'Brute' Junior ready for Ascot freak show

A week today, on the opening afternoon of the Royal Ascot meeting, stand by for what seems to be developing as a freak show. First up will be the explosive 2,000 Guineas winner Frankel, a horse who has attracted that particular f-word more than any other this season. And on the same bill is Junior, to whom that and other f-words have been applied for some time.

Junior, despite his name, is no ephemeral young comet but a remarkable veteran of 31 races over five years. Next week he will defend his title in the Ascot Stakes, a classy handicap run over the Gold Cup distance of two and a half miles. And therein lies part of his claim to distinction, for the last time he appeared in public it was to triumph at the Cheltenham Festival.

The eight-year-old's bounding victory in the Kim Muir Chase made him only the eighth horse in a century to have shown the class and versatility to score on both Flat racing and jump racing's greatest stages, a list that includes legends such as Brown Jack and Trelawney.

"That alone would make him a bit of a phenomenon," said Tim Palin, manager of the Middleham Park Racing syndicate whose colours the gelding carries, "but it's more than that. We bought him at an auction sale, and when we first saw him, that was it. He wasn't just walking round, he was strutting round with attitude, this massive brute of a bright chestnut.

"When we got him he was a serial underachiever, considering the talent that the trainers who had previously had him – top men like Brian Meehan and Alan King – knew he had, and he'd been called many things, most of them uncomplimentary.

"He's by the Flat sire Singspiel and he's now one of the long-term favourites for next year's Grand National. And I think that all does make him more than a bit of a freak."

Junior, who cost £35,000 when he went under the hammer 13 months ago, won the Ascot Stakes on his first outing under the care of his current trainer, David Pipe.

"I won't say we were clever, because no one can count themselves clever in this business," said Palin, "but the luckiest decision we made was to send the horse to David. There is no one better than the Nicholashayne team in finding the key to a quirky mind and sweetening a horse.

"For the last year we've seen him do nothing but get better, he's been turned inside out mentally and physically. He'll be top of the weights for sure next week, but if he's made the same improvement on the Flat as over jumps, then I think he'll still be ahead of the handicapper.

"If I was a bookmaker, I'd want him on my side."

Turf Account

* Chris McGrath's Nap

Ryedale Dancer (3.00 Redcar) Stepped up on previous efforts in her handicap debut last month, despite showing signs of inexperience. With only four outings under her girth, she should have scope for further progress for her bang-in-form yard.



* Next best

April Fool (3.20 Salisbury) Is at home in this lowly grade and at this distance, to which he returns after failing to cope with better company and a shorter trip last time.



* One to watch

Nationalism (John Gosden) produced an eyecatching debut at Group level at Epsom on Saturday, just missing third place as he bounded home on his first run for seven months and his first since being gelded.



* Where the money's going

Australian sprinter Hinchinbrook was the punters' Royal Ascot target yesterday, cut from 25-1 to 14-1 by Totesport for the Golden Jubilee Stakes on Saturday week.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Keith Fraser says we should give Isis sympathises free flights to join Isis (AFP)
news
Life and Style
Google celebrates the 126th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower opening its doors to the public for the first time
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
News
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
music
Sport
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Web Designer / Front End Developer

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast expanding web managem...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor