The Gold Cup (Group 1)

Lucius Tiberius on his way out to win his maiden at the Curragh recently.

Order Of St George will once again go off favourite for the Gold Cup.

He was an odds on favourite both last year and in 2016. He justified it in 2016 but last year he couldn’t reel in Big Orange going down a short head. He’s run six times since losing only the once in the Arc over for him, an inadequate trip where he still managed to finish fourth going down only 5 L to Enable.

He’s a fabulous stayer but this could well be his toughest test yet in the division. He meets Varizabad France’s star stayer for the first time and Stradivarius the young pretender to the crown and then there’s his old nemesis Torcedor to contend with as well.

There are only two G1’s in the Pattern Racing calender over this trip of two and a half mile’s each year, this and the Prix du Cadran held in France on Arc day. Alain De Royer-Dupre’s Varizabad was second in the French race in 2016 and won it last year. He comes here on the back of two G2 win’s this year, at Meyden and his prep for this at home at Longchamp.

Stradivarius is also in top form after a good win in the Yorkshire Cup in mid May where he beat Desert Skyline 3 L and Max Dynamite 6 L. He will vie for favouritism on the back that performance. The John Gosden Frankie Dettori combination will be looking for compensation for the defeat of Cracksman yesterday.

Torcedor also comes here in rude health and had 8 L to spare over Desert Skyline here at Ascot in the Sagaro Stakes a couple of weeks earlier at the beginning of May.

The four of them all look like they will bring their A game here today and it promises a momentous battle up the straight. Class will have to prevail to win.

It will be a ding-dong battle with Frankie likely to be the first to commit. Christophe Soumillon will chase him down with the Irish pair being played late. Colm Donoghue might catch the front pair but as the line appears Ryan Moore might just get the last ounce out of Order Of St George to get him home.

In the lucky last the King George V Stakes Ballydoyle’s Lucius Tiberius also represents good each way value and could even double up for Ryan Moore.

Recommendation: Order Of St George 2/1 win

                                        Lucius Tiberius 20/1 ew

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The Prince Of Wales’s Stakes (Group 1)

Cliffs Of Moher chases home Lancaster Bomber in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh.

Cracksman hasn’t been beaten since the Irish Derby last year when Capri denied him at the Curragh. He racked up five wins on the bounce since, the last three at top level. He was imperious in the Champion Stakes here last October winning 7 L from Poet’s Word and on his comeback run in April the Prix Ganay he was professional though not spectacular. The wheels nearly came off in the Coronation Cup when he was just got the job done beating Salouen a head getting up late to snatch victory.

Are there cracks appearing or is that he just hates Epsom and it’s undulations.

His previous visit to the track was for last year’s Derby where he finished third a  neck behind Cliffs Of Moher in second and 3/4 L in front of Eminent who finished fourth. Neither if the trio could cope with the fast finishing Wings Of Eagles who nailed them all to win.

Granted he’s a different colt now, stronger, leaner, meaner and streetwise. A man compared to last year’s boy. At the same time connections of the opposition will have been encouraged that Epsom this year leaves a chink in his armour.

Cliffs Of Moher was a bruised animal after Epsom last year and those exertions took their toll over the remainder of the season. He was beaten six times between then and revisiting the winners enclosure when he beat Ken Condon’s Success Days at Naas in the G2 Mooresbridge Stakes at the beginning of May. He since followed up with a nice run in the Tattersalls Gold Cup where he put in a good display running second behind stable companion Lancaster Bomber. Both those runs were over 10f, a trip he’s raced exclusively at since last year’s Derby. His confidence is returning.

Poet’s Word running second to Decorated Knight in last year’s Irish Champion Stakes

Poet’s Word was no match for Cracksman in last year’s Champion Stakes and in the Irish Champion Stakes he finished second to Decorated Knight in front of both Eminent and Cliffs Of Moher. Sir Michael Stoute has also had to rebuild confidence this year and in The Sheema Classic he was held 3 L by Hawkbill though when dropped in class in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes he did get that confidence win.

Charlie Appleby is in flying form this year. Masar and Blue Point have put Godolphin back on the European Group 1 map. Hawkbill has to overcome a poor run when 25 L behind Cracksman in the Coronation though he is a previous Royal Ascot winner when the took the Tercentenary Stakes (formerly The Hampton Court Stakes) in 2016. The French raider Royal Julius needs a considerable step up from an Italian Group 2 win and likewise David Simcock’s Desert Encounter will have to find a new level of form to trouble the judge here.

Cracksman gave his supporters a mighty scare last time out, it could happen again. If it does the only one to have previously beaten him could do it again.

Recommendation: Cliffs of Moher 12/1 ew

 

 

 

Saint James’s Palace Stakes (Group 1)

Embed from Getty Images

Romanised storms home in the Irish 2000 Guineas at the Curragh. Picture courtesy of Getty Images and Ray McManus.

