Diamond Jubilee Stakes Preview (Group1) 6f Ascot Saturday

andre fabre sheikh

French maestro Andre Fabre and Sheikh Mohammed have a fine chance with Inns of Court

First run in 1868, the contest achieved its Group1 status in 2002 and is the last top level event in what I hope has proved to be a successful week for the punting fraternity. Since it’s elevation to Group1 status, two trainers, James Fanshawe and Aidan O’Brien have hit the target twice, and the former will be hoping his 2017 winner, The Tin Man, can go in again.

Now seven, the son of Equiano has been a marvellous servant to connections, winning 9 of his 22 starts, 3 of them at the top level, and netting nearly £1.2 million pounds in prize money. He showed that he was still capable of doing it at the top when winning Haydock’s Group1 Sprint Cup last September (6f Heavy) keeping on strongly to beat Brando by a length. He has an excellent record at Ascot, winning 3 of his 8 races over Saturday’s course and distance and despite a troubled passage in last year’s renewal (Good/Firm) ran an excellent race to finish 4th, 1 1/4L behind the winner, Merchant Navy. He had a nice pipe opener (3rd, 6f Good Windsor) 5 weeks ago and with his talented trainer in form is one to be interested in, particularly if he gets his preferred soft ground.

james tate trainer

James Tate saddles Invincible Army

 

Another who will handle soft ground is the current market leader, Invincible Army. Trained by James Tate, the 4yo colt had a moderate strike rate of 3/11 in his first two seasons, but has a 100% record from his two runs this term, including an impressive win on the Knavesmire last time, winning The Group2, Duke Of York Stakes by a very comfortable 2 1/2L from the useful Major Jumbo. Testing conditions shouldn’t be a problem as he won over Saturday’s course and distance on soft ground when taking  the Group3 Pavillion Stakes on his 3yo debut from the now 110 rated Eqtidaar, and was a good second in the 5f Molecombe Stakes as a 2yo in similar conditions. He is by the excellent stallion Invincible Spirit out of the Group1 winning mare, Rajeem, and like his sire, looks a real tough type, and deserves his place at the top of the market.

Having landed The Kings Stand Stakes over 5f with Blue Point, Godolphin will be hoping for further Group1 sprinting success with either Tuesday’s winner, or their French trained Inns Of Court. I’ve no doubt that Blue Point would be at least as well suited by Saturday’s extra furlong and if turning out again would have to be seriously considered, but the Andre Fabre trained Inns Of Court has also plenty to recommend him. Another son of Invincible Spirit, the 5yo has won 7 of his 17 starts and showed that he has speed to burn when cruising up in Group3 Chantilly heat over the minimum distance 20 days ago winning by 2 1/2L and 1/2L from Sestilio and Major Jumbo in a fast time. Considering that he has lost out by only a Short Head in two Group1s at a mile and seven furlongs, this was a pretty remarkable performance. His breeding also wouldn’t suggest that he should possess such speed as the distaff side of his pedigree is all about stamina. His dam, Learned Friend, failed to win any of her 3 starts but is a daughter of the middle distance mare, Lune D’Or, dam of the Japanese Group1 winning two miler Fierement, and Inns Of Court’s half brother, Age Of Wisdom, has won over 2miles on the flat and 2 1/2miles over hurdles. Wherever his speed comes from, he has it in abundance and he will be a potent threat to all on Saturday.

Wesley Ward won this for the US in 2015 and will be hoping that last year’s 3rd,
Bound For Nowhere can go two places better this time. The 5yo entire has continued to thrive and was just pipped by Imprimis, (6th in The Kings Stand on Tuesday) on his reappearance in a Keeneland Group2 11 weeks ago. He raced alone in last year’s renewal and was only beaten 3/4L so given some company may do better.

Last year’s runner up, the French trained City Light may have been a little unlucky as he lost ground at the start with an awkward stalls exit and was only beaten a Short Head. The son of Siyouni made a satisfactory seasonal debut when going down by 1/2L to Inns Of Court, (also making his seasonal debut) in a 6f Listed race at
Maisons-Laffitte 8 weeks ago which puts him firmly in the mix.

The Richard Fahey trained 4yo colt, Sands Of Mali ran the race of his career when landing the Group1 Champions Sprint Stakes over course and distance on soft ground last October. He also ran a great race to finish 2nd, 1/2L behind Eqtidaar in last year’s Group1 Commonwealth Cup On much faster ground, again over course and distance. He had an abortive trip to Meydan in March, but had a satisfactory pipe opener (3rd, 4 3/4L behind Brando) at Hamilton 16 days ago, and back at Ascot, where he has done so well, it wouldn’t be the greatest surprise to see him play a very prominent part.

