Rewind six weeks to the Friday of the King George meeting at Ascot, and Richard Hannon went bang-bang in the opening two-year-old races with a pair of power-packed juveniles: that tremor by Mums Tipple became an earthquake at York, and the filly Cloak Of Spirits – who was much more than Mums Tipple on the day – has entries in the Rockfel and Fillies’ Mile, telling about her trajectory.
Cloak Of Spirits carried the colours of Sheikh Obaid, as does Count Of Amazonia, a Derby entry with a punchy pedigree, albeit in a maiden field full of them, at 2.30. Count Of Amazonia is by Lope De Vega, a fashionable father, and he’s a half-brother to, amongst others, Roibeard, who won first time out.
The bar is set fairly high by Law Of Peace, a Godolphin son of Shamardal who was beaten just a nose on his debut 10 weeks ago, and then there are a number of well-connected newcomers, including two progeny of Australia (Establish for Varian and Crystal Pegasus for Stoute), as well as a Kingman for Varian and €420,000 worth of Muhaarar for Gosden.
It’s a tasty maiden to say the least, but Count Of Amazonia has plenty of plus points on paper, not least what happened on the last Ascot Friday.
THE FALLON FACTOR
It’s becoming a thing, like father like son. Marching towards an apprentice title, the more we see of Cieren Fallon the more he looks a chip off the old block. A double at Windsor last Monday night was the latest showcase of strength and skill by Fallon, who’s getting to the stage where he no longer needs the addendum ‘junior’ or ‘Kieren’s son’, because his drive and development is speaking for itself.
The first of his four rides at Ascot on Friday is Enigmatic in the Classified Stakes (3.40), and he looks up against it on the surface, giving weight to a clutch of three-year-olds, but Fallon’s claim negates that, not the only upside for Enigmatic.
Firstly, he’s the only course winner in the line-up, defeating as many as 19 rivals up the straight mile in May, his sole start at Ascot.
It has been sideways steps since then by Enigmatic, but on softer ground lately, beaten favourite (into third) at Newmarket last time, and one or both of returning to Ascot and firmer conditions may well do stimulate him, as might the man on board, who’s starting to make a difference to horses.
In short, Enigmatic has more going for him than the market makes out.
THE NEXT WISSAHICKON?
Defying a mark of 107 by 3¾ lengths in a 33-runner Cambridgeshire as a three-year-old was one of the handicap performances of modern times, let alone 2018, a season in which Wissahickon worked backwards from the Cambridgeshire, and Lord North may be doing the same for Gosden this year.
Lord North likewise has a Cambridgeshire entry, and time-wise this mile handicap at Ascot (4.10) works out well as a stepping stone, returning from a summer break, and gelded in the meantime.
The last time we saw him was in the Heron, when last of seven behind stable-mate King Of Comedy, but his position there doesn’t begin to tell the full story, meeting trouble and finishing with a full tank.
Amongst his six rivals at Ascot are two course-and-distance winners (Bless Him and Zhui Feng), another three-year-old (ridden by Fallon), Dubai Legacy, and The Queen’s Seniority, who has been knocking on the door all season, but there’s more than a whiff of Whissahickon about Lord North, who’s currently 16/1 for the Cambridgeshire.
BUICK & BARRIERE
Normandy Barriere has won six times, and three of those have come under William Buick, from just a handful of collaborations, including twice over this course and distance.
He’s on a losing run of 29 months, but the upshot is a mark of 84, the lowest it has been since 2016, and after spending most of this season being ridden by amateurs and apprentices, Buick is meaningfully back on board here.
Being drawn high, in and around favourites Total Commitment and Equitation, is a potential positive, and his second to the gambled-on Swindler at Ascot as recently as July shows that Normandy Barriere has still got the requisite fire in his belly, likely to be ignited all the more by Buick.