Without Parole heads the market for this. He’s been a talking horse since his demolition of Ostilio at Yarmouth in April and he’s since won at Sandown in May beating Gabr in not quite so convincing fashion albeit on soft ground. Gabr takes him on here again. He’s by Frankel and is trained by John Gosden which is why he’s so short in the market. If he didn’t have such illustrious connections he’d be a far bigger price.

The form horse here is Ken Condon’s Romanised.

He was our recommendation for the Irish 2000 Guineas and he didn’t disappoint coming home a comfortable 2 1/4 L’s in front of US Navy Flag with Gustav Klimt a further 1 1/4 L’s back in third with Threeandfourpence another length away in fourth. He loved the firm ground at the Curragh and there was no fluke about it. He travelled easy in behind and when Shane Foley produced him on the outside he easily dismissed the O’Brien trio in a matter of strides displaying a serious turn of foot.

Roger Teal’s Tip To Win ran second at Newmarket behind Saxon Warrior in the English 2000 Guineas with Masar a head behind him in third. Again there was no fluke about the performance and the form has got a considerable boost not from Saxon Warrior but from Masar with his victory in the Derby.

Godolphin are represented by the French trained Wootton. Henri-Alex Pantall’s colt lost his unbeaten run in the Poule d’Essai des Poulains when going down 2 L to Olmedo. He’d gone off favourite for the race having beaten Olmedo in the a trial in April, the Prix de Fontainebleau. He’s a threat however US Navy Flag also ran in the race finishing 1 L behind him there before going on to be beaten by Romanised at the Curragh.

Martyn Meade has elected to run Chilean here having abandoned plans to turn him into a stayer. Last time out he contested the Sandown Classic Trial running forth. Before that he did put in a good display when beating subsequent French Derby winner Study Of Man in the Prix La Force in April.

It’s an intriguing race, Without Parole could be anything but he’s way too short in the market for what he has achieved. Romanised was the best horse in Irish 2000 Guineas and on form that puts him in front of the French Guineas running through the US Navy Flag form line and similarly through the Gustav Klimt form line he has the beating of Tip To Win. The surprise package here could be Chilean who has the scalp of Study Of Man who might be the best middle distance three year old seen to date this year. The concern here is the mile might be a bit on the sharp side against these specialists.

Romanised is over priced here as he was at the Curragh. He’s trained by Ken Condon who run’s a small yard on the Curragh hence the market dismisses his chance and he is the price he is. He should be a short price favourite, he has the form in the book, he’s drawn well in six and he’ll love this fast ground. The Royal Ascot crowd will get to know Ken Condon.

Recommendation: Romanised 11/2 win

 

The Prix de Diane (Group 1)

Happily before the Irish 1000 Guineas

Aidan O’Brien sends Happily to France for the Prix de Diane, the French Oaks.

She’s yet to match her juvenile from of last year when she captured two Group 1’s, here in France she took the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere and before that at home she won the Moyglare Stud Stakes. There were both very good performances especially in France when she beat the colts Olmedo and Masar subsequent winners of the French 2000 Guineas and Epsom Derby, not bad looking form now.

Her runs this year in both the English 1000 Guineas and Irish 1000 Guineas suggested she was crying out for an extension in trip. She went off favourite for both, the market having recognised that juvenile form however she was caught for toe on both occasions finishing a staying on third both times.

Karl Burke’s Laurens is the other visitor in the field. She beat September in the Fillies Mile at Ascot last year and ran second in the English 1000 Guineas on seasonal debut a length in front of Happily. She stepped up to this trip in the Prix Saint-Alary to bag her second Group 1 where she had a short head to spare over With You who reopposes here. She’s a quality filly.

The home defence is led by Alain De Royer Dupre’s Shahnaza who will vie for favouritism with Happily with the bookmakers. She runs in the famous Aga Khan’s green silks colours and will be ridden by Christophe Soumillion. This daughter of Azamour is trice raced winning her last two in easy fashion having run second first time out.

Freddy Head’s Luminate won her first three races and is on a bit of a recovery mission having lost her unbeaten run last time out. She will have the assistance of Frankie Dettori in the plate. Godolphin’s Musis Amica is in a similar position having lost her unbeaten record on her last appearance having won her first two. She’s trained by the wily Andre Fabre.

The advantage is to the visitors in terms of form.

Both Laurens on what she’s done this year and Happily on what she’s done last year set the standard. The home team have it all to do. The issue is the ground, it will come up soft which generally tends to suit the French fillies. Whilst not ideal for the visitors Happily did cope admirably with it when she won the Moyglare Stakes last year beating her better fancied stablemates Magical and September and Laurens did win on good to soft on her last trip to France. In a tight one Happily can prevail.

The French tote price is likely to prove bigger than the bookmakers price so put PMU on your docket.

Recommendation: Happily PMU