Unfortunately our selection for The Kings Stand, Meccas Angel was withdrawn because of the fast ground, but our E.W. Suggestion, Muthmir, ran a fine race, to get within a head and a neck of the winner. Let’s hope that we can improve on this in Saturday’s cavalry charge, otherwise known as the Wokingham Stakes at Royal Ascot. Invariably run at a cracking pace ( often won in a faster time than the preceding Group1 Diamond Stakes), it takes an animal of serious potential to collect. Four or five year olds have the best recent record, winning thirteen of the last fifteen renewals. Two six year olds have obliged, Baltic King,(2006) and Dandy Boy (2012). Weight is no bar to success as six of the last ten winners have carried 9st 2lbs or more. Indeed Baltic King humped 9st 10lbs to win in 2006 four days after finishing sixth in the Kings Stand. Good recent form has been shown by nine of the last ten winners, the exception being Laddies Poker, who won landing a gamble, on his reappearance.
Roger Charlton’s Huntsmans Close satisfies many of the criteria. This 5yo Elusive Quality gelding ran a blinder on his reappearance at Newmarket seven weeks ago. Running off a mark of 94 he went down by a short head to Eastern Impact in a class2 handicap (6f Gd-fm) recording an eye catching time figure. A winner of his previous race ( Ayr 6f Gd-fm Sep14) of a mark of 87 he has clearly progressed over the winter, and must have serious prospects of defying his new rating of 98 on Saturday. One for the short list!
The French trained 6yo Robert le Diable, has been runner up in his last three races, two of them at group level. He went down by 2L to the speedy Meccas Angel over 5f in a group3 at Longchamp on May10 (Gd-sft) and three weeks later at the same venue, again in a group3, was beaten a sh hd on good ground. An ability to get 7f is a definite plus in big 6f Ascot handicaps so it would be no surprise to see this classy Gallic challenger involved at the business end at the weekend.
Mike Murphy’s 5yo gelding, Discussion to Follow, if the forecast is correct, should have a lot going for him on Saturday. Probably better suited by 6f, he won here over 5f on fast ground last July. He ran far too freely on his reappearance at Newmarket (May30 6f gd-fm) and faded into sixth place, but a reproduction of his form at the Curragh last September would bring him into the picture. He finished 3L behind Watchable, and now meets him on 9lbs better terms. He also meets his Goodwood conqueror, Intrinsic, on 5lbs better terms, and this lightly raced animal is beginning to look well handicapped, and could well have something to say at the finish.
Watchable himself, particularly in the light of Goldreams win in Tuesday’s King Stand, is likely to prove a danger to all. He ran a great race on his reappearance, going down by 1/2L to the top class Astaire, in a 6f Group3 at Newmarket and again ran well when finishing 3L behind Goldream over an inadequate 5f in another Group3 at headquarters sixteen days later. He has been placed on both course appearances, handles fast ground, and in the hands of his hugely talented trainer has an awful lot going for him at the weekend.
Niall Moran’s 5yo Dark Angel entire, Don’t Bother Me is of interest. He ran well in this last year, when a running on seventh, he was beaten less than four lengths off a mark of 98. He put up another fine performance on the track over seven furlongs six weeks later, again off 98, going down by 1L to Heavy Metal, with Watchable rated 103 a neck back in third. As he meets the O’Meara runner on 4lbs better terms he does look well handicapped. However he has to show that he can run to the same level over 6f, and unless there is plenty of rain it seems doubtful.
Selection: Huntsmans Close.