It's been a good week for Ben Linfoot's Royal Ascot selections, and there's one more to go - get his thoughts on the Queen Alexandra.
Aidan O’Brien said Point Lonsdale had ‘all the right stuff’ after his five-and-a-half length victory on debut at the Curragh on June 2 and the son of Australia looks a likely short-priced favourite here. However, he’s worth taking on with Andrew Balding’s MASEKELA who was impressive himself when winning on debut at Goodwood on May 21. That was on soft ground so the deluge of rain looks of little concern to him and serious improvement can be expected from first to second start, as we saw with the same stable’s Berkshire Shadow earlier in the week.
An interesting Jersey Stakes and the rain changes everything with plenty unproven on testing ground. With that firmly in mind John & Thady Gosden’s superb week could continue with FUNDAMENTAL who was beaten two lengths by Saturday’s rival Bellosa at Newmarket in May. That was on Good to Firm ground, though, and Bellosa’s speed could well be blunted in the Jersey, while bringing Fundamental’s proven stamina into play. He’s a winner over a mile, has finished second on soft ground at Salisbury and his dam won the Falmouth on soft, too.
A huge field of 15 for the Hardwicke Stakes and although that is likely to shrink as the heavy ground non-runners come through David Menuisier’s WONDERFUL TONIGHT is unlikely to be one of those. The Le Havre filly won the Group One Prix de Royallieu at Longchamp in heavy ground last October and followed up at this track in fine style in the Fillies & Mares on Champions Day in soft conditions. She got better throughout last season and has to prove she can do it first time out, but with conditions very much turning in her favour her very obvious claims cannot be ignored.
Glen Shiel will be all the rage here given he won the British Champions Sprint in soft ground at this track last October, but he wasn’t at his best in conditions that should’ve suited at the Curragh last time out and he may struggle to reverse the form with SONAIYLA. Paddy Twomey’s mare loves a stiff six furlongs and she handles heavy ground well, too, while she followed up her Greenlands Stakes third (when ahead of Glen Shiel) with a win in the Ballyogan Stakes on June 2. She’s got improvement in her, too, as she was slowly away that day and a big field in testing conditions on a stiff track looks absolutely perfect for her.
King’s Lynn looks very well handicapped off a mark of 100 following his unlucky in-running seventh in the King’s Stand on Tuesday but this is a very different test following a four-day turnaround. He’ll make the market and is probably worth taking on with James Fanshawe’s FRESH the one to be on now the ground has turned. He loves Ascot having finished a nose second here to Stone Circle on soft ground last October before winning over the course and distance last time out when seeing off subsequent York winner Pendleton. He’s lightly raced and has more to offer off a strong gallop while his sire, Bated Breath, has won three Royal Ascot races with his progeny in recent years thanks to Biometric, Daahyeh and Space Traveller.
The market has got this right with Alfaadhel, King Frankel and SEASETT heading the betting and preference is for the latter after he sneaked in as first reserve. Richard Fahey’s rapid improver is a son of Wootton Bassett and he loves testing ground after running away with a Nottingham handicap on soft before finishing second in Haydock’s Silver Bowl on heavy. He bumped into a good one in Raadobarg there, a horse who ran well in eighth in the Britannia despite the rain not coming in time, but conditions have very much turned in Seasett’s favour. He’s related to stayers and the step up in trip is expected to unlock further improvement in him, so he could be tough to beat off his light weight.
They’re unlikely to go a crazy gallop in such testing conditions over this extended 2m5f trip which might give MORANDO a chance of getting home in front. He’s a classy operator in this company and won the Group 3 Cumberland Lodge at this track in soft ground by six lengths in October 2019. That was over a mile and a half, and while he ran well over two miles at this track in the Long Distance Cup this extreme distance is a complete unknown. Given his liking for the track and this ground, though, combined with his talents, it’s a risk I’m willing to take.