THE SOVEREIGN STAKES
If – and of course it’s a big “if” – Enable gets beat in the King George, then it may not be by Sovereign, but it will be because of Sovereign. Whatever the Ballydoyle battle plan, Sovereign is at the centre of it, as the free-wheeling, front-running formula that got him an Irish Derby, in the style of Serpentine, is going to ask the biggest questions of Enable, of where and when to commence the chase, in relation to whatever Japan and Anthony Van Dyck are up to.
In last year’s King George, due to the early problem of positioning and the late problem of Crystal Ocean, Frankie needed Enable to be at her best. This year Enable needs Frankie to be at his best, to come up with answers to the tactical teasers, so she can run her race as efficiently as possible, withstanding the traps and temptations.
American academic Michael Porter said that ‘the essence of strategy is choosing what not to do,’ which is the watchword for Frankie, because while Ballydoyle has numbers, Dettori has Enable, and talent trumps tactics, more often than not.
Sovereign is slightly scary, but he’s hardly Ghaiyyath. And that brings us to the bottom line of this year’s threadbare King George. Analysis naturally focuses on the fault-lines of the favourite in such a scenario, but the headache that the combined Coolmore combatants can give to Enable is nothing compared to the migraine that her ability and attitude forces upon them.
Watch every race of QIPCO King George Diamond Racing Weekend live on Sky Sports Racing (Sky 415 | Virgin 535) on Saturday 25th & Sunday 26th July.
GROUNDS FOR OPTIMISM
A fast filly suited by fast ground, Best Terms shone in the summer of 2011 and won the Queen Mary as well as the Lowther. Her progeny so far hasn’t much looked like her, Fresh Terms relishing ten furlongs and Star Terms further still, both Group-class fillies, by New Approach and Sea The Stars respectively, which rather explains things.
Her fifth foal, however, is by Dark Angel, and Mayaas clearly had something of a reputation when he went to Haydock for his debut, sent off favourite, but it was heavy ground – and Haydock heavy at that – and it’s safe to say it blunted his hereditary speed, as he checked in only fourth.
Different day, different ground, a different Mayaas? He’s one of only a handful with any experience in the opening six-furlong maiden, a race in which William Haggas has introduced Rivet and Surf Dancer in recent years, and it’s a good bet that we’ll see more of the dam’s dynamism in Mayaas on better ground at 12.40.
A TSAR IS BORN?
A 6lb rise for a length-and-a-quarter win might seem about right, but Tsar was worth so much more than that at Yarmouth, where his finishing split was fast, VERY fast indeed. The feeling is that Tsar is just getting going, and the proverbial Group horse in the making, but this is a significant stepping-stone for him, against other three-year-olds who are looking upwards themselves.
All the same, Tsar’s new mark of 94 probably undersells him, and there’s a lot more Kingman in him to come out, remembering how he quickened at Yarmouth, fast becoming the trademark of his sire, Palace Pier at the Royal meeting still fresh in the mind.
Tsar is a pure product of Juddmonte, because he’s also from the family of Dancing Brave, the close relative of his grandam. It could be very much the Juddmonte hour between 3-4pm.
THE BUCKINGHAM PALACE REUNION
The strength of the revived Buckingham Palace Stakes was highlighted by the fact the winner, Motakhayyel, followed up in the Bunbury Cup. As many as seven from that race are rocking up in the International (2.25) over the same course and distance, including the second, third and fourth (Jack's Point, Mutamaasik and Cliffs Of Capri), who were drawn 16 or higher that day, an advantage all week, whereas the fifth and sixth home, Shelir and Ebury, had to do their running from stalls 6 and 3.
How well Ebury did hasn’t been missed by the market, but Shelir is double his price, perhaps a reaction to a lesser run since at Haydock, but a mile on testing ground there might have been a bit much for him.
The O’Meara makeover is probably still ongoing with Shelir, who was with Dermot Weld last year, when he was thought good enough to contest the Irish 2000 Guineas. Shelir is drawn lower still on Saturday, in stall 3, but the same bias may not apply at this meeting, and at least it helps that his next-door neighbour is Vale Of Kent, who’ll be one of the front-runners for sure.