This does promise serious fireworks with Goldikova, Paco Boy and Rip Van Winkle set to take each other on.
Goldikova is an outstanding filly and there is little doubt she is the one to beat. Her record makes for fascinating reading.
She has won eleven of her sixteen races, has been second and third twice and only once finished out of the first three.
Goldikova has eight Group 1’s to her credit, including two Breeders’ Cups at Santa Anita, and no other pilot but Olivier Peslier has ever ridden her.
In each of her previous two campaigns, she was beaten on her reappearance, but made a winning return this season at Longchamp.
Admirable and all a racehorse as Paco Boy undoubtedly is, I have difficulty picturing him beating both Goldikova and Rip Van Winkle.
He was impressive when taking the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury recently, but that looked a very weak Group 1.
Rip Van Winkle has been the outsider of the trio on the lead-in to the race and that is easily enough explained.
It’s his first run of the season, but that shouldn’t be a major worry, because Aidan O’Brien will surely have him absolutely primed for what is going to be a major challenge.
A more likely explanation as to why he’s been easy to back is the manner in which the main Ballydoyle horses were beaten in the English and French Derbys last weekend.
When something like that happens many punters simply go cold with stables and won’t touch one of their horses in a big race until there’s evidence the yard is back on track.
But reading too much into the defeats of Jan Vermeer, Midas Touch and Cape Blanco could be a costly process. After all they are works in progress.
There are no such concerns when it comes to Rip Van Winkle, who stamped himself a very high-class Group 1 performer last season.
Admittedly, he made no show in the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita, but we have learned over the years that most Ballydoyle horses disappoint in America anyway!
Prior to that he won the Queen Elizabeth 11 Stakes at Ascot and familiarity with the track should not be underestimated. Goldikova has never run at Ascot.
And in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood, he destroyed Paco Boy to the tune of two and a half lengths. It was in defeat, however, that Rip Van Winkle put up a career-best effort. That came in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown when he ran Sea The Stars to a length. Goldikova is entitled to the greatest of respect and, to a lesser extent, so is Paco Boy. But could they get to within a length of Sea The Stars?
My nap for Ascot has to be Henry Cecil’s Manifest in the Gold Cup. Anyone who saw him win over a mile and six at York, going away by eight lengths, had to be impressed.
WOULDN’T you just love to see Fame And Glory and Workfore going head-to-head in the King George at Ascot in high summer?
That’s a Group 1 which has struggled to attract the best horses for a number of years now, but a battle between Fame And Glory, representing the older brigade, and the three-year-old Workforce would be more than tasty.
Mind you if Workforce swerves the Irish Derby, for the King George, that is going to leave the premier Irish classic looking more than bare.
LIMERICK, a progressive track well capable of helping itself, as shown by the hugely successful students’ race night, hasn’t half had a miserable card foisted on them this evening.
I mean why would any race-planner think this is acceptable? It’s an all-flat programme and there is no problem with that, after all this is the time for flat racing.
But you have just got to give punters some incentive to go racing. The last four contests are almost impossible-to-solve handicaps, so why would anyone bother travelling?
Handicaps, by their very nature, are a necessary evil, but four in-a-row, give us a break. That said, however, Limerick, typically, hasn’t accepted the seemingly inevitable and if anyone thinks the enclosures are going to be empty then they can think again.
Not by a long chalk. After racing a band called Jerry Fish and Mud Bug Club will be beating it out and many families, associated with the Special Olympics, are also expected to attend. So there!
And, by the way, why have two meetings on both Thursday and Friday nights, leaving everyone in the industry twiddling their thumbs last Wednesday?