5.35 Royal Ascot – MERDON CASTLE (nap)
This looks a typically competitive renewal of the Listed Windsor Castle stakes, with several of these arriving here off the back of solid efforts in defeat at this sort of level or following good wins in maiden company, while there are one or two yet to win that are surely capable of better.
The selection, trained by David Elsworth, is a nicely-bred son of Acclamation who showed a nice turn of foot to land a 5f maiden at Kempton last month, and he followed that with an excellent effort in defeat when attempting to give 3lbs to subsequent Listed winner Kool Kompany in a 5f novice event at Windsor a couple of weeks later, travelling well and losing out by just half a length. He appeals strongly as the type to continue improving for a while yet, still showing signs of inexperience off the bridle but battling on well for pressure to draw clear with a smart sort last time; strongly-run five furlongs ought to suit and, under the guidance of Ryan Moore, can return to winning ways here.
The Wesley Ward-trained Hootenanny is a challenger from the US who showed good speed to land a 4.5f contest at Keenland in April in impressive fashion, but he was unable follow up when a soundly-held third behind Governmentshutdown in a 5f Listed event at Pimlico a month ago (beaten 7 lengths). It could well have been that the slower surface that day didn’t suit this speedy sort, and better can be expected from this colt who comes from a respected stable that has sent out winners at this meeting before, including this race in 2009.
The David Brown-trained Mind Of Madness is a son of Azamour who travelled well and quickened nicely off a strong pace to land a 5f minor event at Newmarket’s Craven meeting on debut, and he was far from disgraced in defeat when chasing home Coventry hopeful Adaay in a 6f conditions event at Yarmouth earlier this month, the pair drawing clear inside the final furlong but this colt coming home ¾-length adrift at the line. This colt lost little in defeat last time, and, as on debut, a strongly-run race at this distance could well bring out the very best in him; respected.
The William Haggas-trained Mubtaghaa is a son of Acclamation who shaped really well when chasing home the potentially smart Moonraker in a course and distance maiden on debut, and he duly went one better when landing odds of 4/11 in a 5f maiden at Nottingham 16 days ago, overcoming a slow start to run out a convincing ¾-length winner from One Moment. That form could be working out a little better, but this colt was far superior than the eventual margin of victory suggested and had shown useful form here on debut; another that will be suited by an honest gallop at this trip, shaping on both outings as though ready for six furlongs.
David Barron’s Midterm Break found only Roudee too good in a 5f maiden at Ripon on debut, duly going one better when 1/3 for a 5f maiden at Southwell next time, making all and coming home 1¾ lengths to the good over Rita’s Boy. He followed up in style when landing the Brian Yeardley Conditions event at Beverley a month later, travelling strongly close up and shaken up over a furlong out, leading soon after and staying on well to score by 2 lengths from Vimy Ridge. He was the only one to still be there at the finish out of the trio that helped set a good tempo, seeing things out strongly; commands a fair amount of respect on this hat-trick bid.
The Richard Hannon-trained Among Angels shaped with promise despite clear signs of inexperience when fourth to Adaay in a 6f maiden at Newbury on debut, and he duly came good at the second time of asking in a 6f auction maiden at Windsor 10 days later (1/2 favourite), ridden over a furlong out and leading entering the final furlong, going away at the finish to run out a 2¼-length winner. It was a workmanlike display from this colt in what was a fairly ordinary contest, and he has hardly shaped as though wanting a step back in distance; more needed now upped in class.
Stablemate Fuwairt is a son of Arcano who shaped with some promise when third to Lightning Stride in a 5f maiden at Leicester on debut last month, and he got off the mark at the second time of asking in a 6f maiden at Chepstow earlier this month (4/11 favourite), waited with and travelling strongly for the most part, shaken up to lead over a furlong out and soon in control albeit needlessly eased off near the finish and allowing the others to close back up on him. It was a comfortable enough success for this colt, and the runner-up went one better next time out; step back to five furlongs shouldn’t be a problem, but one or two others appeal more on this occasion.
The Charlie Appleby-trained Four Seasons is a son of Dubawi who shaped a bit better than the result suggested when last of eight in a strongly-contested 6f novice event at Newmarket on debut, and he showed marked improvement to land a 6f maiden at Leicester on testing ground nine days later, making good progress from halfway and leading two furlongs out, forging clear approaching the final furlong as he ran out a 2½-length winner over the fast-finishing Classic Collection. This colt did it well last time, keen under restraint and allowed to stride on at halfway, soon in the ascendency; faces a completely different test here on better ground, but is open to improvement.
The Roger Varian-trained Haxby found only Kool Kompany too good on his debut in a 5f maiden at Leicester in April, and he duly went one better when landing the odds in a 5f auction maiden at Doncaster the following month, close up and taking over two furlongs out, drawing clear inside the final furlong to run out a 1¾-length winner from Bahamian Sunrise. He could only manage third behind Coventry Stakes hopeful Justice Good in a 5f novice event at Windsor earlier this month, close up and holding every chance over a furlong out, one paced in the closing stages; reportedly free to post that day, so perhaps worth marking up that effort, but one or two others still appeal that bit more now.
The Ron Harris-trained Majestic Hero is a son of Majestic Missile who showed up well for a long way when fourth to Kool Kompany in a 5f maiden at Leicester on debut in April, and he put that experience to good use to land a 5f maiden at Chepstow last month, close up and ridden to lead over a furlong out, forging clear inside the final 100 yards to run out a 3¾-length winner from Clodovil Doll. The bare form of that is nothing special, the visual impression this colt created on that occasion was a good one; should be plenty more to come and no surprise to see this colt in the shake up come the business end of matters.
The Charlie Hills-trained Cotai Glory is a well-related son of Exceed And Excel who debuted in a 6f maiden at Nottingham last month (50/1 chance), pulling his way into a prominent position and going okay for a long way, his exertions beginning to tell over a furlong out and fading right out of things inside the final furlong to come home last of seven behind Dr No (beaten 9¼ lengths). He shaped a lot better than the end result suggests, within himself for two-thirds of the way but his refusal to settle costing him dear in the end; this a huge step up and clearly needs to find a huge amount of improvement, but no great surprise to see a much improved performance from this colt here.