GO loopy about LOPE Y FERNANDEZ in the Chesham Stakes. Aidan O’Brien looks to have this juveniles’ prize stitched up with his four runners. Lope Y Fernandez looks best of the quartet after his impressive Curragh debut. It was an exceedingly good performance to cruise clear of stablemate Kipling in the manner of a top prospect.
3 Aidan O’Brien can land the openerCredit: PA:Press Association
He’s sure to stay further so this test of stamina will be ideal. Year Of The Tiger could easily help O’Brien fill the places. He split a couple of youngster who had already had a run when second at the Curragh a couple of weeks ago.
Like many from his stable he looked likely to improve a lot for his debut and I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot from this well-bred colt.
Harpocrates and United Front complete the O’Brien foursome. Neither has got his head in front yet but I’m expecting both of them to run a lot better now they step up to 7f.
Charlie Appleby probably has the best chance of disrupting the domination with Pinatubo. The Wolverhampton race he won on his debut worked out well and he followed up in the Woodcote Stakes at Epsom on Oaks day. That race was set up for him but he could do more than win like he did. The step up to 7f should help so he’s certainly got a chance.
Heaven Forfend made a promising debut when staying on from the rear on his debut at Newbury. He was send off favourite that day so plenty was expected.
The winner of that race – Light Angel – was stuffed in the Coventry Stakes – and being drawn out in stall one is not an advantage. I prefer Dramatic Sands of the outsiders.
CRACKING ON Which Royal Ascot contender is the Tommy Fury of the racing world?
URBAN ICON looks the cream of the Jersey crop. He only went down by a neck to Space Blues in the Surrey Stakes at Epsom on Oaks day.
The winner used his superior turn of foot to notch what was a cosy victory but today’s race will be a totally different test.
My fancy is a big horse who wouldn’t have been particularly suited by the twists and turns of Epsom and the stiffer test of stamina of a straight 7f should suit him much better.
Urban Icon had earlier finished eighth in the 2000 Guineas when drawn out in the middle. The last seven winners of this race all ran in a version of the colts’ Classic so the stats are also in his favour.
Space Blues has obvious claims. He beat Private Secretary over 1m on his only start of last year. He started this season slowly but has really hit form since dropping to 7f. Despite his pedigree suggesting otherwise, he might well end up being a sprinter.
Happy Power is another improver. He had no trouble landing a York Listed race last week so it would be a surprise if he wasn’t at least up to this level. The drying ground shouldn’t be a problem but he does look to handle proper soft ground very well.
So Perfect didn’t make Aidan O’Brien’s Classic squad having been narrowly beaten in the Fred Darling at Newbury in April. Last month’s Naas Group 3 win came over 6f and this trip in such a competitive race on a stiff course might well stretch her stamina.
Momkin is tried in blinkers having finished a couple of places behind Urban Icon in the 2000 Guineas. The drop to 7f should help him but he might want genuinely quick ground.
3 Lah Ti Dar is ready to bounce back to her best formCredit: Getty Images – Getty
GO over to the Dar side in the Hardwicke Stakes. Star filly LAH TI DAR seems a crazy price. The bookies’ odds compilers have clearly over-reacted to her Epsom flop in the Coronation Cup.
I’m not worried about that. She didn’t have a great position in the early stages and she gradually lost her place before trailing home a well-beaten sixth. I put that down to her not handling the descent through Tattenham Corner so I’m happy to forgive her what was a way below-par effort.
That race was also a Group 1 prize so this is a drop in class. Her earlier form suggests she’s well up to it.
Having won her first three races last season she ran a belter when runner-up behind Kew Gardens in the St Leger. Her third behind Magical in the fillies’ Group 1 on Champions’ Day was another fine effort and she always promised to be even better this season.
There was nothing wrong with her neck defeat of subsequent Duke Of Cambridge runner-up Rawdaa over an inadequate 1m2f at York was a nice starting point to the season. I’m convinced we’ve not seen the best of her and I reckon this will be another for Frankie.
Defoe came out on top in the Coronation Stakes. His defeat of Kew Gardens was probably a personal best but the form doesn’t look particularly strong with neither Lah Ti Dar or Old Persian running their races.
Masar is obviously interesting. He’s been sidelined since beating Dee Ex Bee and Roaring Lion in last year’s Derby. On that form he would have a great chance but he swerved the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes earlier in the week in favour of this race.
Reading between the lines that could well be because Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby thinks Masar will improve a lot for the run. After all, he will have more important targets later in the season.
Southern France pushed Stradivarius hard in the Yorkshire Cup. That flatters him as the dual Gold Cup hero was clearly in need of the run. Aidan O’Brien’s hope was beaten favourite in last season Cesarewitch over 2m2f so it’s easy to think he’ll find a few too quick for him.
BANK on some more Aidan O’Brien magic in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes. The Ballydoyle boss won the St James’s Palace Stakes with a horse dropping in distance and I reckon he’ll repeat the trick with LE BRIVIDO.
He was a fine fifth in the Queen Anne Over a mile on Tuesday when the petrol ran out in the closing stages. That came after he was unlucky in the Lockinge – again over a mile – at Newbury.
I’ve always thought he was more of a sprinter and he’s drawn near likely trailblazer Kachy so he’ll get a good tow into the race.
