Royal Ascot Eyecatchers: Matt Brocklebank's Horses to Follow
By Matt Brocklebank
Last Updated: 24/06/19 4:08pm
Matt Brocklebank picks out 10 eyecatchers from Royal Ascot who should be worth following for the remainder of the season.
Royal Lytham - 7th in Coventry Stakes
Market leaders Arizona and Threat dominated the finish to the Coventry Stakes, with third-favourite Guildsman also living up to expectations, but they might not be the only top-class colts to emerge from the race.
The winner's two stablemates Fort Myers and Royal Lytham are obvious candidates on pedigree and it's the latter whose effort can probably be a marked up.
He was a big price when winning narrowly on debut over the extended five furlongs at Navan but showed a good attitude to squeeze between rivals that day and he stayed on in good style late in the piece at Ascot.
That despite having his run slightly checked by Fort Myers with half a furlong to go, while the pair of them were also making their challenge away from the main action which was unfolding in the middle to far side.
King Of Comedy - 2nd in St James's Palace Stakes
John Gosden almost pulled off the Heron Stakes-St James's Palace double for the second year running after King Of Comedy narrowly failed to follow up his Sandown success in Tuesday's Group One.
The son of Kingman still looked a work in progress at Sandown and would arguably have got to Circus Maximus at Ascot had he not hung left under pressure when mounting his bid from the rear.
He started out near the back under Adam Kirby having been tight for room straight after leaving the stalls and a slightly more prominent pitch would have served him well in the circumstances.
He has a Sussex Stakes entry and, given the rate of his progress this year, looks the obvious one from this particular bunch to really put it up to his elders at Glorious Goodwood. It's hardly a strong miling division at the moment.
Al Raya - 5th in Queen Mary Stakes
Al Raya looks expensive having raced twice now without a win since her £450,000 breeze-up purchase at Goffs in the spring but she's not done a great deal wrong and will pick up races.
Sent off 15/8 favourite first time out at Nottingham, she went down by a neck to Flaming Princess but she reversed the form with Richard Fahey's filly in Wednesday's Queen Mary despite being held up in a race dominated by the leaders.
The burly daughter of Siyouni looks likely to appreciate the step up to six furlongs before long while her ability to handle an ease as well as good ground will stand her in good steady for the rest of the year.
Vale Of Kent - 7th in Royal Hunt Cup
Stylehunter will go into a few notebooks after flying home for fourth in the Hunt Cup and he's likely to return to 10 furlongs going forward, with the John Smith's Diamond Jubilee Cup at York a possible target.
But Vale Of Kent is the one I want to take from the Royal Ascot race after he was beaten just three lengths on his first run of the year.
Unraced as a two-year-old, the Kodiac gelding ran 18 times at three, winning on six occasions and rising to a mark of 101 towards the back end.
He'd eased slightly to a mark of 99 and looks capable of winning more big handicaps for Mark Johnston this term based on this belated comeback.
He stumbled on leaving the stalls but recovered well and stuck to his task admirably to finish fifth of 14 in the stands' side group.
Vale Of Kent ran twice during Glorious Goodwood last August and looks destined for a return to the Sussex Downs where the major mile handicap might be on his agenda this time, though the Bunbury Cup at Newmarket may be taken in first.
Symbolize - 4th in Windsor Castle Stakes
It wouldn't be a great surprise if Symbolize became the best horse to emerge from this year's Windsor Castle.
The chestnut took a strong grip under David Probert but picked up really well approaching the final furlong and looked booked for a place at least.
However, he just edged left under strong pressure late on and was passed by the three horses to race closest to the stands' side rail.
It was his first try on soft ground and a really good effort from the inexperienced Starspangledbanner colt, who had looked blessed with tons of natural speed when scoring on good to firm at Salisbury in the middle of May.
Ventura Rebel - 2nd in Norfolk Stakes
Ventura Rebel flew home for second in the Norfolk and is a horse to monitor closely for the remainder of the season.
Sporting new silks having been snapped up by Abdullah Menahi following his one-length defeat of Lady Pauline on trials day at Ascot at the beginning of May, the son of Pastoral Pursuits got plenty of cover and travelled sweetly for Paul Hanagan.
