Bay Bridge to take step up to Group 1 company in his stride for Stoute
Day two of Royal Ascot and perfect flat racing ground although there is now the prospect of thunderstorms on Saturday which we will have to bear in mind for later in the week.
The unbeaten ELDAR ELDAROV has been on my radar for this meeting since scoring at Newcastle over 10f on his seasonal reappearance, but I must admit to being surprised that connections have decided to go down the Queen’s Vase route as he is not guaranteed on breeding to appreciate this step up to 1m 6f.
I presumed he would have run in tomorrow’s King Edward VII Stakes, and this will be the fastest ground he has encountered having won at Nottingham on good to soft ground back in October when he thrashed a subsequent winner – now rated 90 – by five lengths over their extended mile.
He still holds an entry in the Irish Derby later in the month and I think that mile-and-a-half will be well within his compass. I expect David Egan to still be going well as the field head for home and the hope is that he can save ground from his good draw in stall three. He has plenty to find with the Godolphin runners – Derby 7th Nahanni heads the market – on official ratings although I think Gosdens progressive Baltic Bird – who looks as if he will appreciate the step up in distance – is the biggest danger.
Recommendation: Eldar Eldarov 9/2 with William Hill
Only five go to post for the 10f Gp 1 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes and there is no guaranteed pace which suggests the race will be tactical. Great to see Japan having a fancied runner with Shahryar who won the Sheema Classic over an additional quarter of a mile last time.
That form was given a boost when Hukum bolted up in the Coronation Cup earlier in the month but may lack the necessary change of gear dropping down in trip and I cannot desert BAY BRIDGE who did us a favour in the Brigadier Gerard at Sandown last time.
Brought along steadily by Sir Michael Stoute this is the first time the 4-y-old has dined at the top table, but he showed a terrific turn of foot at Sandown and this ten-furlong trip on fast ground looks his optimum conditions. The same cannot be said for some of his rivals although the lack of guaranteed pace does temper confidence.
Recommendation: Bay Bridge at 5/4 with Boylesports
Saffron Beach heads the market for Jane Chapple-Hyam in the Group 2 Duke Of Cambridge Stakes but she carries a 5lbs penalty for her win in the Sun Chariot Stakes back in the autumn and she may struggle to confirm the form with Mother Earth who is fitted with cheekpieces for the first time by Aidan O’Brien. Saffron Beach was ridden by William Buick for the first time at Newmarket and he is back in the saddle later today.
Mother Earth won last season’s 1000 Guineas – when she had Saffron Beach behind – but has to put behind a disappointing run in the Lockinge last time when she may have seen too much daylight. The headgear may work the oracle this afternoon, but I do feel the market leaders are vulnerable with Saffron Beach not having seen the track since finishing fourth at Meydan back in March.
French raider SIBILA SPAIN changed tactics last time and was held up before landing a Saint-Cloud Group 2 last time. She has won half of her eight career starts and this stiff mile will suit this daughter of Frankel who will appreciate the forecast fast ground. She gets the each way vote in a terrific race.
Recommendation: Sibila Spain EW at 15/2 with 10Bet
The Hunt Cup is one of the biggest betting races of the week and the hope is that LEGEND OF DUBAI will not be inconvenienced by his draw in stall ten although there is plenty of pace drawn in the centre of the track
The selection has been raised 11lbs for turning a competitive looking Newmarket handicap into a procession last time dropped back to a mile by Roger Varian, having broken his maiden over an additional half-mile at Ffos Las on his final three-year-old start back in August. After just five career starts, he remains open to further improvement, this stiff track should suit and this is likely to have been the plan since his Newmarket success.
There are any number of dangers as befits one of the most competitive handicaps in the racing calendar with Dark Shift and Symbolize at the top of the short-list, but I hope it is a good day for Roger Varian whose string are in such good form.
Recommendation: Legend Of Dubai EW at 9/1 with Boylesports 6 places
The Joseph O’Brien trained filly HAZIYA has only raced seven times – she has been pulled out of three more runs due to being in season – and remains open to significant improvement having only had two starts for her current yard.
The filly has a plum draw in stall three for the Kensington Palace Stakes which is run on the round course and the combination of a mile and fast ground looks ideal despite the fact that she comes from the family of Derby winner Harzand. She changed hands earlier in the month and will run in the colours of Qatar Racing this afternoon. Jockey Mikey Sheehy takes off a valuable 3lbs.
Farhh To Shy is a big danger but I have always felt that 7f was her trip. I know Tom Queally has always held her in high regard.
Recommendation: Haziya EW at 11/2 at 10Bet 6 places