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The home of intelligent horse racing discussion

Little Big Bear’s Brother Whistlejacket Punches His Ticket to Ascot – But Can He Steal the Show?

Pomp is British. It’s something we do well and we try to own it as often as we can. Royal Ascot is one of those moments that puts us on the global stage to showcase our talent for monarchy, aristocracy, and hosting an event that leaves as many people as possible chuffed.

The racing aficionados love it, and also those casual fans who tune in for the big meets are keen too. There are plenty of contenders to learn about and have gut feelings about. Whistlejacket is one of those horses. Arriving on the scene with all the pedigree Little Big Bear’s full brother could, it’s hard to ignore him. After his Curragh performance, he booked his ticket to Ascot. But can he be a true contender?

Whistlejacket’s Early Career

The journey to the Royal Ascot meeting hasn’t been what anyone would describe as easy. Debuting last month, Joseph O’Brien’s Cowardofthecounty beat Whistlejacket over six furlongs. It was a resounding defeat. When the Listed-class Fain First Flier Stakes came around, though, Whistlejacket got it together and turned up, showing off that lineage.

Winning the Gain First Flier Stakes

Arizona Blaze set a mean pace to follow. With Ryan Moore as the jockey on Whistlejacket, they did manage to compete. Moore’s guidance proved to be pivotal – it was with him that Whistlejacket gained a margin in his favour, enough to put his hooves down and hit the ground hard and develop a lead. Crossing the finish line with a three and three-quarter lengths distance between him and the chasing pack was a conclusive victory.

Trainer Aidan O’Brien was understandably chuffed with his charge’s performance, noting Whistlejacket’s impressive speed and progression. He also hinted that the colt might skip any prep races and head straight to Ascot. Confidence or caution? Only time will tell.

Aidan O’Brien’s Coventry Stakes Record

Coventry Stakes is a race that Aidan O’Brien knows like the back of his hand. Last year, he notched his tenth win in the event with River Tiber. (That’s got to be some kind of record, right?) If Whistlejacket can follow in his stablemate’s hoofprints, O’Brien might need to invest in a bigger trophy cabinet.

But Whistlejacket isn’t the only horse with Ascot aspirations. Jessica Harrington’s Barnavara turned heads with a sparkling debut in the Irish EBF Median Sires Series Maiden. With Shane Foley in the irons, the Calyx filly battled gamely with Kilmood Susan before pulling away to score by four lengths at a tasty 5-1.

Harrington was delighted with Barnavara’s performance, especially considering it was her first time on grass. The filly showed her versatility by handling the softer ground and the six-furlong distance with aplomb. A tilt at the Albany Stakes could be on the cards for Barnavara, but Harrington is keeping her options open, waiting to see how the filly comes out of her impressive debut victory.

So, as the countdown to the Royal Ascot begins, the stage is set for a showdown of equine superstars. Will Whistlejacket hit the high notes and bring home the hardware? Or will Barnavara steal the spotlight? One thing’s for sure – it’s going to be a thriller.


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