Starman Set to Miss Jubilee

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Starman | racingfotos.com

Thursday to Friday at Royal Ascot was like chalk and cheese and now that the meeting has become chopped in two by the unprecedented rainstorm there is only need for mudlarks to apply for Saturday's finale. Just as David Ward's Primo Bacio (Ire) (Awtaad {Ire}) was pulled out of the G1 Coronation S. on Friday, so there must be a major doubt as to whether his Starman (GB) (Dutch Art {GB}) will be allowed to take part in Saturday's G1 Diamond Jubilee S. Looking the one to beat before the deluge, the May 12 G2 Duke of York S. winner came unstuck on testing autumn ground in the G1 QIPCO British Champions Sprint S. and even though this type of heavy surface may differ in its nature it will still compromise his best qualities.  Trainer Ed Walker cast major doubts on his participation on Friday.

“I think it's pretty unlikely he will run,” he said. “His only defeat so far came on soft ground here last year. It's frustrating, as not only is it a lovely opportunity at Royal Ascot, but some of the other races he might go for, like the Maurice de Gheest and the Sprint Cup at Haydock, are often run on soft ground so it's frustrating to lose a summer target to freakish weather. We've just got to hope the weather improves and it dries up now. He is entered in the [G1] July Cup [at Newmarket July 10], so that is an option if the ground dried up.”

Deep ground is no deal-breaker for Saeed Suhail's Dream of Dreams (Ire) (Dream Ahead), as he showed when winning the G1 Haydock Sprint Cup in September following his seven-length romp in the seven-furlong G2 Hungerford S. at Newbury the previous month. Beaten a head in each of the last two editions of this race and in front a stride after the line in both, the Sir Michael Stoute-trained veteran appeared as sprightly as ever when taking the Listed Leisure S. over this trip at Windsor May 17 and if he can make it third time lucky it will be one of the stories of the week. “He's going very good at home. He couldn't be better, you just don't know about the draw [in three] but with 14 runners it shouldn't make much difference,” the owner's racing manager Bruce Raymond said. “He's working very well and he couldn't be better.”

Third in the Silver Wokingham H. over this course and distance at last year's meeting, Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum's Nahaarr (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}) has subsequently made major strides to become a burgeoning top-flight sprinter. Successful on good-to-soft in the Ayr Gold Cup in September, he was just a neck behind behind Starman and 3 1/4 lengths in front of Tuesday's G1 King's Stand S. winner Oxted (GB) (Mayson {GB}) in the Duke of York. Trainer William Haggas said, “He ran a very good race in the Duke of York. I think he might be a little bit better with a bit of cut in the ground. If they go fast and he can wait a bit, I think he'll come home well.”

Testing ground is the order of the day for the British Champions Sprint S. hero Glen Shiel (GB) (Pivotal {GB}), who put up a creditable comeback performance when fourth under a penalty in the G3 Greenlands S. at The Curragh May 22. He is closely matched with Moyglare Stud's acquisition Sonaiyla (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}), having had her back in second in last year's G3 Phoenix Sprint S. also at The Curragh. Although the mare was only 10th beaten him on Champions Day, she was a place ahead of him when third in the Greenlands on better weight terms and has since taken the G3 Ballyogan S. back at that venue June 2.

Hambleton Racing's Simon Turner said of Glen Shiel, “Obviously we welcome the rain at Ascot and he's in great condition at home. He's come on for his reappearance run in Ireland and we couldn't be happier with him. It was testing ground when he won there in the autumn and while he handles it, I don't think he needs it. It probably just doesn't inconvenience him as much as some of the others. We are excited to run him and I think plenty of people will latch on to Glen as he has that soft-ground form–he certainly deserves to be in the conversation.”

King Power Racing's Art Power (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}) took the inaugural Palace of Holyroodhouse H. here 12 months ago before adding the G3 Lacken S. to his tally at Naas in July. Knocking on the door when fourth in the Haydock Sprint Cup and in the Champions Sprint back here, he should fare better than when sixth on his comeback in the Duke of York.

