Roman Soldier can steal historic march on Engels
Gratifying as it was to see a colt named Frederick Engels win the Windsor Castle Stakes, of all races, he may struggle to open up a new front in the class war at Newmarket today. It is true that the overall ambience at this meeting is a good deal more relaxed than Royal Ascot, both on and off the track. And the way Frederick Engels has thrived for a small, northern stable shows that his handlers need only equality of opportunity to storm the Turf's bastions of privilege. But the fact remains that he may have his work cut out to follow up in the TNT July Stakes.
As it happens, Frederick Engels is trained by a man who proved himself a highly efficient capitalist – in the steel business – before returning to his first love on the Turf. David Brown, who originally learnt the ropes as a stable-hand under Dick Hern, took out a licence at a time when most would be reaching for the pipe and slippers, at 63. He remains in just his fourth season, and has run only a dozen other horses this year, but has turned a modestly bred colt into one good enough to seduce the sport's most ambitious new investors, from Qatar, to his stable.
But Frederick Engels must address some fresh questions today. For one thing, his namesake would immediately have identified a disparity in opportunity from the stalls at Ascot, where the race was dominated throughout by those drawn high. And the climb to the post over a sixth furlong here will take him into new territory. Above all, Ascot was his fourth start in barely a month, and he would be entitled to put in a request for shore leave after a hectic start to his career.
In Roman Soldier, moreover, he meets a colt who probably ran better still at Ascot, without winning. In fairness, he also started from a high draw, but the Coventry Stakes would typically be a much stronger race than the Windsor Castle and Roman Soldier – stepping up from an impressive maiden win at Leicester – was bossing the field for a long way. He seemed to settle the race as he struck for home 300 yards out, but was followed through by Ballydoyle's most precocious colt, Power, and only went down narrowly after a good scrap. With a pedigree combining the speed of Holy Roman Emperor with the middle-distance class of Sadler's Wells, Roman Soldier (1.50) looks a colt going places.
A couple of others who excelled in defeat at the Royal Ascot meet in the opener. Census is clearly going to be better than a handicapper, having flown into second after getting caught in traffic behind Brown Panther in the George V Stakes; while Solar Sky was only just worried out of the Queen's Vase by Namibian, one of those indefatigable young stayers off Mark Johnston's conveyor belt. Namibian had previously been outpaced at Goodwood by Masked Marvel – who comes here after excusably failing to get involved in the Derby itself – but was clearly a different horse over the marathon trip at Ascot. Solar Sky (1.20) had struggled to win his maiden, but was none the less fast-tracked to Ascot and travelled beautifully through the race, pulling well clear with the winner. He has a top-class pedigree, few miles on the clock, and is narrowly favoured in an interesting race.
In comparison, the other Group prize on the first day of the meeting is largely contested by horses that have done their improving. Redwood achieved serial podium finishes at a higher level last season, but only after getting beaten in this race, and may again be laying foundations for more lucrative opportunities overseas. Crystal Capella, the other with standout form, had proved too fragile to be relied upon to show it. Class could tell, but at the prices it might be worth chancing one of the three-year-olds. The tricky Buthelezi is entitled to improve over this longer trip, but Dordogne (3.00, see Turf Account) is preferred.
Mijhaar will be all the rage for the remaining televised race, understandably so after thrashing two subsequent winners in his maiden and then catching the eye at Royal Ascot. But Fulgur (2.25) is another whose day is still to come and represents each-way insurance, receiving 7lb.
Chris McGrath's Nap
Dordogne (3.00 Newmarket) Form has not really worked out but he is a determined, lightly raced front-runner and could well enjoy an uncontested lead in a messy-looking race.
Fury (4.05 Newmarket) Few miles on the clock and has been found a good opportunity here, as you would expect of trainer William Haggas.
One to watch
Mount Athos (David Wachman) Again suggested he will win a big handicap soon when caught out by the draw and a stop-start pace at Haydock last Saturday, bounding through late into fourth.
Where the money's going
Rewilding is 5-2 from 3-1 with Totesport for the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, with the French raider, Reliable Man, now 8-1 from 10-1.
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