Queen Anne Stakes – Verrazano Victorious?
Queen Anne Stakes
Tuesday sees day one of Royal Ascot where the meeting ignites via the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes (2.30).
The strange thing about this year’s renewal is that Richard Hannon’s current 5/4 favourite, Toronado, will make his seasonal reappearance, but history suggests it may prove a hard task.
Indeed, with 14 of the last 16 Queen Anne winners having had a race under their belt already that season, Toronado could well be caught out for fitness, even if he is the joint-highest rated horse in the race. Victory in last season’s Group 1 Sussex Stakes when finally beaten Dawn Approach was his crowning moment, prior to a final outing when failing to stay 1m2f at York.
Not seen since, Toronado will look to go one better than when beaten a nose by Dawn Approach in the St James’s Palace House Stakes here 12 months ago (1m, good to firm), and the fact he won first time out in 2012 and 2013 may mean a lack of a run may not be a problem.
Hannon is spoilt for choice in the opening race, however, with Olympic Glory (6/1) entered, who was a comfortable winner of the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes at Newbury last month (1m, good to firm).
Despite that win, it’s worth noting that only two Lockinge winners followed-up at Royal Ascot since 1996, instead giving way to those who were actually beaten in the Lockinge, as they boast a better record in the Queen Anne. If that proves to be the case again, then Aidan O’Brien’s, Verrazano (3/1), who was third at Newbury, has to enter calculations.
This 4yo and former Grade 1 winner in America, was having only his first outing for Ballydoyle in the Lockinge, but showed more than enough in finishing a 4l third to Olympic Glory, that he has a big season ahead of him. Considering that was Verrazano’s first outing since November, he ran very well in a less than truly run race, and a stronger gallop at Ascot may see him get very close.
Tullius was the meat in the sandwich when second in the Lockinge, and is entitle to figure once more, but there were no excuses on the day, and he may have to settle for the places. At 14/1, he could be an each-way possibility.
A more realistic threat to the market leaders is Mike De Kock’s, Soft Falling Rain (8/1), who won a Group 2 at Newmarket last season (1m, good to firm), prior to disliking the mud in the QEII here at Ascot in October. This 5yo bounced back when second in a Group 2 in Dubai in March, but the overall feeling is that he may fall short at this level.
The French also send an interesting challenger via the 4yo, Anodin (16/1) – a Group 3 winner last season, before finishing 2l in front of Olympic Glory in France three weeks ago (1mf, soft). That race clearly came too soon for Olympic Glory following his win in the Lockinge, and he should reverse form with Anodin.
But, with minor doubts over the Hannon Pair, Olympic Glory (flopped last time) and favourite, Toronado (unraced this season), it could be a perfect opportunity for Ballydoyle’s, Verrazano to make his mark in Europe at juicy odds of 3/1.
Here are the full Queen Anne trends covering the last 18 winners…
All 18 winners were 4-5yo’s – 6yo’s and above were 0 from over 30 runners.
17 were males – Goldikova in 2010 was the first female to score for 40 years.
17 ran over 1m-1m1f last time.
16 won over 1m.
15 raced during the last two months – the three exceptions all raced outside the UK last time.
9 of the last 11 were Group/Grade 1 winners, since this event became a Group 1.
Those beaten in the Lockinge en-route to Royal Ascot boast an excellent long-term record – only two Newbury winners followed up here since 1996; winners of the Sandown Mile should also be swerved.
Godolphin had seven winners, while Aidan O’Brien and Sir Michael Stoute had three apiece.