My fancy won the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2017 when trained by Andre Fabre. He hasn’t had much racing since and he now looks in peak form.
All eyes will be on Blue Point after he won his second King’s Stand Stakes by beating lightning-fast Battaash on Tuesday. He won twice over 6f in Dubai during the winter and clearly stays today’s trip. I just think he’s considerably better over a stiff 5f and he did bomb out when favourite for last season’s July Cup.
Invincible Army is the one I fear most. He was decent last year but there’s no doubt he’s even better now. It was hard not to be impressed with the way he breezed home in the Duke Of York last month and it’s impossible to say he’s not up to the top level.
The Tin Man won this race two years ago and he loves this track. He would’ve preferred the ground not to have dried out but he does handle it faster.
Kachy has sizzling pace. He probably needs 6f these days and he’ll make them all go. American raider Bound For Nowhere and Sands Of Mali are others in with a shout of hitting the frame.
3 Le Brivido looks the one to be with in the Diamond JubileeCredit: Getty – Contributor
IT’S Summer time in the Wokingham Stakes. SUMMERGHAND won five times last season and he’s kicked off this term in great form.
Having run Flavius Titus to a neck at Newmarket’s Craven Meeting he returned to that track to again finish second behind On The Warpath. His come-from-the-rear hold-up tactics aren’t suited to Newmarket and he should find this race playing to his strengths with plenty of pace across the track.
Cape Byron has never run over a trip so short but he certainly looks to have the gears for the job. There was a lot to like about his smooth Victoria Cup win over 7f at this track in May and he has to be high on the shortlist.
Bacchus hasn’t run since chancing his arm in Group 1 races last season. That’s not a problem as he won this race 12 months ago on his first start of the season. He’s only 3lbs higher in the handicap this time and he won’t give up his crown without a fight.
Foxtrot Lady is a good sprinter. She ran well when sixth in the Stewards Cup at Goodwood last season. Her fourth in a Windsor Listed contest should have set her up for this but properly quick ground brings out the best in her.
Cenotaph will be Jeremy Noseda’s last runner as a trainer. His all-weather form entitles him to plenty of respect and horses that do well on sand often take to Ascot. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him get some sort of slice of the prizemoney.
Recon Mission blitzed to victory in a hot York handicap last Saturday. That race often throws up smart sprinters but he wants softer ground and taking on older horses won’t be easy.
It’s impossible to know what to make of Argentina import Southern Horse. As he’s joined shrewd Irish trainer Jim Bolger it’s worth keeping a close eye on him.
Last year’s Stewards Cup hero Gifted Master is weighted to go well. He should give it a good go up the stands’ rail with his usual blinkers replaced by cheekpieces.
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IT’S been a fabulous week for Frankie and I’m expecting to finish with a flourish on CORELLI in the Queen Alexandra Stakes.
John Gosden’s hope was only seen three times last and he won two of them. His defeat came when third in the Lingfield Derby Trial and he made a decent reappearance when runner-up behind useful Baghdad in a decent Newmarket handicap on 1000 Guineas day.
He was only outspeeded on the final climb and I’m expecting a good deal for the step up from 1m4f as his pedigree is packed with stamina. His half-brother Lucarno won the St Leger and Flying Officer – another of his siblings – landed an Ascot Group 2 over 2m a few years ago.
His official handicap rating makes him badly off at the weights with a few of his rivals but I’m sure he can find the necessary improvement now he steps up in distance.
Max Dynamite is best off at the weights. He hasn’t run since finishing last of eight in a French Group 1 last October but fitness won’t be a problem with Willie Mullins doing the training. This one finished third in the 2017 Melbourne Cup and he ran stablemate Thomas Hobson close in the last season’s Doncaster Cup. He falls short of the top stayers so this is much more his level.
Last year’s winner Pallasator has twice put in wretched efforts since his victory 12 months ago. He’s hard to predict but a return to Ascot might well put him in a good mood.
Cleonte has claims. He was third in last season’s Cesarewitch and he was far from disgraced when filling the same position behind Dee Ex Bee in the Sagaro Stakes at this track in May.
Coeur Blimey has been held back by his jumping over hurdles. He showed he has a future on the Flat when grinding out victory over 2m2f at Newbury in April but the drying ground won’t do him any favours.
2.30 Lope Y Fernandez (nb)
3.05 Urban Icon
3.40 Lah Ti Dar (nap)
4.20 Le Brivido
5.35 Corelli (treble)
2.00 Game Player
4.25 She Can Boogie
5.05 Crystal King
5.40 Boy In The Bar
6.30 Swift Wing
7.00 Boundary Lane
8.30 Calder Prince
7.45 Mrs Dukesbury
8.15 Fighting Temeraire
8.45 Real Smooth
1.40 Saqqara King
2.45 She’s Got You
5.50 Bullington Boy
1.50 Braid Blue
2.20 Cesar Du Gouet
2.55 Green Zone
3.30 Royal Village
4.10 Darling Miss
4.50 William Of Orange
5.25 Iconic Belle
1.35 War Storm
2.05 Big Time Dancer
2.40 Byron’s Choice
3.15 Enchanted Linda
4.35 Bidding War
5.10 Kingdom Brunel
The Queen stuns in a pink outfit as she arrives at sunny Royal Ascot to cheer on her horses