Royal Ascot 2015: Queen Anne Stakes preview (14.30)
A mouthwatering Group 1 clash between international stars Able Friend and Solow kicks Royal Ascot 2015 off, and the former is taken to come out on top and land a stellar renewal of the 1m Queen Anne Stakes.
Able Friend is trained in Hong Kong by John Moore, and has won his last six starts at Sha Tin in spectacular fashion.
Three of those have been in Group 1 contests, and in the last of those the five-year-old hardly had to break sweat when showing his usual devastating turn of foot to land the Champions Mile by 1 1/2 lengths.
It was a performance which oozed class, and Able Friend is undoubtedly one of the best-ever horses trained in Hong Kong.
This son of Shamardal has a high cruising speed and potent change of gear, and has now won 11 of his 16 starts and amassed over £4m in prize money.
The only question mark is whether Able Friend will be as effective over a straight mile on what is a stiff track, but I can’t see it being a problem and, with regular rider Joao Moreira in the saddle, he looks the one to beat.
French raider Solow has won nine of his last 10 starts and rates the obvious danger.
The Freddie Head trained colt put in a stunning performance on his penultimate outing when beating The Grey Gatbsy by 4 1/2 lengths in the Group 1 Dubai Turf in Meydan, and followed up with an easy 1 1/2 length success in the Group1 1 Prix d’Ispahan at Longchamp last month.
On both occasions Solow travelled powerfully before quickening well to put the race to bed, and the five-year-old is clearly on a serious upward curve.
However, those races were over 1m 1f and Solow is yet to win at the highest level over this shorter trip.
The son of Singspiel does have three wins over a mile to his name, but to me he is better over slightly further and may not have the pace to cope with an on-song Able Friend.
Night Of Thunder represents the Richard Hannon yard, who saddled Toronado to win the race 12 months ago, and looks the best of the home team.
The colt showed a devastating turn of foot to beat Kingman by 1/2 a length in last year’s 2000 Guineas and went on to finish an excellent two lengths runner-up to that rival in the Group 1 St James’ Palace Stakes at this meeting.
Night Of Thunder rounded off the campaign with a fine 1/2 length second to Charm Spirit in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on Champions’ Day at this venue, and looked as good as ever when comfortably landing the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes at Newbury on seasonal reappearance.
Coral betting tip: Able Friend should be just that for punters who back him in the Queen Anne.