Night Of Thunder – Queen Anne Stakes, Royal Ascot
With the joys of Epsom’s Derby meeting fast becoming a distant memory the attention turns to Royal Ascot next week with the opening event on Tuesday’s racecard, the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes, getting the royal extravaganza off to the best possible start. Two of the world’s highest rated Flat performers, Solow and Able Friend, are on course to strut their stuff in the one mile contest in which the pair dominate the ante-post market, with bookmakers quoting no bigger than 7-4 and 5-2 respectively about the overseas challengers.
Unbeaten in his last six starts the Hong Kong-based Able Friend has looked awesome on occasions while the French-trained Solow, also on a six-run winning streak, could not have been more impressive in slamming the talented The Grey Gatsby at Meydan back in March, but as US raider Animal Kingdom showed in this race in 2013 when sent off a warm 5-4 favourite before beating only two of his twelve rivals home, the course can prove something of a culture shock to some, especially those travelling from the other side of the world.
Another impressive Meydan winner, Dolniya, looked a shadow of the horse who destroyed a high-class field in the Dubai Sheema Classic when failing to repel the late challenge of the exposed Pether’s Moon in Saturday’s Investec Coronation Cup, making the current price on offer about Freddy Head’s five-year-old Solow of little appeal on his first British start.
The home defence is headed by last year’s Qipco 2000 Guineas winner Night Of Thunder, the only horse to beat one of the outstanding milers in recent years in Kingman, and the Richard Hannon-trained son of Dubawi looks cracking each-way value at the 7-1 available with Paddy Power (1/4 odds 1-2-3) to see off the overseas challengers in a race that is likely to cut up badly come 2.30 next Tuesday afternoon.
Now owned by the powerful Godolphin enterprise Night Of Thunder got his season off to a winning start by taking Newbury’s Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes last month, form which could hardly have worked out any better with the third and fifth horses home (Arod and Cable Bay) both going on to land decent prizes recently. The horse has valuable experience of Ascot’s straight mile in finishing an unlucky half length second to Charm Spirit in the QE11 on heavy ground last October, a fact which could prove crucial against two outstanding rivals in next week’s mouth-watering opening contest to the royal meeting.
1 Point each-way Night Of Thunder 7-1 Paddy Power (1/4 odds 1-2-3)