Preceding the Diamond Jubilee is the G2 Hardwicke S. over a mile and a half, where Christopher Wright's G1 Prix de Royallieu and G1 QIPCO British Champions Fillies & Mares S. heroine Wonderful Tonight (Fr) (Le Havre {Ire}) looks to have everything in her favour now that the heavy rains have come. Rapidly-improving last term, the bargain buy has trainer David Menuisier understandably excited ahead of her 4-year-old campaign but he is not expecting fireworks here. “She should really enjoy the conditions, the trip and ground are perfect but she's running against race-fit, really good horses so we will go there respecting everybody and bearing in mind she is only 85 per-cent fit,” he said. “We want her to peak later on in the season. That doesn't mean she won't put up a lovely performance but I'm just saying, due to her exuberant style as well, she might want to do a bit much too early. The Arc is her big aim this year and there are so many big races towards the end of the season, so it makes no sense to have her at 100 per-cent first time out. In saying all this, it may be compensated by the fact she's highest-rated and loves the ground–we'll find out in the race!”

Aidan O'Brien initially had four engaged, but has scratched the Galileo (Ire) duo of Tiger Moth (Ire) and Mogul (GB), leaving the latter's full-brother Japan (GB) and Ryan Moore's pick Broome (Ire) (Australia {GB}) to represent the stable. Broome, who has proven versatile in terms of ground, is as consistent as they come and carries no penalty for his success in the 10-furlong G2 Mooresbridge S. at The Curragh May 3. Denied on the bobber by Helvic Dream (Ire) (Power {GB}) in the G1 Tattersalls Gold Cup staged on a testing surface over an extra half-furlong back there 20 days later, his ability to handle this ground was proven back in 2019 when he enjoyed one of his career-best moments on it when beating Sovereign (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) by eight lengths in the G3 Ballysax S. at Leopardstown.

“We have a very strong hand in here and all have winning chances at their best,” Moore said. “Broome comes here on the top of his form and he was only a short head away from making it four from four this season in the Tattersalls Gold Cup last time. This has been the first time he has stepped up to a mile and a half this term and that could easily bring about improvement in a horse beaten in a four-way photo for the Derby. He has a very solid look to him here and he should handle conditions better than most.”

Shadwell's Hukum (Ire) (Sea the Stars {Ire}) took the G3 Geoffrey Freer S. over an extended 13 furlongs on good-to-soft at Newbury last August and did handle going that was officially soft when taking Goodwood's Listed Tapster S. over this trip May 22, but whether he wants it this extreme is unknown. Boasting course-and-distance winning form at last year's Royal meeting, having come out on top in the King George V H. when Subjectivist (GB) (Teofilo {Ire}) was third, the homebred faces a test of his ability here.

That William Haggas has opted to let Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum's winning machine Ilaraab (Ire) (Wootton Bassett {GB}) take his chance in this elite company speaks volumes. Looking ready for such an examination when scoring by three lengths in a competitive handicap over just short of this trip at York May 12, he was making it six on the bounce there and it is difficult to put a ceiling on his progress at present. “Ilaraab is rated 111 now and the other opportunity was the [Listed] Fred Archer at Newmarket next weekend. I'd have preferred to go listed and then group three coming out of handicaps and I think he's better left-handed as well, but he's in good form,” his trainer said. “He's a very interesting horse. He worked well this week with Addeybb so he's got talent, but who knows.”

In the seven-furlong G3 Jersey S., Godolphin's Creative Force (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}) takes the next step up the ladder having taken every challenge in his stride so far in 2021. He beat Thursday's Britannia H. winner Perotto (GB) (New Bay {GB}) on good-to-firm in a six-furlong handicap at Newmarket May 1 before following up in the Listed Carnarvon S. over that trip on good-to-soft at Newbury May 15 and could still be progressing. He is joined by fellow Charlie Appleby-trained Naval Crown (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}), who beat Master of the Seas (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}) in the Feb. 25 Listed Meydan Classic before coming back to Europe to be second to Tactical (GB) (Toronado {Ire}) in Newmarket's Listed European Free H. over this trip Apr. 14. Fourth when ridden from the front in the G1 2000 Guineas back there May 1, it is no surprise that William Buick has opted to ride him.

