Royal Ascot Handicaps 2022: Golden Gates Stakes
The last handicap at Royal Ascot is the Golden Gates Stakes. It’s not as rich as the Wokingham on the last day, but it has some great exotics opportunities so it will be our handicap focus for Day 5.
Unlike most of the handicaps, there’s a clear favorite here in #4 Missed The Cut. After finishing fourth on debut at big odds at Newmarket to three Godolphin runners — one of which is Golden Gates race rival #1 Aldous Huxley — he scored two exceptional victories, one by 11 lengths at Pontefract, and the other by 5 1/2 lengths at Salisbury.
A rare runner by Quality Road in Europe, Missed The Cut looks to be a horse going places and he will be hard to beat. James McDonald, the Australia-based New Zealander who has already won twice at the Royal meet, partners the colt for young trainer George Boughey.
#1 Aldous Huxley will carry topweight and should not be ignored. After finishing second at Newmarket to the well-regarded New London, he stepped up to Listed company and was narrowly beaten by Lionel in the Cocked Hat Stakes at Goodwood. And though Missed The Cut has improved since he clashed with Aldous Huxley at Newmarket, it’s worth noting the latter gave Missed The Cut seven pounds that day and was 6 3/4 lengths ahead of him. The weight gap here is just six pounds.
Godolphin has three other solid candidates in #4 Honiton, who like Aldous Huxley is from the Gosden stable, and the Charlie Appleby pair of #6 Blue Trail and #7 Falling Shadow. Honiton is backing up a week after winning by nine lengths at Sandown; prior to that he had placed twice behind subsequent Royal Ascot winners: second to King George V Stakes winner Secret State, and third to subsequent Queen’s Vase winner Eldar Eldarov on the Newcastle Polytrack. He’s a solid chance if he’s recovered from his Sandown victory.
Falling Shadow was first past the post in his last three races. He had the second of those, at Wolverhampton Dec. 11, taken from him for racing with a prohibited substance, but he showed he didn’t need that when winning easily when resuming at Newbury May 13. Godolphin’s number one rider, William Buick, will be aboard, which may be why he’s the second favorite in Britain.
Blue Trail may have the most difficult task of the Godolphin quartet. He had his first four starts on synthetic tracks, winning at Southwell and Kempton before finishing fourth in the Cardinal Conditions Stakes (a European Road to the Kentucky Derby race), a long way behind the winner, subsequent Dante (G2) fourth Dark Moon Rising. Blue Trail was then third on his first turf start, at Sandown April 22.
The Aidan O’Brien-Ryan Moore combination are represented by #12 Sun King, a winner two back who then disappointed when sixth at Navan May 28. It may be worth keeping an eye on the market with him.
Better chances might be three horses that have won their last two races: #3 Phantom Flight, #11 Chairman, and #13 Knightswood. All three should be considered, with Chairman perhaps the best of them at the weights.
Perhaps the most interesting runner is #8 Pervade, who comes across from the French stable of Francis-Henri Graffard for an Ascot handicap. He won twice on all-weather tracks at the start of the year before recording minor placings on turf at Saint-Cloud and Parilly. It’s a fair way to come for a handicap, albeit a £100,000 one, so he should be respected.
I’m definitely in the camp of Missed The Cut here. He looks to have potential to run in stronger grades as the season goes on, and I expect him to show something here. All the Godolphin runners look to have a chance, while Chairman looks the best of the others.