Absurdly, three of the seven Group One races staged at Royal Ascot this week were over within 80 minutes on Tuesday. Sure enough, not a single Group One winner is on view today, with just three of the fillies lining up for its only elite contest having even made the podium at that level.
As such, it seems curious that double-figure odds are available against More Than Real, who has been sent all this way by the top trainer in the US, Todd Pletcher. Admittedly, she must prove herself on easier ground in the Coronation Stakes, and has not been seen since November. But horses with dirt pedigrees sometimes find deeper turf highly congenial, while that last public sighting was at the Breeders' Cup itself – and in the winner's circle.
More Than Real had decisively outpaced her rivals for the Juvenile Fillies' Turf, as today over a turning mile. Half-a-dozen lengths away, in fifth, came Together, who is favourite today, after twice finishing second in Classics this spring. Together has not won in her last eight starts, and you could hardly be surprised were she to find a way of extending that sequence from the widest draw.
In contrast, More Than Real starts right next to the rails. As it happens, she managed to overcome a wide berth at Churchill Downs, on only her third start. She arrives here with every right to further progress, while those anxious about her absence do her record-breaking trainer a disservice. Coming here hardly looks a whim and she recently clocked five furlongs in 58.5 seconds over the turf at Belmont.
Those not convinced should perhaps try Joviality, herself lightly raced and representing a trainer with great depth among his three-year-old fillies in John Gosden.
The Americans had a fancied raider in the Albany Stakes, but Judy The Beauty, regarded as the best of Wesley Ward's team this week, is a doubtful runner. In any case, Jim Bolger is a hard man to stop when he has a filly as tough and precocious as Teolane (2.30).
Sir Henry Cecil saddled first and second in the strongest maiden of the year at Newbury in April, and both have chances in the other Group races today. Solar Sky (5.00) should relish the longer trip, while World Domination deserves another chance after failing in his Derby trial. Even so, he has his work cut out against Nathaniel, who ran the subsequent Epsom runner-up so close at Chester – and both will ensure too big a price against Fulgur (3.05). The handicaps are predictably competitive, but Lost In The Moment (4.25) remains ahead of his rating, while King Of Jazz (5.35) has youth on his side, improvement looking especially likely back at this trip.
Chris McGrath's Nap
Fulgur (3.05 Ascot) Fascinating that shrewd connections should squander a very fair handicap rating in such hot company, but he will be a big price and massive improvement looks guaranteed over this trip.
Lost In The Moment (4.25 Ascot) Charged home just too late after getting behind from a wide draw at Chester the other day, and can keep Mickaël Barzalona in the news so long as this does not come too soon.
One to watch
Springinmystep (Michael Dods) Shaped well at Ascot on Tuesday, caught up in traffic early before keeping on well through midfield.
Where the money's going
The gamble continues on Deacon Blues for the Wokingham tomorrow, now 6-1 favourite from 7-1 with Totesport.