FAIR play to Al Kazeem who really proved himself a good horse when winning Saturday’s Eclipse Stakes at Sandown.
Readers will know that I had my doubts about the value of the form of his Prince Of Wales’s Stakes victory but those proved unfounded as he beat a very decent field at the weekend and he looks a genuine Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe contender now.
Despite my new found admiration for this very tough customer, I probably wouldn’t be backing him for the Arc as I think that three-year-olds hold the upper hand in this end-of-season event with 15 of the last 20 winners coming from the Classic generation.
Saying that Saturday seemed to indicate that the three-year-olds might be up against it versus their older rivals as my fancy Mars ran an all right race in the Eclipse without setting the world on fire, while Banoffee failed to give Kieren Fallon a fillip in the Lancashire Oaks after he lost the rides on Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum’s string of around 20 horses.
But then Intello restored my faith in the Classic crop when he put his elders to the sword in Sunday’s Prix Messidor in France and the owners’ racing manager Pierre-Yves Bureau confirmed that the Arc is still a possibility for the winner.
So no firm conclusions can yet be reached about the merits of each generation and we will have to wait until races such as the King George for more exacting evidence.
This Saturday my mammy Sabena is in the very fortunate position to have two horses in Sole Power and Slade Power good enough to compete in the feature July Cup at Newmarket and, for once, I’m going to sit on the fence and let you decide which one to back, although I wouldn’t put you off either.
Sole Power is a horse of a lifetime after winning the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot, but the one concern is that he has never won over the six furlongs of Saturday’s contest. However, he is more settled and relaxed than he once was so that gives us hope that Johnny Murtagh can give us heart failure once again and sit and wait until coming with a late rattle up the steep final furlong.
One-time Irish Guineas hope Slade Power is an interesting one because as regulars will know, trainer Edward Lynam has always been very sweet on him and we fancied him for the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at the Royal extravaganza.
But he was a bit awkward coming out of the stalls and then a bit keen during the race. He then gained some compensation when landing the Group 3 Sapphire Stakes at The Curragh on Derby day and hopefully he can now prove himself as good as we actually think he is.
I also like the look of Abbakova who I’m hoping lines up in Saturday’s Listed Tipperary Stakes. The form of her neck defeat to Bye Bye Birdie at Cork is looking pretty useful now and she can continue Willie McCreery’s fine campaign.
I don’t confess to be much of a cricket expert but as the Ashes Series of five matches will fill a lot of hours of screen time at home and in pubs, I think I should give an opinion and I’m told that England are much the better side so I’m going to go for England to win 4-0 at a current 8-1.
My source says that the home side’s dominance is such that a 5-0 could easily happen but I can’t be having that purely because I think the English weather must mean at least one match ending in a draw after a couple of days of downpours!
Wednesday - Nottingham, 10.30am, England to win Ashes 4-0
Saturday - Newmarket, 3.50pm, Sole Power or Slade Power (you take your pick!)
Saturday - Tipperary, 4.30pm, Abbakova