He tracked the winner A'Ali but lugged into favourite Sunday Sovereign as he went by him which didn't do Hanagan many favours, but there was loads to like about the colt's finishing kick.
He's got speed to burn but will presumably be tried over six furlongs before long and could clash with the likes of Coventry second Threat in the July Stakes at Newmarket next month.
Getchagetchagetcha - 8th in Hampton Court Stakes
The Hampton Court was a messy old race and while there's no real case for arguing Sangarius was a fortunate winner, plenty of winners could emerge from in behind.
It was an ambitious move to run Getchagetchagetcha after his minor race victory over Arthur Kitt at Leicester (1m4f) but he performed well at 40/1, his effort clearly able to be marked up after he got no run in the straight.
He was also inconvenienced right from the outset when Roseman nudged into him, meaning Adam Kirby had to sit and suffer down on the inside, but he still had enough in the tank to pass the likes of Cape Of Good Hope close home.
The son of Champs Elysees will enjoy stepping back up to a mile and a half and can be found easier opportunities than this, with the handicap route not yet fully exhausted.
Awe - 4th in Britannia Handicap
With all the attention firmly focused on the gripping battle between Turgenev and eventual Britannia winner Biometric, no doubt the fantastic run of Awe slipped through the net.
This is a super-looking horse by Bated Breath and one with whom trainer William Haggas is going to have a huge amount of fun.
Looking to back up his July Course win over seven furlongs at Newmarket just 12 days earlier, he could hardly have done much more without actually winning, emerging in front from the slightly smaller group that raced middle to far side.
The first three were drawn 29, 22 and 18 so Awe - who broke from stall five under Kerrin McEvoy - has clearly performed with credit and there's no doubt he got the mile trip well.
If anything, he lacked a change of gear when it really mattered but it was a fantastic performance in the circumstances and it'll be really disappointing if he's unable to add to his tally before going on to rate a good deal higher in future.
Fujaira Prince - 3rd in Duke of Edinburgh Stakes
The open-age handicaps at Royal Ascot this year were won by horses rated 100, 103, 104 and 107, showing just how difficult it is for lightly-raced, late developers to make an impact in such races.
Two of the winners really stand out as Group horses in the making and they're Wokingham hero Cape Byron and Baghdad, who followed up last year's success in the King George V with victory in the Duke Of Edinburgh.
He's bound for pattern company now with the Princess of Wales's Stakes next month among his entries at the July Festival, while the only handicap we're realistically going to see him contest this term would be the Sky Bet Ebor at York.
He's got to be at least on the radar for the £1million Ebor, but so is Fujaira Prince, who was having only his sixth career start last week.
Runner-up in the 'win and you're in' Sky Bet Race To The Ebor Jorvik Handicap on the Knavesmire on May 15, the big one is seemingly a potential long-term target for trainer Roger Varian and the horse keeps hinting quite strongly that a mile and three-quarters will help eke out further improvement.
He did so again here with a staying-on third ahead of two horses that were just behind him last time at York and slightly better off at the weights.
The handicapper will nudge him up a little (rated 99 going into Ascot) but Fujaira Prince may need to climb even higher to make the cut for York in August and it'll be fascinating to see where he pitches up next.
Vanburgh - 10th in Wokingham Stakes
David O'Meara-trained duo Summerghand and Perfection both finished with purpose in the Wokingham and look capable of playing major roles in big sprint handicaps later in the season, but Vanburgh is the one who is surely ran much better than the bare form.
He finished up 10th, beaten four and a half lengths, but the turn of foot he showed when asked to quicken by James McDonald two furlongs out was that of a quality operator.
He stylishly shot clear of the small bunch on the far side but the move took it out of him as he weakened close home.
He's only had three starts for Charlie Hills since switching from Andre Fabre, winning at Thirsk and finishing fifth to Safe Voyage at Haydock last month, and could still be open to improvement at six and seven furlongs.
Handicaps will be tough (108) but the four-year-old has a touch of class and perhaps something like the Ayr Gold Cup might come into the reckoning towards the end of the season.