It was the surprise of the season, in the Juddmonte International at York, when 50/1-shot Arabian Queen got the better of Golden Horn, who was the undisputed king of 2015. And, such is the generation game of racing, with its familial framework, those names resonate all the way to this newcomers maiden at Ascot that kickstarts the card (12.40) - live on Sky Sports Racing.
Megallan is out of a half-sister to Golden Horn, and Spirit Mixer is the first foal of Arabian Queen; and the pair of them are propelled by some superpowered sires, Megallan by Kingman and Spirit Mixer by Frankel.
These hotshot homebreds are in the familiar colours, of Anthony Oppenheimer and Jeff Smith respectively, and Megallan has something that Golden Horn never had, namely a Derby entry.
Golden Horn had to be supplemented into Epsom after he had run riot in the Dante, but Megallan debuts at Ascot with a Derby ticket already in his hand, the only one out of this field of unknowns, where every clue counts.
The common denominator between Caradoc’s four career wins is a speed date, by which the horse and rider have two minutes or so to get acquainted and immediately hit it off. Caradoc was on his best behaviour the first time he paired up with Pat Cosgrave, then Andrea Atzeni, then Oisin Murphy, then Ryan Moore. And now it’s Tudhope time.
What’s odd about that statistic is that Caradoc is the sort of horse who you’d assume would take some knowing, because he has a few flaws and foibles that make delivery difficult, more so this year in the company he’s keeping.
Neither Epsom nor York has done him full justice this year, but Ascot is the type of track that might just stimulate him, as may a meeting of minds with Danny Tudhope, the sort of sympathetic rider who’ll cajole and convince Caradoc to put his best foot forward.
The handicap at 3.35 will be only the second time that Caradoc has gone beyond a mile and a quarter, which is another potential catalyst, because the feeling is that, even from a mark of 99, he’s still got a few pounds to play with.
HORSES FOR COURSES
There are just the three previous Ascot winners in the sprint handicap at 4.45, of which Whelans Way is facing the minimum trip for the first time in his life and Blue De Vega struggles to run two races alike (on the back of a Newmarket win without headgear).
That brings us to Daschas, who probably had a job on in retrospect trying to give weight and a head start to three-year-old Wonderwork at Windsor on Monday night, in a game of slow/sprint speedway.
Daschas beat the rest readily, a sure sign that he’s back firing, and this bigger-field race ought to play more to his strengths, at a track where he’s finished first and second from just four starts.
What’s more, this is a three-year-old-free zone, and, with Oisin Murphy keeping the faith after Monday, everything is in place for a big run from Daschas, whose last two wins have come within a seven-day turnaround.
SHERGAR CUP SHADOW
Though the Shergar Cup – which this card was scheduled to be – has been postponed for this year, the make and shape of most of the races give the day a familiar feel, with five double-figure-field handicaps over a variety of trips.
The Shergar Cup Stayers was won in 2019 by Eddystone Rock, and he’s back for the equivalent race, 4lb higher but stealing 3lb with Cieren Fallon on board.
The quartet of four-year-olds in the race all bring something extra to the table, of which Holy Kingdom and Kaloor are trying the trip for the first time, but there’s something to be said for track craft, even at two miles, and Eddystone Rock knows Ascot very well, doing all he could on his comeback at the Royal meeting when mid-field behind Fujaira Prince over an insufficient trip.