Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Fine Estimate but Altano is best guess

The Queen, Prince Philip, trainer Sir Michael Stoute and jockey Ryan Moore after Estimate's victory last year at Royal Ascot

She may own the stage, but thoroughbreds are too addicted to improvisation to permit even the Monarch to write the scripts.

So while the Royal colours are carried on Ladies' Day by the Gold Cup favourite Estimate, those punters driven by profit – rather than patriotism – should perhaps pledge allegiance to one of the foreign invaders instead.

The Irish, for instance, send over a couple of outstanding past winners at this meeting.

While the going may prove too lively for the fragile Rite Of Passage, Simenon looked right back to his best at Chester and won twice in five days round here last year.

Then there is Last Train, arguably pick of a strong French challenge, an improving young stayer with few miles on the clock since forcing a photo for the Grand Prix de Paris last summer – nowadays the nearest equivalent to a French Derby.

At 20-1, however, the claims of Altano (3.45) have been unduly neglected, as is so often the case when German horses venture abroad.

Stamina, after all, is the bedrock of their pedigrees, and Altano combines a doughty maternal bloodline with the class of Galileo. And while he has reached the age of seven without sampling Group One company, nor has he ever undertaken so thorough a test of his staying power.

Certainly he was never stronger than at the finish in his warm-up, and the extra half mile entitles him to the improvement very much anticipated, in Estimate, by their relative odds.

The Germans' first Derby runner, Chopin, returns for the Tercentenary Stakes after flattening out into seventh in a sprint finish at Epsom.

But Indian Chief (5.0) shaped well when third in what has proved a stronger Dante Stakes than seemed likely at the time.

The Lark sets the standard in the Ribblesdale Stakes after her fine third in the Oaks, but patient tactics paid off in a race run at a reckless gallop that day and conditions will place more emphasis on speed this time.

While Alive Alive Oh (3.05) has hitherto raced on an easier surface, she has shown loads of pace and careered six lengths clear off a modest gallop in a listed race last time. Her pedigree promises better again at this longer trip and she is preceded by a good deal of confidence.

The Norfolk Stakes inevitably brings together too many improvers to warrant confidence.

It does seem significant, however, that Jamie Spencer has rejected Green Door for Wind Fire (2.30) whose Sandown form has been lavishly advertised.

Some rapid improvers also convene for the Britannia Handicap, none more tempting than Wentworth. But Fehaydi (4.25) offers better value at 25-1.

The Queen will have high hopes of Sea Shanty, and is also represented by another leading fancy in the other handicap.

Like the thriving Royal Skies, however, Bold Sniper has a difficult draw and Excellent Result (5.35), today's nap, finally retrieved his debut promise with a runaway success at Sandown last time.

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