If you listen carefully, ahead of the Valiant Stakes at 3.05, you’ll hear a sigh of relief from the main mares, for the simple fact that there’s no Nazeef to spoil their party this time. Nazeef has got in the way of Billesdon Brook and Agincourt all summer, beating Agincourt into second in the Duke of Cambridge and dishing out the same treatment to Billesdon Brook either side, in the Snowdrop at Kempton and the Falmouth at Newmarket.
There’s a class divide in the Valiant, but not only pertaining to Billesdon Brook and Agincourt, because the unbeaten Miss O Connor is at or near their level, though she’s coming in cold, absent since making it four in a row in a Group 3 at Saint-Cloud last October, added to which there’s a doubt about her on ground that hasn’t got soft in the description.
If there’s a springer amongst the rest then it’s Lady Bowthorpe, who has been out of luck the last twice, and may one day bridge the gap to a fillies-only Group 3, but the problem for her is that there’s at least one authentic Group 1 mare in here, in the shape of Billesdon Brook, who’s out of the shadow of Nazeef.
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.
LOUGHNANE IN THE LIMELIGHT
Usual races, unusual faces. It’s old-fashioned that the Queen Mary and the Duchess Of Cambridge (still the Cherry Hinton to you and me) are the feeder races to the Princess Margaret, but it’s new-fangled that the trainer of the pair on the front row of the ratings grid is David Loughnane, and they’re ridden by Hollie Doyle and Thomas Greatrex.
The bronze medallists from the Queen Mary, Caroline Dale, and from the Duchess Of Cambridge, Santosha, are fine adverts for the developing power and purpose of Loughnane, whose numbers are improving year on year, with a run-to-form ratio (on Timeform’s metric) above 60% in 2020, which is something to shout about.
Caroline Dale was 100/1 in the Queen Mary, whereas More Beautiful was even money, clearly a let-down on the day, but favourite for a reason, because of the style and substance of her debut win, which obliged a crack at Royal Ascot but perhaps came a bit soon in hindsight, only 12 days on from Naas.
It’s literally David versus Goliath, Loughnane versus O’Brien, though the pair have something in common in that neither has won the Princess Margaret.
Two days after she won the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, Dayatthespa was sold for $2.1m. A premium price for a premium product, and the product of her mating with Medaglia D’Oro was inevitably hot property when he went to the sales, fetching $1.8m and finding his way to John Gosden’s yard, named Tenbury Wells.
Phase one of his career completed with a win at Chelmsford, Tenbury Wells now turns his attention to handicaps, for which a mark of 82 might well be beneath him, based on past performances, never mind projections.
He was surrounded by subsequent winners when fourth at Newmarket on his comeback, and the horse he took care of at Chelmsford was the odds-on Astro King, who was shaping up to be at least a 100-horse himself for Sir Michael Stoute.
The ten-furlong handicap that kicks off Sunday, at 12.45, is a three-year-old race that, in theory, should be brimming with improvers, but there’s nothing in there quite like Tenbury Wells, who’s partnered by Rab Havlin, as he has been in all of his races so far.
WASTE NOT, WANT NOT
The super-shrewd William Haggas is not one to waste a handicap mark, which immediately circles a highlighter pen around Kinsman in the 4.15, because, off a mark of 78, he could have contested any 0-80, of which there are plenty, and yet Haggas is happy to put it to work in a 0-90 at Ascot no less, for Kinsman’s comeback.
As a two-year-old, Kinsman got the job done at Wolverhampton, at odds-on, and the reason he was odds-on was because he might well have made a winning debut with a clear run through at Yarmouth, all in all a positive platform for this coming-of-age season.
And, in terms of potential, the sky’s the limit when your dam is dual Group 1 winner Peeress.