Friend More Than Able In Queen Anne
Queen Anne Stakes
Royal Ascot 2015 gets underway with an absolute belter on Tuesday, courtesy of the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes (2.30), pitching the French star, Solow (6/4), up against Hong Kong hero, Able Friend (9/4).
Solow vs Able Friend
It’s a match-up that promises to be a classic, and with Solow having won 9 of his last 10 races, including two Group 1’s in an impressive fashion this spring (both 1m1f), Freddie Head’s 5yo arrives in top form. Effective on good and soft ground, any recent showers could help take any sting out of the Ascot surface, and at the rate he is improving, Solow will take a lot of beating.
Able Friend on the other hand, will hope the sun shines down on Berkshire, as John Moore’s 5yo has won three Group 1’s on fast ground since December (all over 1m).
The last of those came last month, when Able Friend won in a canter, and it will be a fascinating clash between two international improvers when he faces Solow.
The history of the Queen Anne suggests Tuesday’s winner should come from the fancied end of the market…
Of the last 10 Queen Anne winners…
10 returned 8/1 or shorter
10 were 4-5yo’s
9 were non-British bred
8 ran in a Group 1 last time
A O’Brien won it three times, the Hannon yard twice
Hannon Hungry For More
The above stats shows that the Hannon yard provided two Queen Anne winners since 2005, suggesting their 4yo, Night Of Thunder (5/1) cannot be overlooked.
Last season’s 2,000 Guineas winner was beaten 2l in the St James’s Palace here 12 months ago (1m, good), and made a good reappearance at Newbury last month when landing the Group 1 Lockinge (1m, good) from stablemate, Toormore (8/1). There shouldn’t be much between the Hannon runners on Tuesday, but the overall feeling is that they may just fall short of the standard set by the front two in the market.
Should a fast gallop emerge, than Andre Fabre’s mare, Esoterique (20/1), could the beneficiary, as she likes to arrive late on the scene. That was the case when she won a French Group 1 last summer, and she is a lively outsider from a respected yard.
Also at a big price and not without a chance is Andrew Balding’s Here Comes When (25/1), who improved to win a couple of Group 2’s last autumn, and showed he retains his form when only 3l behind Night Of Thunder at Newbury last month.
The weather could have a big say, as a good or slower surface will be in Solow’s favour, though a spell of sunshine could turn the advantage in Able Friend’s favour. Officially rated the highest in the race, he oozes class, and could make his European debut one to remember.