Via the Hong Kong Jockey Club
On Tuesday Aidan O’Brien kicked off Royal Ascot in the manner to which we have become accustomed, but there may be even better to come on Friday (21 June) when Ten Sovereigns and Hermosa could supply the great Ballydoyle trainer with a G1 double.
On the opening day of the five-day extravaganza, two-year-old Arizona’s late surge resulted in G2 Coventry Stakes victory, with the lesser fancied Circus Maximus later fending off some of the world’s best three-year-old 1600m turf horses in the G1 St James’s Palace Stakes. Both were ridden by Ryan Moore.
On Friday, the colt Ten Sovereigns is directed towards the G1 Commonwealth Cup over 1200m and 40 minutes later Hermosa competes for the G1 Coronation Stakes – a 1594m contest for three-year-old fillies with a history that dates back to the 19th century.
Ten Sovereigns had revealed so much speed in his two-year-old career – especially with his G1 Middle Park Stakes (1200m) triumph at Newmarket last September – that there was always going to be a question as to whether he could handle the critical upward move from 1200m to 1600m in the G1 2,000 Guineas, back at Newmarket, in May.
Though he started favourite and only finished fifth, O’Brien vigorously complimented that Guineas performance.
“There was always a possibility that the Guineas would be too far and I actually think Ten Sovereigns ran a massive race at Newmarket. And if he didn’t stay the mile there, we always had this race in mind for him,” he said.
The ace Irish trainer dished out some confidence for supporters of Ten Sovereigns regarding his Commonwealth Cup task by adding: “Everything has been well with him since the Guineas.”
Colts whose supporters will not want to see Ten Sovereigns bounce back to winning form on Friday include intended runners Hello Youmzain, Jash and Khaadem, all exciting last time out winners.
Galileo filly Hermosa had a terrific two-year-old season, which she rounded off with a close second in the G1 Criterium International over 1400m at Chantilly, but, going into the winter, few had earmarked her as a potential star miler. But that is precisely what she has become and, if she wins the Coronation Stakes, she will become one of an elite group to add this prestigious prize to her double victory in the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket and The Curragh, both G1 classic races over 1600m.
Colts included, she is clearly one of the best of her generation and the fact that she was able to maintain such strong fractions from the front in the Irish 1,000 Guineas suggests that she will be a formidable opponent on Friday.
O’Brien said of her: “She is tough and uncomplicated. She took a big step forward from Newmarket to The Curragh so hopefully she can keep improving.”
Plenty of fillies are Ascot bound in an attempt to snatch her crown and they include the unbeaten French-trained Godolphin-owned Castle Lady – winner of last month’s G1 Poule d’Essai des Pouliches (1600m) – and also unbeaten Jubiloso, a Sir Michael Stoute-trained filly with a big reputation in Newmarket.