Frankel looked better than ever when making a breathtaking reappearance in the Lockinge last month and none of his 10 rivals in the Queen Anne Stakes look good enough to get within touching distance. EXCELEBRATION, now trained by Aidan O’Brien, has finished runner-up to Frankle on no less than three occasions and looks fair value at 11/10 with Star Sports to do so again.
Admittedly, he seemed to be beaten more easily last time than ever before, but he looks in a class apart to the rest of these and is just unlucky to have been born in the same era as Frankel. Strong Suit is respected, but definitely wants faster ground, while the likes of Side Glance and Worthadd need their sights lowered.
The penultimate race on the opening day’s card is the Ascot Stakes (5.00pm), where a maximum field of 20 has been declared for the marathon two-and-a-half mile contest. Irish trainer Willie Mullins is better known for saddling winners at the Cheltenham festival, but switches codes this afternoon with favourite Simenon.
The former Andrew Balding inmate is as short as 5/1 with Paddy Power, which is short enough for one unproven over this trip on the flat. He may be well-handicapped, but has been priced up on who his connections are as opposed to what he has done on the track.
Fellow Irish-raider Elyaadi is next in the betting and comes here having finished runner-up at this meeting for the last two seasons. He’s another year older and he doesn’t look as good as he was. The two that catch my eye are David Simcock’s AL KHAWANEEJ at 9/1 with Paddy Power and David Pipe’s ASHBRITTLE at 12/1 with Star Sports.
The former has been a different proposition since stepped up in trip on his last two starts and looked above average when an impressive winner at Goodwood last time. The latter suffered terrible interference in this race 12 months ago and the Pipe family are always to be respected in this contest.
EXCELEBRATION W/O Frankel 2.30pm
WIZZ KID e/w 3.05pm
MEDICEAN MAN e/w 3.05pm
ASHBRITTLE e/w 5.00pm
AL KHAWANEEJ e/w 5.00pm
DYLANBARU e/w 5.35pm