Hope you’ve all had a great week.
It was fantastic to see Harzand win the Epsom Derby for Dermot Weld and Pat Smullen last weekend. Well done to all. Hope you followed our advice and got on at 12/1. It was a tremendous performance prefaced by a fair share of drama on Saturday morning when his participation hung in the balance after a foot injury while travelling to Epsom. He’s certainly a horse to follow.
We’ve had another lovely week of weather for the horses we currently have out enjoying a bit of summer grass and it’s wonderful to see how much they are thriving both physically and mentally. I can’t wait to get them back into training but I need to be patient and give them the time they require.
Next week it’s Royal Ascot, one of the greatest weeks of racing anywhere in the world each year. You have to go back to 1998 to find the last time the ground on the opening day of Royal Ascot was any softer than Good (that year it was “Good To Soft”). This year the forecasters are indicating an unsettled weather picture with rain forecast most days from Saturday onwards, apparently due to unusual movements lower in the jet stream. This at least presents the possibility of some ease in the ground this year and it’s worth keeping an eye on this before finalising selections since the ground can obviously be such an important factor. Areas located within a 30 mile radius of Ascot had a month’s rain in less than an hour this week with cars being washed away in flash floods, but those downpours missed the course and at time of writing it is currently described as Good (Good to Firm in Places).
We’re very much looking forward to Mister Trader running at the meeting. He’s entered in both the Windsor Castle Stakes on Tuesday and the Norfolk Stakes on Thursday. We’re keeping an open mind on which race he’ll run in and will make a decision closer to the time. I expect he’ll be competitive in either of those races and wouldn’t swap him for any of the others.
The overall picture in the 2yo races remains a little clouded in the sense that connections of many of the key contenders have yet to disclose their hand in terms of which race they will run in. I think Caravaggio has the best form of anything we’ve seen in Europe this year and the American 2yo’s such as Drafted who broke the track record over 4 1/2 furlongs at Keeneland on his sole start are intriguing contenders. In general, I think American 2yo’s are most dangerous when the ground is quick over 5 furlongs, so ground conditions on the day could be significant to their chances.
Having watched his French 2000 Guineas success I thought The Gurkha was certainly a horse to follow. In Tuesday’s St James’s Palace Stakes he faces formidable opposition particularly in the shape of Irish 2000 Guineas winner Awtaad and English 2000 Guineas winner Galileo Gold. What a race to look forward to! And that’s basically the kind of week it looks overall, one fascinating clash after another.
The Belmont Stakes, the final leg of the US Triple Crown, takes centre stage in the US on Saturday. Our blog tipped the winner of the Kentucky Derby and The Preakness this season, so we’re going for our own version of the Triple Crown! Of course it’s tempting to stick with The Preakness winner Exaggerator. He certainly looks to have a favourite’s chance and with rain forecast he could have conditions to suit again. He is one of only 2 in the field who will have participated in all 3 legs of the Triple Crown this year.
The other is Japanese challenger Lani who has certainly been entertaining the crowds with his antics during his US adventure and in some quarters has been dubbed as “The Crazy Horse”. His connections would obviously be happy to lose that tag and he could be interesting if putting his best foot forward. He came from a long way off the pace and didn’t enjoy the best of luck in running when staying on well into 5th in The Preakness. He would probably have finished 2nd in another half furlong. On breeding the extra 2 furlongs on Saturday looks right up his street and should he keep properly focused on racing there’s every chance he can be competitive. While it’s a risky call, an each way bet at odds likely to be around 20/1 could provide a fun and rewarding end to what has been a most interesting series of US races.
I can’t finish without mentioning the fascinating story unfolding on the first season sire front. In last week’s blog I suggested that 3/1 was too big a price for Frankel. I must admit even I didn’t think his price would drop quite so dramatically within a week. Yesterday, after he had his 4th winner from only his 5th runner his odds have been slashed to 4/5 fav. The Frankel story has been amazing throughout and it looks like we have an exciting new chapter emerging on it. Will be interesting to see how the other 106 unraced 2yo’s from his first crop add to the story during the rest of this season!
You can follow updates on our website www.darrenbunyanracing.com
Best of Luck!