• PT Fornatale Reviews Wednesday's Royal Ascot Action

    POSTED Jun 15, 2011

    Richard Hannon had another fine day on Wednesday at Ascot, winning two races. He took the Jersey Stakes with Strong Suit, who last year was thought of as Hannon’s best two year old. A recent breathing operation has helped him return to form. Hannon was quoted in a postrace interview, “Hughesy said a couple of times [earlier this year] he was gulping pulling up.”

    Jockey Hughes added, “He got the wobbles with me in the Greenham so then we got the camera on him and saw how he was suffering.”

    After the operation, things improved considerably. Hannon reported, “We took him to Kempton to work with Canford Cliffs and he worked brilliant.”

    When asked if his three-year-old miler be taking on four-year-old Canford Cliffs in a real race this year, Hannon replied, “Certainly not.”

    * * *

    After Rewilding’s exciting upset in the Prince of Wales’ Stakes, trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni gave all the credit to the colt’s owner, Sheikh Mohammed, “I have to be honest, it’s not me, it’s him. The training program, everything in the yard. We’re still learning but he’s been here in England a long time.”

    Zarooni confirmed that the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes Ascot next month will be the target for Rewilding.

    In the camp of the second place finisher, the odds-on favorite So You Think, the theme wasn’t credit, but blame. When asked if maybe his rider had moved too soon, Aidan O’Brien stepped in and took full responsibility for the defeat:

    “Because he won his first two so easy I didn’t ask enough of him. He tanked along a bit the first furlongs, got tired the last two furlongs. I would put it down to trainer error, he was not fit enough for this type of race. I didn’t go chasing after him too much. I’m sorry and we’ll go on from here. It was a big, strong, heavy blow after, a fitness blow. I would expect plenty of improvement.”

    On one hand, props to AOB for manning up and saying that. But on the other hand, if the reports out of Ballydoyle (some of them from AOB’s very own twitter account) were accurate, and he was really doing great pre-race and dusting workmates by 15 lengths and whatnot, it seems hard to believe that fitness was the issue. But to play devil's advocate, I suppose it’s possible that 80% of So You Think is good enough to look great on the gallops but not good enough to win what appeared to be a fast run Grade 1 at Royal Ascot. So the jury’s still out on this one.

    One little bit of comic relief courtesy of the BBC before I take my leave. Former champion jockey Willie Carson was VERY excited about So You Think’s chances, encouraging a fellow pundit to bet the last dollar in his wallet on his nose and then suggesting viewers could literally bet their houses on the international superstar. Post race, one of the ex-bookie commentators summed it up nicely, “And THAT’S how easy it is to lose a house.”
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