the might of Godolphin behind him.

2.Andesite

Named after a type of volcanic rock, stemming from his sire, Pinatubo, this colt won a novice at York on debut, pipping Yah Mo Be There by a nose, and more than three lengths clear of the rest of the field. That form has held up ok with a couple of winners since but didn't rate that highly. He was a later foal (April) so he'd barely had his second birthday when he raced. Should step forward but by how much? The stable rate him as their best juvenile chance of the week, and they'll have several. 

3.Angelo Buonarroti

A debutant by Justify out of a sister to Churchill, purchased at a breeze-up sale only a month for one million euro, for a trainer having his first runner as a British licensee - there's a lot to unpack there. Initially he was purchased in the US for $135k last September, so he's obviously beefed up a lot and showing something on the gallops. The trainer is a former Brazilian jockey who has been training in Sweden before moving to the UK to work with Amo Racing, the racing enterprise run by football super-agent, Kia Joorabchian. This is a big ask to land this race on debut - breeze-up horses are trained to run two or three furlongs and be sold for a fortune, not run a race, but it doesn't seem like the strongest edition - at least on exposed form. Amo Racing landed the Norfolk last year with a 150/1 shot. Take a good look in the parade ring.

4.Arran

You won't have much trouble spotting this one in-running, he has four white socks and a big white blaze, he will stand out a mile. From a talented family, his half-brother The Wizard Of Eye, probably euns in one of the big sprints on Saturday. Looked green on debut, throwing his head around early before setting the pace and refusing to be passed in a Newmarket novice, ahead of The Actor, Al Qudra and an odds-on Godolphin favourite. That was two months ago, those other rivals have each run again and only barely surpassed his debut rating. Who is to say he won't step up even further at his second run?

5.Camille Pissarro

Named after a Danish-French impressionist of the 1800s, the type of name usually named for the top echelon of Coolmore colts, he has started odds-on at both his starts, winning at Navan on debut then getting nosed out late by Arizona Blaze in the Marble Hill at the Curragh. A 1.25m guineas yearling, he hasn't yet achieved the RPR of 100 which is usually the base level for Coolmore to send them here - but other stables have won this with lower rated horses such as Berkshire Shadow, Nando Parrado and The Wow Signal. 2yo progression, particularly in the first half of the year is rarely linear. I've not been that impressed with him visually - so either they know something at home or they've got nothing else to run here. Watch the betting but I think he's equal favourite early on reputation rather than results. 

6.Catalyse

A £300k breeze-up sale purchase in April, he went to Hamilton to win on debut just a fortnight ago achieving a decent RPR in the process. The only formline to tie him to rivals here is the third horse Proud To Be Fox finished twice as far behind when he faced Andesite a few weeks earlier. Wasn't fully tested on debut, another of the Wathnan string, it's all about Royal Ascot for them. Chance.

7.Columnist

Another breeze-up purchase as connections go for ready-to-run juveniles. He earned a nice profit for the original yearling buyer, rising from a mere 8,000 guineas to £170k in seven months! Won very easily on debut at Chester at a Saturday meeting last month, usually a bit below the level of Newmarket, York etc., but he did it in style in the Wathnan Racing colours. On jockey bookings, he's not the primary chance of the Wathnan trio.

8.Cool Hoof Luke

An all-weather winner on debut at Chelmsford, lengthening stride nicely at the end after finding trouble earlier in the straight. You could mark him up slightly for that but he'd still have a bit to find against the better performed types. I wouldn't rule a line through him completely...

9.Cowardofthecounty

Impressed on debut, beating the highly-rated Whistlejacket who will line up later in the week. Has since changed hands to a group including US-based owners Stonestreet Stables who owned the flying machine Campanelle. He showed tremendous talent on debut (what appears to be the highest 2yo RPR in April) but hasn't been seen for nearly two months. Trainer Joseph O'Brien's recent form is concerning, just two winners from his last 37 runners (as of Sunday night), but one of those was on Sunday. Great chance.

10.Electrolyte

Another Wathnan breeze-up purchase, purchased in April, won six weeks later in early June. An easy victory in a four-horse field at Ayr, needs more here to be competitive. 

