TAGHROODA’S connections didn’t ‘boldly go where no man has gone before’ as Pawneese also won the English Oaks and King George back in 1976, but William Shatner, who uttered those introductory words to every Star Trek episode, will have been impressed by her winning performance in the latter race at Ascot last Saturday.
Sheikh Hamdan’s three-year-old could probably have enjoyed a penalty kick in our Oaks, no disrespect intended to winner Bracelet, but they bravely took on the colts and older horses, albeit with a 15lb weight-for-age-and-sex concession, and scored by an easy three lengths from Telescope.
The owner’s racing manager Angus Gold stated that he will perhaps want to have a crack at the Arc and as an easy King George heroine, she’s fully entitled to an away day in Paris. However, the only Ascot winners to prevail in the last two dceades are Lammtarra in 1995 and Dylan Thomas (2007).
Even though Pique Sous gave the bookies a kicking at Royal Ascot, I was sad to see that the then Galway Hurdle favourite won’t be running again this season and in his absence, I’m going to stick my neck out and go for Dermot Weld’s Diplomat at a current 16-1.
I say stick my neck out because my fancy hasn’t done a lot on his last few starts over hurdles and probably doesn’t merit my nomination.
But we all know just how dominant Weld, who is just 6-4 to train 14 winners or more at Ballybrit, is at this fixture and there is a glimmer of hope in his past form as he won a novice hurdle at this meeting last year and was beaten less than a length in a similar race the following day.
He hasn’t been seen over timber since the Punchestown Festival at which he disappointed, but I wouldn’t be too concerned about that as he’s probably been aimed at this prestigious event since he arrived at Weld’s Curragh base sometime in 2011.
Another Curragh trainer Brendan Duke won Saturday’s seven-furlong nursery at the same meeting last year with Jackie Bolger’s Focussed and he looks to have another outstanding candidate in the same colours for the same race in Intenser who landed a 6f nursery at The Curragh a week ago.
My fancy was stepping up to that distance after three runs over the minimum trip and seemed suited by the extra yardage there, and the fitting of a pair of blinkers for the first time certainly didn’t seem to hinder as he stayed on well under Rory Cleary to win by a cosy half length.
The handicapper has only raised him 4lb for that win which would give him a chance of landing a similar contest and I think, judging by the way he kept on at The Curragh, the seven furlongs will be right up his alley.
The win came on good ground so the current good to yielding surface might be a hindrance, but he strikes me as the sort of horse who will cope adequately with a bit of cut.
The Premier League kicks off on August 16 and having tipped winners Manchester City last season, albeit it looked a bit dodgy with a few games to go, I am going to keep to a winning system and they are currently 12-5 with us.
I read the other day that Wayne Rooney thinks Manchester United can prevail under new manager Louis Van Gaal’s new system, but I just don’t think the Reds have got the strength in depth that City have.
You’d hardly have thought City would have felt a need to strengthen their squad but they’ve added Willy Caballero, Fernando and Bacary Sagna.
Now - Manchester City to win the Premier League; Thursday, Galway, 4.55pm - Diplomat; Saturday, Galway, 4.20pm - Intenser