Simon Rowlands returns with the latest updates, including analysis of the St James's Palace Stakes...
"Toronado comes out best on sectionals and has realistic prospects of reversing placings another day..."
Royal Ascot 2013 opened with quite quick times and ground that seemed to be on the firm side of good. It is Timeform policy to try to validate sectional times independently, and that was most easily achieved for the St James's Palace Stakes, one of just two races run on the round course.
The figures show that the race was not run at a flat-out gallop, and the finishing speeds of the principals (expressed as a % of their average race speed) were some way in advance of the par for the course and distance. The last-2f sectionals told a very similar story.
The race catered for speed more than stamina, in other words, and in that respect Toronado once again impressed. He came from more than twice as far back as Dawn Approach at the sectional to edge ahead at the 1f marker (running a very swift 23.00s from 3f out to 1f out) but could not quite hold on.
Both Dawn Approach and Toronado were hampered in the penultimate furlong and are better than the result, but Toronado comes out best on sectionals and has realistic prospects of reversing placings another day. He remains on the sectionals "to follow" list.
There was much more mundane fare at Kempton in the evening, but there are still winners and losers to be found at such a level.
Handicap winners Hill of Dreams and Order of Service backed up their clear-cut successes on the clock, but neither is likely to take anyone by surprise on the back of this, while Two Minds did well enough on sectionals in winning after over three years on the sidelines.
The two longer-distance races, won by Alpine Mysteries and Thwart, were falsely-run and unlikely to prove especially solid form, though the former emerges best by some way on sectionals in her particular race.
Perhaps the most interesting contests were the maidens won by Laura Secord and Talksalot. Both were run at decent paces, but the former resulted in a notably poor time, while the result of the latter does not tell the full story.
Second and third to Talksalot were Cockney Bob and Lucky Visione, who both came from a few lengths back 3f out to run sub 35.5s times. This is modest stuff overall, but the last two will be better prospects for nurseries than the surprise winner in all probability.
The pedestrian finish of Laura Secord's race, allied to the overall race time, suggest all the principals in it may be opposable next time, and the 50/1-winner is put up as one to be against hereafter.
To Follow: Toronado
To Oppose: Laura Secord