5 Big Guns From Royal Ascot That Could Land Major Prizes This Season

Gavin Beech reflects on Royal Ascot 2021 and picks out his ones to watch on the back of the festival.

5 Big Guns From Royal Ascot That Could Land Major Prizes This Season

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Stowell

John Gosden’s 2017 St Leger winner, Stradivarius, won the Queen’s Vase en route to Doncaster and although Stowell couldn’t follow suit, he might well have done had the race panned out slightly differently.

Held up off what had been, for the most part, a steady gallop in the 1m6f contest, Stowell still had most of his rivals in front of him as the field turned for home but he stayed on strongly down the outside of the field to finish a hugely respectable third in the circumstances.

Just to give the performance some context, Stowell was the least experienced horse going into that contest having had just two previous starts, yet was able to pass most of his rivals in the home straight.

Stowell will need to progress from this if he’s to be a genuine Leger contender but he clearly has that potential to, especially back on an easier surface, and it is a little surprising to see him as big as 40/1 for the final Classic of the season.

Mohaafeth

William Haggas made the brave call to withdraw Mohaafeth from the Cazoo Derby at the eleventh hour because of ground conditions but the colt’s dominant display in the Hampton Court Stakes went some way to vindicating that decision.

Class wise, the Hampton Court is a fair way off the Epsom showpiece being a Group 3 contest, but Mohaafeth is working his way through the grades in quite stylish fashion and it is becoming increasingly likely that we are looking at a colt capable of making a big impact at the top level.

A strongly run contest over ten furlongs looks just about Mohaafeth’s optimum trip right now and even though he swept to the front plenty soon enough at Ascot, he saw his race out well and was clearly a class apart from those rivals.

The likelihood of smaller fields at the top level won’t bother him and although the weather might still have a hand in any plans that connections make, this colt looks to have earned a crack at a race like the Coral Eclipse Stakes at Sandown. If he goes well in that, then the Juddmonte International at York would appear to be an obvious next target.



Snow Lantern

Those who forgave Snow Lantern for her bitterly disappointing display at York were very nearly rewarded in spades in the Coronation Stakes but she just had too much ground to make up having been held up towards the back by Sean Levey.

I have no doubts that this regally-bred filly can win at the top level but there are a couple of issues with her right now. On both starts since her Newbury win on seasonal return, she has proved a handful for her rider in the early stages, refusing to settle.

The issue of her not settling is being compounded by the fact that she is being ridden from off the pace. If she was settling in her races this wouldn’t be a problem, but she is being asked to pass horses in the second half of the race that have raced more economically, which is making life extremely difficult.

However, her staying-on effort in the Coronation was signal, if it were needed, that she is a filly of immense potential, potential that will be realised the day she consents to settle.

She would no doubt get ten furlongs in time but there seems little point her bring tried over the longer trip while she isn’t racing economically. She simply won’t get home over the longer trip.

Providing the ground isn’t on the quick side, we can probably expect to see her in the Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket’s wonderful July meeting.

Point Lonsdale

We saw some good 2-year-old performances over the course of the week but I would be surprised should Point Lonsdale not turn out to be the best of them.

Surprisingly, he raced less professionally at Ascot than he did at the Curragh on debut but we can forgive him that given the ground was pretty testing by off-time in the Chesham Stakes on Saturday and it would have been the first time that he had seen a crowd.

There is no doubt that Point Lonsdale, who is a full brother to this week's Hardwicke runner-up Broome, will come into his own when tackling 1m+ as a 3-year-old so it speaks volume about the level of his ability that he is winning competitive races as a juvenile.

There won’t be many, if any, above him in the 2-year-old pecking order at Ballydoyle and Point Lonsdale looks sure in the hunt for the big autumn prizes like the Dewhurst or Vertem Futurity Trophy before heading into the winter as a major contender for next year’s Classics.

Wonderful Tonight

2021 could be a big year for fillies. Snowfall looks a potential star, especially on slow ground, Love looks almost nailed on for a big season and we have still to see arguably the best filly in Europe last year, Tarnawa.

But there is another top-class filly on the block after Wonderful Tonight saw off the boys in the Hardwicke Stakes.

David Menuisier's improving filly took some notable scalps in Saturday's Group 2 contest, which she settled with a smart turn of foot between just under two-furlongs out, despite racing with the choke out early on.

Winner of last season's Fillies & Mares Stakes on Champions Day, Wonderful Tonight's biggest two performances have both come over 1m4f at Ascot and on soft ground, indeed all five of her career wins have some on soft or heavy ground.

Can she replicate that level of form, or even better it, at a different venue, or on better ground? That is something that she needs to go and prove but it is hard not to be taken by the way she burst clear in the Hardwicke, especially as her trainer had been telling everyone beforehand that she was only 80/85 per cent ready for her first assignment of the season.

Connections will surely be looking to retain her Champions Day crown but if it looked as though conditions were going to be on the easy side at Longchamp, the carrot of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe would surely be a tempting one.


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