herald

Wednesday 19 December 2018

Queally gets an earful after puzzling ride on favourite as Ascot opens with a bang

ROYAL ASCOT's opening day is undoubtedly the best of the week, and yesterday was set to be one of the best of all time.

The stage was set for Frankel to wow us with his power, speed, ability and sheer class. We were all ready to tip our virtual top hats to him.

Going into this meeting, even this season, Frankel has been the talking horse, the one that everyone wants to see and the one with an unbeaten record that Henry Cecil is attempting to maintain.

The Derby was bypassed due to his scintillating display of speed in the 2000 Guineas and although it was revealed he wouldn't be ridden a similar way, he was a worthy long odds-on favourite for yesterday's St James's Palace Stakes.

UNBLEMISHED

This morning, Frankel's unbeaten record remains unblemished, and really that's all that matters, but the video of the race is probably not one that Waterford's Tom Queally is likely to look back on with much fondness.

In the 2000 Guineas, Frankel had Rerouted as a pacemaker but he failed to provide that service on that occasion. Yesterday, the same horse was employed and this time the tactics were deployed perfectly.

Judging by what was said beforehand, and by Cecil rolling the eyes up to heaven in reaction afterwards, what Queally did on the favourite wasn't exactly what had been discussed.

Queally went in search of the pacemaker sooner than would have been envisaged and although he was clear with two furlongs to run, Frankel didn't remain in domination and ended up only holding Zoffany by three-parts of a length.

Why Queally went after the horse so soon seems puzzling, and if he had been beaten, we would have been a long time discussing it. As it is, however, Frankel remains unbeaten and maybe Queally is even getting hard done by.

He said: “He wasn't getting tired.”

And Cecil echoed those words. “The plan was to go before the bend,” the trainer revealed.

“He wasn't tired at all, he just thought he'd done enough. Tom said he was getting really idle which is good in a way as it means we can ride a normal race on him.”

The ride may be somewhat puzzling, but nevertheless the result stays the same and we are set for a few more very exciting days with Frankel involved.

As of future plans, Cecil said: “He'll be entered in the Sussex Stakes and he'll be entered in the Juddmonte International.

“The question with the Juddmonte is whether he will stay. It's the Prince's race, he has never won it, but we'll see. I think he'll stay further but I'm not certain.”

The Sussex Stakes would set up a mouth-watering clash between the two best milers around at the moment, Frankel and yesterday's Queen Anne Stakes winner Canford Cliffs.

For the third year in a row, Canford Cliffs was trained to victory by Richard Hannon and ridden by his son-in-law, Richard Hughes, to win on the opening day of Royal Ascot, which in itself is quite a feat.

Yesterday he had to fend off super mare Goldikova, who suffered a rare defeat in second when finishing a length back under a two-poundsoverweight Olivier Peslier.

The French-trained three-time Breeders’ Cup winner lost little in defeat having been backed into favouritism for what was a cracking opening race to the week, but Canford Cliffs showed just why Hughes continually claims he is the best horse he will ever sit on.

The four-year-old will be retired to Coolmore at the end of the season and while Hannon wouldn't mind stepping up to 10 furlongs, the Sussex Stakes and the prospect of that match with Frankel is more likely.

“It will probably be the Sussex next,” said Hannon. “I left him in the Eclipse this morning – it cost 1,600 quid – that's quite expensive! I wouldn't mind giving him a chance at a mile and a quarter.

“Coolmore own half of him so we will have to see what they want to do. Whether they will let him go for it I don't know.”

Coolmore had quite a bit to celebrate on the opening day, and ahead of Fame And Glory's assault on the Gold Cup tomorrow, as Power ran out an impressive victor of the Coventry Stakes, surviving a stewards enquiry in the process.

SHOT

Unbeaten in two starts before yesterday, Power was sent off a 4/1 shot and the colt by Oasis Dream made it a hat-trick by holding Roman Soldier by a neck.

That win saw him jump to the very premature betting for next year's 2000 Guineas at Newmarket and trainer Aidan O'Brien was naturally delighted with the win.

“He's a big, powerful, strong horse and he has the physique of a threeyear- old already, whereas most juveniles have to develop into that physique,” O'Brien said.

“I spoke to Ryan on the way in and asked him would he stay further and he said ‘no problem’. He could go back to the Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh. Looking at him, you'd think he'd get further.”

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