KING Power Racing were so close to landing an emotional first Group One on Tuesday with Beat The Bank’s excellent second in the Queen Anne, but today could be a massive day for the growing operation.
They have some serious chances and SUNDAY SOVEREIGN is going to be very hard to beat in the opening Norfolk Stakes (2.30pm).
King Power bought the son of Equiano earlier this month after Paddy Twomey’s colt had beaten Arizona comfortably in a six furlong Curragh maiden in early May, form that was franked when Arizona took Tuesday’s Coventry Stakes.
Sunday Sovereign then ran away with a Tipperary event over the minimum trip, proving he has the speed for this test.
The ground is likely to dry up a little at some point today, but there will still be plenty of cut and all conditions seem to come alike to him anyway.
Billy Lee rides Ascot well and everything looks set for a big run, so he should be backed at 5/2 with Coral.
Wesley Ward has won this race twice, including last year with Shang Shang Shang, and he relies on Maven who wasn’t hugely impressive on debut at Aqueduct but is well regarded by his handler.
As with most of his horses, I’m sure Ward would have preferred the rain to have stayed away this week but Maven will be sharp out of the blocks and it’s just whether he can hold on.
A bigger threat to my selection could be Charlie Appleby’s Expressionist who won comfortably over course and distance on his debut last month.
It was good-to-soft that day and he has to rate a danger at around the 10/1 mark.
The following Group Three Hampton Court Stakes (3.05pm) over 1m2f is for those horses who are generally a notch below Guineas or Derby class.
Aidan O’Brien won it 12 months ago with Hunting Horn and his main contender this year is Cape Of Good Hope who won the Investec Derby Trial at Epsom in April before finishing fourth in the French Derby.
He is clearly one of the leading contenders but I’m going to take him on with another King Power horse, Andrew Balding’s FOX CHAIRMAN at 9/2.
The son of Kingman won well on debut at Newbury in April and then wasn’t beaten far behind Circus Maximus in the Dee Stakes at Chester when he suffered an interrupted passage.
That form was backed up when the winner landed the Group One St James’s Palace Stakes on Tuesday.
I have no doubt that Fox Chairman is a very talented horse and well capable of winning at Group Three level, if not higher by the end of the season.
Silvestre de Sousa takes the ride and I’m hoping he can cap off an incredible half an hour or so for the owners.
It is by no means just a two-horse race, though, with plenty of others holding strong chances.
King Ottokar will appreciate the drop back in trip, while Sangarius, another Frankel colt, is going the other way in distance and should relish the extra couple of furlongs.
Roseman finished in front of Sangarius at Sandown last time and the winner King Of Comedy ran a cracker in the St James’s Palace.
Then there’s Headman who won the London Gold Cup at Newbury which is always a strong race.
It’s wide open, but I’ll stick with Fox Chairman who can gain his first success at Group level.
Sunday Sovereign 2.30pm Royal Ascot
Fox Chairman 3.05pm Royal Ascot