Royal Ascot Ultimate Guide - 2019-06-06


Blue can outpoint old rival Battaash again


Robbie Wilders

Alpha Delphini Sprang a 50-1 surprise when denying the top-class Mabs Cross in an enthralling Nunthorpe Stakes at York leaving all-known form well behind. Bryan Smart’s stable star is now eight, but has only run in the King’s Stand once, finishing sixth in 2017. Caught the eye on his reappearance in the Temple Stakes when splitting Battaash and Mabs Cross, and could be one to ruffle the feathers of the main protagonists at a big price. Battaash Hugely talented sprinter who has suffered with issues in the preliminaries at major meetings. Possesses immense speed and is capable of top-drawer performances, which he showed when routing the field in the King George Stakes at Goodwood last season. Won his sole Group 1 in the 2017 Prix de l’abbaye in unbelievable fashion but comes with risks attached after a couple of odds-on reversals. Fancied to take all the beating in this race last year but was outgunned by Blue Point and is yet to win in two starts at the track. The Charlie Hills-trained colt was on one of his going days on his seasonal return with a brilliant display in the Temple Stakes and if reproducing that form is still the one to stop. Blue Point Ascot specialist who registered a career-best when winning this race last year and looks better than ever as a five-year-old. Started his season earlier than most after running in Meydan during the early spring and three victories culminated in another Group 1 success in the Al Quoz Sprint. Godolphin’s son of Shamardal could run in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes but is more likely to attempt a defence of his crown. Rarely runs a bad race and will likely make a bold bid for back-to-back wins. Bound For Nowhere Wesley Ward-trained US sprinter who finished a close third in last season’s Diamond Jubilee Stakes behind Merchant Navy. Ward always targets this meeting and a Grade 2 second at Keeneland would have sharpened him up for another trip to Royal Ascot. Has run at a mile before and would be more likely go one better in the Diamond Jubilee but deserves a second look if showing up here. Equilateral Undoubtedly talented but appears difficult to win with, although probably ran a careerbest when second to Mabs Cross in the Palace House last time. Earmarked himself as a talented sprinter when producing a deadly display at Doncaster last season before finishing 12th of 22 in the Commonwealth Cup. Three runs under his belt this campaign and even the pick of his form marks himself down as a Group 2 horse, so at this level will need to take a major step up. Also has the option of the 6f Diamond Jubilee Stakes. Garrus The three-year-old has made huge strides this season and registered a track record in a Nottingham conditions event before lowering the colours of Soldier’s Call in the Listed Westow Stakes at York. The Jeremy Noseda-trained sprinter is going the right way and has appreciated the step down to the minimum trip after running exclusively over 6f as a juvenile. The Acclamation colt might find this assignment a bit too hot at this stage in his career. Houtzen Australian mare who adds more international appeal with a trip to the royal meeting pinpointed for some time. Trainer Toby Edmonds has given the four-year-old crucial experience of the unique Ascot track in a racecourse gallop on the straight course. She has yet to race outside of Australia and each of her Group 1 attempts have been met with defeat so will find this tough but is a welcome addition to the field. Imprimis Lightly raced Us-trained five-year-old who achieved the notable scalp of Bound For Nowhere on just his ninth start at Keeneland in April. Trainer Joe Orseno has clearly had to be patient with his talented sprinter but he rates yet another intriguing overseas contender and this race appears to be the plan. However, the suspicion is that the British sprinting form remains the strongest at this point. Kachy Has looked one of the best all-weather sprinters in recent years and is renowned for breaking smartly from the gate and putting his races to bed in the early exchanges. The son of Kyllachy won his first three starts in great style since undergoing wind surgery but ran below par when switched to turf in the Temple Stakes behind a few of these on his last start. Suspicion is that he is simply far better on artificial surfaces. Mabs Cross Michael Dods-trained mare who has done nothing but improve and was just beaten by Alpha Delphini in one of the most pulsating finishes to the Nunthorpe in recent years. The daughter of Dutch Art went to claim a deserved first top-level victory in the Prix de l’abbaye and dusted off the cobwebs this year by producing a taking performance in the Palace House under a penalty. The five-year-old then ran a nice race giving weight to the field to plug on admirably for third behind Battaash and Alpha Delphini in the Temple Stakes and looks the type to keep progressing. Sergei Prokofiev Has long been highly regarded by Aidan O’brien, although lost his form as a juvenile somewhat before bouncing back in the 5f Group 3 Cornwallis Stakes at Newmarket in October. Third to Calyx in last season’s Coventry Stakes, and Scat Daddy progeny have a fine record at Ascot which bodes well. He won on his comeback at Naas before disappointing slightly in the Palace House behind a couple of these and probably needs to improve to justify his trainer’s opinion of him. Remains a promising sprinter and will probably show up here rather than the Commonwealth Cup, with 5f considered his best trip. Will go well with a strong pace to aim at. Soldier’s Call Smart juvenile who came within a neck of Mabs Cross in receipt of 14lb in the Group 1 Prix de l’abbaye. Ended a long, productive campaign when slightly below par at the Breeders’ Cup but shaped well when third to Garrus at York under a penalty on his seasonal reappearance. The Showcasing colt is expected to progress from that but needs to continue to improve to mix it with the best here. The three-year-old allowance will certainly aid his cause and he is probably the best horse Archie Watson has had yet. Verdict An on-song Battaash would win this but his record in Group 1 sprints does not correlate with the ability he clearly possesses and Blue Point is taken to upset his old rival once more. He probably brings the most consistent top-level form to the table and his record at Ascot speaks for itself. The threeyear-old Sergei Prokofiev can produce a career-best performance on a track his sire excels at and can follow the pair home. 1 Blue Point 2 Battaash 3 Sergei Prokofiev



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