First run in 1886, the race acquired it’s Group1 status in 1978, and while plenty of handlers have trained multiple winners in it’s long history, the record of five victories is held by the great Vincent O’Brien whose successor at Ballydoyle, the eponymous Aidan, with ten entries at the time of writing, seems intent on improving his score of three previous wins. How many of these will go to Post is anyone’s guess but there seems to be a general consensus that his best chance of landing a fourth win lies with the 3yo, US Navy Flag.
At first glance, the son of Warfront’s record, with just four wins from fifteen starts isn’t exactly inspiring, but it’s worth remembering that he is the first colt for thirty five years to have brought off the Middlepark(6f)and Dewhurst(7f) Double at Headquarters, and while there has been nothing wrong with some of his performances over further, (5th in The French Guineas and 2nd in The Irish Guineas) it may be that sprinting is his true metier. Indeed last time, in The St James’s Palace Stakes at The Royal Meeting, trying to make all, he didn’t seem to get home, so this beautifully bred animal, out of the triple Group1 winning mare, Misty For Me, could yet carve a future for himself in the covering sheds if his sprinting career takes off.
O’Briens Sioux Nation was very disappointing when sent off favourite for The Commonwealth Cup, but the son of Scat Daddy had looked high class when beating stable companion, Fleet Review, in the Lacken Stakes at Naas 33 days earlier. This winner of the Group1 Phoenix Stakes as a 2yo, if turning up on Saturday would certainly merit attention.
Veteran handler, Sir Michael Stoute,won this three times way back in the 1980’s, (Marwell1981, Green Desert1986, Ajdal1987) and while he has drawn a blank since, he has a very live contender this time with his Group1, Commonwealth Cup winner, Eqtidaar. Making only his 5th racecourse appearance, twenty two days ago in The Commonwealth Cup, and starting at odds of 12/1 he raced midfield, progressed two furlongs out, led inside the final furlong, and kept on gamely, to hold Saturday’s opponent, Sands Of Mali by half a length. Considering that his only previous success had come in a Class5 Nottingham Maiden, this was a huge step forward, and there should be plenty more to come from the son of Invincible Spirit. Sands Of Mali didn’t have the run of the race at Ascot and it could be close between them but I feel the Stoute horse has the greater potential, and must have a serious chance of ringing up win number 4 for The Master of Freemason Lodge.
The Henry Candy trained Limato won this two years ago, was an excellent 2nd to Harry Angel in last year’s renewal, and finished off last season with a 3 1/2L win over Eqtidaar’s half brother, Massaat, in a Newmarket Group2 last October. Campaigned over a mile in both starts this term, he has been disappointing, but reverting to 6f, and reunited with his usual pilot, Harry Bentley, (won the 2016 renewal) we could see the tough 6yo add to his already substantial winnings of £1.2 million.
The Charlie Appleby trained 4yo, Blue Point heads the market, and following an excellent win in the 5f King’s Stand at Ascot, probably deserves to. A winner of York’s Gimcrack Stakes at two, he got his 3yo career off to a flying start beating Harry Angel by 1 1/2L in an Ascot Group3 and followed up with an excellent 3rd to Caravaggio in The Commonwealth Cup. Well beaten in Haydock’s Group1 Sprint he finished off the season with another Group3 Ascot victory. He seems equally effective at 5 or 6 furlongs and handles most ground so the only slight reservation would be that he does seem to reserve his best for The Berkshire track.
The Australian trained 7yo, Redkirk Warrior was disappointing in The Diamond Jubilee at The Royal Meeting but he had previously taken the scalp of the winner of that heat, Merchant Navy, (Oddsguru’s selection), giving him 12lbs in a Flemington Group1. A winner of three top level events in Australia he may just have taken time to acclimatise and if this is the case will be a danger to all.
Following the very lightly raced, Dream Field’s, excellent effort in the 28 runner Wokingham Handicap at Royal Ascot the John Gosden trained 4yo has to be of interest. For an animal making only his 4th racecourse appearance, it was surprising to say the least, to see him backed as if defeat was out of the question in one of the most competitive handicaps of the season. Starting at odds of 2/1 he looked like bringing home the bacon until the very last stride when nabbed by the 33/1 shot, Bacchus. A beautifully bred colt, by Oasis Dream out of the two times Group1 winner, Izzi Top, (Won the Group1 Pretty Polly Stakes at The Curragh and the Group1 Prix Jean Romanet at Deauville, both in 2012), Dream Fields best days are surely in front of him.
Selection : Eqtidaar
E.W. : Sioux Nation (if abs) Redkirk Warrior