Bobby Zen

If Tuesday’s St James’s Palace Stakes was a blockbuster, Friday’s G1 Coronation Stakes offers just as much intrigue with the 1,000 Guineas winner Elmalka (GB) (Kingman {GB}) joined by the G1 Poule d’Essai des Pouliches heroine Rouhiya (Fr) (Lope De Vega {Ire}) and one who just might have won either had the fates not intervened. Following her scintillating display in the G1 Prix Marcel Boussac on Arc day, Ballydoyle’s Opera Singer (Justify) looked the one to beat in the Newmarket Classic but a training setback meant that she missed the date and by all accounts was not ready to shine when third in the Curragh version.

Aidan O’Brien is looking forward to making up for lost time with Opera Singer. “She was only in work four weeks before the Curragh and really if she had finished mid-div we would have been happy,” he said. “We knew if we were thinking of coming to Ascot she would have to have a run and I was surprised with how well she ran really. She could do anything and she could get much further than a mile. Ryan will probably be a little bit more confident in her fitness this time and she is a big, straightforward filly.”

 

More to Come from the Guineas Winners

While Opera Singer is fully expected to come forward significantly from her comeback effort, Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum’s Guineas heroine Elmalka is also open to improvement as a lightly-raced daughter of Nahrain (GB) (Selkirk) who herself needed more time to get to this level. She did a lot wrong at Newmarket and still managed to surge by Porta Fortuna (Ire) (Caravaggio) and Ramatuelle (Justify), both of whom had shown prowess in some of the big sprints of 2023.

“We weren’t tempted to go to Ireland, as she’d had two fairly quick runs and she’s training lovely,” Roger Varian said. “She looks great and she seems to be getting stronger. She’s not a flashy worker, but I don’t mind that. She was a bit green at Newbury and arguably at Newmarket too, but she’s looking a bit more complete now and there’s no reason to think Ascot’s round mile won’t suit.”

The Aga Khan’s Rouhiya is in the same boat as Elmalka, in that she was an unexpected and unexposed winner of the one of the big three mile Classics and is big on tactical speed and determination which will take her far here. Ballydoyle’s Content (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) and Scuderia Sagam’s Folgaria (Ire) (Due Diligence) were behind her at ParisLongchamp, as was a certain Sparkling Plenty, so it would be churlish to write off the form as below the standard of the 1,000 Guineas just yet.

 

Murphy’s Musings

Alongside Rouhiya, TDN Rising Star Ramatuelle is here to attempt to prize one of these for France and while she raced over sprint trips at two and seemed to run out of steam late in the Guineas, Oisin Murphy believes that there is hope she can turn things around. “The Coronation is a climbing mile the whole way, but there is a bend,” he said. “Alcohol Free was a very fast filly, like Ramatuelle, and she won the race on slow ground. It’s very competitive, but Ramatuelle was very good at two and she’s had a great preparation since the Guineas.”

 

On To Inisherin

Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum’s Inisherin (GB) (Shamardal) was an exciting colt even before he made the transition from promising type to gold-standard sprinter in Haydock’s G2 Sandy Lane Stakes last month. Chanced in the 2,000 Guineas after a sensational effort on the clock in a Newcastle novice, he was one of those that forced a generous pace, was marginally in front two out at Newmarket and refused to cave in even when it was getting tough in the closing stages. Out three weeks later to turn the Sandy Lane into a procession, the grandson of the incredible Reem Three (GB) (Mark Of Esteem {Ire}) lines up for Friday’s G1 Commonwealth Cup one of the most exciting 3-year-olds in his category since Caravaggio in 2017.

Trainer Kevin Ryan has a rare commodity on his hands. “We were confident he’d run a big race in the Sandy Lane and he was very, very impressive. That was on soft ground and it will be different at Ascot by the looks of things, but he’s a great-moving horse and I was more concerned about it being soft at Haydock. There’s only one way to find out, but a lot of these good horses can handle both.”

 

Doubts About The Elite

Karl Burke has proven time and again–including this week-that he is capable to turning out big names season-by-season and in Elite Status (GB) (Havana Grey {GB}) he had a prime candidate for this, but he revealed on Thursday that the Listed Carnarvon Stakes winner would probably miss the race having suffered a familiar setback. “Elite Status is an unlikely runner unfortunately,” he said. “I’m just waiting to see him when he gets off the lorry, he’s on his way down now. He’s just given that joint a little bang again. He keeps knocking it and we’ve got to get to the bottom of it. I’ll have a look at it when he gets here this evening, but I’d say he’s unlikely.”

 

Another Coup For Cox?

It always feels that a big sprint winner for the Clive Cox stable is never far away and it could easily come here with Al Mohamediya Racing’s Jasour (GB) (Havana Grey {GB}). Impressive in the course-and-distance G3 Commonwealth Cup Trial Stakes in April, he has the faster surface on which he excelled at two when capturing the G2 July S. “We’re very pleased with Jasour, he did really well in the Pavilion and then missed the Sandy Lane because of the very soft ground but we’ve been very happy with his training at home and we’re looking forward to it,” his trainer said. “His form is pretty solid and he’s proven on the track, which is nice, plus he’ll be very much at home on the drying surface.”

 

Calling on the Fairy Godmother

Ballydoyle is flying this week, but their juveniles have not made the expected impact so far and the baton is passed to the G3 Coolmore Stud Irish EBF Fillies Sprint Stakes winner Fairy Godmother (Ire) (Night Of Thunder {Ire}) on Friday. Having recorded notably impressive sectionals at Naas, she is likely to challenge for favouritism for the G3 Albany Stakes which is fast becoming a key early Guineas pointer and is as deep as ever. Her stablemate Heavens Gate (Ire) (Churchill {Ire}) beat another from the yard in January (Ire) (Kingman {GB}) in convincing fashion at The Curragh last month and that runner-up has since boosted the form.

