Mezmaar can strike for Hills in Coventry
THIS afternoon’s Coventry Stakes (4.25pm) has gone to Richard Hannon for the past two years and I expect it to stay in the Lambourn Valley as Barry Hills’ MEZMAAR must have an excellent chance. Regular readers of this column will have backed the son of Teofilo at 6/1 with William Hill on Friday and he is now as short as 7/2 with Coral. There isn’t too much mileage left in the price, as it is a competitive field, but he was a ready winner of a hot maiden at Haydock last month and should take all the beating.
Aidan O’Brien has won this race five times, although only once in the last eight years. He saddles just the one runner, Power, and that has to be a statement in itself. Unbeaten in two career starts at the Curragh, he was an impressive winner last time over five furlongs and will definitely improve for the step up to six. The market vibes weren’t especially positive last week, but if the money comes today it’s definitely worth taking notice.
Gatepost is another who is unbeaten in two starts and he will appreciate the step up in trip. My one worry is that Mick Channon’s runner might just struggle to hold his position at a crucial stage. Hannon’s Trumpet Major is solid without being spectacular, while Brian Meehan’s St Barths wouldn’t be out of it at 16/1 with William Hill.
The St James’s Palace Stakes (3.45pm) sees the return of FRANKEL and he is simply unopposable in his quest for a seventh career win. His performance in the 2,000 Guineas was extraordinary and it will be fascinating to see what tactics Tom Queally employs this time around.
Henry Cecil’s stable star is as short as 2/7 with Coral and we’re obviously not going to get rich backing him at that price. The ‘without Frankel’ market is more interesting from a punting perspective and I would advise taking the 11/4 with William Hill about EXCELEBRATION. We have already backed him each-way at 14/1 and he’s now a best-priced 8/1, but he seems much improved this season and I fancy him to give Frankel the most to think about.
Dream Ahead will appreciate the softening conditions, but this is his seasonal reappearance, while Wootton Bassett shaped like a doubtful stayer at Longchamp last time. Dubawi Gold will be ridden differently to Newmarket, but he doesn’t seem to have quite the same scope as Marco Botti’s runner.
The concluding Windsor Castle Stakes (5.35pm) was won by US trainer Wesley Ward two years ago and his Gentlemans Code will be primed for this. Richard Fahey and Paul Hanagan were successful 12 months ago with Marine Commando, so you have to respect Worthington, while Frederick Engels was very impressive at Musselburgh last time.
However, the one to be on is Richard Hannon’s MAGIC CITY who is part-owned by Sir Alex Ferguson. Richard Hughes loved him when he won on debut at Newbury, but he’s since been a beaten favourite on three occasions. It’s true that he has been disappointing, but there have been valid excuses, and he should relish the strong pace that he will surely get this afternoon. He’s very speedy and is worth backing at around the 9/1 mark on Betdaq.
EXCELEBRATION (w/o Frankel) 3.45pm Ascot
MAGIC CITY e/w 5.35pm Ascot
EXCELEBRATION (14/1) e/w 3.45pm Ascot
MEZMAAR (6/1) 4.25pm Ascot