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PROJECT DANTE is by Showcasing, who sired top class sprinters such as Mohaather, Advertsie, Quiet Reflection and Soldier’s Call – who were all Royal Ascot winners – and it looks like he may have sired another good one here. Making his debut at York last month, I was impressed with how he went through the race, and he was much the best prospect going forward despite only winning by a head.
Comments from his trainer Bryan Smart after the race suggested that the horse was quite porky at York, so he could well improve fitness wise, on top of the experience he gained there. The form of the York win looks really strong now also, with the next four that followed him home all winning since.
We do have to worry about the Wesley Ward speedsters in Lucci and Nakatomi, but Project Dante could be best of the home challenge, and he would look to have decent each-way claims.
MOVIN TIME took three starts to get off the mark, but he was only beaten a length on debut by Rebel’s Romance. That form looks decent now with the winner going onto win the UAE Derby. On his second start Movin Time bumped into Mithras – who is among the favourites for the Britannia Stakes later in the day – where the mile trip just favoured Mithras more. Movin Time reappeared at Newmarket and he comprehensively disposed of Kemari, clocking a really fast closing sectional – albeit in a race that was very slowly run in the early part of the race.
I was extremely keen on NOON STAR for the Epsom Oaks ever since she won her maiden at Notthingham at the backend of last season. Bred in the purple, she is by Galileo out of Oaks second and multiple Group 1 winner Midday, Noon Star was really impressive on her reappearance in Wetherby under a penalty and the Oaks dream was still alive.
She was very strong in the market for the Musidora Stakes at York, but she was comprehensively beaten into second by Snowfall. The steady early pace was said to be a reason for her defeat there though. That Musidora form couldn’t have worked out much better in the Oaks itself, with Snowfall winning by 16 lengths from Mystery Angel – who was actually third in the Musidora.
That makes Noon Star look very solid here and while I am worried that Sir Michael Stoute has had plenty of fancied runners turned over in this race over the years, Noon Star might just have too much class for this field.
This looks as competitive as ever, but at the prices it is worth having an each-way interest on SUMMA PETO for Keith Dalgleish. Just touched off on debut by the now 92 rated Internationaldream at Ayr, he then was just touched off again by March Law again at Ayr on very different ground. March Law had been second in the Chesham Stakes on his previous start, so it was a massive effort from Summa Peto to go so close.
He found Listed company too hot for him on his last start as a juvenile last July, but he was given a good break then and returned to easily win a maiden at Ayr over a mile by over 6 lengths. The third won his next start in a handicap then off 78 to give that form a solid look.
Summa Peto made his handicap debut at Wolverhampton last month off mark of 83 and he made a mockery of that mark, winning very easily in a really fast time. The handicapper has bumped him up 9lbs to a mark of 92, but he is capable of rating in the 100’s. High appears the place to be drawn, so his stall 17 doesn’t look to bad and provided the ground doesn’t get testing (thunderstorms are forecast), then Summa Peto looks a good chance to get involved here.
This race can often be a good pointer to the future with last year’s renewal seeing future Group 3 winner (Hukum) beat a future Group 1 winner (Subjectivist) into third and this year’s renewal looks full of potential again. A case could be made for many, but SURREY GOLD is the one I like.
Firstly, Hughie Morrison is a man to follow in these handicaps at Royal Ascot and his last two runners in this race were Kipps last year and Corgi in 2018 – both were very narrowly beaten in second. Surrey Gold showed very little in his first two starts in maidens, but just about got off the mark at Wolverhampton over a mile on what was his third start.
A mile was always going to be on the short side considering his breeding and he was stepped up to a mile-and-a-half for his handicap debut at Lingfield in April. He made the running that day, which probably didn’t suit, and had no answer when the race fit Albert Camus went by. He stepped forward massively from that run when absolutely bolting up at Newbury on his next start off a mark of 75. Held up, he sliced through the field like they were standing still and when asked to quicken, the response was immediate.
He won by 7 lengths and that form is working out with the fourth winning on his next start, the fifth was just touched off on his next start, while the seventh, eighth and nineth all ran well in handicaps since. Surrey Gold got 12lbs from the handicapper, but I suspect that a mark of 87 still probably underestimates him and the forecast rain overnight will really boost his chance.
Aldary has really strong claims, but he hasn’t been missed in the market and at his price I can probably let him win, but I can’t resist having a few quid on MILLTOWN STAR each-way at a wild price. He has been one on my radar for a decent handicap since the tail end of his juvenile career. He was thought good enough to contest a Group 2 as a juvenile and ran well in decent Newmarket nurseries before winning a Listed race at Chantilly on testing ground.
He caught my eye last season, being held up out the back without ever really getting into the race. I always felt that a strong pace over 7 furlongs is ideal for him, and his hold up style is well suited to the straight track at Ascot. Milltown Star was only beaten a length-and-half in March in the Lincoln Trial at Wolverhampton, again the steady pace probably not suiting him on the day. He ran okay at Doncaster last week over a mile, but again the steady early pace wouldn’t have suited.
He is drawn high, which should be a positive and the forecast overnight rain should take the sting out of the ground to help him more. I’m not saying he is a God-given certainty or anything like that, but there is a lot in his favour and his mark of 94 is definitely workable.
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