Two horses on the Friday card are returning to Ascot with their tail between their legs, having been overwhelmed by the Royal meeting, in the market for exorcising ghosts in the same surroundings but in the lighter, liberating company they find themselves.
Kemble, sent off at 25/1, actually travelled well up to a point in a hotly-contested Albany, enough to encourage that a mark of 88 is within her means now in a nursery (2.15), more so remembering that when winning at Windsor she’d beaten Illusionist, who ran very well for fifth in the Windsor Castle.
A handicap mark of 91, unchanged since the Royal meeting, wasn’t the only reason Lady Madison failed to impact in the Sandringham (finished 22nd of 27), but it is definitely on the high side for what she’s done, and though the field size in the 4.35 is more manageable the up-and-coming opposition may not be, principally Pesto.
There are form-lines and form-links to the July meeting at Newmarket, inevitably so, but sometimes from unusual sources, such as a four-runner race at Pontefract. Considering, however, that bin Suroor beat Johnston beat Stoute, and you get the feeling that it was no ordinary four-runner race.
‘Johnston in July’ is a well-worn trope, but it’s true, and he’s just motoring through the month again, with 17 winners and counting, Grenadier Guard fitting the bill as another one off the conveyor belt, unraced at two years and soaring this summer.
Ascot can generate specialists, and three of the ten in the sprint handicap at 5.10 are course and distance winners. Louie De Palma has done it twice, the latest in May, but who he beat that day is arguably more interesting.
Vegas Boy has been to Ascot twice and been placed twice, beaten just half-a-length by Louie De Palma, and now he’s 9lb better off. There’s not much pace in the race, in which case Vegas Boy’s prominent style may be an asset, and this could be a breakthrough for him into a full-blown “Ascot horse”.