Royal Ascot Ultimate Guide - 2019-06-06


Army looks invincible in bid for first Group 1


James Hill

Blue Point High-class sprinter on his day who has a decent record at this meeting having finished third in the Commonwealth Cup two years ago before landing last season’s King’s Stand over 5f. That race is likely to be the preference again here. Heads into Ascot on the back of an excellent winter in Dubai, where he won three times including victory in the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint on World Cup night. Bound For Nowhere Us-trained sprinter for Wesley Ward who won this race in 2015 with Undrafted. This five-year-old wasn’t far off giving his trainer a second success here 12 months ago when finishing third having attempted to make all and hanging across the track in the closing stages. Also entered in the King’s Stand, but this looks the likely destination following a decent prep when second in a 5½f Keeneland Grade 2 in April. Possibilities, but this year’s race could have more depth. City Light French-trained flyer who put up a career-best performance when beaten a whisker in this event last year. Previous to that he’d racked up a hat-trick of wins, including victory on Allweather Finals day at Lingfield. Doesn’t enter this year’s contest in such red-hot form, but ran really well on his reappearance when second to Inns Of Court at Maisons-laffitte in April. Will be sharpened up for that and this is very much the target. Definitely the one to take from last year’s race. Dream Of Dreams Progressive sprinter who was placed on four consecutive starts in Group company last term. Seems to have improved from four to five, winning both starts, and was most impressive at Windsor last time when smashing a reasonable field. Sir Michael Stoute could well be working his magic with this fellow, but a few points of concern. First, he is 0-10 in Pattern company, although he was getting closer to breaking his duck last season. More concerning is he hasn’t fared well the two times he has tried Ascot despite encountering his favoured soft surface both times. Emblazoned Pretty decent three-year-old for John Gosden who we have not seen much of in the last 12 months. Ran a cracker to be third in the Commonwealth Cup last season, but wasn’t seen for the rest of 2018. Returned in a 6f conditions race at Haydock last month, putting up an encouraging effort in finishing half a length second to Shabaaby. Now looks set to return to the royal meeting. Has an outside chance. Enzo’s Lad New Zealand sprinter who adds some flavour to this year’s race. Will be having his first start for Jane Chapple-hyam having had a successful career in his homeland, which included a Group 1 success back there in January. Has done little since and will be a big outsider, although boasts a decent enough RPR, and horses from that part of the world have a great record in this event. Imprimis Another US contender, and one who comes here at the top of his game having run down Bound For Nowhere, giving 2lb, in the Grade 2 Shakertown Stakes at Keeneland in April. That success has given connections hope he can hold his own here, although this race is more of a back-up option for his main target earlier in the week, the King’s Stand. Inns Of Court Godolphin sprinter who has remained a consistent performer throughout his career. Initially raced over further, he was second over a mile in the Marois two years ago and also runner-up in the 7f Foret at Longchamp last October. Has been campaigned over sprint distances this term, defeating City Light over 6f at Maisons-laffitte and winning a Chantilly Group 2 impressively over the minimum trip last time. Has only finished out of the first three on five occasions and comes into this at the top of his game. Best with some cut. Invincible Army Classy, genuine four-year-old, who has been in fantastic shape this season, putting up career-best figures to win two starts including a sizzling performance in the Duke of York Stakes last time, a key trial for this. What was most notable about that victory was that it came on good to firm, as he’d previously shown a preference for slower surfaces. Is a course winner having comfortably beaten Eqtidaar here last May, but couldn’t confirm the form when it mattered when only ninth in the Commonwealth Cup 12 months ago. That blip apart, he rightly heads the market. Kachy Admirable six-year-old for trainer Tom Dascombe who has finished in the first three on 14 of his 26 starts, winning nine times. Second in the Commonwealth Cup back in 2016, he’s only raced over 6f on nine occasions since then, winning five of those. Connections opted to tackle the King’s Stand 12 months ago, but after being well beaten in the Temple Stakes last time, he looks set for a return to this distance. Other than that Haydock loss, he’s been in great form recently, winning three times since December. Lim’s Cruiser Singapore raider is set to make this another truly international affair. However this could be a big step up in class for Stephen Gray’s six-year-old. A Listed winner in Kranji in 2018, he was an 85-1 shot for the Hong Kong Sprint at Sha Tin last December, finishing seventh. Not a bad effort on the face of it, but this looks even tougher and not likely to cause an upset. Sands Of Mali Granite-tough sprinter who had a fabulous 2018, finishing second in the Commonwealth Cup before landing the Champions Sprint back here last October. Boasts a 3-0 record over Invincible Army so interesting that he is currently twice the price of his rival, and three of the last four winners from Britain and Ireland had recorded a top-two finish in the Champions Sprint. On the downside he comes into this on the back of a below-par effort in Dubai, where he was beaten over six lengths. Horses who’ve been beaten at least that far in the Al Quoz Sprint don’t fare well when they turn up at Ascot, with finishing positions of 0800000350 in Group 1s at the royal meeting since 2010. The Tin Man Ascot specialist who never seems to run a bad race at the Berkshire track, with three victories here including in this event in 2017. Was also a tad unfortunate not to go very close to doubling up 12 months ago when not getting the best of runs in finishing fourth. Now aged seven, he is bidding to become the oldest horse to win this event at Ascot since it became a Group race in 1971. Handles most ground. Verdict Sands Of Mali is clearly value at the prices given what he achieved last term, but is he coming into this in good form? That’s certainly the case with Invincible Army, and providing the ground is not too quick, he clearly has a favourite’s chance. City Light shone when runner-up 12 months ago and looks to have been laid out to go one better. Expect him to go well. 1 Invincible Army 2 City Light 3 Inns Of Court



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