BILL ESDAILE PREVIEWS THE PRINCE OF WALES’S, SANDRINGHAM AND JERSEY STAKES
THERE is always a horse or two that steals the show at Royal Ascot. Last year it was the Queen’s Estimate and in 2012 it was Frankel and Black Caviar.
Without doubt the animal with the best chance of etching its name on Ascot 2014 is the superstar filly Treve, who was such an impressive winner of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe last October.
Criquette Head-Maarek’s daughter of Motivator suffered the first defeat of her career behind multiple Group One-winner Cirrus Des Aigles at Longchamp last time. But that won’t stop the four-year-old starting the warmest favourite of the week in this afternoon’s Prince Of Wales’s Stakes (3.45pm).
The subsequent two successes of Cirrus Des Aigles proves that it was no disgrace in finishing second to him. The old boy had a fitness edge on Treve and she never really looked comfortable on the very soft ground.
The slight worry for her supporters today is that the ground is drying out all the time and she is yet to run on anything quicker than good. But she is such a beautiful mover that I can’t see it being a problem and she should really prove too good for this opposition.
French trainers have an excellent recent record in the race, winning it three times in the last seven years, but whether you can bring yourself to back her at 4/6 is another matter.
Magician is next on the list for Aidan O’Brien. Last year’s Irish 2,000 Guineas winner was a huge disappointment in the St James’s Palace Stakes 12 months ago, but he was clearly wrong that day and bounced back by taking the Breeders’ Cup Turf in November.
He was beaten behind Noble Mission last time, although the soft ground didn’t suit and conditions should be better for him today. However, I prefer the claims of MUKHADRAM each-way and in the without Treve market.
William Haggas’s five-year-old almost won this prize last year and I could see him getting things his own way up front again. He ran a cracker to finish second in the Dubai World Cup last time and he looks good value at 7/1 with Paddy Power in the without Treve market. I’ll also be siding with him in a Sporting Index match bet against Magician.
The Fugue and Dank are two of the best British fillies, but they aren’t as classy as Treve and may just struggle in such a hot contest.
The opening race of the day is the ultra-competitive Jersey Stakes (2.30pm) with a monster field of 23 set to go to post. The two horses that stand out are MUSTAJEEB and Muwaary who bring Classic form to the table and mild preference is for the former.
Dermot Weld’s colt finished third to Kingman in the Irish Guineas on ground that would have been too soft and a reproduction of that form would be good enough here.
At a bigger price, David O’Meara’s That Is The Spirit is improving at a dramatic rate and you’ll certainly back a lot worse 16/1 shots this week.
If you haven’t had a winner come the Sandringham Handicap (5.35pm), it may be more sensible to head for the car park early as it looks a virtually impossible puzzle to solve.
Mark Johnston’s unbeaten Muteela is the one that leaps off the page, but she’s never raced in a field bigger than 12 and this represents a totally different test.
I’ve been waiting for connections of ALUTIQ to step her up to a mile since March when she flew home too late on the all-weather at Lingfield. She’s better than her current handicap mark and is worth a speculative each-way bet at 25/1 with Paddy Power.
MUSTAJEEB 2.30pm Ascot
MUKHADRAM (without Treve) 3.45pm Ascot
ALUTIQ e/w 5.35pm Ascot