Horse Racing: Fancied Fasliyev a flyer
FABULOUS Fasliyev, trained by Aidan O'Brien, slayed his rivals in the Group Three Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot yesterday.The strapping son of Nureyev came across from a high draw he was second widest in a field of 18 and won more or less as he liked under Michael Kinane.
It was O'Brien's second Royal Ascot winner. His previous, Harbour Master, was also in the six furlong Coventry Stakes two years ago.
Harbour Master was a 16/1 outsider but, on this occasion, the money was heaped on to the Irish runner which went off a skinny 15/8 favourite.
O'Brien, doing less well with his older horses this season, looked a relieved man especially after his other runner, Orpen, had flopped so badly in the day's main event, the Group One St James's Palace Stakes.
But his juveniles are a different story.
There have been 25 races in the category in Ireland. O'Brien has been represented in 21 of them won 17 and been placed in the other four.
The big question was how the Irish form would translate outside the country. The most exposed of the O'Brien two year olds, Fasliyev, answered in emphatic fashion to give Kinane his 21st Royal Ascot winner and his second on the day following the success of David Elsworth's Lear Spear.
A typically reticent O'Brien refused to be drawn on comparisons, confining himself to saying: ``I have about 60 two year-olds; there are 40 to come. They're a nice bunch.''
He felt that yesterday's winner, a top-priced 16/1 to win next season's 2000 Guineas, ``always comes home well and I am not afraid to step him up beyond this trip.''
Orpen never ran his race at all in the St James's Palace Stakes which took place on very firm ground. Sendawar was a first winner in Britain for Alain de Royer Depre.
Apart from the victory of the French Guineas winner, the race was notable for a dramatic moment when Kieren Fallon and Killer Instinct almost came down.
Fallon and Cecil, fancied to be leading jockey and trainer for the week, got over the blip to win the Brittania Stakes with Pythios.
The opening day started remarkably for Gary Stevens and disastrously for backers.
It was known that Frankie Dettori, the Ascot specialist, was torn between Lockinge Stakes winner Fly To The Stars and Fa-Eq.
The Italian chose the latter and Willie Supple took the mount on Fly To The Stars. What happensed? The stable's third string, Cape Cross, beat the lot under American champion Stevens.
Another outsider, Docksider, committed early, but only the third Saeed bin Suroor runner managed to go with him.
It was only a second ever Royal Ascot win for the man from Idaho who almost immediately missed out on the double when failing in the Group Two Prince of Wales's Stake after his Group Two Queen Anne Stakes victory.
Now contracted to Michael Stoute, Stevens was foiled on that stable's Fantastic Light as Kinane conjured up a great run from Lear Spear.
If Godolphin got it wrong in the opener, then it was the all-conquering Cecil establishment who erred in the second race.
Cecil fielded Shiva and the Fallon-ridden Chester House but neither was nearly good enough for the 20/1 winner.
Kinane said: ``It takes the pressure off when you are on a long-priced horse.'' Still, it didn't bother him later when the money was down on Fasliyev.
Meanwhile, Valentine Waltz compensated for a narrow defeat in the English 1000 Guineas with victory in the French equivalent, is taken to add the Group One Coronation Stakes to her CV on the second day of Royal Ascot.
Trained by John Gosden, Valentine Waltz has been a godsend for Ray Cochrane. The heady classic-winning days had seemed in Cochrane's past.
But Valentine Waltz has Cochrane back in the headlines now for all the right reasons; and the dual Derby winner has her to thank for the turnaround.
She ran really bravely to be third at Newmarket to Wince and Wannabe Grand.
Wince looked a bit special and Henry Cecil currently houses all the top females. But Wince has suffered a setback and Warren Place is without a runner here.
Valentine Waltz franked the English form in France and, in the circumstances of Wince's absence, the Gosden filly should glide home at the expense of Hula Angel.
This afternoon opens with the long-awaited reappearance of Stravinsky.
A much-vaunted juvenile, the Aidan O'Brien runner has not been seen since the first day of the season.
Cecil's Enrique, placed in both the English and Irish Guineas, is likely to be all the rage for this Group Three Jersey Stakes but he must concede weight here.
Trained by Richard Hannon, Lots Of Magic will be big odds but should be worth a small investment in a race which has little betting appeal.
Rowaasi, winner of the National Stakes at Sandown, looks to be the right material for the Group Three Queen Mary Stakes in which Ballydoyle is represented by Leopardstown winner Warrior Queen.
The winner of the Sandown dash usually performs well at Royal Ascot and Rowaasi should follow that positive path.
Formerly the Bessborough Stakes, the `Duke of Edinburgh' is as difficult to size up as any renewal under the old title.
Again, Ray Cochrane should be on the right one. The six year-old Coulthard looks reasonably handicapped on nine stone and he will be fit enough.