Royal Ascot: now Britain's bookmakers make Tepin the one to beat
Britain is beginning to latch on to Tepin. The champion American mare was a relatively unconsidered outsider with most British bookmakers when it was first mooted she may run at Royal Ascot this summer, but now she is clear favourite for the £600,000 Queen Anne Stakes, and as short as 11-4 with one odds maker.
She took over at the head of the market yesterday, when it was announced that last year’s winner, the superstar French gelding Solow, is to miss the race this time. Solow, unbeaten in his last 10 races and winner of five G1s in 2015, had been as short as 15-8 to repeat on June 14 in what is the opening race of the five-day festival.
Solow versus Tepin had the potential to be one of the highlights of the meeting, but Freddy Head’s charge has still not fully recovered from a knock to a hind leg he suffered in March and is likely to be out of action for much longer than expected.
Even with Solow due to run, Nick Smith, Ascot’s Director of Racing and Communications, had high hopes for Tepin. “We really hope she would be good enough to, if not win the race, to go very, very close,” he said last month. “I can’t think of a better American turf challenger.”
Tepin had already been cut to 6-1 with bookmaker Paddy Power after her easy win in the G2 Churchill Distaff Turf Mile on the Kentucky Derby card on Saturday, when trainer Mark Casse said: “I guess we better start figuring out how we do this. As long as she is happy and healthy, the next day or two we’ll map out a plan. So I guess Royal Ascot here we come.”
Paddy Power led the way after the Solow news yesterday, slashing the Breeders’ Cup Mile winner and U.S. Champion Turf Mare to 11-4 for the Queen Anne. She is generally a 4-1 chance with most of their competitors.
A real picture of what opposition Tepin is likely to face at Ascot is set to take shape this Saturday, when the G1 Lockinge Stakes over a mile at Newbury features potentially three of her most significant rivals - the exciting 4-year-old Limato, who is stepping up from seven furlongs, the Richard Hannon-trained Toormore, who has been prominent in many of Europe’s top mile races for the past couple of seasons, and the 4-year-old Dutch Connection, winner of the seven-furlong G3 Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot last season.
The Henry Candy-trained Limato, favourite for the Lockinge and a general 6-1 shot for the Queen Anne, has high-class form over six and seven furlongs, but there are doubts about him getting the trip over the stiff straight miles both at Newbury and Ascot.
Neither Dutch Connection, just fifth behind Grand Arch in the Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland last October, nor Toormore, with whom he is fairly closely matched, have form that should trouble Tepin.
Second favourite for the Queen Anne (shortest price 5-1) is the promising Dubawi 4-year-old Time Test, another winner of a G3 at Royal Ascot last year. The colt, owned by Prince Khalid Abdullah, was well behind Tepin in the Breeders’ Cup Mile last season but has a big reputation and is believed to be capable of much better.
But perhaps the biggest threat to the American star could come from another mare - the Aga Khan’s three-time G1 winner Ervedya, winner of the G1 Coronation Stakes (edging out Found) over a mile at Royal Ascot last season. She is generally a 10-1 shot for Ascot, for which she has yet to be confirmed.