Simcock's Dream can stay ahead of his rivals
Saturday 06 August 2011
Restoring a reputation is one thing, maintaining it quite another.
Last season Dream Ahead was rated Frankel's equal, but this year dropped into the superstar miler's shadow until shooting to the top of the sprinting division with victory in the July Cup. Tomorrow in France he will try to confirm the impression he made last month as he steps out in the company of top-level speedsters for the second time in the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville.
It was at the Normandy track 12 months ago that Dream Ahead first gave notice of his electric pace by taking the Group One Prix Morny on only his second outing and his Newmarket-based trainer, David Simcock, who never lost the faith, reports his charge spot on for his return. "He's always been a horse with huge ability," he said, "and physically he's in fantastic shape; that's where the improvement's been over the winter and up to now."
With regular rider William Buick back in the saddle, the big brown colt will face 12 rivals, including a trio of fellow three-year-olds also trying the ploy of reinvention as sprinters – the Richard Fahey-trained Wootton Bassett, the Aidan O'Brien candidate Zoffany and French filly Moonlight Cloud. The four-year-old Society Rock, winner of the Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot, Markab, Genki and Libranno complete the British raiding party.
At the Curragh tomorrow, the early favourites for next year's 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas – both from Ballydoyle, both Royal Ascot winners and both unbeaten in three – face their toughest tests to date. The colt Power takes on eight, including Frederick Engels, Lilbourne Lad and Gatepost from Britain, in the season's first Group One juvenile contest, the Phoenix Stakes, and the filly Maybe faces nine in an all-domestic edition of the Debutante Stakes.
The weekend's third Group One prize would normally escape wider notice; the German Oaks is usually a parochial affair. But tomorrow's running features the William Haggas-trained Epsom heroine Dancing Rain, who travels to Düsseldorf to seek her own return to the top table after defeat in the Irish version of the Classic.
Today's domestic fare is headed at Ascot by the Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup, a novelty four-cornered international jockeys' team contest fought over six handicaps of various distances, with a draw for mounts. Paul Hanagan, Hayley Turner and Jim Crowley are favourites to provide a first victory for the home side.
Chris McGrath's Nap
Firebeam (3.35 Ascot)
Only lightly raced but is progressive and on a hat-trick, and looks a Group performer in the making after his clear-cut victory in a York handicap last month.
Our Boy Jack (2.25 Redcar)
Still learning but may have more to offer than his mark suggests. Today's straight six will suit him better than Chester, where he posted a decent effort in better company from out of the handicap.
One To Watch
Ancient Cross (Mick Easterby) is not in the same league as Hoof It as a sprinter, but is progressive and ran well enough behind his celebrity stablemate in the Stewards' Cup from a poor draw.
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