Jamie Spencer casts his expert eye over Royal Ascot day one
I’ve ridden against Able Friend once and I was mighty impressed by him. It was in Hong Kong in December. They went a steady pace and I rode Trade Storm, and while he was not this class he can still finish fourth or fifth in a race like this, and I’ve never seen a horse go by me as quickly and as easily as Able Friend did. If this race was in Sha Tin I would have no doubt that he’d win on the bridle. Obviously it’s a straight mile and a different track but I just think he’s the best horse and if he can show it I can’t see how he’ll get beaten.
A lot of the time the Coventry is full of horses with a light pedigree whereas Jim Bolger’s horses have strong pedigrees. Round Two has been winning over five furlongs but is by Teofilio, whose offspring have been winning up to two miles so there’s plenty of stamina there. You’d have to say he’s going to improve for the step up. We’ve been here before with Dawn Approach three years ago and I can’t really see round him. The Mark Johnston horse, Buratino, was very impressive at Epsom and has loads of experience but Jim Bolger doesn’t bring horses over for the sake of it and I think Round Two will win.
In the Kings Stand I ride Hot Streak for Kevin Ryan. He’s been a little below par this year but hopefully he can get back on track. His best performances were here as a two year old and then when he was third in this race last year. He has a bit of ground to make up with Sole Power. The horse I really like in the race though is Mecca’s Angel. I rode in the race in France when she broke the track record and she’s a rocket. It’s just the case that her trainer goes under the radar, and to some extent Paul Mulrennan too, that makes her the price she is. I think she should be favourite on what she’s done this season so far.
In the St James Palace stakes I think tactically I would side with the French horse, Make Believe. Gleneagles takes time to get going. I think he’s a very good horse but I just think Make Believe could get an easy lead. Belardo will drop in, as will Aktabantay. There is a chance that Peslier will get to the front and that will make the French trained horse very dangerous. He could get the run of the race. As he’s drawn four he’ll be under no pressure to get to the lead, so if one of the horses drawn inside decides to make it, Peslier can sit Make Believe in second. He can control the race. That said maybe Gleneagles will be good enough to run him down as he did to the field in the 2000 Guineas. It’s a great race.
I ride Broxbourne for Nicky Henderson in the Ascot Stakes. She’s won a couple of hurdles over the winter. Nicky Henderson’s won this race before which is always a help. Generally jumps trainers have a good record in the race. She’s won over 2m 5f at Goodwood so we know she stays, whereas lots of them won’t stay. The draw is a bit tricky but she should have a good chance.
In the Windsor Castle I ride Areen. He won well at the Dante meeting at York in a conditions race and then what could go wrong did go wrong in the National stakes. I was drawn nine and the horse drawn eight decided to go off the track and wiped me out. Anybody who watched the race will see that it cost me 10 lengths at the start so I think he’s a lot better than he showed there. He’s drawn besides the horse to beat Soapy Aitken. My horse has to be relaxed early with 27 runners so I’ll put him to sleep and see how we go. They’ll go a really good gallop so it should play in to my guy’s hands. I thought Washington DC didn’t have the run of the race in his last run. Soapy Aitken is the other big danger.