Sport Horse Racing

Monday 19 February 2018

Richard Forristal: G Force can crush July Cup rivals

Yesterday's big-race hero O'Meara the man to follow

Falmouth Stakes winner Amazing Maria with owner Robert Ogden (left), his girlfriend Ana
Oliveira and trainer David O’Meara, who will be hoping to score again today with G Force
Falmouth Stakes winner Amazing Maria with owner Robert Ogden (left), his girlfriend Ana Oliveira and trainer David O’Meara, who will be hoping to score again today with G Force
There is a chance that John Gosden's Golden Horn will not run at Ascot

A year ago Eddie Lynam became the first Irish trainer since 1946 to bring the July Cup back to somewhere other than Ballydoyle when Slade Power prevailed at Newmarket.

If the £500,000 Group One is to come this way in 2015, it will again be to either Lynam's Dunshaughlin base in Meath or the elite Coolmore training centre in Tipperary.

Aidan O'Brien will strive for his fourth win in the race with Due Diligence. At Royal Ascot last year, Due Diligence looked to have the world at his feet when second to Slade Power in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes.

However, the American import has yet to prove that he has trained on as a four-year-old, as he hasn't fired in either start this term, latterly beaten out of sight in this year's Diamond Jubilee.

Lynam relies on Sole Power and Anthem Alexander. Sole Power is still without a win in 10 starts over this six-furlong trip, and while he looked as though he might yet appreciate the distance when slightly one-paced in fifth behind Goldream in the King's Stand, he is an each-way option more than anything else here at up to 16/1.

Anthem Alexander ran well behind Muhaarar in the Commonwealth Cup. She remains open to further progression as a lightly-raced three-year-old, but she has four-and-a-half lengths to find with her Ascot conqueror, which likewise has something more to prove today in all-aged company. The market has Muhaarar and Godolphin's Australian acquisition Brazen Beau vying for the market lead at around 9/4. It is 12/1 bar, and the lopsided book doesn't reflect the open nature of the race.

Following his gallant effort to be second to Undrafted from an isolated position in the Diamond Jubilee, Brazen Beau is entitled to be thereabouts again. On the other hand, as we saw with Due Diligence last year, you couldn't be sure which way a three-year-old import will go.

The horse that appeals most is G Force. Trained by the irrepressible Fermoy native David O'Meara, the Qatar Racing cast-off developed into a top-class sprinter last term, when his consistency was rewarded with a resounding Group One success over this trip in the Sprint Cup at Haydock.

Things haven't gone his way since. He floundered in heavy ground at Ascot in the autumn and nearly fell when clipping heels on his reappearance over five in the Temple Stakes. He then returned to Ascot, where he looked out on his feet over five in the King's Stand.

Making excuses for a horse can be ill-advised, but this will be the first time that G Force has had his optimum conditions of six furlongs on a decent surface since the Sprint Cup. With that in mind, the 16/1 that can be had about him bouncing back to form looks enormous.

O'Meara might also take the Listed five-furlong race at York with Out Do. This is competitive, but the course and distance winner is as good as any of these at his best.

Watching Brief

Golden Horn is long odds-on with most firms for the King George VI & QEII Stakes.

There is some 4/5 to be had, which would doubtless be decent value were he to turn up on the day. Still, there must be a chance that he won't run at Ascot just three weeks after his Eclipse triumph, so he doesn't appeal as an ante-post option.

Were John Gosden to rule him out, the market would change completely. The 12-furlong Group One would be a very different race, and the 8/1 that can be had about Golden Horn's stablemate Eagle Top would at least halve.

Last year's fourth remains lightly raced and was unlucky when second to Snow Sky in the Hardwicke at Royal Ascot, so he would have the scope to step up.

Should Golden Horn run, Leopardstown might then be a far more likely subsequent target rather than York. Given that he can be backed at 7/2 for the Irish Champion Stakes, that appeals as a potential saver.

Punt or Pass?

Air Vice Marshal

2.35 Newmarket

SP Forecast:  9/4

The Superlative Stakes is a Group Two that Aidan O’Brien hasn't won for 10 years or even contested for five years.

He sends Air Vice Marshall in for duty today, having improved for its Curragh debut third to skate in on stepping up to seven furlongs at Gowran Park.

A son of War Front that is a half-brother to the winner of two American distaff Grade Ones, he is clearly heading in the right direction. On the flip side, Air Vice Marshal beat nothing of note in what was a pretty poor maiden.

Verdict: Pass. A watching brief is advised in a competitive affair.


2.45 Ascot

SP Forecast: 5/2

Arod steps back up to Group Two class after seizing a Group Three opportunity in style at Epsom. Connections opted to make all with him there over an extended mile, tactics that worked a treat.

This will be tougher back up in class on a stiffer track like Ascot, though the absence of the Queen Anne fourth Toormore, which finished in front of him when they were second and third in the Lockinge Stakes, will make life easier.

With Toormore scratched, Arod is top-rated by two pounds and more.

Verdict: Has long looked capable of Epsom display so worth a punt again.

Dark Horse

Not too many of Gordon Elliott's go under the radar but Eshtiaal might be an exception in York's Stayers' Stakes today.

The former Brian Meehan-trained gelding has been in prolific form over flights for Elliott, but he couldn't translate that to the Flat at the Curragh last time. He finished fourth in a 12-furlong handicap, and he was already looking one-paced when clung to the rail by a rival late on.

Today, Eshtiaal steps up to two miles. While it is a competitive 17-runner handicap, the longer trip may help the 10/1 shot’s cause, and it is worth noting that he has won off his current mark in the past.

Lay of the Day

Pulcinella was last night shading the market lead for the mile fillies' handicap at Ascot at odds of around 15/8.

It isn't the most competitive seven-runner contest you'll see, but she isn't a convincing market leader. Stepped up to 10 furlongs at York last time, the daughter of Dubawi found little off the bridle.

It didn't look as though she didn't stay, so she is one to take on again.

A Little Each-way

Master Carpenter (16/1) ran a blinder to be beaten just half-a-length in third behind Basem over a mile at Sandown last week.

He reappears at York for the John Smith’s Cup over two furlongs further, which should suit him better. At Sandown, he kept on doggedly to be closest at the finish, and he was placed in Group Two company in France when he last ran over this trip in the autumn, having won a nine-furlong Group Three there previously.

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