MUM’S THE WORD
Maureen’s the word, the dynamic dam in a potentially magical mix with the Daddy of them all, Galileo. Stars In The Sky is their second production, following on from Mary Somerville, who isn’t up to much, but where and when Stars In The Sky is making her debut is meaningful, in a notable novice, at Ascot, at a meeting where Maureen won the Princess Margaret in 2012.
The traction of two-year-old races at the track is such that there are plenty of premier stables bringing fillies with premier pedigrees, including $½m worth of Frankel for Roger Varian (Queen Daenerys) and newcomers by Kingman and Invincible Spirit for Gosden and Hannon respectively (Reehaam and Cloak Of Spirits), as well as Godolphin’s hype horse Dubai Paradise, who was fourth when odds-on at Newmarket’s July meeting.
It’s an exclusive departure lounge, full of fine if formative fillies, but Stars In The Sky is as likely as any to take off, more so made by Maureen.
Clon Coulis, in the Hunt Cup, was a nose away from adding another minute onto the straight-track showreel of Jamie Spencer at Ascot. In the five-furlong handicap (4.45), Spencer teams up – for the first time – with Arecibo, and they look the proverbial match made in heaven.
Group 3-placed in his time in France, Arecibo clicked on his fourth run for David O’Meara, at Ayr, when beating the hot and hardened Harome, followed by a second at Ripon under a penalty (3lb more than he has here) when he did all he could fighting an unfair battle with the rail-grabbing, highway-hogging Bossipop.
Stall seven puts him in the middle, just what the rider likes for threading a passage, and the mid-makeover Arecibo looks tailor-made for Ascot, and for Spencer.
HE AIN’T HEAVY, HE’S MY HALF-BROTHER
Ten stone over two miles is a heavy burden, but having a special sibling is itself a weighty recommendation, and 24 hours before Crystal Ocean’s date with destiny in the King George, his year-younger half-brother, Crystal King, takes the next step up his lower ladder in the Brown Jack Handicap (3.00).
The Crystals connected by the dam, Ocean is by Sea The Stars, whereas King is by Frankel, and the increasing insight into Frankel the stallion is that he shovels stamina into his stock, making sense of the step up in trip for Crystal King at Ascot, in conjunction with his latest third at Ayr (over 13f) when not bottomed out.
He’s always in the shadow of his half-brother, but, on Friday, Crystal can be King for a day at Ascot.
One of the appealing parts about racing – at least to a geek like me – is that it’s one big reference book, involving patterns and programmes that link one generation to the next, using the past to inform the present and, in the process, bringing history to life.
As an illustration, 13 years ago, in the 2006 edition of the Group 1 Prix Morny, the top British colt, Dutch Art, beat the top French filly, Magic America; and on Friday at Ascot in the Listed Valiant Stakes (3.35), the field includes Preening, a daughter of Dutch Art, and Look Around, who’s out of Magic America.
Look Around, absent since finishing in mid-field in the 1000 Guineas, has her work cut out, but four-year-old Preening has the power and potential to put it to Magnetic Charm, who’s the standout in the race following her fine second under top weight in the Sandringham at the Royal meeting.
Preening was third in the Valiant last year (got to the front for a while), but she’s a better model now, based on her reappearance second to Agrotera, with Rawdaa back in third. Rawdaa did her bit for the form in the Duke of Cambridge even if Preening didn’t, though the race didn’t exactly go to plan for her.