Goodwood next for Galileo but give him credit for Ascot please
Galileo Gold cemented his position as the leading three-year-old miler this season when winning the St James's Palace Stakes under a masterful ride from Frankie last week, and all roads now lead to the Qatar Sussex Stakes at Goodwood on July 27, a race that his owner sponsors.
Some people made a lot of play about The Gurkha not being ideally positioned throughout and meeting trouble in the straight, but that is simply part of racing, and race-riding.
We were disadvantaged by the way the race panned out in Ireland last time, where Galileo Gold couldn't utilise his powerful stride until the winner had flown, but Frankie got the horse into a brilliant position and magnificent rhythm and he galloped them into submission.
He won by 1¼ lengths, and won well, so don't lose sight of that fact. And, to be perfectly honest, I don't think he has received the credit he deserved for the Ascot win, or his Guineas victory.
Galileo Gold showed extraordinary gate-speed at Ascot and had to be restrained heavily - that underlined that we made the right decision not to go to Epsom - and it was the horse's speed and ability that allowed Frankie to have him so well-positioned. Frankie also said that the horse was idling in front in the final furlong, too.
As well as his undoubted quality, he is also brave and determined, and he has all the attributes you look for in a racehorse, and a stallion.
The Sussex Stakes promises to be a re-match to savour if The Gurkha and Awtaad turn up - and, who knows, maybe the Queen Anne winner Tepin will feature as well - but it is a challenge we would relish.
I see that the bookmakers are quoting him for the Eclipse on July 2 but I don't imagine that we will be going to Sandown. Maybe we will look at stepping him up to 1m2f at some stage in the future, but for now we will stick to a mile and Goodwood.
Thoughts on the rest of my Royal Ascot runners...
I was delighted with We Are Ninety's sixth from off the pace in the Ribblesdale, and even more so for her owner's twin sister, Mrs Stockwell, when her Brave Anna won the Albany the following day. However, Architecture clearly didn't run up to the form of her Oaks second in eighth.
You can never be definitive or too strident about these matters, but I don't think that the quick turnaround was to blame for the below-par effort. I'd be more inclined to reference the less-than-ideal run that she got, from a wide draw, in what was quite a messy race.
However, whatever your take, she was only beaten five lengths and she has come out of the race well, so we live to fight another day.
Before Ascot, I had been considering the $1,000,000 Belmont Oaks over 1m2f for the two fillies on July 9, as well as the German Oaks over 1m3f in early August - the latter race is worth 500,000 euros, more than the Irish Oaks - and obviously the Curragh on July 16 is also an option for both, as is the Qatar Nassau Stakes at Goodwood on July 30.
We will let them tell us what to do in the next week or so, though. And on the fillies' front our German 1,000 Guineas winner Hawskmoor has entries in the Group 1 Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket on July 8 - though that could turn out to be a hot race this year with Usherette being aimed at the race - or the Group 2 Kilboy Estate Stakes at the Curragh on July 17. She is also in the Nassau.
Copper Knight ran no sort of race when only beating one home in the Windsor Castle, where the first-time blinkers made no difference. Basically, Jim (Crowley) said that he hated the ground. We will look to go to the Super Sprint with him next, and then back to Chester, where he won the Lily Agnes.
Gifted Master was another to run below par last week when finishing in midfield in the Jersey Stakes.
Whether or not it was the combination of 7f in that ground in a higher grade of race that found him out, who knows, but that wasn't his true form. Pat (Smullen) certainly said that he didn't like the ground. We have options with him from 6f to 1m so we will give him a break and decide where to head next; maybe the Lennox Stakes at Goodwood, or the Minstrel Stakes at the Curragh on July 17.
Luckily, those two performances were our only disappointments at Ascot, where I thought Zodiakos and Wall Of Fire both ran commendable races in finishing 7th and 13th respectively in a Britannia where they finished strung out like washing. I think both have a decent handicap in them given suitable conditions, perhaps over 1m2f. Zodiakos wants better ground.
It was great to see Galileo Gold's lead horse Strong Steps finally get his head in front again at Chelmsford, where he won his maiden last season. He is so honest and reliable - too much so, in fact - that he is always up against it in handicaps, so we claimed 5lb off him and Josephine Gordon gave him a great ride to edge him home by a neck.
