THE REVENANT (3.20) has the chance to shine on his favoured deep ground in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on Qipco British Champions’ Day at Ascot.
The French four-year-old skipped through the mud to land the Prix Daniel Wildenstein at Longchamp on Arc weekend and crosses the English Channel still a fresh horse following a light campaign. The straight track is riding ‘heavy’ and The Revenant can lower the colours of home challengers Benbatl, so impressive when beating King Of Comedy six lengths on good ground at Newmarket on his comeback, and Lord Glitters, sixth behind Roaring Lion in this race last year. Ireland’s Magna Grecia hasn’t been seen since running fifth to Phoenix Of Spain in the Irish 2000 Guineas but he is Aidan O’Brien’s sole representative.
Races on the round course have been switched to the inner hurdles track where the ground is described as good to soft, soft in places. This has compromised the chance of Addeybb in the Middle Distance contest over ten furlongs as he is at his best on bottomless ground. Coronet, second and third in the last two renewals of the Fillies and Mares on this fixture, may find this shorter trip and track on the sharp side and Japanese mare DEIRDRE (4.00) is the each-way recommendation.
She could manage only sixth to Crystal Ocean on soft ground at Royal Ascot but stepped up next time when landing the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood on a sounder surface. Deirdre was sent to Ireland for her next assignment and was deprived of a clear run when fourth to Magical in the Champion Stakes at Leopardstown. Magical is trading at a short price and remains the one to beat, but she has had a busy season, twice chasing home Enable in the summer before finishing fifth in the Arc.
ADVERTISE (1.35) will have the bookies in a flap if kicking off another potentially explosive Frankie Dettori Champions’ Day by landing the Sprint. Martyn Meade has no ground worries and suggested earlier in the week that Advertise may even improve in the mud. His colt holds Hello Youmzain on Commonwealth Cup form at Royal Ascot, with Hello Youmzain coming out to beat The Tin Man by half a length in the Betfair Sprint Cup at Haydock (soft). Last year’s shock winner Sands Of Mali will need to leave this season’s form well behind in seeking a repeat performance.
Winner-machine STRADIVARIUS (2.10) just keeps rolling along and has the Long Distance Cup in his grasp. Second favourite Kew Gardens hasn’t quite fired this season but is classy on his day. Royal Line, stepping up in trip, was well supported earlier in the week but he is another mudlark to be inconvenienced by moving to the quicker inner track. For each-way purposes, or betting without Stradivarius, former Cesarewitch winner Withhold is more attractive and he fairly galloped his rivals into submission at Newmarket last month.
John Gosden appears to have a stranglehold on the Fillies and Mares, with STAR CATCHER (2.45) holding the whip hand over Investec Oaks winner Anapurna. Star Catcher has gone from strength-to-strength since beating Fleeting and Sparkle Roll in the Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot and is a worthy market leader.
The Balmoral Handicap over the straight mile has assembled the usual suspects, with Kynren turned out under a 6lb penalty for his dashing success here over seven furlongs two weeks ago. David Barron’s gelding ran fifth to Sharja Bridge in this event last year and runner-up Escobar is better treated.
Lord North landed a Cambridgeshire gamble stylishly under Frankie Dettori and a thumping 12lb rise will not deter many punters from going in again. CLON COULIS (4.40) may look the Barron yard’s second-string but he ran a cracker in the Royal Hunt Cup when splitting Afaak and Raising Sand (soft). Kynren ran well back in fifth from a poor draw but is 6lb worse off with his stablemate. Stall one could put a spanner in the works and Jamie Spencer will need all his cunning to find Clon Coulis some cover. With both my original fancies Clon Coulis and Escobar (stall 21) drawn on exposed flanks, it could be prudent to have a saver on something drawn in the middle and Britannia winner Biometric fits the bill at a bigger price. O’Brien’s Amadeo Modigliani is relatively unexposed and has been the subject of strong support.