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Six-furlong sprinters look a strong bunch
Dream of Dreams ran out a ready winner of Saturday’s Diamond Jubilee, finally winning the race at the third attempt after a couple of near-misses. He should continue to be a force in Group 1 company in the weeks and months to come, but there will be no shortage of competition judged by events elsewhere at Royal Ascot, with several three-year-olds putting their hands up for top honours.
Campanelle and Dragon Symbol pulled well clear of the rest of the field when fighting out a thrilling but controversial finish to the Commonwealth Cup, while Creative Force also produced a borderline very smart performance to win the 7-furlong Jersey Stakes.
However, the best performance by a three-year-old sprinter came from Rohaan, who took another big step forward when defying a BHA mark of 112 in the Wokingham. He ran to a Timeform rating of 124 and probably would have won the Commonwealth Cup but for the rule forbidding geldings from lining up in that race. He will be a leading contender for the July Cup should connections decide to supplement for that prestigious prize.
We can also throw into the mix last year’s winner Oxted, who coped superbly with the drop back to five furlongs when winning the King’s Stand, and Starman, who had been favourite for the Diamond Jubilee before being withdrawn due to the soft ground. It’s fair to say that the showpiece event at Newmarket’s July Festival has all the makings of a race to savour.
Get set for another ‘duel on the downs’
The Sussex Stakes at Goodwood later in July promises to be another cracking contest, the first big clash of the generations in the miling division.
There is no doubt who the outstanding older miler is this year. Palace Pier followed up his Lockinge victory with the minimum of fuss in last week’s Queen Anne, not needing to reproduce his top-class three-year-old form to beat a substandard field. With a Timeform rating of 132, he will once again be the one to beat if aimed at the Sussex, acknowledging the different sort of test provided by that idiosyncratic and speed-favouring track.
Palace Pier will also have to contend with Poetic Flare, who produced the best performance by a three-year-old this season when winning the St James’ Palace. In truth, he could hardly have been more impressive as he recorded his second Group 1 success after the 2000 Guineas back in May, always travelling strongly and quickly forging clear in the final two furlongs to land the spoils by 4-and-a-quarter lengths.
Poetic Flare earned a Timeform rating of 128 for that win, proving himself a borderline top-class miler. Admittedly, that still leaves him with a bit to find to match the level of Palace Pier, but he will arguably be better suited to the test of speed that the Sussex provides. Either way, it promises to be a race that will continue to generate plenty of discussion in the coming weeks.
Wonderful Tonight puts up great performance in Hardwicke
The two big races over middle-distances at Royal Ascot were both won by members of the fairer sex. Love made her highly-anticipated return in the Prince of Wales and duly picked up where she left off with a game victory, making it four Group 1 wins in the row after sweeping all before her as a three-year-old last season.
However, arguably even more impressive was the performance of Wonderful Tonight, who ran out an easy winner of the Hardwicke to put herself in the same bracket as Love and Snowfall among the top middle-distance fillies in Europe.
She settled just behind the leaders in the early stages, she moved to the front two furlongs out and then quickly left her rivals trailing in her wake, always doing enough in front despite being closed on by Broome in the final furlong.
The speed Wonderful Tonight showed suggests she would up to making an impact in the top races over a mile-and-a-quarter, but all roads are likely to lead to the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, especially as she seems to relish soft going. She certainly won’t be making up the numbers at Longchamp and is very much a filly to keep on the right side when she gets her favoured conditions.
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