“Naval Crown produced an excellent run in the 2000 Guineas and dropping back to seven furlongs will suit,” Appleby said. “A repeat of his Newmarket performance should make him a leading contender. Creative Force has proved very consistent over six furlongs so far this season and heads into this in good order. He won with some cut in the ground at Newbury last time and we are hopeful with his breeding that he will stay this distance.”

Sir Edmund Loder's unbeaten homebred Bellosa (Ire) (Awtaad {Ire}) beat the re-opposing Fundamental (GB) (Dark Angel {Ire}) in the Listed King Charles II S. over this trip at Newmarket May 15, but this ground is an unknown for her. There has to be a doubt that Shadwell's TDN Rising Star Mutasaabeq (GB) (Invincible Spirit {Ire}) will handle it testing, so impressive was he on Newmarket's fast Craven meeting ground when winning his conditions event at this distance Apr. 13. Only seventh in the Guineas, the son of Ghanaati (Giant's Causeway) may have to wait for another day to show his true ability.

Ballydoyle's Apr. 15 G3 Craven S. flop Khartoum (Pioneerof The Nile) put that behind him when beating the smart subsequent winner and this card's Golden Gates H. runner Visualisation (Ire) (No Nay Never) in a competitive mile handicap at Naas May 16. Ryan Moore is keen on his chances and said, “He was far too free for me in the Craven, but he showed his true colours when winning a decent handicap off a mark of 92 on soft ground at Naas last time and that was in spite of taking a fair bump coming out of the stalls. The second won next time and I think he deserves this step back up in grade. He has plenty of pace, so I think the return to seven furlongs will suit too and the rain may not be such a negative for him.”

There is a fascinating renewal of the Listed Chesham S. to open the card and the seven-furlong contest has become a staging post for Ballydoyle's Classic-bound colts of late. Churchill (Ire) scored in 2016 and Battleground (War Front) prevailed 12 months ago, so the pressure is on TDN Rising Star Point Lonsdale (Ire) (Australia {GB}) here. Successful by 5 1/2 lengths over this trip on yielding ground at The Curragh June 2, the full-brother to Broome looked a touch special there and his G2 Hardwicke-bound sibling has always been as effective with cut underfoot. “It sounds as if this has been the plan for a while and he certainly looks to have been very impressive when winning by a wide margin at the Curragh on his debut,” Ryan Moore said. “Whether or not he will handle these deep conditions, we will soon find out.”

Andrew Balding has already won the G2 Coventry S. and G3 Albany S. and his enviable 2-year-old crop is represented by Mick and Janice Mariscotti's May 21 soft-ground Goodwood novice scorer Masekela (Ire) (El Kabeir), while Charlie Appleby looks to follow his 2019 success with Pinatubo (Ire) (Shamardal) with New Science (GB) (Lope de Vega {Ire}). Making all in a Yarmouth maiden over this trip on debut May 28, he is re-opposed by The Queen's Reach For the Moon (GB) (Sea the Stars {Ire}) who is bound to improve on that start emanating from the John and Thady Gosden stable. “New Science won well at Yarmouth and improved mentally for the experience,” Appleby said. “Ground conditions will obviously be very different here, but his pedigree suggests he might be fine on it.”

Also on the card is the six-furlong Wokingham H., where Tuesday's G1 King's Stand S. seventh King's Lynn (GB) (Cable Bay {Ire}) backs up quickly to attempt to provide The Queen with a latest Royal Ascot winner. Again it is Ryan Moore in the saddle and he said, “He ran a great race when a close seventh in the King's Stand here earlier in the week and he would have got much closer had he any racing room up on the rail in the closing furlong or so,” he commented. “A reproduction of that run clearly makes him the pick of the weights off a mark of just 100 here. He has form on fast and soft ground, the extra furlong could even be a positive and he must have a leading chance if he handles the quick turnaround.”

King's Lynn gets five pounds from one of the talking horses of the moment in Chris Kiely Racing's Rohaan (Ire) (Mayson {GB}), who beat none other than Dragon Symbol (GB) (Cable Bay {Ire}) in the G2 Sandy Lane S. at Haydock May 22 having won the G3 Pavilion S. over this course and distance Apr. 28. Ryan Moore rode David Evans' stable star on the latter occasion, so has a direct line to him in what could prove a fascinating encounter.

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