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Royal Ascot eyecatchers - Five beaten horses to follow during the rest of the season

Brian Healy 25 Jun 2019
Masar made an encouraging return to action at Royal Ascot.

Brian Healy looks back over the 2019 Royal Ascot racing action and picks out five beaten eyecatchers who could be worth keeping faith with this season.

The 2019 Royal Ascot Festival is now behind us, and five fantastic days of top-class horse racing action certainly left a big impression in the hearts and minds of punters and all associated with those horses who competed for some big prizes.

For some, it was a day in the sun despite the adverse weather which struck on the first couple of days of the Festival; while for others, dreams were quashed or burgeoning reputations enhanced or shattered over the course of the week.

There were many eye-catching performance throughout the five days, and Brian Healy looks back on a cracking Festival and picks out five beaten eye-catchers who ought to be worth following for the remainder of the season.


Too Darn Hot came into the St James’s Palace Stakes as John Gosden’s first choice, and the Dubawi colt was fancied by many to get back on the winning trail after a couple of disappointing runs.

However, it was another Gosden runner in KING OF COMEDY who shone brightest, and the Kingman colt might have won in another few strides having finished strongly from the back of the field.

The Heron Stakes winner was restrained early by Adam Kirby, with the rider content to let the action unfold in front of him before he made his move two furlongs out. He showed he perhaps still wasn’t the polished article by hanging left under pressure; but he stayed on well all the way to the line, and he was closing down the winner with every stride with just a neck separating the pair at the line.

That tendency to hang may just have cost him the race, although there is perhaps an argument that Adam Kirby could have raced a shade more prominently than he chose to do and ultimately may just have given his charge too much to do. 

Regardless of the defeat, it was an eye-catching run that hinted at better still to come with the prospect of further improvement, and a tilt at the Sussex Stakes could be next on the agenda.


Trained by Mark Johnston, VALE OF KENT was making his return from almost nine months off the track in the competitive Royal Hunt Cup, and the Kodiac gelding ran a blinder to finish seventh where he was beaten only around three lengths at the line.

Having shown good early speed, he kept on well once headed but possibly a lack of a run coming into such a competitive contest ultimately proved his downfall in the race. The run was all the more creditable given he had stumbled leaving the stalls, but he soon got into a decent position and it was only late on that he started to feel the pinch.

A six-time winner last term during a busy campaign, a trip to Newmarket for the Bunbury Cup or to Glorious Goodwood could be next on the agenda for the four-year old who won the Qatar Handicap at the Sussex track last term.

The four-year old ought to come on markedly for that first run of the season, and he can make his presence felt this term.


Richard Fahey’s VENTURA REBEL went to post in the Norfolk Stakes where he was defending an unbeaten record, and the Pastoral Pursuits colt made a excellent fist of things in finishing runner-up behind the impressive A’Ali.

Only beaten a neck behind Simon Crisford’s charge, he travelled well into the contest under Paul Hanagan, and he might well have gave the winner more of a fright had he not encountered late traffic problems when trying to deliver his challenge. 

It could be argued that he gave the winner just enough of a break as a result of his own troubled passage, but he was finishing off strongly although all too late to overhaul the winner’s advantage.

He showed good speed though and looks to have a big engine on him, and there may be even more to come when tried over six furlongs. It will be interesting where his trainer Richard Fahey elects to go now, with entries in the Weatherbys Super Sprint and the Group One Keeneland Phoenix Stakes, while the July Stakes at Newmarket could be another viable target for the youngster who looks to have a bright future. 


Roger Varian’s ROSEMAN had found only King Of Comedy too strong in the Listed Heron Stakes at Sandown in May, and the Kingman colt had stamina to prove when upped to ten furlongs for the Hampton Court Stakes.

Bumped on leaving the stalls, he raced keenly and was kept wide of the field by Andrea Atzeni, where he appeared to be ridden to get the trip and he was held up early before trying to deliver a challenge at the two furlong pole. 

He had looked a shade one-paced turning in, and for a while he appeared not to be making much headway before staying on well from the furlong pole to the line although that possible flat spot and having to race wide for most of the contest probably saw him give up too much ground to be able to claw back.

He finished off the race to good effect though, and he was only beaten around four lengths at the line. He looks sure to improve, and there didn’t appear to be any issues with the longer trip so it will be intriguing to see which route trainer Roger Varian goes with him.

If kept to the longer trip, then taking on his elders in the Group Two York Stakes could be a possible target, ora crack at a Group One prize, possibly the Juddmonte International may prove tempting to connections who look to have another potential star on their hands.


Returning Epsom Derby hero MASAR had been off the track since winning the colts’ Classic last June, and Charlie Appleby’s star ran much better than the bare result might otherwise suggest where the son of New Approach finished fifth in the Hardwicke Stakes.

Sent off 3/1 second favourite for the 1m4f contest where he took on the likes of Defoe - the eventual winner - as well as Mirage Dancer and Morando, an on-song Masar might have been expected to come home in front.

But he made almost calamitous start, stumbling badly leaving the stalls and almost unshipping jockey James Doyle from the saddle. However, he recovered well from that start and he was able to get into a challenging position up to the furlong pole where his lack of race-fitness began to tell and he faded into fifth having been unable to match the pace of the front trio who pulled away.

He’ll surely much sharper with that reappearance under his belt, and the Princess of Wales’ Stakes during the July Festival at Newmarket is likely to be the next target for the 2018 Epsom Derby winner, although he also holds entries for the Coral-Eclipse Stakes at Sandown next month, as well as the Irish Champion Stakes and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

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Royal Ascot eyecatchers - Five beaten horses to follow during the rest of the season

Brian Healy looks back over the 2019 Royal Ascot racing action and picks out five beaten eyecatchers who could be worth keeping faith with this season.

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