Action from the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot
Action from the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot

Royal Ascot: Timeform Paddock Notes on 2yos including Holloway Boy, Little Big Bear & Alzahir


The Timeform expert highlights his key takings from the juvenile ranks following Royal Ascot 2022.

Gosden-trained Alzahir worth tracking

A debutant winning at Royal Ascot is such a rare event that it seems fitting to start this round-up of the two-year-old races with Holloway Boy, 40/1 scorer in the Chesham Stakes (replay below).

A newcomer hadn't scored at the meeting since 1996, when Shamikh (Chesham) and Dazzle (Windsor Castle) both made a successful start. Those of you of a more mature vintage may be able to recall Chief Singer, a turn-up at 20/1 first time out in the 1983 Coventry. Returning to this century, Kingsgate Native was second at 66/1 when he debuted in the 2007 Windsor Castle.

Holloway Boy is a well-made colt, who was one of the better types in the Chesham field, and he proved to be pretty clued up, finding a good turn of foot having come from off a sound pace to win with a bit in hand. This might not be so strong a piece of form as some recent runnings of the Chesham, but few juveniles can run to this sort of level without previous experience, which obviously augurs well.

The records of those earlier debutants are worth recalling, certainly suggesting Holloway Boy might be something special. Kingsgate Native proved to be a high-class sprinter, winning the Nunthorpe at two and the Golden Jubilee at three. Chief Singer was even better, a top-class sprinter-miler at three, winning the St James's Palace, the July Cup and the Sussex Stakes. Dazzle followed up her Windsor Castle win in the Cherry Hinton and finished third in the Guineas at three. Only Shamikh, 7/1 and out with the washing in the Guineas on his only subsequent outing, failed to build on such a promising beginning.

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The Chesham produced a clean sweep for outsiders, a lot of the fancied runners failing to fire, and while 'worth another chance' is a forgiving phrase, if followed, that leads one to the poorhouse, several looked to have reasonable excuses.

Both the warm favourite Alfred Munnings and Alzahir were geed up beforehand, the latter free in the race as well, and deserve the benefit of the doubt. Alzahir was the pick on looks and has a fine middle-distance pedigree; Alfred Munnings wasn't the most taking of the Ballydoyle contingent during the week, but he is superbly bred and from a yard with a record second to none in the recent past in the Chesham.

A mention, too, for The Foxes, who I liked a lot on debut. He looked sure to benefit from the step up to seven furlongs, but that proved not to be the case. Perhaps something will come to light re this backward step and it will be disappointing if he can't do better somewhere down the line.

LISTEN: Royal Ascot review Podcast
LISTEN: Royal Ascot review Podcast

Norfolk hard to weigh up

Holloway Boy wasn't the longest-priced two-year-old winner of the week; that title went to The Ridler, 50/1 in the Norfolk Stakes.

He's a pocket sprinter, who was notably sweaty, even on a hot afternoon. None of that stopped him showing huge improvement, though whether he should have been allowed to keep the race is debatable. While the fourth Brave Nation was the one most seriously impeded as the winner hung badly left, uncorrected, inside the final furlong, the third Crispy Cat was beginning to really find full stride when he was hampered just before that.

The stewards considered the interference so careless that they gave the rider Paul Hanagan a ten-day suspension, but found that said interference had not improved The Ridler's position. The latter point is debatable, with Crispy Cat and possibly Brave Nation not beaten when interference took place; the former raises the question of just how serious interference has to be to be considered worse than careless.

Along with Brave Nation, the picks on physique in the Norfolk field were the favourite Walbank and the Aidan O'Brien-trained The Antarctic. Battaash's brother The Antarctic was the longest priced of O'Brien's two-year-olds during the week, though sent off at just 4/1, and while there didn't seem to be excuses on the day, it's interesting, to say the least, that he's been given a Nunthorpe entry.

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Another runner from the yard entered at York is Little Big Bear, who justified short odds in the Windsor Castle. This looked a typical Windsor Castle field, social runners lacking scope filling out the line-up. Little Big Bear, in physique, was an exception and ought to go on from this, more about him as a type than either of the yard's previous winners of this race.

Ballydoyle added a second two-year-old win for the week in the Albany, when Meditate, who, like Little Big Bear is by No Nay Never, got the better of the well-backed favourite Mawj. Meditate is a well-put-together sort and has the scope to go on through the season and beyond. Aidan O'Brien's previous Albany winner Brave Anna landed the Cheveley Park later in the campaign; Meditate might be more a Moyglare Stud Stakes type.

Sioux Nation progeny shaping nicely

One who will definitely be suited by seven furlongs is Sydneyarms Chelsea. She had made her debut at Newbury in a field of colts, not looking out of place at all that day, overcoming inexperience. That was over six and a half furlongs, and the slightly shorter trip in better company looked against her, but she finished off well.

Sydneyarms Chelsea is a strong filly, a description (or similar) that would apply to nearly all the Sioux Nation runners I've seen. Sioux Nation himself was a big, good-bodied colt, like No Nay Never a son of Scat Daddy, and the early signs with his progeny, in terms of looks as well as performance, are really encouraging.

Sioux Nation had a best Timeform rating of 117, so there must be a good chance he can achieved the pretty rare feat for a stallion or producing a runner that was better on the track than he was.

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No drama for unbeaten Burke filly

The Queen Mary was a rare Royal Ascot two-year-old race without a Ballydoyle representative; whether there's anything in the yard that could have landed a blow on Dramatised remains to be seen. However, it would have required a smart effort to get close, as Dramatised produced the best performance of either sex over the five days at Ascot.

She is another who has a Nunthorpe entry, the ability there to make an impact, though whether that test of pure speed would be ideal would be the concern.

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Dramatised had run to a good level for a newcomer when beating a subsequent dual winner in landing a maiden at the Guineas meeting and she built on that in scoring pushed out, three other unbeaten fillies chasing her home. Something like the Prix Morny would be an obvious next step.

The field as a whole for the Queen Mary was rather better than is sometimes the case. Miami Girl, seemingly the first string of the five runners in the Amo colours, would just get the nod as a type. She bounced back from her disappointment at York, ready for a step up to six furlongs. The same is true of Maria Bramwell, who was doing her best work late on.

The opening juvenile contest of the week, the Coventry Stakes, went the way of Bradsell, one of seven unbeaten colts in a good field.

He looks one of the better recent winners of this race, certainly superior to the last two victors, even if his performance was overshadowed by Dramatised the following day.

As on debut, Bradsell travelled smoothly and showed a good turn of foot to settle matters. He's a strong colt and while it's always tempting to find the beaten runner that will turn out better than the winner, with the Coventry, I'm not tempted to try.


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