THE briefest of glances at the roll of honour for the Coventry Stakes (4.25pm) reveals a stunning list of equine stars from the last five or so years.
Henrythenavigator, Canford Cliffs, Strong Suit and Dawn Approach all took this six furlong prize for two year olds and the colt that wins this afternoon is bound to leap to the head of the betting for next year’s QIPCO 2000 Guineas.
Aidan O’Brien is looking for his seventh winner of this prestigious prize and saddles likely favourite Stubbs along with SIR JOHN HAWKINS and War Command. Stubbs is attempting to follow in the hoofprints of last year’s winner Dawn Approach, coming here on the back of a smooth listed win at Naas.
He looked really smart that day and showed that a decent surface holds no fears. However, the fact that he is the choice of stable jockey Joseph O’Brien means that he is now pretty short in the betting at around 11/4, and I’m not sure he has been done any favours by the draw.
Stubbs will be breaking from stall one of 16, meaning that there is always a danger he might get caught isolated away from the action. He may well be a future superstar, but I’m not sure he’s any value at his current price.
Stablemate Sir John Hawkins has only ever seen the racecourse on one occasion, winning a decent-looking Curragh maiden in eye-catching fashion, and he looks just as exciting a prospect as the market leader. Ryan Moore is a terrific jockey booking and I’d far rather take a chance on this duo at double the price.
Sir John Hawkins can be backed at 6/1 and is drawn right in the middle of the pack in stall 10 meaning Moore can get the necessary cover and pounce late. A similar case can also be made for War Command, last of the Coolmore trio, as he too arrives here on the back of one run and one win. Richard Hannon two year olds must always be respected, and Championship will be attempting to land the prize for the master juvenile handler for a third time in five years. He has blossomed in recent weeks according to his pilot, Richard Hughes, but the feeling is that he may not be out of the very top drawer.
The same stable also saddle Thunder Strike and Wahaab, but a bigger danger may come from the Mick Channon-trained Riverboat Springs.
He really caught the eye last time when flying home at the death, and it would be no surprise to see him finish in front of Thunder Strike this afternoon back on a more conventional track.
I’ll be looking to side with the Channon colt in a match bet against his Woodcote conqueror with Sporting Index.
SIR JOHN HAWKINS 4.25pm Ascot