I was delighted that Baydar showed us what he was capable of when winning at Newmarket under Jack Mitchell - unlike Nessita, who disappointed again, in the same race - and the step up in trip and easier ground were the keys to the improvement from Ascot, where he found the ground far too quick. Hopefully, he will continue to progress.
Afandem didn't have to improve to win at odds-on at Brighton for Marc Monaghan but he got the job done on possibly faster ground than ideal, and continued his education.
The lowdown on this week's runners...
Aventinus runs in the 7f novice at Kempton tonight. He shaped well when fourth over 6f at York first time up under Marc Monaghan and he takes 3lb off him again over an extra furlong that looks likely to suit.
Hyperfocus ran well when fourth in the Woodcote but James Doyle felt the soft ground blunted his speed there, so hopefully Newcastle's Tapeta surface will suit him in the 6f novice there on Thursday. He carries a 3lb penalty against some similar unexposed sorts, but Marc's claim negates that and I'd be hopeful of him going close.
We had three entered at Doncaster on Friday, and they included a certain Majoris, also entered at Newmarket on Saturday, in the 7f novice, but none of them have been confirmed for their races at today's declaration stage for various reasons.
Obviously, a lot of eyes were on the Frankel colt on his debut over 6f at Haydock last month, and I was very encouraged by the manner in which he saw out his race. He looks to have come on greatly from his first day at school, and the extra furlong will be another obvious positive.
The soft ground is an obvious question mark, and his dam showed little on it, as well. He is too good a prospect to have his next race in such testing ground, so you could see him out next week.
Bee Case was entered in the opener at Doncaster, and at Newmarket, too. There is a lot of stamina on the distaff side of her pedigree and she shaped very well after a slow start when fourth over 6f at Kempton earlier this month, but she has cut her leg and needs two to three weeks off.
Mazalto is by Teofilio out of a well-related mare and she surprised us when showing a good deal of promise over 1m2f on her debut at Lingfield last month. But she will wait for a 1m4f maiden, probably next week.
We have Harry Champion in the 7f handicap at Newmarket on Friday, but he would definitely want the ground to dry up.
He ran as I feared he would in the ground at Epsom last time - we took him to the Breakfast With The Stars with Architecture, where he didn't welcome the overnight deluge - but at least the handicapper has dropped him 3lb, which enables him to get into 0-80.
He fractured a vertebra in his back jumping out of the stalls at Windsor last June, so it has been a long way back for him, and we also gelded him after his second at Wolverhampton in December. If the ground is suitable, then I think he has the ability to be figuring off his mark.
Gold Trade thankfully put a poor effort at Newmarket behind him when a good third in first-time cheekpieces in a 7f Salisbury maiden last time, even though William (Buick) said he curled up underneath him when challenged there.
The handicapper kindly put him up 1lb for that but Marc Monaghan takes 3lb off and, if getting a prominent position early on from stall five in the 7f handicap at Chester on Friday, then he can run with credit again. He has good gate speed and hopefully a turning track will keep him interested and he will pass the post in front before he knows it!
Possible Saturday spin at Newmarket for July Cup entrant Home of the Brave
Home Of The Brave is in the Criterion Stakes over 7f at Newmarket on Saturday, but I will be keeping a watching brief on the ground. He handles a bit of cut, but he wouldn't want it soft.
I have always thought that he was worth trying over 1m on good, fast ground - in fact, he would have run in the Lockinge under those conditions - but he doesn't lack speed and on Monday we will be supplementing him for the July Cup next month. He is a much bigger and stronger horse than he was when he last ran over the trip in the Commonwealth Cup last season.
He doesn't face an easy task on Saturday, in that he has to give a 5lb penalty to the likes of Dutch Connection after his recent win in the Group 3 John Of Gaunt Stakes, but, as I said, he is not a definite runner at this stage.
Corked is entered in a 1m maiden at Windsor on Sunday, after appearing not to have quite got home in an admittedly decent race over 1m2f at Salisbury last time. Rather annoyingly, she lost a good opportunity when Thirsk was abandoned last week.
Gimlet is entered at Lingfield on Saturday and Pontefract on Monday, both handicaps over 1m4f. I am leaning towards the latter race at the moment.
He has run well when placed on his last two starts, last time out over 1m6f at Wetherby, and it's simply a question as to whether he is handicapped to run well in defeat off his mark, or whether he can win off it. Nile Empress is also entered at Windsor on Monday; we hope that she is better than she showed us at Brighton first time out.