When Sir Michael Stoute’s Integral waltzed away with last year’s renewal of the Duke Of Cambridge Stakes (3.40pm), she did so in the style of a filly who looked more than able to mix it up with the very best of the boys over a mile.
And one year on, the Cheveley Park Stud-owned mare did just that when beaten under two lengths in fourth behind Night Of Thunder in the Lockinge last month.
The horses who finished directly around her have gone on to frank the form in no uncertain style. Arod, a neck ahead of her at Newbury, ran out an emphatic winner of the Diomed at Epsom, while Cable Bay, ½ length behind her, has since landed the Jury Stakes at Haydock.
Integral is set to shoulder a penalty today, but that didn’t stop her landing the Sun Chariot last autumn and historically she has always stepped up from her seasonal reappearance, meaning she’ll be very hard to beat again this afternoon.
However, I’m convinced that Clive Brittain’s RIZEENA holds the each-way value at 8/1 against the Stoute hotpot.
The daughter of Iffraaj is another who traditionally steps up dramatically from her seasonal reappearance and let’s not forget that she’s on a Royal Ascot hat-trick having landed the Queen Mary at two and last year’s Coronation Stakes.
Make no mistake, she has a real tough task in seeing off Integral, but I’ll be backing her each-way and also supporting her at around 7/2 in the market without Integral.
Finding the winner of the Royal Hunt Cup (5.00pm) is no easy feat and may be one to leave to your hat-pin.
John Gosden’s GM Hopkins has conditions in his favour and looks sure to run his race, but 10/1 does look a bit skinny.
At a much bigger price, Stoute’s Munaaser could run well against the stand side rail at 25/1, but he doesn’t look the most straightforward.
RIZEENA e/w (and w/o Integral) 3.40pm Ascot