Cesare and Stronghold (BBC)

Last week, we were the delighted recipients of a DVD carrying the performances of Stronghold, and it was accompanied by a letter from Lord Grimthorpe, in which he wished us well with the horse. In the note he reflected on Stronghold’s magnificent performance in the Royal Hunt at Royal Ascot, and conjectured on the merits of Cesare. In going down just a nose in the event, Stronghold was conceding Cesare a stone, and earned himself the accolade of the “handicapping performance of the year”. That’s some praise, incidentally, coming from the world’s most respected rating agency Timeform, and it tells us something of the esteem in which Stronghold was held as a racehorse.

In his reflections, Lord Grimthorpe speculated that “his performance in the Royal Hunt Cup was rated the best handicap performance of the year by Timeform, when giving 14lbs to Cesare who is now a Group Two winner, and will run in a Group One on his next start”.

On Saturday, Cesare’s big moment in Group One company came in the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury. He was lying last in the early stages of the race, but unwound a terrific and sustained finish, to be denied less than a neck for the laurels.

On a straight line of form, considering Stronghold was conceding him 14 pounds in the Royal Hunt, you might’ve expected Stronghold to have won the event on Saturday, on his best form, by something of the order of 6-7 lengths, and so this was a serious compliment to a horse that we’re unwrapping on Stallion Day, come the first Sunday in July.