IMPROVING Invincible Army was pencilled in by many punters as their banker bet in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes on the final day at Royal Ascot but BLUE POINT (4.20) has thrown a spanner in the works as he unexpectedly bids to back-up Tuesday’s superb victory.
Charlie Appleby’s sprinter was too strong in the finish for Battaash in a thrilling King’s Stand Stakes over five furlongs and is a previous course and distance scorer over today’s extra furlong. The Godolphin colt has been beaten only once in five visits to Ascot and that came at the hands of the mighty Caravaggio and Harry Angel in the 2017 Commonwealth Cup.
Connections wouldn’t have stripped him for action so quickly if they considered Blue Point had not recovered sufficiently from Tuesday’s exertions and his class can prevail. Paddock judges will be out in force scrutinising Blue Point’s demeanour and the betting market will be very interesting.
Invincible Army is a stronger and more mature sprinter this term. Previously, his best form had come with a little cut underfoot so it came as something of surprise to see the way he travelled before quickening clear in the Group 2 Duke Of York Clipper Logistics Stakes (good to firm). The striking four-year-old could well give trainer James Tate his finest hour but Blue Point will be a very hard nut to crack.
Silvestre De Sousa has endured a frustrating week but HAPPY POWER (3.05) could bring a smile to his face in the Jersey Stakes.
Andrew Balding’s colt was always going best in a Listed event at York last month and was pushed clear to beat Wadilsafa. Happy Power had earlier finished a close third to in-form Safe Voyage on soft at Haydock and is an improving sort trading at each-way odds.
King Power Racing also run Bye Bye Hong Kong, the mount of Oisin Murphy, and there is little separating him and Happy Power on a line through Oh This Is Us, a solid yardstick they beat at York and Windsor respectively.
Space Blues is the market leader and Godolphin’s much-improved son of Dubawi is chasing a hat-trick. Throw in Aidan O’Brien’s Group 3 Naas winner So Perfect and we are all set for a cracking contest.
The Hardwicke Stakes sees the return of 2018 Derby winner Masar, bidding to overcome an absence of 385 days against some seasoned rivals. DEFOE (3.40) has become sharper as the season progresses and showed great tenacity to wear down Kew Gardens in the Coronation Cup at Epsom. Roger Varian’s five-year-old will be very hard to knock out of the frame and is the value wager.
With 31 runners declared for the Wokingham Handicap some firms will be offering six places each-way and SOLDIER’S MINUTE (5.00) should go well . Keith Dalgleish saddled a 25-1 shot to finish third in these colours here earlier in the week (Glasvegas) and Soldier’s Minute destroyed his field at York (good to firm) last month. An 8lb rise ensured his inclusion here and connections will be happy enough with stall 29 on this drying ground.
Favourite Cape Byron is usually campaigned over seven furlongs and a mile, so he has questions to answer dropping to six furlongs. If the far side proves the place to be then Gunmetal should figure prominently from stall six.
The 2m 5f Queen Alexandra Stakes, the longest race on the Flat calendar, is always fascinating and Willie Mullins saddles Max Dynamite with an obvious favourite’s chance. He has a 322-day absence to overcome but that hasn’t stopped Mullins in the past. Pallasator won this least year, beating the Mullins-trained Renneti, and Gordon Elliott will have trained him for a repeat performance. At an each-way price the selection is CLEONTE (5.35).
The six-year-old ran third to Dee Ex Bee here in early May, running on steadily over two miles, and wasn’t disgraced in the Chester Cup behind runaway winner Making Miracles. Cleonte has gone up in the weights since his third in last autumn’s Cesarewitch but looks well worth a try at this extreme trip with SDS on top.
What a heart-warming week it has been for Frankie Dettori and his legion of fans will be on Corelli. John Gosden has restricted Corelli to 12 furlongs so far in his career and it is a leap of faith stepping up so severely in distance. He has the class to win and a hood is applied for the first time. Mark Johnston has won this in the past and Lucky Deal has always looked a dour stayer.
Feature event on an excellent Ayr card is the Land O’Burns Stakes, a Listed sprint for fillies and mares. MAID IN INDIA (4.25) ploughed through the Haydock mud to win a similar contest a fortnight ago and Eric Alston’s five-year-old has form on a fast track as well. She could have the legs of Queen Of Desire and Gold Filigree, closely matched on their latest Bath run with a few of today’s runners close up behind.
FASTMAN (3.10) is worth a bet in the 7f Class 2 handicap after his third to Space Blues at York last time. David O’Meara’s colt is up a pound which is lenient.
INDIANAPOLIS (5.05) has performed well for James Given since leaving Aidan O’Brien and the 1m 5f handicap looks tailor-made for the four-year-old. He is too big a price.
He was closing down Red Verdon over 1m 4f at Doncaster and it was the same scenario in a good handicap at York last month, Indianapolis running on into sixth behind First Eleven. This represents a drop in grade.
Sir Michael Stoute sends Crystal King north and the son of Frankel looks sure to be well supported. However, he didn’t appear to be in love with the slick track at York and a spot of rain would boost his chance. Charles Kingsley is chasing a hat-trick following victories at Hamilton and Brighton, and Mark Johnston’s middle-distance horses habitually improve through the summer months. This is tougher.
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