Richard Fahey takes us through his team for Royal Ascot next week with Sands Of Mali leading the raiding party.
SANDS OF MALI: When you go into a meeting like Royal Ascot with a horse it’s great when everything has gone well.
We’ve been able to train him the way I wanted. He’s had two runs this season. He wasn’t fully wound up in France but won there and the outing had the desired effect.
I don’t want to sound too cocky but I was a fraction disappointed he didn’t win easier at Haydock. We beat the second horse, Invincible Army, in the Gimcrack but he’s improved since then and my colt toughed it out.
You’d always like cover at Ascot, it’s a hard place to make all. That said the twice we’ve tried to drop him in, on debut at York and in the Middle Park, he disappointed so hopefully they’ll go quick in the Commonwealth Cup and he’ll get a good tow into the race.
But he’s not a horse I’d ever take back – we’ve done that twice and it hasn’t worked. It will just be a case of soft hands for Paul Hanagan and he’ll sit wherever it takes him – whether that be in front or with a lead.
I love this horse. I felt he wasn’t getting the appreciation he deserved. He was 16/1 for this before Haydock and Invincible Army was second favourite which shocked me.
We think he’s top drawer, he works like a Group One horse. He needs to prove that now and go on and do it on the big stage. The beauty with him, like Ribchester, is it doesn’t matter what the ground is, he’ll handle it, and I’m really looking forward to running him.
COSMIC LAW: Heading down to Epsom in the car I thought he had a chance in the Woodcote but wasn’t expecting him to win by six lengths.
It’s in the back of your mind whether the Epsom factor kicked in and can the form be trusted but he travelled well, picked up well, and PJ McDonald said the best part of his race was at the finish.
We’re going to the Coventry Stakes in good form, he’s quite a laid back horse and the last two races will have done him the world of good.
His improvement from his first run has been incredible and he could improve again – but needs to.
We're going to the Olympics here. I'd have loved to take him to the Chesham but he isn't qualified on the sire side. He's a horse we think will stay well.
VANGE: We like him. He ran well first time at Beverley but just got knocked over there.
In terms of his early career it might have been a good thing he didn’t get back up and win. He improved a lot from that to score on his next start at Chester.
He’s very different to Cosmic Law in that he’s a very active horse, we haven’t been able to get stuck into him.
We’ve done our final gallops for Ascot and he worked extremely nicely. This could be a very nice horse. You can't knock what he’s done so far.
KODYANNA: We trained her sister last year, Darkanna, and it’s strange how the dams can breed them the same.
Both fillies are very laid back, you don’t know how they’re going to run first time out. I was delighted with Kodyanna on debut at Nottingham – bearing in mind I think Darkanna had a Racing Post Rating of 45 after two runs.
Paul felt this one was quite nice and rode her accordingly in the Hilary Needler on Saturday, treating her as the best filly in the race and bringing her through horses. She got up close home. I’m sure she’ll improve again and she’ll go in either the Queen Mary or Albany.
RED BALOONS: She’s a filly that’s had two quick races. She was very unlucky at Musselburgh last time when she was knocked over twice and she’s naturally fast which I always think you need at Ascot.
Whether she’s an Ascot filly we won’t know until the day. We usually have a sort out 10 days before the meeting, really put the guns to their head and find out.
We didn’t get the opportunity with her so we’ll take it on trust she’s good enough. She's quick – but whether she's Ascot quick we'll see.
CHARMING KID: He had a bit of a dirty nose after winning on debut at York. It’s funny, he coughed twice going round the parade ring there and four days later it had surfaced.
We cleared that up and he had his Ascot gallop on Monday and we were delighted with him. He has natural speed and is very genuine.
NINETYTHREETWENTY: He’s a horse who stays well. He beat Cosmic Law first time in a race that has worked out well and then trotted up at Pontefract the next day.
He goes to the sales next week and whoever owns him I’m sure he’ll give a good account of himself at Ascot. He’ two from two and has done nothing wrong.
SABRE: I like this horse a lot, he’s a very speedy colt.
Things just didn’t go right in the National Stakes. I’m not saying we’d have beaten the winner that day but we were drawn next to a horse who I was worried about getting caught behind and I don’t think my colt knew what to do in front.
He was changing his legs, running green, and I’m very keen on him in the Windsor Castle. I’ve won that race with a worse horse than him.
GABRIAL: He definitely runs in the Hunt Cup. He ran well in the Diomed at Epsom and is actually four pounds well in here – he’s sneaked in under the handicapper’s radar as he’s now rated 107 but runs from 103!
To be at his very best he’d need the ground to slow down a bit but he loves these big handicaps. If they get some rain he won’t be at the back of the field come the finish.
MR LUPTON: He won well at York last time, it was a very good performance and he goes well there.
I’ve always had the Wokingham in mind for him and while his penalty will make things more difficult he’s in great order. It’s amazing what winning can do for these sprinters and he’s bouncing at the moment.
GROWL: He paid the price for a very successful season two years ago. He got up to 114 but is back on a working man’s mark now and has been trained for the Wokingham.
I was pleased with his Chester run and he’s arriving there in tip-top shape. You could argue slower ground sees him at his best but I’m quite sweet on him providing it’s not like concrete.
GEORGE BOWEN: He was very impressive at York two starts ago. People ask if I went mad with the jockey but I was just pleased to see him win again.
He had one or two problems but it looks like he’s over them as he backed it up with another solid run at Goodwood. You never know but If he’s in the same form he was at York this might not be beyond him.
REGULATOR: He’s been a slow burner for Cheveley Park. He was second on his only run this season and should creep into the Britannia at the bottom of the field. The step up to a mile will suit him.
CROWNTHORPE: He’s in the same race. He’s had a tough enough year and I think 10 furlongs is going to be his trip moving forward but you need to stay well in the Britannia and slower ground would help him. If it’s fast it would lessen his chance, if it came up soft I wouldn’t be surprised to see him outrun his odds.
NORTHWEST FRONTIER: It’s touch-and-go over whether he’ll get in the Ascot Stakes, the last two years he wouldn’t from his current mark. He’s progressing and his confidence is high, when horses win it does help. He’ll definitely stay the trip and if he does get in could go well.
Best chance of the week
I love Sands Of Mali but he’s in a Group One and SABRE is a horse I really like in the Windsor Castle.