Monday 17 June 2013

4:25 Royal Ascot (18th June) Coventry Stakes (Group 2)

Sixteen two-year-olds take part in this prestigious race which has been a source of future Classic winners. All horses have run bar one debutante. 

The majority of the field, including a number of winners, have a stiff task and the leading lights will be considered. 

Aidan O'Brien has a fine record in this race and fields three exciting juveniles: Stubbs, Sir John Hawkins & War Command. Joseph O'Brien rides the tissue favourite who won a Listed race at Naas, his third start. Being no expert on Irish racing, my analysis will detail the home contenders.

Thunder Strike has progressed with racing and one of three runners for Richard Hannon. This chestnut son of Sakhee's Secret was a great yearling purchase for £40,000 [an acquisition of Peter & Ross Doyle]. His latest victory in the Woodcote Stakes Listed race was particularly noteworthy. This February foal travelled with supreme ease against a number of talented juveniles and then kicked on when many of the leaders floundered. There was a lot to like about that performance and one of the proven form horses. 

In the same contest, Riverboat Springs ran a remarkable race. Not enjoying the Epsom Downs or pace at the head of the field, this son of Bushranger finished with such verve that taking second place looked next to an impossibility. Mick Channon's charge showed a similar style on debut beating a fair horse  in Money Team. A recent purchase by Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, connections will be hoping that finishing dash comes to the fore. There is little doubt this bay colt has ability and may well be a class act. However, I still have slight concerns he was flattered at Epsom. I can see him being outpaced in the first few furlongs and bigger odds could well be available in running.

Championship is held in high regard by the stable and owned by Mrs Julie Wood who has the Midas touch. His ready victory at Newbury was eye catching and a number of horses in behind have received lofty entries for Royal Ascot. The difficultly in trying to assess such horses is that we have to delve into the realms of hyperbole rather than outstanding form. The betting is probably the best guide and it could well be telling if he starts as the Hannon number one. 

Wahaab was sent off a short priced favourite at Goodwood but that was a pretty ordinary race and he will need to have learned a lot from that initial start. Plenty of raw ability but a horse I would rather watch.

Others who need to improve include Parbold, Mawfoor & Lanark

Conclusion: Generally this race goes to a fancied horse and quite often a true talent. The Irish raiders deserve respect and their leading light will go well. Thunder Strike has set a good standard of form and in many ways a tough nut to crack. It is - in some respects - a negative that Frankie Dettori takes the ride which suggests Richard Hughes fancies the chances of Championship. It could be the case there isn't a great deal between their entrants but it would be wise to consider Julie Wood's youngster is the pick of the bunch.