ROYAL ASCOT really encapsulated British racing this week: the best of horses, controversial whip bans; Royalty and pomposity; suited men brawling after too much champagne.
My personal highlight was the first race of them all, the Queen Anne, in which Canford Cliffs rather brushed Goldikova aside. Olivier Peslier's putting up overweight baffled and irked but the race should be recalled for the virtuosity and stamina of the winner, which they said one time could not get a mile.
Later that day, Frankel was on a hiding to nothing. His Guineas victory remains unbelievable, no matter how often it is replayed, but there was no getting away from just how arduous a race that was.
And so he took on a similar bunch of foes in the St James' Palace and, in victory, he left punters with much to ruminate over. My immediate impression was that the performance represented a regression from Newmarket. Henry Cecil and Tom Queally will argue otherwise, of course, but to quote Arsene Wenger: "Everyone thinks they have the prettiest wife at home."
Cecil's post-race interview on At The Races was remarkable. This recently-knighted doyen of British racing, ever hailed for his humility and basic decency, was clearly unhappy with how Queally rode the horse -- and content to imply as much.
Ascot's stretch from the final bend demands plenty and it is hard to argue other than that Queally, the chief proponent of mid-race tactical moves of debatable merit, kicked too soon. Frankel was six lengths clear at one stage; at the wire, the unheralded Zoffany had closed to three parts of a length.
Beware trainers' insistence at any stage that a steed of theirs was idling. Frankel, neither at Newmarket nor Ascot, gave the impression he was idling; rather, after two extremely hard races, he gave the impression that he was flagging. Frankel will almost certainly be ridden differently wherever he goes next, presumably the Sussex Stakes against Canford Cliffs at Glorious Goodwood, even though Queally tends to make his own decisions race by race. My impression is that he will not improve henceforth, mainly because he has had two hard races.
Canford Cliffs is even-money favourite with the only layer betting on the Sussex, with the Cecil horse 11/8. Another high-street firm made Richard Hannon's colt clear favourite on Tuesday evening for his envisaged meeting with Frankel. When I saw Coral go 6/4 Canford Cliffs in that future match, I was pretty sure it would only last a few hours. Somehow it is still available and it represents an outstanding bet.
Canford Cliffs to beat Frankel when they next meet,
3pts 6/4 Coral
BOHEMIANS got a hiding in Derry on Friday night but there were extenuating circumstances. Back the Gypsies each-way to win the FAI Cup at 9/1, half the odds to get to the final.
Bohs were given a favourable draw in the fourth round: a trip to Longford. Victory will bring them into the last eight, at which point Derry and at least three other Premier Division teams will be gone.
Pat Fenlon has less of a squad to work with this year but they should have beaten Rovers earlier this season, already have won in Sligo and are a match for any side.
Bohemians to win FAI Cup
1pt each-way at 9/1 (Boylesports)
LAY the victor at Wimbledon's men's tournament being a first-time winner at 6/5 on Betfair. The price should be longer and can offer a trading opportunity later on. Couple Roger Federer's price and Rafa Nadal's price and between them they are little longer than 4/6 to win. Realistically, Andy Murray (7/1) is still below their class, with hopes of a new winner resting on 4/1 chance Novak Djokovic.
Lay new winner of Wimbledon men's singles,
1pt at 2.2 (1.2pt liability, Betfair)
YEAR TO DATE
To a €10 stake: -€201.82
Still running: €100
Sunday Indo Sport