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Royal Ascot Ultimate Guide - 2019-06-06

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War Front has huge claims in Chesham with Peace and Silent

PEDIGREE ANALYSIS

Martin Stevens

Get on a War footing in the Chesham Stakes One of the most intriguing races at Royal Ascot from a pedigree perspective is the Chesham Stakes due to its idiosyncratic conditions. The seven-furlong contest for juveniles is open only to horses by sires who won over ten furlongs or further until last year but was extended to those out of dams who scored over the same distance for 2019. With the race presenting a unique challenge that demands early staying power, class and precocity from its competitors, there are certain sires whose progeny it pays to look out for. The best record in the race during the past decade belongs to the best sire in Europe: Derby winner Galileo. From seven runners he has fielded two winners – Churchill and Maybe – and a runner-up in Ballydoyle, who was beaten just a short head. It is worth noting the Galileo two-year-olds will just be making it on to racecourses come Ascot in June, and if any do make it to the Chesham their relative inexperience should not be feared; indeed, if they are trained by Aidan O’brien we might even infer they are only in the race because they are known to be talented. The stable’s Churchill had finished third on his sole start before winning the race, while Ballydoyle had just a fourth to her name. At the time of writing, only one Galileo juvenile had been unleashed in Britain or Ireland, and that was Toronto, an O’brien-trained halfbrother to three-time Royal Ascot winner Canford Cliffs. He finished a running-on fifth under a considerate ride over seven furlongs at Leopardstown and even on the back of that effort he would be of interest if he turned up at Royal Ascot with his connections and family taken into account. Other sires with strong previous form in the Chesham in the past ten years include Raven’s Pass (a winner, third and fifth from three runners), New Approach (a winner and a third from four runners) and Shamardal (a runner-up, two thirds and a fifth from five runners). Any entrants by those names this year would be worth a second look. With the rule change allowing the participation of offspring of speedier sires and staying mares coming into force this year, though, we might need to adapt our approach to the race. One such stallion who was a sprinter in his racing career but has covered some of the very best middle-distance mares of recent times, and whose progeny could now appear in the Chesham and should be respected if they do, is War Front. The Kentucky sire already has a respectable record in Royal Ascot two-year-old events, with Brave Anna taking the Albany Stakes and War Command scoring in the Coventry Stakes, and he has got off to a flying start with his early juvenile runners in the 2019 Flat season with half a dozen winners racked up by the end of May. Of those who would be eligible to run in the Chesham, the standouts might be the Ger Lyons-trained Group 3 runner-up Peace Charter, out of four-time Grade 1 winner Emollient, and Godolphin’s easy Goodwood winner Silent Wave, out of the high-class Secret Gesture. A few Ballydoyle War Fronts who have reached the frame would be of interest if they made it to the Chesham, such as New World Tapestry (out of Yorkshire Oaks winner Tapestry) and Masteroffoxhounds (out of Listed victress Outstanding). Starspangledbanner can earn his stripes Few stallions have a finer Royal Ascot heritage than Starspangledbanner. He is by Choisir, who took the 2003 meeting by storm when winning both the King’s Stand and Golden Jubilee Stakes; he won the Golden Jubilee Stakes himself in 2010; and as a sire his small first crop of two-year-olds yielded Coventry Stakes winner The Wow Signal and Queen Mary scorer Anthem Alexander in 2014. Starspangledbanner has not had many runners in Europe since then due to his subfertility and then a bout of colic, but he has a larger crop of juveniles again this year after a remarkable recovery in his reproductive powers. He had posted five two-year-old winners up to the end of May and one in particular who would have strong appeal if she turned up in the Queen Mary or Albany Stakes is Chasing Dreams, a 750,000gns yearling purchase trained by Charlie Appleby for Godolphin. She eased to a five-length success in a Newmarket maiden on her sole start and the form has been franked in no uncertain terms with the runner-up that day, Good Vibes, winning the Marygate Stakes and the third home going on to break her duck by five lengths. Look out for Zoffany’s better-bred juveniles Another sire who might be worth following in the two-year-old heats at Royal Ascot this year is Zoffany, who gave Frankel one of the biggest scares of his unbeaten racing career at this meeting when hot on his heels in the St James’s Palace Stakes. The Coolmore resident was represented by three winners at Ascot in his freshman season – Illuminate, Washington DC and Waterloo Bridge – and added another to his tally last year when Main Edition took the Albany Stakes. What makes his juvenile runners this season of specific interest is that they were conceived in the afterglow of those excellent results as a first-season sire, when his covering fee was increased from €12,500 to €45,000. That means, in theory at least, they should be of better quality as they will be out of classier mares and/or more accomplished producers. It might also result in them being rather less precocious, as he will have risen to a price band that made him an option for owners of later-maturing Classic types of mares. Zoffany does have a number of two-year-old winners on the board already in 2019, though, and none have looked more promising than the Jessica Harrington-trained filly Albigna. She thrusted to a head victory on her debut at the Curragh in May, the winning margin not quite doing her justice. She had shown a little greenness in the race and had raced in an unfavourable midfield position, but she showed lots of courage to challenge late between rivals and defeat two fancied runners from Ballydoyle in the process. Albigna is a half-sister to speedy types No Lippy and Polybius but looks to have inherited a fair amount of stamina from her dam Freedonia, a Group 2 winner over 12 and a half furlongs. Connections may wish to take a more patient approach but if she appeared in the Albany Stakes she could be a future star in the line-up.

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