Royal Ascot 2018: Ken Condon seeks coup in St James’s Palace Stakes

first_imgThe British equivalent of Condon might be Roger Teal, a Lambourn trainer who is also punching above his weight with a strong contender in Tuesday’s race, his Tip Two Win having been a close second in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket. A win for either would be seen as a popular, underdog victory.Punters are sticking with the man they know, having made John Gosden’s Without Parole favourite, even though the horse’s form does not yet come anywhere near what Romanised has achieved. Surely the sport needs to be shown that lots of trainers have the talent to win major races, given the right material?“I probably wouldn’t go down that road,” Condon demurs. “I think these guys have their couple of hundred horses because they deserve it, because of their results. All credit to them and that’s life, you know, that’s Darwin’s theory, survival of the fittest.“We’re trying to find our own niche and you’re true to your own thought on the game. I’m just very grateful to have a horse of that calibre. Roger Teal’s horse looks a very nice horse as well and it’ll be a good race. It’ll be exciting for us to be involved.”Without Parole is a son of Frankel, to be ridden by Frankie Dettori, and Condon is in no danger of underestimating him. “He has the right connections, he’s a very well-bred colt and he was very much on everyone’s lips before his debut. He obviously does things well at home and is showing a lot of talent.” Read more … we have a small favour to ask. More people, like you, are reading and supporting the Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many news organisations, we made the choice to keep our reporting open for all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford to pay.The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. 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Frankie Dettori Read more The Recap: sign up for the best of the Guardian’s sport coverage Share on Messenger If one were to imagine a sporting version of a socialist paradise, it would not look much like Royal Ascot and there is no surprise each year when the major races at the Queen’s track are won by enormously wealthy owners, working with big-name trainers. But Tuesday’s St James’s Palace Stakes really might redistribute a chunk of prize money from those who have to those who need and Ken Condon, a much-liked but low-profile trainer, is hoping to be among those to benefit.Only those who follow racing quite closely are likely to be familiar with Condon’s work. His is not one of those behemoth operations which start each year with more than 200 horses and end up with some good ones by sheer weight of numbers. Only 30 heads poke out into his yard at Ridge Manor Stables and there is no room for more. Share on Facebook Since you’re here… Royal Ascot Topics The Observer Support The Guardian Quality has been his focus since he started training in 2002 and in recent years the 44-year-old has got into the habit of making ninja-like raids on second-tier prizes in Britain, scooping up useful cash and returning to his base on the Curragh before some realised he was here. But now, thanks to Romanised, Condon’s arrival at Ascot is anticipated.Despite odds of 25-1, Romanised won last month’s Irish 2,000 Guineas, beating horses trained by the mighty Aidan O’Brien into second, third and fourth. Runners owned by Dubai’s ruling family finished fifth and sixth. Condon’s colt finished clear of them all, eliciting a lot of pleasure from the crowd at his local track for a man described by some as “the nicest guy in Irish racing”.Condon laughs at the label. “You wouldn’t want to believe half of what you hear, that’s what I’d say about that. I’m very much humbled by the reaction but there’s plenty fellas like me. Everyone would love to get their hands on a top horse.” “It’s a little bit of a transitionary time. We’ll see what happens by September. I think there’s a few nice ones among them.”While he waits for the juveniles to come good, Condon is plotting his way with a handful of three-year-olds and older horses. Look out for him at Carlisle on 27 June, where he may run Mamba Noire in a Listed race he won last year.In the meantime he can savour the memory of Romanised’s powerful finish at the Curragh last month. “It’s probably good for the game,” he concedes. “It keeps everyone trying, keeps them going back to the sales to try and find that next horse. It’s the old adage, a good horse can turn up anywhere.” But Condon has been granted the dry weather he wanted for Romanised, which will produce the sort of fast ground he can quicken off in the final quarter-mile. All the trainer wishes for now is a helpful stalls position from Sunday’s draw. Romanised is a habitual slow starter, so a low-numbered stall could be a kind of coffin, leading to him being boxed in at the back of the field against the inside rail. “Give us middle to outer and Shane [Foley, his jockey] can take it from there,” the trainer says.Anyone could be happy about bagging the St James’s Palace Stakes but success for Condon would mean all the more because winners have been hard to come by in recent months. Remarkably the Irish Guineas has been the only race won by any of his charges since July.But there is no need to get the vets round to test for a virus. The population of Condon’s stable explains why he has been slow to get going this year; 19 of his 30 horses are two-year-olds, meaning his yard is really a nursery, full of youngsters whose talent will hopefully become apparent. Talking Horses: Beware backing the odds-on shots at Royal Ascot Reuse this content Horse racing Share on Pinterest Share on LinkedIn Share on Twitter Share via Email Royal Ascot 2018 tipping guide: St George has fire to slay Gold Cup rivals news Read more Sign up to The Recap, our weekly email of editors’ picks. Share on WhatsApplast_img

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