Ben Linfoot unpicks the results of Saturday's feature action as Adayar stars, Mohaafeth flatters to deceive and Silvestre de Sousa has a bad day at the office.
With the summer holidays here thousands of vacation-hungry Brits will have a daily eye on the traffic light system for international travel in the hope of hopping abroad.
We might have enjoyed a mini heatwave over the past week but on the back of that thunderstorms look inevitable, though sadly not at Ascot in time for Wonderful Tonight who was pulled out of the King George on account of the fast ground.
Still, we had a compelling contest, won in brilliant style by the Cazoo Derby hero Adayar, who heads our tenuous Saturday traffic-light system analysis; GREEN means good, very good, AMBER says we’re on the fence and RED is a bad day at the office.
It was so good to see the Derby winner, ADAYAR, beast his way to King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes glory for the Classic generation at Ascot on Saturday.
The first Epsom colt to win this historic contest since Galileo 20 years ago, he was only the fourth Derby winner to have contested Ascot’s midsummer highlight in that timeframe and he succeeded where Kris Kin, Workforce and Anthony Van Dyck failed.
There were a few worrying moments early on – he ran keenly down the hill as Broome drifted across him to set the gallop on the front end – but if any energy was wasted in those early furlongs it didn’t show where it mattered.
He powered his way to the front when the bell rang on the turn for home and when Mishriff, the final challenger, loomed up on his outside, he found plenty as he galloped on relentlessly for a one-and-three-quarter-length victory.
The Frankel colt is part of wider themes in 2021 – his stallion taking all before him at the top level as he firmly grasps the mantle from his own sire, the recently-deceased Galileo, and in turn Godolphin and Charlie Appleby dominating the three-year-old middle-distance division that has been Aidan O’Brien and Coolmore’s for so long.
There is more work to be done on that score. The St Leger, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and the QIPCO British Champion Stakes could all be divided up by the talent at Moulton Paddocks and Adayar could conceivably run in any of those races, with preference seemingly for Paris judging by Appleby’s immediate reaction.
Unfortunately the trainer missed his colt’s big day due to being pinged by the NHS app. He will have been delighted to see Adayar perform his own version of self isolation, though, and such was the force of nature on display it could well be that the best is yet to come.
William Buick’s King George success on Adayar completed a treble for the championship-chasing rider and the middle leg came upon DANYAH in the Moet & Chandon International Stakes.
While plenty of eyes were on Bunbury Cup winner, Motakhayyel, a horse who was 6lb well-in off a mark of 112, it was his pink-capped owner-mate that landed the prize towards the far side under Buick who pushed his mount home by a short head.
This was the sixth time this season a horse rated 104 or higher had won a handicap and to do so from a single-figure draw highlights just how good an effort this was.
In the previous 15 renewals of this race, since the relaying of the track in 2006, only three winners had come from stalls one to eight and in recent years those drawn in single figures have even struggled to place.
The second, third and fourth home today were drawn in 15, 17 and 21 respectively, so Danyah, breaking from four, put up a mighty effort to win off a rating of 106 and, for now, his handicapping days could be behind him.
The Sky Bet York Stakes is becoming a tough playground for three-year-olds and MOHAAFETH became the 10th member of the Classic generation to come unstuck in this contest since Best Alibi won at 2/5 back in 2006.
Sent off the 4/5 favourite on the Knavesmire, he joins Eagle Mountain (6/5), Campanologist (5/2), Tajaaweed (9/4), Dominant (2/1) and Elarqam (5/4) as well-fancied three-year-olds that couldn’t justify their market positions in this race.
BANGKOK is actually another member of that list – and he won today’s renewal as a five-year-old at odds of 14/1 – but it’s the third home Mohaafeth who remains a horse of great interest with the second half of the season in mind.
His pacemaker Montatham did a poor job if he was meant to set a good gallop, and making up the ground from the rear off a steady pace proved beyond Jim Crowley’s mount as the better-positioned Bangkok and Juan Elcano fought out the finish.
The overriding feeling is that Mohaafeth remains a three-year-old of enormous ability, and while connections look like they will stick with him at 10 furlongs for now it would be no surprise if Haggas goes through with his idea of dropping back in trip to a mile before the season’s out.
Clearly not short of pace, the faster tempo of top-class mile races could really suit the son of Frankel and he’ll have no shortage of options on that score later in the season, with the international calendar likely to be called upon given his preference for top of the ground.
It’s 45 consecutive losers and counting for Silvestre De Sousa at Ascot who won’t be sorry to see the back of King George day after another barren afternoon, all while his paymasters were enjoying more big-race success without him courtesy of Bangkok up at York.
The one that got away was FANTASTIC FOX in the Porsche Handicap, the withdrawal of Isla Kai because of the fast ground an unfortunate factor in this race given he was the only pace angle on paper.
Hollie Doyle sniffed an opportunity and set steady fractions up front aboard Marsabit and she would’ve nicked it but for Oisin Murphy and Guru, the champion alive to the situation as he got after his mount at the right moment to time his winning run to perfection.
Fantastic Fox was held up as they raced in single file, De Sousa sitting off the pace in fifth as he concentrated on settling a horse who was way too keen when they last teamed up in the Golden Gates Handicap at Royal Ascot.
Perhaps that was on his mind a little too much, as by the time he went for home he’d conceded first run to the front two and never looked like getting there despite travelling like the best horse in the race.
A close-up third behind Snow Lantern and Derab in maiden company earlier in the season, there’s no doubting Fantastic Fox looks well treated off a mark in the mid-90s, and De Sousa will be hoping he gets the opportunity to make amends if this horse encounters a proper gallop in the future.