The 2014 Queen Anne Stakes gets underway on Tuesday at Ascot Racecourse, with Toronado the hot favourite to make a winning return to action in his first run of the season.
Toronado is among 10 horses declared for the Queen Anne Stakes, though he and trainer Richard Hannon will be hoping for much more success since his last outing.
At the Juddmonte International back in August, he failed to stay 10 furlongs and has been going through strict rehabilitation and training since then while gearing up for Ascot.
Though Toronado doesn’t have the advantage of having had a previous run, Hannon is incredibly confident that he can produce the goods on Tuesday, per Sky Sports:
This has always been Toronado's first target, and his preparation could not have gone better. He's in great nick and we've been very happy with him going in. His work has been good. He will improve for it, but I'd be disappointed if he didn't win. He won the Craven first time out last year, so we don't see lack of a prep-race being a problem, and we were all very impressed when we went a mile on the grass up at Everleigh last week, looking every inch the horse we think he is.
While Toronado is undoubtedly a champion horse, he still needs to prove himself on the track ahead of a tricky field, as we see below:
|2||Ansgar||S J Harty||100-1|
|3||Glory Awaits||K A Ryan||66-1|
|4||Mull Of Killough||J C Hyam||33-1|
|6||Side Glance||A M Balding||33-1|
|7||Soft Falling Rain||M F De Kock||6-1|
|9||Tullius||A M Balding||10-1|
|10||Verrazano||A P O'Brien||10-3|
Though Toronado is expected to run a riot at Ascot, Verrazano looks like a good value pick with the guidance of Aidan O’Brien behind him.
O’Brien has won this race three times in his career—most recently with last year’s champion Declaration of War—and is an expert on Ascot’s surface.
Despite Verrazano’s experience on the flat surface being extremely limited, his strong run at Newbury will have given O’Brien plenty of encouragement, and he looks worthy of a backing at 10-3.
Third favourite, Soft Falling Rain, who won his opening seven races before Newbury, will also pose Toronado a threat.
Despite his form lagging since his phenomenal streak, if the ground dries out at Ascot then he’s more than capable of staking a claim for the winner’s circle.
The good news for Soft Falling Rain backers is that the weather in York is expected to be favourable to his cause, as Channel 4 Racing revealed:
Another horse that could spring to life with the ground getting slightly firmer is Tullius, who demonstrated his ability by finishing second in the Lockinge Stakes.
As well as showing promising form of late, Tullius has previous success in this race—finishing third to Frankel in the Queen Anne Stakes 2012.
On a good day, Tullius is capable of beating any horse in the field and could be worth a flutter, but he’ll also need things to go his way if he’s to place once again at Ascot.
So much depends on how Toronado takes to the race on Tuesday. If he finds his best form at Ascot then the result is simple—Toronado will win.
He travels incredibly well and his turn of foot is up there with the very best horses; it’s just a case of bringing it all together on the day.
For an each-way bet, Soft Falling Rain seems the best option. Mike de Kock’s racer will definitely be in with a chance of victory on the Ascot track, and with the conditions leaning toward his favour, he could knock Toronado from his perch.
A fantastic race is shaping up to kick off the Royal meeting, and while the favourites have their tags for a reason, Ascot is no stranger to producing a shock winner or two. Drama awaits.