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Horses can be compared to wine. Some need to be enjoyed in the first flush of youth, while others, like good claret, mature with age.
Saturday’s feature race, the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot, serves up a clash of these archetypes. George Washington and Librettist are at the head of the market in a contest where it may pay to favour age over beauty.
“Gorgeous” George Washington is a colt blessed with matinee-idol looks and an excess of youthful exuberance. He had five unbeaten runs at the age of two and three, including winning the 2000 Guineas from future Derby winner Sir Percy. He looked like a star in the making that day, but was injured and hasn’t quite been on song since.
His 6/4 price is frankly silly. A frightening statistic is that seven of the 13 winners of the 2000 Guineas before George Washington never won a race again. Youthful promise is not always fulfilled.
Librettist has a very different profile, largely as a result of circumstances. He won a maiden at two before finishing fifth in the Dewhurst, one of the best races for juveniles. He did not race at three, though, after suffering an injury. This year he has been slowly stepped up in grade, winning five on the spin including two Group One contests in France.
Godolphin’s 1999 winner Dubai Millennium and last year’s runner-up, Dubawi, also won the Prix Jacques Le Marois on their way to Ascot. Araafa looks the best of the classic generation, though another Godolphin runner, Proclamation, also merits respect.
It takes a good ’un to claim the Meon Valley Stud Fillies’ Mile. Previous winners include Reams of Verse, Soviet Song and Red Bloom. Trainer Jeremy Noseda’s Simply Perfect fits the bill.
In the lucky last, smart hurdler Fair Along will take all the beating.
3:10 – Simply Perfect (win)
4:20 – Librettist (win)
5:25 – Fair Along (win)