When the best all turn up, you’re in for a treat and that’s what happened yesterday afternoon at Ascot. There weren’t many of Europe’s best thoroughbreds that gave Ascot a miss through their own choice. The result was the best afternoon of flat racing this summer has delivered, every race had plenty of stories. There were come back kings, horses with nothing left, farewell’s to some top sprinters and some jaw dropping winners flying past the grandstand. The weather obviously helped, but the card was the star of the show and it seems finally that the sceptical ones at the start have been won over once and for all. I can see where the calls for it to be moved backwards a couple of weeks come from, but it simply doesn’t fit in with the Arc and ultimately only effects one race truly. The fact that Almanzor’s team chose Ascot over the Arc says a lot.
3 10 MINDING (A O’Brien) 7/4, Group 1, 1M, Good
In what was a up and down day for AOB – let that sink in considering a G1 winner and runner up on the day – Minding put a huge dent in the supposed class 3YO mile division, winning the QEII. Ballydoyle’s superstar sliced through the final furlong to win cosily from the plucky Ribchester. The battle’s between The Gurkha, Galileo Gold and Ribchester all summer suddenly have lost some of their gloss. Galileo Gold was a non-factor and his season has really died out on a dull note after the start Hugo Palmer’s star had. But, take nothing away from Minding – she is a star and deserves the G1s she has achieved this season. Bar the one blip at the Curragh on bottomless ground she has been remarkable. Yes some wins were achieved by scaring off any real competition, next year could see her take that next step up to the real elite company all season long. The Arc seems an obvious choice with a mouthwatering clash against the mighty Almanzor. What a race and what a horse.
3 45 ALMANZOR (JC Rouget) 11/8, Group 1, 1M2F, Good
The champ of the day has to go to the French raider who has rightfully confirmed himself as the top horse in Europe. The decision to swerve the Arc does look quite strange, although his freshness really showed through yesterday, with his electric turn of foot too much for the brave Found. Then again, it is easy to forget that Almanzor is only three and can base a campaign on the Arc through 2017. He has proven adaptable in tactics, versatile on ground, run over a variety of trips and it will take a special, special horse to run him close on the track next season.