11.Francisco's Piece

Almost undefeated from three starts: won one debut at Pontefract, was beaten a short head at York and then went to Chantilly to win a Listed race on a heavy track. An unlikely route to success for a small stable but his form says he is up to this. 

12.Ingot

Ran second on debut at Kempton, that's not usually a place to start off a precocious juvenile career. Bred to be a star but perhaps not this early. Stable seem to think he'll be a good horse in time.

13.Midnight Strike

Won comfortably on debut, beating an O'Brien Sr. hotpot who won at next start and will likely be favourite in one of the easier 2yo races this week. Ran keenly at his next start, jumping a little too well to get any cover (outside the first three, there was a big gap in odds, and thus you'd expect ability, to the rest of the field) finishing half a length behind the runner-up Camille Pissarro and after being outpaced then getting going again. He's drawn the middle of the pack here and thus should have plenty of opportunity for cover here. 25/1 considering he was so close to Camillle Pissarro last time looks overs. Don't rule out.

14.Mr Chaplin

Finished 5L behind The Actor on debut then won a big field maiden at Newbury comfortably. The form from that race hasn't really worked out but he did win by 3L. From the first crop of Without Parole who started his career brilliantly then tapered off, he could be a sneaky hope. In good hands.

15.Nascimento

If you thought the name was familiar, it's the surname of Pele, which I assume links to his dam, Star of Kings. He could only run third at Yarmouth on debut, wobbling about in the straight like an inexperienced colt, needs more to be competitive here.

16.Rashabar

Limited in two starts to date, third at Newbury on debut followed by a second at Chester with a weaker RPR, albeit after drawing gate which is a nightmare around the Roodee. As a loose form comparison, King Of Angels (on debut) finished 0.5L behind Rashbar, while Columnist beat the same horse by 7.5L. Nope.

17.Star Anthem

A January foal trained by Charlie Cox who might have won on debut but for being carried out by the winner and then went to Bath to easily win his maiden a few weeks later. While that seems like a downgrade, several trainers like to educate their youngsters there as it's a wide open track with a gentle bend to keep their mind on the job. Could have won by further last time, this isn't completely out of his reach. Cox won this race with Nando Parrado in 2020 at 150/1 with far weaker exposed form. 

18. Symbol of Honour

Started favourite on debut at Newmarket but didn'r really know what he was doing, and finished 7L behind The Actor (also behind Al Qudra and Mr Chaplin). Seemed to prefer the flatter track at Lingfield (turf) when he jumped straight to the front and bolted in next time out in a fast time, albeit in a weaker race. A couple of winners have already come out of that race, so the form might be OK. Drawn near the grandstand rail, should see some strong pace out there.

19. The Actor

A half-brother to the mighty First Folio (part-owner here!), he finished a narrow second to Arran on debut, then won at Newmarket in the race mentioned in the previous runner. He knuckled down well and came up the hill to win on that occasion, clocking a sub-11s furlong, so he should be fine taking on the extra furlong here. Richard Hannon had three winners over the weekend and is striking at 8/48 with juveniles this season. Right in the mix.

20. Turners Cross

Slightly unlucky on debut in a Fairyhouse maiden but nothing to suggest he'll be competitive here.

21. Up The Clarets

Won on debut then ran second in a seller at Musselburgh. A day out for the new owners as of last week, but that is many lengths short of the required mark here.

22. Yah Mo Be There

Runner-up to Andesite at his only start to date. Connections won this race in 2017 with Rajasinghe at a similar price (and exactly the same RPR on debut). Might be around the mark but I can't be backing horses with daft names.

23. Zminiature

Kept on nicely in the National Stakes at Sandown nearly a month ago but that's a level below this. Could have chosen weaker targets this week but connections want to be there on day one. Should be suited by the step up to six furlongs.


SUMMARY

A hell-for-leather charge by very inexperienced colts and no doubt at least a couple of them will get overawed by the crowd. The favourites have queries on them, so this is the race I'm looking at bigger prices. 

Onto the shortlist go

Arran
Cool Hoof Luke
Francisco's Piece
Midnight Strike
Star Anthem
The Actor

Depending on the prices available tomorrow, I'll probably be backing The Actor and Star Anthem each way, and boxing the six in exotics, looking for a big World Pool payout.

THE ACTOR, Star Anthem, Cool Hoof Luke, Arran


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