Welcome to our new column from Scott Armstrong of The Sportsman, this column recaps on last week’s action.
Scott is a proven racing expert, thanks to his work at http://www.thesportsman.org.uk/ and has a keen eye for racing value, especially in the big feature races.
The weekends’s racing was overshadowed with the death of Rewilding in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. The four year old tragically breaking his near-fore leg two furlongs from home. Nathaniel took another major step forward defeating Workforce by 2 ¾ lengths. Trained by the shrewd John Gosden the three year old colt travelled strongly throughout the race and proved gutsy as jockey William Buick called on his reserves of stamina to see off Workforce. The Ryan Moore ridden Workforce again highlighted his dislike for the Ascot track veering badly in the home straight when holding every chance. The Arc winner had been struck into by the ill fated Rewilding on the home turn and returned with a cut leg though whether he would have beaten Nathaniel if running on a straight course is open to debate. Both Nathaniel and Workforce look sure to head for the Arc now where soft going will be the requirement for Nathaniel. Provided Workforce can get to the Arc in peak fitness the placings from Saturday could yet be reversed.
Eyecatchers to take note of from the weekend included Aiken who won the Ascot 5.40 staying on strongly in the final furlong of the mile and a half, Class 4 contest. This was a decent three year old handicap and Aiken on only his fourth outing proved a class apart and well suited by the extra two furlongs. He is still running a shade green during his races and will improve again. Hoof It was backed as if defeat was out of the question in the competitive Sky Bet Dash handicap over six furlongs. Under Kieran Fallon, Hoof It didn’t have the easiest of passages in the race, nevertheless winning by a comfortable ¾ lengths and will come back out in the Stewards Cup at Goodwood next weekend. He carrys a 3lb penalty for his success but looks to hold a strong chance of doing the double at current odds of 7-1. John Hills Rave won the competitive Class 2 Deloitte Handicap weaving his way from the back of the field and defying a 10lb penalty to win by 1 ¼ lengths from Albaasil. Rave was reckoned to be the best two year old in the John Hills yard last season but suffered setbacks with his health and never made it onto a racecourse when aged two. Connections now believe he is the best three year old in the yard and though he is a lazy type at home he has begun to fulfil his promise on course and could make the step up to Listed or Group 3 company.
Glorious Goodwood lies in wait this week and the mouth watering clash in the Sussex Stakes with Frankel facing Canford Cliffs will be the highlight of the meeting. Canford Cliffs comes into the race as the reigning champion having taken care of class older horses such as Rip Van Winkle last season. Now four years old he holds a superlative turn of foot but will need every inch of pace up against the wonderful Frankel. Frankel’s demolition of a top-class field in the 2000 Guineas was remarkable and rightly makes him the strong favourite. He has the advantage of coming here fresh and can hold his own first time out against older horses. The odds against have now gone as the hype builds to the big race and the opposition is scared off, but 5-6 in what looks a match bet with Canford Cliffs still holds appeal.