Races at Royal Ascot simply don’t get any better than this year’s Group One St James’s Palace Stakes (Tuesday 4.20pm).
Although only eight horses are set to line up, among them are the winners of this year’s English, Irish and French 2000 Guineas. It’s a mouth-watering contest.
Aidan O’Brien has won this race a record seven times and it was Gleneagles who put in a commanding display 12 months ago to follow up his wins in both the English and Irish Guineas the previous month.
Ballydoyle rely on The Gurkha this year who was hugely impressive at Deauville last month.
For any horse to win a classic by 5 ½ lengths, they must have serious ability. But there has to be a question mark about the form of the race.
Simon Crisford’s First Selection, who re-opposes today, was second, yet in the Newmarket version he was beaten 8 ½ lengths into seventh behind Galileo Gold.
It’s hard to ignore the visual impression created by The Gurkha’s performance, but I just have a nagging doubt in the back of my mind that he wasn’t originally considered good enough by Coolmore to take in the English Guineas.
He is obviously a huge threat but I’m happy to leave him alone at a best-priced 6/4 with Coral.
I’m sticking with AWTAAD for octogenarian trainer Kevin Prendergast and jockey Chris Hayes.
Since a debut defeat at the Curragh last October, this son of Cape Cross is unbeaten in four subsequent starts with no horse managing to get closer than two lengths to him at the line.
He seems to relish a good dig in the ground, so the recent rain is a definite advantage, and he looks a good bet at around 15/8.
Galileo Gold will be trying to turn round the form with Awtaad from the Curragh.
Although he didn’t have the clearest passage, I thought he was pretty well beaten and ground conditions are set to favour Awtaad again.
Zonderland is improving and might be the one for the each-way punters after his impressive win at Sandown last time.
If Emotionless can repeat his performance in last season’s Champagne Stakes, then he is another player.
The ground shouldn’t be a problem, but he ran no sort of race in the Dewhurst and has plenty to prove here.
The remainder don’t look quite up to this level so stick with Awtaad to give Ireland their third win in the last four years.
Awtaad 4.20pm Ascot