The final Day of Royal Ascot and in the Silver Wokingham, there is only 3lbs between the top and bottom weights, which opens the eight-race card I hope to see a big run from Aplomb (12.40) who found things happening too quickly on his return over 5f on fast ground at Newmarket. His second placed finish over today’s C&D back in October from a 2lbs lower mark is decent form given the winner – Tinto – won at Newmarket earlier in the month and is a leading fancy in the Wokingham itself later on the card.
I have steered clear of all the juvenile contests so far this week but the two-year-old who has impressed me the most so far this term, Admiral Nelson (1.50) runs in the Coventry Stakes. Aidan O’Brien has saddled the winner of this corresponding race on no fewer than nine previous occasions, and this son of Kingman could be seen travelling powerfully in mid-division before quickly putting his race to bed at the Curragh over 5f. This step up in trip is of no concern and the ground had dried out to good to soft on Friday morning. The colt is a general 11/4 shot.
Cloak Of Spirits gave us a good run for our money when runner up in the 1000 Guineas earlier in the month, but she only finished a head in front of Quadrilateral (2.25) and she had the run of the race on that occasion against the far rail while the Roger Charlton filly was keen and did well to finish third just a head behind the Richard Hannon-trained filly. With that run under her belt, I feel she can reverse the form over this round mile.
Irish raider Alpine Star is a half-sister to Alpha Centauri who turned this corresponding race into a procession two years ago. Her Debutante Stakes success over 7f back in August suggested she was ready for a step up to a mile even as a two-year-old, but the yard’s other leading 3-y-old fillies Albigna and Millisle have disappointed in the Irish and Newmarket Guineas respectively so far this term and she is overlooked on this occasion. Frankie Dettori takes the ride.
The St James’s Palace Stakes sees the Guineas second and third Wichita and Pinatubo reoppose, but I am not sure the Godolphin colt really saw out the mile at HQ and the vote goes to the unbeaten Palace Pier (3.00). The Gosden-trained colt has won all three starts and looked as if he would stay further when scoring over a mile at Newcastle in a handicap earlier in the month. That form has taken a few knocks this week and Palace Pier will need an end-to-end gallop at a mile to be seen at his best, but the hope is that he strips fitter and mentally sharper than was the case on his reappearance.
Mekong had a hard race in the Gold Cup on Thursday and is overlooked in the concluding Queen Alexandra Stakes in favour of Who Dares Wins (4.40) who is an admirable duel purpose horse who wasn’t beaten too far when 4th in the Gp 1 Prix du Cadran Stakes over 2m 4f at Longchamp on Arc weekend. Alan King saddled the winner of the Ascot Stakes earlier in the week and it would be some double if he trained the winner of both long distance races although Stradivarius remains imperious among the staying division.
On Sunday look out for Lough Cutra (3.40 in the 10f Maiden at Leopardstown. The colt was taken out of a race at the Curragh over Irish Guineas weekend on account of the fast ground but, at the time of writing, conditions were described as good for Sunday’s card which would be ideal.
At Kempton I must give Prejudice (4.55) one last chance in the mile-and-a-half handicap. The selection has often been ridden with exaggerated waiting tactics and I hope new pilot Jim Crowley does not give his mount too much to do on his seasonal reappearance. He has been gelded since his last run and remains open to considerable improvement after just eight career starts.
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