'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.

FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

Early Years Educator

£68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

Nursery Nurse

£69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam