What are the best bets in the Queen Anne Stakes?
The opening race of the royal meeting is run over the straight mile and always attracts a high-class field, with the likes of Goldikova, Frankel and Solow (last year) adding their names to the roll call of winners this millennium.
The US-trained Tenpin has won nine of her last 11 races, going close in the other two, and those wins include last season’s Breeders’ Cup Mile. Officially the joint highest-rated runner (with Time Test), she has been put in as a general 4/1 favourite and, with the ground likely to be riding on the soft side of good, punters looking to get involved will take encouragement from her seven-length success in a Grade 1 at Keeneland last October on soft. Now for the negatives. She’s racing on a straight mile for the first time, won’t be running on Lasix (a performance-enhancing drug permitted in the States) and will be without the nasal strip she usually wears. You only have to cast your mind back 12 months to when Animal Kingdom (also trained in the US) was turned over in this race as 5/4 favourite, to strengthen the case for looking elsewhere for the winner.
Who else is fancied?
Last season’s Coronation Stakes winner Ervedya is back for more having added a further Group 1 to her CV at Longchamp in September and made a satisfactory reappearance when second at Saint-Cloud. This represents her toughest task to date, but French fillies have a habit of performing well in this and she handles cut in the ground.
The British challenge is headed by Roger Varian’s Belardo and he is coming off a career-best success in the Group 1 Lockinge at Newbury, where he had several of today’s rivals in behind. A top-class miler on his day and possibly still improving, he will get the cut in the ground he needs to run right up to his best (2-2 on soft). However, the Newbury third, Endless Drama, has only a length-and-a-quarter to make up and that’s entirely possible given he was having his first start for 12 months. He will again be ridden by Colin Keane, one of the bright young stars among the ranks of Irish jockeys.
Any decent outsiders?
It’s 10/1 bar the four already mentioned and this has not been a race for shock results in recent times – Ad Valorem (2006) being the biggest-priced winner at 13/2 in the last ten runnings. Still, Esoterique is entitled to plenty of respect as she found only Solow a length too good in last year’s renewal and has gone from strength to strength since, with Group 1 victories at Deauville (soft) and Newmarket to her name. She was beaten at odds-on her reappearance at Saint-Cloud just ten days ago, though, and you have to go back to 1976 to find the last winner aged over five (another black mark against Tenpin).
Trainer quote: “I am probably not being fair to him [Endless Drama] by throwing him straight into a Group 1 and it might be asking too much. He is as fit as I can have him but he is only going to get better as the year goes on” – Ger Lyons before the Lockinge.
Who’s going to win?
Not the classiest renewal and no standout performer. Fillies can boast a good recent record – one winner, three seconds and one third from seven runners in the past eight renewals – and Ervedya may do best from that sex. However, ENDLESS DRAMA went close in the Lockinge and given he’s a monster of a horse, weighing in at around 570 kilos, that race will have done him the world of good and left him cherry-ripe for this assignment. His previous outing, a close second to Gleneagles in last season’s Irish 2000 Guineas, is another eye-catching piece of form and with just five starts under his belt, it’s most unlikely we’ve seen the best of him, with Ascot likely to suit him better than Newbury.
Endless Drama 2pts @ 8/1 Ladbrokes