Ante-Post Value – The Diamond Jubilee Stakes
Sprints are by far my favourite betting mediums and having already covered the King’s Stand on day one, it’s now time to shoot over the the final day of the Royal meeting at Ascot in an attempt to find the winner of the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes over 6f.
It is sure to be another fast and furious sprint, albeit not quite as much as the King’s Stand, and that’s about all I’ll be saying with absolute certainty! Again, draw and track biases are likely to come into play but I’ll have to make some assumptions there and hope for the best.
Irish raider Slade Power is currently top of the list at a general 6/1 and Eddie Lynam’s former C&D winning 5-year-old made a fine return to action at the Curragh last month, defeating the talented Maarek on soft-to-heavy having travelled beautifully before quickening away in a matter of strides.
The bare impression would suggest that he has improved over the winter and there’s no doubt that this horse is the one to beat, but his price is simply unappealing, so I’m out quite quickly!
Connections of Aljamaaheer seem fully intent on turning their charge into a sprinter and given the way that the 5-year-old can travel mid-race over further, that’s hardly a surprise. Being by Dubawi out of a Rainbow Quest mare, you wouldn’t mark him down as being a sprinter on breeding but there’s little doubt in my mind that he’s quick enough to lay up with the best of them in these events (as long as there’s a proper race-pace; by proper, I mean one that’s rapid!), so has to be of interest at 8/1, currently shading second-favouritism.
He also has the all important Ascot form that helps to show he’ll act on the track (many don’t take to the place for whatever reason) and that includes a Group 2 success in the Summer Mile last July and, before that, he was second to Declaration Of War in the Queen Anne at this meeting (didn’t get home but travelled so well). High-class form.
His sprinting debut in April didn’t go too well as he was the victim of a not-so-great ride from Paul Hanagan in the Group 3 Abernant Stakes and that form alone wouldn’t be enough to win this. However, he was clearly better than the result would suggest at Newmarket and that venue can ruin all of us, never mind a debutante sprinter who was held up and ridden deader than something that is exceptionally dead; quite frequently, the front-runners won’t come back at Newmarket and the winner there, Hamza, certainly didn’t.
I’m inclined to think that he’s going to improve plenty on that run and the experience alone shouldn’t be lost on him, as he wouldn’t be used to racing at such speed from the word go in his earlier career as, mainly, a miler. My issues are that he’s reliant on luck in-running given his run-style and will have to be drawn somewhere close to pace if he’s to show his true worth, which won’t be determined for another while yet. As such, at a single-figured price, I’m leaning towards the “leave him alone for now” side of the fence.
At a fancy price of 20/1, taking an each-way punt on the 3-year-old Due Diligence gets preference over backing Aljamaaheer and I will be thoroughly interested to see how the Coolmore colt would get on should the ground end up being somewhat quick. Being by War Front, even ignoring the way that he moves, you’d think that getting onto a road would be in his favour and in a Nass Listed race last time out (good-to-yielding, so not exactly road-like), on what was his third start for Aidan O’Brien, he looked mightily impressive.
I know, it’s a far cry from what the colt will be facing on Saturday week, but it looked a grand race of its type and he absolutely hammered them, making all of the running before powering clear inside the final furlong; the way he stretched out was highly attractive. His nearest rival was nearly 4-lengths behind and it was an encouraging run to say the least.
Gauging how much more he has to offer is difficult as we’ve only seen him on the track five times – just three since he moved over from America – and he’s a relative baby in the sprint division, but it seems like he’s well-thought of at Ballydoyle and I get the impression that we haven’t seen the best of him, not by a long chalk. He’ll improve with time and experience, and if it somehow turns up fast at Royal Ascot next weekend, they’ll do well to catch him. 20/1 is a price worth chancing and I’ll do so with an each-way bet.
Selection for the Diamond Jubilee (4:25 Ascot; Saturday, 21st June):
Due Diligence – 20/1 each-way, available generally.
Post by James Boyle on 11th June 2014.
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