Godolphin’s TDN Rising Star Mountain Breeze (Ire) (Lope De Vega {Ire}), a half-sister to Pinatubo (Ire) who first sprung to prominence in the Chesham here, is put to the test by Charlie Appleby while Sheikh Hamed Dalmook Al Maktoum’s Twafeeg (Ire) (Far Above {Ire}) joined the TDN Rising Star ranks with her dazzling debut at Doncaster at the start of the month.

Charlie Appleby said of Mountain Breeze, “She’s a half-sister to Pinatubo and was more impressive I felt on her second start when she stepped up to six furlongs and she goes there as a live player. It’s billed to be a competitive race, as it always is, but she’s a filly that we’ve been very pleased with since the spring and she’s not disappointed us to date.”

 

The Moore the Merrier

Ryan Moore has got it spot-on each time Aidan O’Brien has run a few this week and with the trainer again exercising his usual numerical dominance in the G2 King Edward VII Stakes, it is TDN Rising Star Diego Velazquez (Ire) (Frankel {GB}) that gets the nod from the premier jockey. He sets the standard on his G1 Poule d’Essai des Poulains fourth, but fellow TDN Rising Star Agenda (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) was second to the stricken Hidden Law (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}) in the G3 Chester Vase and is a fresh horse with abundant promise. Even Wayne Lordan’s pick Chief Little Rock (Ire) looks very smart, having given a Galileo special from the front in The Curragh’s G3 Gallinule Stakes.

“Chief Little Rock was very good from the front over a mile and a quarter at the Curragh last time and he steps up in trip along with my mount Diego Velazquez, who was possibly a bit below-par in the French Derby last time after finishing an excellent fourth in their Guineas,” Moore said as he reflected on another tough choice. “Things didn’t go his way there and hopefully he can show his true worth here. It’s obviously a very open race and Agenda put up a big performance at Chester last time, so I wouldn’t ignore his claims.”

Outside of the Ballydoyle contingent, The Aga Khan’s G3 Prix Noailles and G3 Prix Hocquart winner Calandagan (Ire) (Gleneagles {Ire}) is fascinating on fast ground for the first time. He won by 10 lengths on Chantilly’s Polytrack in October and is probably one of those who is as versatile as he is obviously classy. Fellow French raider Mondo Man (GB) (Mondialiste {Ire}) was in front of Diego Velazquez when fifth in the G1 Prix du Jockey Club and was by far the fastest of all runners over the last three furlongs, so he is no back-number here.

 

Spencer Picks Mitbaahy Over Khaadem in the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee

Saturday’s G1 Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot will see a field of 14 sprinters line up in an open-looking renewal which includes last year’s surprise winner Khaadem (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}). Jamie Spencer, who partnered that Charles Hills-trained 80-1 shot 12 months ago, will instead be on Fitri Hay’s other runner Mitbaahy (Ire) (Profitable {Ire}) from the same stable following his success in The Curragh’s G2 Greenlands Stakes last month. Peter Harris’s G2 1895 Duke of York Stakes winner Mill Stream (Ire) (Gleneagles {Ire}) represents the Jane Chapple-Hyam stable, while Marc Chan’s 2022 G1 Prix de la Foret and G1 British Champions Sprint Stakes-winning TDN Rising Star Kinross (GB) (Kingman {GB}) is back at Ascot with Ralph Beckett handing Rossa Ryan the ride in the absence of Frankie Dettori.

Wathnan Racing’s acquisition Shartash (Ire) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}) drops back from seven furlongs for the Archie Watson stable, while Highclere Thoroughbred Racing’s filly Believing (Ire) (Mehmas {Ire}) is backed up by George Boughey having finished fourth in Tuesday’s G1 King Charles III Stakes. In the G2 Hardwicke Stakes, Ballydoyle’s St Leger hero Continuous (Jpn) (Heart’s Cry {Jpn}) begins his 4-year-old campaign taking on Qatar Bloodstock and Ciaron Maher’s Doncaster Classic also-ran and subsequent G3 Aston Park Stakes winner Middle Earth (GB) (Roaring Lion) from Clarehaven and The King and The Queen’s William Haggas-trained Leger third Desert Hero (GB) (Sea The Stars {Ire}).

Aidan O’Brien saddles another big gun in the 20-runner G3 Jersey Stakes in the G2 Coventry S.-winning TDN Rising Star River Tiber (Ire) (Wootton Bassett {GB}), who was third in the Irish 2,000 Guineas last time. He renews rivalry with that Curragh Classic’s runner-up Haatem (Ire) (Phoenix Of Spain {Ire}), who is another of Wathnan Racing’s recent purchases and who bids to add to Richard Hannon’s big week.

Others to note in the seven-furlong contest are Clipper Logistics’ Karl Burke-trained TDN Rising Star Night Raider (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}), who is back in trip having failed to stay the mile of the 2,000 Guineas, and another TDN Rising Star who trailed in the Newmarket Classic in Juddmonte’s Ralph Beckett-trained Task Force (GB) (Frankel {GB}).

The Listed Chesham Stakes sees the Rosegreen stable represented by this month’s Leopardstown maiden-winning TDN Rising Star Bedtime Story (Ire) (Frankel {GB}). She encounters 17 juveniles, including Godolphin’s impressive Yarmouth novice scorer Age Of Gold (Ire) (Frankel {GB}) from the Charlie Appleby stable.

The post ‘She Could Do Anything’: O’Brien Eager For Opera Singer’s Coronation Ceremony appeared first on TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News | Horse Racing News, Results and Video | Thoroughbred Breeding and Auctions.

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