Oriental Fox Seeking Second “Queen Alexandra Stakes”

Oriental Fox Queen Alexndra Stakes

Oriental Fox

It’s the longest flat race in Britain and very possibly in the world of international flat racing. It’s also the last of the 30 spectacular races spread over the five superb days at Royal Ascot. The Queen Alexandra Stakes, run over two miles, five furlongs and 159 yards, is the ultimate stamina test, especially if, as expected, the ground will be on the soft side of good.

There are not many racehorses who actually have the stamina to see at this marathon trip at a strong gallop, so proven ability to stay is an absolute pre-requisite when searching for the winner of this event, often contested by useful hurdlers, as well as regular campaigners from the staying races on the flat.

It is often the case that some horses who have contested the Ascot Stakes Handicap over two miles on the opening day of the fixture, may line up for a crack at the longer event five days later, and champion Irish jumps trainer Willie Mullins memorably sent out the tough as teak Simenon to win both races in 2012. Now a nine-year-old, Simenon (9/1) is a possible contender for this race, although he hasn’t run since October. He remains a smart stayer and was fourth to Trip to Paris in last year’s Group 1 Ascot Gold Cup so would be a big threat if he does indeed take his chance.

Oriental Fox (4/1), Queen Alexandra Stakes Favorite to Win

Oriental Fox (4/1), trained by Mark Johnston, finished fifth in the 2014 renewal of the Ascot Gold Cup before winning the Queen Alexandra Stakes by seven lengths in 2015 on good to firm ground. Because this is a stakes race and not a handicap, there are often horses competing at level weights whose abilities are very different, yet the extreme distance can bring them closer together. Oriental Fox was rated 105 when he won, while the second horse, Taws, was rated just 88.

Johnston’s thorough stayer ended last term being beaten just a short-head by Grumeti in the valuable Cesarewitch Handicap at Newmarket before running third in a German Group 3 race, and was a respectable fourth in listed company on his only start so far this campaign at Ascot over an inadequate mile-and-a-half. He looks to have been trained specifically for a repeat Royal Ascot victory and appears the one they all have to beat. He goes on any ground.

Grumeti (12/1) and Top Contenders

Queen Alexandra Stakes 2016

Grumeti (12/1), conqueror of Oriental Fox at Newmarket last autumn, failed to shine over hurdles this winter but Alan King’s gelding ran much better back on the flat at York last month when a close fifth to Saigon City. He is respected and might prove sound each-way value at around 12/1.

Willie Mullins is always to be feared in staying races and may run the useful Pique Sous (8/1), winner of the this event back in 2014.

He’s had his training problems since then and was absent for 23 months until returning to the fray at the Curragh last month where he was never a factor but shaped as though he still retains some ability when keeping on into 10th place over a mile-and-a-half, way short of his optimum trip. He is another who would be a major player if he still has the fire in his belly.

Rod Millman’s Taws (20/1), the horse who ran a cracker and defied the official statistics to finish runner-up to Oriental Fox last year, could be back for another attempt at the race. He went on to prove that effort no fluke by finishing second in the Goodwood Stakes at the ‘Glorious’ meeting, but he hasn’t run since finishing last of eleven in the Group 2 Doncaster Cup last September and would need to be 100% fit if he is to make an impression again in this grueling Royal Ascot finale.

In the News

[1] sportinglife.com, Oriental Fox was an easy winner of the Queen Alexandra Stakes, 2015