ROYAL ASCOT – TV TIPS (TUESDAY)
Able Friend is rated as the best miler in the world and he is taken to maintain that status in the curtain raiser at this year’s Royal meeting. Having travelled the guts of six thousand miles to be here connections clearly believe he has what it takes to shine on the world stage. He last ran forty four days ago where he saw off stablemate Rewarding Hero by over a length at Sha Tin. Joao Moreira is his regular race rider and he is once again on board this afternoon. This stiff straight mile at Ascot is a lot different to the sharp turns of Sha Tin, but the ground looks to be in his favour and he can land the opener.
Solow has not had as far to travel as the selection and has yet to really prove that he will be suited by this faster going. He hails from a top class yard that won this with Goldikova a few years back and therefore commands utmost respect. He was far from impressive on what was his seasonal return at Longchamp last month, but he is fully entitled to come on for that effort and has to rate as a massive danger.
Night Of Thunder is no slouch and he was all out to win the Lockinge at Newbury last time. Richard Hannon comes here hopeful rather than confident this time around and that suggests the two international raiders may have this between them. Able Friend carries the hopes of Hong Kong this afternoon and with connections sounding bullish about his chances, he is the pick.
Air Force Blue created a favourable impression when making a successful debut at The Curragh last month. The form of the race could not have worked out any better as both the runner up and the third have come out to frank the form subsequently. Aiden O’Brien has trained the winner of this race five times since the turn of the millennium with the likes of War Command, Power and Henrythenavigator all obliging in recent years. The yard should have a good handle on just how good Round Two is given that he brushed aside their Washington Dc with the minimum of fuss last time.
Round Two could well be a potential superstar given the way that he was so professional on his racecourse debut. That effort came on soft ground at Naas and he then came out to record a subsequent win at Leopardstown. Jim Bolger certainly knows the time of day with his juveniles and Stable jockey Kevin Manning is once again in the saddle. This is the fastest ground and the toughest opposition that they have faced to date, but they are worthy adversaries and ought to provide the sternest of opposition. Of the home contingent War Department is an intriguing contender. He missed the break quite badly on debut at Leicester but the penny finally dropped with him and he won going away in the end. He should have learned plenty from that experience and he too can make the frame.
Ryan Moore’s booking could prove the deciding factor between the two at the head of the market and the former champion jockey is taken to come out on top.
Air Force Blue (WIN)
Shamal Wind represents Australia in the Kings Stand Stakes and it is a race that they have a phenomenal record in. Choisir, Takeover Target, Miss Andretti and Scenic Blast have all made the long journey here worthwhile in the past and the booking of Ryan Moore by connections suggests that they expect another Antipodean success. She has gone well fresh in the past, so the lack of a recent outing is not as daunting as it first looks and given the in and out form of much of this field, she may not have to be one hundred percent in order to go close.
Sole Power is a globetrotting sensation and he proved that by winning the Al Quoz Sprint out in Meydan earlier this year. He comes here looking for an unbelievable hat trick of victories in this race and conditions looks set fair for him to be seen at his ultimate best. Richard Hughes has once again been engaged by Eddie Lynam to ride and the duo command serious attention now that they are back on their favourite stomping ground. Mecca’s Angel is the model of consistency and has now won six out of eleven career starts. She was fit enough to win a Group Three race at Longchamp on her seasonal reappearance and is fully entitled to come on for that run. She is a proverbial speedball, but today’s faster conditions may not prove ideal and she would love to see a bit of rain.
Shamal Wind has travelled over well and has only been beaten once before following an enforced absence. Trainer Robert Smerdon thinks the track shall suit and she is taken to land this event at the expense of the evergreen Sole Power.
Shamal Wind (WIN)
Gleneagles made short work of the opposition when winning both the English and Irish 2000 Guineas within the last month despite a troubled passage in the latter. He has always looked a smart prospect and is arguably the best three year old in training at present. Aiden O’Brien is bidding for a seventh win in this particular race and this talented son of Galileo will likely make every effort to follow in the hoof-prints of his predecessors.
Andre Fabre sends Make Believe over from France in order not to make this such a one sided affair. He took a significant step forward when landing a Group One at Longchamp last time. A three length defeat of New Bay reads well but he will need improve again in order to overturn the star of Ballydoyle. Consort takes a massive step up in class following his most recent victory in a listed race at Sandown last month. Sir Michael Stoute is a master of his craft, but whilst his representative is completely unexposed, he has shown nowhere near the same level as the two main protagonists in the betting. The form of that ,oat recent win has taken a knock back subsequently and he is overlooked on this occasion.
Gleneagles has no ground worries having won five of his career starts on a good to firm surface. Despite being a short price, he looks the most likely to give his true running and can give Ryan Moore another winner on the opening day.
Clondaw Warrior comes here following a decent enough campaign over hurdles and he is well used to large fields. He wasn’t beaten far over this trip at Punchestown on his latest start and he is well worth another attempt at it. All ground comes alike to this eight year old who bids to follow in the footsteps of stablemate Simenon by taking this stamina sapping contest. The booking of Ryan Moore is a massive positive as he rode the former to win this race back in 2012. He receives weight from the vast majority of his rivals and he commands respect in this wide open handicap.
Fun Mac was ultra impressive when winning over a mile and six furlongs at Salisbury for Hughie Morrison and Rab Havlin. Richard Hughes takes the reigns this afternoon and they are fully entitled to improve on what was a sparkling seasonal reappearance. He has been hiked up in the weights by the handicapper but if in the same mood, he could well prove the pick of the opposition.
This race tends to lend itself well to national hunt trainers with the likes of Charles Byrnes, David Pipe and Willie Mullins landing the marathon contest in recent seasons.
Clondaw Warrior (E/W)