Royal Ascot 2014: Jamie Lynch's Day 1 Preview
By Jamie Lynch -- published 16th June 2014
Jamie Lynch takes you through the card on day one of Royal Ascot 2014
Superstars of the present in three Group 1 races and superstars of the future in two prestigious juvenile events are what make the Tuesday of Royal Ascot the single best day's racing anywhere in the world. Forget Cheltenham, forget Dubai, forget the Breeders' Cup - Ascot is where it's at, and it starts with a bang.
The opening Queen Anne Stakes is a truly international contest, featuring the best of British in the shape of Toronado, the sexy transatlantic challenger named Verrazano, and South Africa's finest, Soft Falling Rain. Verrazano is a problem racehorse, because he has a problem being a racehorse, at least that's the way it looked several times in his up-and-down days in America.
After transfer to Ireland, he made a satisfactory start for Aidan O'Brien when third in the Lockinge, and the conventional wisdom is that he'll leap forward from it, but Verrazano simply doesn't do conventional. If, like me, you're dead against him, then the way is paved for an exacta on the other two, with Toronado taken on top of Soft Falling Rain.
The Night of Thunder - Kingman clash is being billed as Froch vs Groves grudge-ladened re-match, after Night of Thunder won narrowly on points at Newmarket in the Guineas, despite a wild late swing. Don't forget, though, that the St James's Palace Stakes will in fact be the third installment in their series, remembering that Kingman knocked him out cold in the Greenham back in April. There's no doubt in my mind that Kingman packs the bigger punch, as suggested in the Irish Guineas, a contest that could have been stopped long before the end.
The undercard bout - for third place - is Toormore against War Command, neither of whom boxed clever in the Guineas, finishing seventh and ninth respectively. War Command has more to prove out of the pair, as Toormore had previously shown all his powers were intact in the Craven. Kingman beats Night of Thunder in the main event, with Toormore winning the bronze-medal bout.
As for the best win bet on the first day, look no further than the new kid on the sprinting block: Hot Streak. There's fast, and then there's Hot Streak. It's a long time since Britain has produced a speedster as exciting as him, and his awesome win in last month's Temple Stakes at Haydock tells me that he has the legs on the older guard, including Sole Power and Shea Shea, who were first and second in the King's Stand last year.
One of the favourites for the premier two-year-old race at the meeting, the Coventry Stakes, is Adaay, whose quality also serves as a pointer towards the other juvenile event on the first day. That's because Mind of Madness made Adaay work hard when the pair fought out the finish of a conditions race at Yarmouth a fortnight ago, and he'll be more at home in the shallower waters of the Windsor Castle Stakes.
Mind of Madness had impressed above all with his speed with his striking winning debut over five furlongs, and reverting to that trip at Ascot will be right up his street. In a big field, he'll need luck and the right ride incorporating expert timing to pounce late, but there's no better man for that particular job at Ascot than Jamie Spencer. The risks attached means it's good idea to have the place part on your side, too, making him an each-way play. If things drop right for Mind of Madness and Spencer, then it could prove a very rewarding end to the first day of a unique week.