much like the buses, two superstars came on at the same time for Sir Michael Stoute, and Bay Bridge can continue their way to the top in the Royal Ascot feature Prince Of Wales’s Stakes (3.40).
Stoute, who turns 77 this year, got his license 50 years ago. Desert Crown’s victory at the Derby recently brought him back into the headlines and Bay Bridge was something of an echo of the past in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown, routing rivals like a progressing horse still under Ryan Moore. Only four horses face it, but it is an irresistible renewal.
Japanese prospect Shahryar never seems to have a bad race and last won the Dubai Sheema Classic from Meydan. Joseph O’Brien’s State Of Rest, meanwhile, was narrowly denied at the Curragh in their bid to win a fourth consecutive Group One, all in different countries.
He has an advantage over Lord North in this race. The group is completed by Grand Glory, formed by the Italian Gianluca Bietolini based in France. It’s a race full of intrigue.
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The Queen Mary (2.30) sees a huge field going to the post, but it’s really hard to look past Dramatized. The Showcasing girl seemed a bit special on her Newmarket debut, showing some inexperience but an ability to travel and accelerate that immediately suggested this race would be the logical next step for her.
It wouldn’t be the Queen Mary these days without Wesley Ward having heartbreaking hope. Blinkered Love Reigns will likely attempt to push forward like she did in Keeneland, but that will tell us a lot more about her abilities.
Aidan O’Brien, unusually, has no runners in either race, but he can hit the Queen’s Vase (3.05) with Anchorage.
He would represent a rarity of victory, having won his only race to date at Thurles, best known for its jumpers, but the key for him could be his move from 10 to 14 furlongs under Moore.
Moore rode the Galileo-bred in a group three race at the Curragh last time out when he didn’t get knocked down and needed that kind of distance. Curiously, he is already no less highly rated than any runner in the Hafit racing bar, which wears cheek pads for the first time and portrays the mighty Charlie Appelby.
New Bay is the sire of Bay Bridge and also Saffron Beach, who contests favoritism in the Duke Of Cambridge Stakes (4.20) after a spirited run behind Lord North at Meydan.
The tentative preference here goes to Mother Earth, which was a bit of a disappointment when it rolled more prominently than usual in a superstar Baaeed-dominated Lockinge. She loves Ascot and is solid.
The Royal Hunt Cup (5.00) is a minefield, with Bless Him a token pick under Jamie Spencer. He’s in his 40th race and may not be good enough, but two of his wins have come at Royal Ascot on good-to-firm ground over a mile and there’s no doubt it will be fast ground this week, a large part of Europe subjected to an alarming heat wave.
Little Big Bear is making a lot of appeal in the Windsor Castle Stakes (5.35). This son of No Nay Never might have opted for Coventry today instead, but he has plenty of pace and looks top class after earning his second start at Naas. He was heavily supported then and is obviously considered very smart in Ballydoyle.
Look for good offers from bookmakers in the closing Kensington Palace Stakes (6.10), which is tricky, but Haziya is really interesting for Joseph O’Brien.
The Qatar Racing filly was expected to win back-to-back handicaps this season, rushing in the first before closing in on the Curragh, and she has stayed on the same mark. However, White Moonlight is preferred. She looked better than a handicapper at two and wasn’t knocked down when she reappeared.