Selection. :   Inns Of Court      Danger : Invincible Army
EW.            :      Sands Of Mali

John Gray

Diamond Jubilee Stakes Betting Tips

The Diamond Jubilee Stakes 6f Group 1 Royal Ascot Saturday – What a good ride Adam Kirby gave Oddsguru’s selection, Profitable, in Tuesday’s King’s Stand Stakes. Always travelling supremely well within himself, the 4/1 winner was the last to come off the bridle. However Adam had to get down to some serious riding inside the final furlong as the son of Invincible Spirit had to battle hard in the testing conditions. A tearful Kirby was hugely complimentary about the horse afterwards and he could well end the season as champion sprinter. The performance of the 33/1 runner up, Cotai Glory, must have come as a pleasant surprise to trainer Charlie Hills who always thought the horse needed fast conditions, and will surely have boosted his confidence that another of his top sprinters, Magical Memory will get his head in front where it matters in Saturday’s Diamond Jubilee Stakes.

The 4yo gelding by Zebedee has won won six of his fifteen starts and has shown a most progressive profile. He won his first handicap (May 2015) off a mark of 87 and three months later saw him winning a very competitive Goodwood affair off 102. Thrown in at the deep end the following month, he ran a great race in a Group 1 at Haydock. Starting at 14/1 he belied those odds when finishing third, beaten a short head and three quarters of a length by Twilight Son and stablemate, Strath Burn. Put away for the season he made a winning reappearance in a Group 3 at Headquarters with Dettori in the plate (Gd/Sft) in April, and followed up in a Group 2 at York twenty five days later. He had his Haydock conquerer, Twilight Son, 4 1/2L back in fifth and if we can believe the form, the Hills horse has taken a major step forward over the Winter. Magical Memory can handle most conditions and with Frankie again taking the ride he looks a worthy favourite.

James Fanshawe runs his 4yo gelding, The Tin Man, and is another who has made serious progress from the ranks of handicap sprinters. Rated only 79 last July, he hosed up in a course and distance handicap off a mark of 91 in October and connections were so impressed they supplemented him for the Group1 Champions Sprint fifteen days later. They retrieved their late entry fee when he finished fourth, 3 3/4L behind the impressive winner Mukaarar. Twilight Son was 1 3/4L in front of him in second and The Tin Man does seem to have it all to do to reverse the form. However it’s worth noting that this very lightly raced animal is a half brother, (by Compton Place) to his trainers Wokingham, and Group1 Champions sprint winner (2011) Deacon Blues, and we are very unlikely to have seen the best of him yet. There was certainly plenty to like about his reappearance win at Windsor twenty four days ago when he had Strath Burn three lengths back in fourth.

Last year’s winner, the US trained 6yo gelding, Undrafted, has had a very quiet twelve months since his victory, and has clearly been trained with a repeat on the Royal stage in mind. On only his third outing since Ascot he showed his wellbeing when taking a Grade2 at Keenland (April 9th) but the concern for him must surely be the ground as all his turf victories have been gained when the word firm has been in the going description. Unless there is a dramatic improvement in conditions at the Berkshire venue he is hard to fancy.

Already a Group 1 winner, and in view of his fine second over course and distance in last years Champions Sprint, Henry Candy’s 4yo son of Kyllachy, Twilight Son has to enter calculations. His reappearance run behind Magical Memory in that Group2 at York was perfectly respectable, but the fact remains that he has 4 1/2L to find on the winner, so perhaps the Candy yard has a better chance with their other 4yo, Limato. Always held in very high regard, he was sent off the 3/1 favourite for the 1m Group1 Lockinge Stakes in May but didn’t seem to get home. He did win a slowly run Group2 7f race at Doncaster but it’s worth remembering that five of his six victories have been achieved over 6f, (including a course and distance win), so the drop back in trip may well suit. If the ground improves to good by the weekend he would be worth considering.

The prize money in Hong Kong must be phenomenal because the 7yo ex Irish gelding Gold-Fun has managed to accumulate the eye watering sum of £3,721,460 in prize money, despite never winning at the top level. However he has put in plenty of good performances in Group1s, including last time, (May 6) when finishing fourth. Trained in Ireland until 2012 where he won a maiden over the stiff mile at Naas, he may be well suited by Ascot’s testing uphill straight 6f and a reproduction of his close second, (beaten 1/2l) in a Sha-Tin Group 1 last December would make him interesting.

Selection:    Magical Memory

E.W.    :   Gold-Fun