ELARQAM (3.00) has left the impression he will stay this longer 1m 4f distance and wins the vote under in-form Jim Crowley in an intriguing renewal of the Hardwicke Stakes.
The son of Frankel rallied strongly when headed over 1m 2f at Haydock 12 days ago, just failing to peg back well-supported Lord North. Elarqam again finished strongly over that distance in the Sky Bet York Stakes last July (soft), powering more than three lengths clear of Addeybb. The form of his Lord North run was franked in no uncertain terms on Wednesday and Addeybb also performed with credit.
Last year’s Investec Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck returned in good form at Newmarket a fortnight ago, splitting Ghaiyyath and Stradivarius in the Coronation Cup. He needs a sound surface to be seen at his best and Thursday’s heavy rain has compromised his chance.
LOPE Y FERNANDEZ (3.35) had what appeared to be quite a hard race when third to Shiskin in a rough Irish 2000 Guineas at the Curragh but O’Brien is happy to strip him for action back sprinting in the Commonwealth Cup. He chased home Pinatubo in last year’s Chesham Stakes.
Kimari represents Ward and Dettori, while Royal Cuisine’s second at Saint-Cloud for Charlie Appleby puts him in the picture.
The one to beat is probably Pierre Lapin. Roger Varian’s colt has won both his starts, at Haydock and Newbury, latterly beating Mystery Power cosily in the Mill Reef Stakes.
BORN WITH PRIDE (4.10) bypassed an engagement earlier in the week to wait for the 1m 6f Queen’s Vase.
The William Haggas-trained filly beat subsequent Irish 1000 Guineas heroine Peaceful and this month’s runaway Newmarket scorer Run Wild when they clashed on heavy ground last November. It is best to ignore Born To Pride’s recent Kempton flop as her sire Born To Sea has a shocking all-weather record. She was also forced wide throughout and we should see a different horse now back on turf, especially if there is some cut underfoot.
Berkshire Rocco’s second to English King in the Lingfield Derby Trial sets the bar high but he was well held by the winner. Al Dabaran takes a significant rise in distance after scoring over seven furlongs at Ascot, before taking second spot over nine furlongs at Chantilly.
Santiago needs to improve for his Listowel maiden victory last September but O’Brien could have fielded a number of other candidates so his chance is respected.
WEST END CHARMER (4.40) destroyed his rivals with a devastating front-running performance at Newmarket 12 days ago and may grind his rivals into submission in the 1m 4f Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes. The Johnston-trained four-year-old incurs a 5lb penalty but is nicely berthed in stall three for another attacking ride.
John Gosden and Frankie Dettori team up with El Misk, a three-time winner last season, and he is open to more progress. Durston, second to Sir Ron Priestley at Glorious Goodwood, was placed behind Technician in the Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury and should be considered along with Good Birthday, placed behind Lord North in last autumn’s Cambridgeshire but only third to West End Charmer on re-appearance.
Dubai Future was in winning form at Meydan over the winter for the boys in blue but stall 22 could be problematical. Deja and Johnny Drama have form on soft ground and that will stand them in good stead at decent odds.