Next Stop Royal Ascot – Weekend Review

With Royal Ascot 2015 only a month away, a number of informative pointers took place at the weekend, where Forgotten Rules reminded punters of his staying potential in making a winning return at Navan.

Next Stop Royal Ascot
A Group 2 winner over 2m when last seen at Ascot in October, when making it a career record of 3-3, Dermot Weld’s runner resumed business with a gutsy 1l defeat of Answered in the Listed Vintage Crop Stakes over 1m6f.

It was an impressive display, as Answered was fit having won a recent Listed event, while also in receipt of 5lb from Weld’s 5yo.

That wasn’t enough to stop Forgotten Rules, though, who was subsequently cut into 2/1 for Ascot, and will now bid to become the fifth Ascot Gold Cup winner to have come via the Vintage Crop Stakes in the last 10 years.

Another pointer for Ascot came via Newbury’s Lockinge Stakes on Saturday when Richard Hannon sent out the respective 1-2 in Night Of Thunder and Toormore. Only a neck separated the pair this time, and there may not be much between them in next month’s Queen Anne Stakes, where Night Of Thunder and Toormore are 5/1 and 10/1 respectively.

It will be an interesting test of their abilities, as they take on a couple of world-class performers in Able Friend and Solow, who are both around the 9/4 mark. The Queen Anne is certainly shaping up to be a classic.

Telescope Zooms In On Hardwicke
Also at Newbury was the return to form of Sir Michael Stoute’s Telescope, who enjoyed the drop in class to Listed company to score by six lengths. Stoute reported afterwards that Telescope was stronger than last year, which bodes well ahead of next month’s defence of the Hardwicke Stakes, where he now rates a 7/4 chance.

Telescope also provided the second winner of Ryan Moore’s 1,962/1 five-timer at Newbury, although Moore did miss out in Thursday’s Dante Stakes on John F Kennedy, where John Gosden’s Golden Horn emerged as a Derby hope. That hope was confirmed when Golden Horn was supplemented for Epsom at the weekend, and punters have already latched onto him, where he is now the 2/1 favourite.

First Triple Crown Since 1978?
On the subject of Derbies, the Kentucky Derby Stateside was won by American Pharaoh a fortnight ago, who followed-up to land the second leg of the Triple Crown via the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico on Saturday. The next stop for Bob Baffert’s 3yo is the Belmont Stakes in a few weeks time, where the last horse to land the Triple Crown was affirmed in 1978.

Baffert mentioned American Pharoah as “incredible” and great” following the Preakness, and punters interested in being part of modern history can double their stakes at evens for him to do the Triple Crown.

Don’t Forget The Jumps!
But, for those still thinking of Cheltenham, Aintree and Punchestown, and already looking forward to the autumn, then there was something to cheer in France when David Pipe’s Ballynagour (runner-up to Silviniaco Conti at Aintree), won the French Champion Hurdle.

The successful switch back to hurdles saw arguable a career best from the 9yo, who was spoken of afterwards as a possible candidate for next March’s Champion Hurdle. Now that may give Faugheen a few sleepless nights over the summer.