Gale Force Ten to prove fresh force in sprint ranks
O’Brien’s Jersey Stakes winner has the pace to beat speedsters at their own game in July Cup
The first two in both Group One sprints at Ascot last month convene for a divisional decider at Newmarket tomorrow, but all four could yet be overtaken by another who excelled at the royal meeting. Having previously taken a supporting role in mile Classics at the Curragh and Longchamp, Gale Force Ten made his breakthrough when seeing off 18 rivals for the Jersey Stakes. These were led by Montiridge, a stylish scorer on the opening day of this meeting, with the rest well strung out after contesting a strong pace.
Taking on older rivals now in the Darley July Cup, Gale Force Ten (3.50) drops back to six furlongs for the first time since going down by just two necks to a top-class sprinting juvenile, Reckless Abandon, in the Middle Park Stakes over on the Rowley Mile last autumn. He introduces something different to a web of fairly incestuous formlines, and history shows that horses dropping into sprints from Classic company often have an edge in quality. Aidan O’Brien, his trainer, has replaced cheekpieces with blinkers to sharpen this son of Oasis Dream (winner of this race 10 years ago) for the drop in trip. But Gale Force Ten showed ample pace when initially leading two out on similarly fast going at Ascot, while his rally to regain the advantage late on promises that he will relish the rising ground at the finish.
Whether Sole Power and Shea Shea will see things out quite so well is another matter. This pair showed much the best acceleration, either side of the track, when divided by a neck in the King’s Stand Stakes – but raw speed is their forte, and both might be best at five furlongs. Lethal Force, winner of the Golden Jubilee Stakes over this trip, was able to dominate despite racing keenly at Ascot and may have enjoyed a tactical advantage over Society Rock, who emerged from off the pace for second. The latter maintains his form admirably, meanwhile, but has always seemed happier at Ascot than over this undulating course.
Frankie Dettori seeks his biggest success since returning from his long suspension when partnering Recanted (2.40) in the 32Red Superlative Stakes. On the face of it, it is impossible to pick between several who have so far disclosed only the tip of the iceberg in maidens, but Brian Meehan never winds up his debutants and this well-bred colt is guaranteed to improve considerably on an impressive start at Newbury.
Dettori also rides the Royal Hunt Cup winner, Belgian Bill, in the Bunbury Cup but the drop in trip may be against his mount. Burn The Boats (3.15) has been sent over by a respected Irish yard and, with very few miles on the clock, has impressed with his adjustment to the demands of big-field handicaps on his last two starts.
Channel 4 also has cameras at Ascot, where Aljamaaheer (2.30) can make his class tell for a deserved success; and York, where William Haggas can celebrate a proud success in his native county with Stencive (2.55) in the valuable John Smith’s Cup. Always well regarded, this colt has shaped well without winning in each of only four handicaps to date, most recently when second from an awful draw at Ascot. Once again he finds himself slung out wide, but his strong-travelling style combined with the drop in trip could help him weave through in the long straight. He could end up as better than a handicapper.
Only four fillies contested the big race at Newmarket yesterday but there was still plenty of controversy as Elusive Kate survived a stewards’ inquiry into her narrow defeat of Sky Lantern in the Etihad Airways Falmouth Stakes. Having controlled a predictably modest pace, she retained enough in reserve to stem the challenge of the odds-on favourite by a neck – but only after hanging across the track, carrying Sky Lantern with her, with her jockey William Buick’s whip appearing to stray across the younger filly’s face for good measure. There appeared to be no contact but it was a debatable call.
“I wish she hadn’t hung left, as she would have shown it was fair and square,” Buick said. “But she has done it all her life. She costs herself a lot of ground by doing it, but she keeps winning.”
Sky Lantern was not the only Royal Ascot winner turned over on the card, Rizeena proving unable to supplement her Queen Mary Stakes success in the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes – won decisively by the 20-1 shot Lucky Kristale, trained locally by George Margarson.
The Turf Account
CHRIS McGRATH’S NAP
Burn The Boats (3.15 Newmarket)
Corton Lad (9.20 Hamilton)
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
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