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Which juvenile has impressed most plus the 'forgotten horse' in the King's Stand

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In some ways, juvenile contests are my favourite kind of races to watch. Between the sky-high sale prices, towering reputations and almighty heap of unknown lies the promise of the future. 

Things are kicking up a notch in the division with Royal Ascot approaching and the last week has been very informative. 

Blackbeard was a smooth winner of the Marble Hill Stakes at the Curragh on Saturday, prompting bookmakers to cut him to 4-1 co- favourite for the Coventry Stakes alongside Persian Force and Noble Style.


Blackbeard heads to top of Coventry market after impressive Marble Hill win


The race has a good track record at producing smart types. Subsequent Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Siskin won it in 2019, with that year's Windsor Castle winner Southern Hills trailing in last of five on what was his debut.

Caravaggio (2016) and Fairyland (2018) both won the race before going on to win Group 1s and become among the quickest of their generation, and Blackbeard produced a Racing Post Rating (107) to match Caravaggio, who won the Coventry, Phoenix Stakes and Commonwealth Cup in a short but stellar career.

Predictably, the time was marginally quicker than the 6f maiden on the card but was over two seconds slower than Brad The Brief in the Group 2 Greenlands Stakes.

Blackbeard is by No Nay Never, who won the Norfolk himself and already has a Coventry winner to his name courtesy of Arizona.

Royal Scotsman: impressed at Goodwood on Friday

On the same day, Bradsell took apart a 6f novice stakes at York on debut, prompting bookmakers to add him to the Coventry market at 8-1.


Watch Bradsell's dominant debut at York last weekend 


He won by nine lengths, but my instinct is he may have been flattered slightly as the 16-1 second had yet to win in two starts and the time wasn't anything spectacular. 

He was bought for £47,000 at the breeze-ups but could have more improvement in him than some of those tend to as he's out of an Archipenko mare (often a stamina influence) who won a Listed race over seven furlongs.

I also think Bradsell's sire, Tasleet, is one to keep an eye on in the first-season ranks. Omniqueen could represent him in the Hilary Needler at Beverley on Saturday while Carmela and Texas Hold Em' are smart types too. 

Of all of the two-year-old performances last week though, Royal Scotsman impressed me most. 

He had the benefit of experience as he was fourth to Noble Style and Walbank, the latter bolting up at York on Sunday, at Ascot towards the start of the month, but still dispatched his rivals with a sharp turn of foot, seeing out the race really well to win by five lengths.


Watch Royal Scotsman win easily at Goodwood last Friday 


Exceed And Excel colts Bluelight Bay and Mischief Magic were both making their debuts in second and third, and 11-4 favourite and previous winner Kaasib may have not run his race, but Royal Scotsman beat eighth-placed Dayyan further than he did at Ascot so clearly took a big jump forward. 

The jockeys described the ground as soft, which may have suited the son of Gleneagles and he was well positioned towards the near rail, but a quote of 16-1 with Coral for the Coventry still seemed slightly generous given the nature of his success.

He was also half a second quicker than the John and Thady Gosden-trained Fully Wet, who won the fillies' novice stakes over the same trip on Saturday on much better ground. 


Plucky Ponntos one to watch

Our five-furlong sprinters aren't any great shakes at the moment. It would be fantastic if the Queen's King's Lynn could win the King's Stand in the Platinum Jubilee year but he is going to have to improve on Saturday's Temple Stakes win to do so. 

Things could set up well for him and Haydock runner-up Twilight Calls though, as I expect Golden Pal and Nature Strip will tear off from the get-go. 

There's definitely a forgotten horse in this year's King Stand though, and that is the Czech representative Ponntos – yes, you heard that right. 

No Czech-trained horse has ever won at the royal meeting but Ponntos put in a huge performance to win the Prix de Saint-Georges at Chantilly last month, which appears to have largely gone unnoticed.

Ridden by Frankie Dettori for the first time, he was like a bullet from the stalls and soon established a clear lead, tactics that have served him well in his native country from what I can deduce from the replays I've seen on the Czech Jockey Club site.

He had the whole field cooked from some way out and actually stretched even further clear in the closing stages to win by two and a half lengths, with top-class horses like Suesa and Air De Valse in behind. 

He was beaten seven lengths by Air De Valse when a respectable seventh in the Prix de l'Abbaye last year but he was slightly intimidated after the start then and his action looks quite close to the ground, suggesting the heavy surface may have blunted his speed somewhat. 

The fact is, Golden Pal and Nature Strip churn out mid-120 RPRs for breakfast and they rightly head the betting at 5-2 and 4-1, but we don't have anything like them on our shores.

Ponntos recorded an RPR of 120 in the Saint-Georges, which puts him 6lb clear of King's Lynn and 1lb better than A Case Of You produced when winning the Abbaye.

His front-running style may not augur well for this year's King's Stand given the forecast hot early pace, but he's only four, so there could be even more improvement in the locker, and a price of 33-1 underestimates him. It could become even more attractive if Dettori is confirmed to ride again, too.


Read these next:

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Don't miss the Racing Post Royal Ascot Guide 2022. Only £14.99, the 192-page guide is packed with tips and information for the five-day festival of top-class Flat racing, including profiles of the leading horses and the lowdown on the top trainers and jockeys. Order your copy here or call 01933 304858. Use the code ASCOTJUBILEE to get £2 off for a limited period only.


Of all of the two-year-old performances last week though, Royal Scotsman impressed me most
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