There’s plenty to digest from the weekend’s racing and as I write news is just beginning to filter through of additional races being added to the Royal Ascot schedule on a permanent basis.
Starting this year, Ascot will permanently introduce seven-race cards each day to its flagship Royal meeting after their Coronavirus affected 2020 programme proved popular with connections and bookmakers last year.
Initially facilitated to accommodate extra runners, the seven-race concept will be continued going forward and it can only enhance the Royal Ascot meeting as a whole.
Whereas the addition of extra races has diluted somewhat the quality of some other major racing festivals, just one more quality race tagged onto each of Royal Ascot’s existing five days will not look out of place in the slightest.
The 2021 Royal Ascot schedule (and beyond) will now follow the format shown in this graphic: (courtesy of the Racing Post)
New last year were the Copper Horse Stakes, the Palace of Holyroodhouse Stakes and the Golden Gates Stakes with the Buckingham Palace Stakes being reinstated. These races have all been retained.
Her Majesty The Queen has also approved the naming of an additional race – the Kensington Palace Stakes (0-105), a new handicap to be run over the Old Mile for four-year-old and upwards fillies and mares.
A Royal spokesman said: “A positive that we drew from Royal Ascot 2020 was that the additional races presented more opportunities to participate and that this had been widely welcomed by owners, trainers, breeders and jockeys. We are delighted to be able to make this change permanent.”
Tote Placepot/Super Pool players will be relieved to learn that the additional races have been placed at the end of each daily card. Is there anything worse than studying a horse race that has very few trends? These trends will of course now develop over the forthcoming years.
The Real Deal?
Jerry Hannon mistakenly referred to him, perhaps sublimely, as “The Real Deal” throughout his commentary at Punchestown on Sunday, and Dreal Deal was just that when he upset the odds to lift the Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle.
Speaking of odds, Ronan McNally’s gelding was totally friendless in the market as he opened up 9/1 and drifted out to be the outsider of the field at 22/1 on the off. Sitting last early on in the two-mile contest, he stormed through from the rear of the pack as the pace collapsed up front, to lead just after the final flight.
Dreal Deal’s rise through the ranks has been nothing less than meteoric. Having won a handicap hurdle at Navan in September off a mark of 84, the six-year-old then won two handicaps on the Flat before taking two more handicap hurdles off marks of 106 and 111.
On Sunday he was racing off a rating of 141 and we still cannot be sure whether he has reached his ceiling yet?
McNally now has his sights set on Cheltenham and the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle for him, for which he is a general 20/1 chance with most bookmakers.
The much-anticipated clash between Envoi Allen and Asterion Forlonge lasted less than 30 seconds after the latter fell at the first fence.
Envoi Allen, the 1/2 favourite, hardly needed to get a sweat on to extend his career win record to a dozen races unbeaten. He is currently trading at even-money with Betfred* for the Marsh Novices’ Chase at The Festival.
- Sky Pirate is now the clear 6/1 favourite with Paddy Power for the Grand Annual at the Cheltenham Festival after his victory at Warwick.
- Next Destination’s next destination is unclear, but he was made a 14/1 with Boylesports chance for the former RSA at The Festival after seeing off Fiddlerontheroof.
- Possible next targets for Tom Lacey’s Adrimel are the Albert Bartlett or the Ballymore.
- Classic Chase winner Notachance will not be aimed at this year’s Grand National but at the Scottish version instead.
- Pertemps qualifier Imperial Alcazar is quoted at 12/1 for the Cheltenham final but Fergal O’Brien is considering an alternative race for him – the Stayers’ Hurdle.
* Betting odds quoted were correct at the time of writing. All odds are subject to change.