NO STONE UNEARNED
His first mark, of 73, was plain wrong. His next win under a penalty was plain embarrassing. And so, it has come to this, a stone in a single swoop, trying to shut the stable door while Faylaq is still bolting.
Is he the best-bred horse in training? I think so, being by Dubawi and out of Danedream, who won an Arc and a King George, and the means from those genes is manifesting all the time. Faylaq is now moving into the bigger leagues, in the £50,000 handicap at Ascot on Saturday (4.35), with a stone more, but it may be more a stepping stone, on a trajectory to Group company, as told by his Great Voltigeur entry.
As he’s gained in professionalism he’s gained in power, now a strong-traveller, perfect for Ascot let alone ready for it, Faylaq will be flying higher than this in time.
Shamardal is the flavour of the month, thanks in no small part to Blue Point, who was supported on the Saturday of Royal Ascot by Pinatubo and Cape Byron, all of whom shone a light on the stallion.
His first mating with Group 1-placed Pearl Dance brought about Born In Bombay, who had his day in the sun over the straight mile at Ascot, winning the Britannia at the Royal meeting in 2014.
Their latest production is Be More, likewise trained by Andrew Balding, and on Saturday she’s coming to the scene of her elder brother’s big day, arriving via the fast lane of improvement and with a handicap mark (83) that might be beneath her.
That theory is based on her novice win at Goodwood, when beating Clarion with 8 lengths back to the rest. It’s often hard to evaluate form when there are big gaps in the field, but Be More looked good, and the time says she’s as good as she looked.
If she takes to the straight mile at Ascot as well as her brother did in 2014, Be More has the right profile, the right pounds in the handicap and the right amount of potential to take this on her way up.
ONCE BITTEN, TWICE SHY?
There’s a conundrum in the Summer Mile, a line drawn between talent and temperament, because Accidental Agent has better form than most (probably all, in fact), yet he point blank refused to race last time.
That was in the Queen Anne, which was fought out between two horses who Accidental Agent had beaten in the race in 2018, rubbing salt into the wounds.
A one-off, or an off switch being flicked on his enthusiasm? The thing is, it’s not exactly out of character, nor out of the family fad. Accidental Agent blew the start badly once before, the way his dam did towards the end of her racing career, Roodle dropping the lot from the start one day at Ascot.
It augments the anxiety around him, but it’s built into his price, tempting because of the certain knowledge of his ability.
CALL FOR CROWLEY
In the last five years, Ian Williams has called up Jim Crowley 63 times: and they’ve been successful on 13 occasions, for a healthy strike-rate (21%) and a healthier level-stakes profit (+41).
A week after Ship Of The Fen failed to land a gamble, when Kerrin McEvoy probably pushed the button too soon, Williams has called for Crowley to steer a horse who, prior to Sandown, was getting into a new groove, and the catalyst was the change in trip (up to 14f) and not only the change of stable.
He’s on the right road, Sandown just a bump in it, and Ship Of The Fen looks a good fit for Ascot, given his cruising speed and stalking style. There are reasons why Crowley is shunning Newmarket for Ascot on July Cup day, and Ship Of The Fen and Faylaq are two of them.