Check out the latest Timeform Eyecatcher of the Day and add them to your free My Stable tracker.
The opening staying handicap chase at Worcester might end up being a decent race for the grade as the progressive winner was chased home by a pair who look well handicapped. The runner-up, Master Sunrise, arrived on the back of a couple of wins in points, while the third home, Caviciana, had shaped with promise on her recent return over hurdles.
Caviciana, an eight-year-old mare, may be going chasing rather late in the day but she showed aptitude for the task and put in a largely fluently round. Her most notable error came when blundering at the last, which cost her any chance of second, but there was a lot to like about how she went through much of the race. She was relatively lightly raced over hurdles, particularly over staying trips, and looks up to defying this sort of mark over fences.
Naval Crown is yet to win above listed level, but it’s surely just a matter of time before that changes judged by the smart form he has shown on his last couple of starts, finishing fourth in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket before shaping better than the bare result when filling the runner-up spot in the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot on Saturday.
The Jersey was run at a strong gallop and Naval Crown was one of those who helped to force the pace, typically going with plenty of enthusiasm as he led the group against the near rail. He was still tanking along entering the final three furlongs but could never gain a decisive advantage, with stablemate Creative Force emerging from the chasing pack in the centre of the track – at least initially before hanging left – to throw down a strong challenge, hitting the front inside the final furlong and keeping going well to lead home a one-two for Charlie Appleby.
Creative Force was well on top at the finish and looks an up to scratch winner of this Group 3 prize, but there is little doubt he benefited from being ridden with restraint in a race which developed into a thorough test at the trip. For context, the time for the Jersey – run this year on soft going – was the slowest since the turn of the century.
Naval Crown passed the post just a length and a quarter behind the winner, which was no mean feat given how much energy he expended in the first part of the race. He has a likeable attitude and should continue to give a good account at this sort of level, with all conditions seemingly coming alike to him. He is just as effective over a mile as he is at seven furlongs and has now achieved a smart level of form on going varying from good to firm to soft.
The time for the Albany Stakes was the slowest in the race’s history, with the testing conditions and strong gallop putting the emphasis firmly on stamina at the trip. The winner Sandrine was well on top at the finish, passing the post with a length and a half to spare over Hello You, though she possibly benefited from racing in the second wave, tracking those who helped force the pace.
Hello You was one of those who raced in front rank from the outset, racing keenly with Lady Ayresome and Gypsy Island on either side. That pair dropped away entering the final furlong – hardly surprising given that they were sent off at 50/1 and 80/1 respectively – but Hello You continued to pile on the pressure in front, seeing off the favourite Flotus and then wandering over to her right where Sandrine was beginning to mount a challenge.
In the event, that rival simply proved too strong close home, but Hello You deserves plenty of credit for sticking to her task as well as she did under the circumstances, proving herself a useful filly on just her second start.
An impressive winner on her debut at Wolverhampton four weeks earlier, Hello You has certainly made a promising start to her career and is likely to progress further away from soft ground. She should continue to make an impact at this sort of level and a rematch with the winner in a race such as the Duchess of Cambridge Stakes at Newmarket’s July Festival would be no foregone conclusion.
Project Dante was only beaten a head and a nose in third in the Norfolk Stakes and he was arguably a bit unlucky not to win having been stopped in his run at a crucial point.
The patiently-ridden Project Dante was starting to make headway over a furlong out but found himself short of room and had to wait for a gap. He finished powerfully up the stand side rail when in the clear, however, and made good ground to get involved in the photo-finish.
Project Dante had to settle for third, but he enhanced his reputation in defeat and looks a two-year-old to follow. Connections will have plenty of options as the way Project Dante finished on this stiff course suggests that he will have no problem staying six furlongs.
The distance of the Queen’s Vase was reduced from two miles to a mile and three quarters back in 2017, so the race doesn’t provide the same test of stamina for three-year-olds that it once did. That change to the complexion of the race was even more pronounced in this year’s renewal, too, with the steady gallop putting the emphasis much more on speed than would often be the case.
The winner Kemari was always perfectly placed on the heels of the two leaders, while the runner-up Wordsworth, who also raced prominently, was doing his best work at the finish after being outpaced briefly on the home turn. However, the horse to take out of the race was arguably the third Stowell, who came from much further back than the pair who beat him.
Stowell was held up last of all by Frankie Dettori in the early stages and those tactics almost certainly put him at a big disadvantage given how the race developed. He still hadn’t been asked for his effort as the field turned into the straight and it was impossible not to be struck by how much ground he made up from there, staying on strongly down the outside to pass the post less than three lengths behind the winner. It’s also worth pointing out that he wasn’t given a hard time late on as it became clear he wasn’t going to challenge for the win.
This was just the third start of his career and his first beyond a mile and a half, so it will be no surprise if Stowell proves capable of taking his form up another notch when things work out more favourably for him. He is very much one to keep on the right side, with the Bahrain Trophy at Newmarket’s July Festival – a Group 3 his yard has won four times since 2011 – appealing as a suitable target in the coming weeks.
King’s Lynn proved himself a smart sprinter when winning a listed race at Haydock last month and he very much caught the eye on his first start in Group 1 company in the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot on Tuesday.
He was as big as 20/1 the evening before the race, but was supported into 8/1 at the off and didn’t look out of place up considerably in class. He was settled towards the rear by Oisin Murphy and was moving nicely into contention when suffering interference on the stands’ rail around a furlong out.
Battaash was sent into the lead over a furlong out but hung to his left under pressure, not helping other horses around him and an impeded Murphy had to take a pull on King’s Lynn when the pace was really starting to lift. He stayed on well enough to suggest he would have finished much closer with a clear run and remains a sprinter to be positive about.
Interestingly, King’s Lynn still holds an entry in the Wokingham Handicap on Saturday and, given he didn’t really have a hard race here, it is something for connections to consider. He would look well-in racing under a 5 lb penalty for his Haydock success.
This looked a wide-open novice beforehand with plenty of nice types on paper making their debut, and both the winner and the third made promising starts to their careers.
Rouge Et Noir’s inexperience was evident as she was slowly away from the stalls, but she travelled well enough in midfield once rushed up, and she looks a sure-fire improver next time. She wasn’t asked for an effort until entering the straight, but reacted well to her jockey’s urgings and stayed on in eyecatching fashion towards the finish.
There is stamina in her pedigree – she is a half-sister to mile-and-a-quarter winner Liberated Lad, and is out of an unraced half-sister to very smart Ocovango – and she left the impression that she will be suited by at least a mile. Rouge Et Noir shouldn’t be long in winning judged by her performance in a race which may be worth keeping an eye on.
June 7-13 - Night Hunter caught the eye at Leicester
May 31-June 6 - To Be Wild was among the latest horses to take the eye
May 24-30 - Eyecatchers from Timeform including Bernardo O'Reilly
May 17-23 - Check out the week's eyecatchers from Timeform including Bezzas Lad
May 10-16 - We round up the week's eyecatchers from Timeform including a two-year-old to note from the Sunday meeting at Ripon