NORWAY (3.05) played a prominent role in the Investec Derby before his early exertions took their toll and he’ll be much happier down in grade in the Queen’s Vase.
Aidan O’Brien saddles four runners, with Ryan Moore getting the leg-up on Norway. We saw yesterday with Circus Maximus that Derby form is often the most reliable pointer and Norway had earlier shaped like a stayer when hunting up Sir Dragonet in the Chester Vase (soft).
O’Brien has kept MAGICAL (3.40) busy through the opening weeks of the season and she wins a narrow vote in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes.
His filly is still thriving judged on her most recent seven lengths thumping of stablemate Flag Of Honour in the Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh. She beat Coronet on her only previous visit to Ascot and ended last season on a high, running Enable close after a titanic tussle in the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Churchill Downs last November.
Sea Of Class is a most formidable rival if William Haggas has her cherry-ripe for this challenging examination. She would have caught Enable in another few strides in the Arc and beat Coronet with ease in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks, that victory coming on the back of her defeat of Forever Together in the Darley Irish Oaks.
This is a top-quality renewal, with Crystal Ocean and top French middle-distance challenger Waldgeist thrown into the mix along with improving Zabeel Prince. It doesn’t get much better than this.
The fillies take centre stage in the Duke Of Cambridge Stakes with Sir Michael Stoute doubly represented by favourite Rawdaa and Veracious. It doesn’t look a strong Group 2 and O’Brien’s I CAN FLY (4.20) boasts the best form if able to produce her neck second to Roaring Lion in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes here last autumn (soft).
There is so much inter-linked form in the Royal Hunt Cup that unravelling spaghetti seemed an easier option when delving into this big-betting minefield. That said, it will be a disappointment if RAISING SAND (5.00) doesn’t figure as Jamie Osborne’s gelding rarely runs a poor race at Ascot.
A third to subsequent Queen Anne Stakes winner Accidental Agent (good to soft) a couple of seasons ago was followed by victory in the same race 12 months later (soft). Raising Sand returned from a 203-day absence to run fourth to Cape Byron here last month, beaten less than two lengths, and he can improve on last year’s seventh to Settle For Bay when unsuited by the slick track. Hopefully there will be plenty of pace down the stands’ side as Raising Sand is drawn in stall 32.
Mordin will be my other each-way bet. Runner-up to Wissahickon in the bet365 Cambridgeshire, Mordin fairly hosed up at Haydock (soft) on his return and didn’t handle the track/ground when fifth to Zaaki in the Group 3 Investec Diomed Stakes at Epsom.
COLD HARBOUR (5.55) has won two of his last three starts, both at Southwell, and sandwiched between was a solid third to Mark Johnston’s Just Wait on fast ground at Doncaster. Robyn Brisland has booked Paula Muir, who takes off 3lb in this 1m 4f apprentices’ handicap at Hamilton. Dew Pond took advantage of a falling mark to beat a modest bunch at Thirsk and is respected under his penalty, while Pammi takes a slight drop in grade.
HARVEY DENT (4.05) ran into an improving sort in Amadeus Grey at Carlisle eight days ago but compensation could be at hand. Archie Watson’s three-year-old had previously posted an encouraging Goodwood fourth behind Andrew Balding’s useful Wedding Blue and he is fancied to see off some serious opposition in the Class 4 mile handicap.
Southern Rock turned over 1-12 shot Al Hadeer over course and distance at the beginning of May and has been given a fairly hefty 78 rating by the assessor. Keith Dalgleish, fresh from his Carlisle four-timer on Monday, runs both Morticia and Jacob Black.
With Morticia making her seasonal return it may pay to concentrate on course winner Jacob Black, a scorer at Musselburgh last month before posting a fine third to Redama at Carlisle seven days later. Redama won again on Monday and Jacob Black is still well enough weighted to take a hand. Wild Hope was sent off favourite at Carlisle last time and his ninth place can be ignored as he was denied a clear passage. He has a fair bit to find with Harvey Dent on a line through Ramesses.
EESHA’S SMILE (3.30) won her first two races for Mark Johnston last season, at Beverley and Bath on quick ground, and paid the price with a fairly lofty handicap mark. She has slipped down the ratings and didn’t stay 1m 2f at Nottingham on her first start for Ivan Furtado. Eesha’s Smile likes to race prominently and drying ground will suit.
Ivory Charm won over course and distance with plenty up her sleeve and could be an improving filly for Richard Fahey. This is a higher grade contest. Front-running Ollivander held off all challengers at Beverley last time but finished three places behind My Boy Lewis at Carlisle on his previous start. My Boy Lewis is weighted to confirm those places.