DEAUVILLE, Queen Anne Stakes, Tuesday
Aidan O’Brien’s Rhododendron will likely go off favourite for the meeting opener on Tuesday, but the Ballydoyle second-string DEAUVILLE (16/1) looks overpriced in what is an extremely open race. In a poor miling division this season, it would be no surprise to see any one of five or six horses go on to land the prize.
A reproduction of last season’s third in this race will easily see Deauville among the shake-up. The 2017 one-two of Ribchester and Mutakayyef don’t return and no horse stands out as a potential class above. That Ascot straight-course form is something Rhododendron, Benbatl and French challenger Recoletos can’t boast – those being the front three in the market.
The son of Galileo has four-and-a-half lengths to make up on the Lockinge running – a key trial for this race - with Rhododendron and Lightning Spear, but a case can be made for the five-year-old getting closer.
Having travelled to America to race on the Kentucky Derby undercard, Deauville was declared a non-runner at a meeting badly affected by heavy rain. Having missed a race and subsequent work days, it’s fair to assume Deauville went to Newbury undercooked, and he certainly ran that way.
Finally, in a race lacking pace, this forward-going type may well be in a better position than most to strike for home, for all it’s not easy to make-all on straight tracks generally. His relentless galloping nature and good attitude may see him tough to pass if on his ‘A’ game.
Some bookmakers are offering four places, so do shop around.
COSMIC LAW, Coventry Stakes, Tuesday
Richard Fahey’s COSMIC LAW (12/1) looks the value bet in the Coventry Stakes on the opening day. The son of No Nay Never couldn’t really have impressed anymore in winning the Woodcote Stakes by six lengths and appears underestimated by the market.
A straight-forward horse who looks highly progressive, his ability to jump smartly, travel well and quicken means he is tailor-made for the Coventry test. With three runs under his belt, he is one of the more experienced horses in the field, and it’s this factor that should see him run well in a race made up of young and inexperienced animals.
There is no reason why he can’t step forward again from Epsom, especially when he gets back on a more conventional track on quicker ground. His pedigree is very American and a faster surface will aid his cause.
He may well follow in the footsteps of the 2015 Coventry winner Buratino, who came to Ascot via the Woodcote where he also happened to win by six lengths.
Again, some bookmakers are offering four places, so do shop around.
TRICORN, Royal Hunt Cup (Heritage Handicap), Wednesday
The handicapper looks to have given the John Gosden-trained TRICORN (20/1) a chance in the Royal Hunt Cup on Wednesday. A fine third off 99 in last season’s Britannia Stakes over this course and distance, he was as high as 105 after that effort, but gets in here off 102.
Three subsequent below par runs have seen him drop in the weights, but encouragement can be taken in the knowledge that each effort has seen improvement, and his last time out run at Nottingham on ground far too soft was a sign that his trainer is bringing him to the boil nicely.
A horse with a Group 1 pedigree being a half-brother to 2011 Nunthorpe Stakes heroine Margot Did, after just nine career starts and in the care of one of the game’s best trainers, it’s not hard to believe there could be more to come from this gelding.
CURIOSITY, Britannia Stakes (Heritage Handicap), Thursday
The Hugo Palmer-trained CURIOSITY (14/1) looks an ideal type for this big-field straight-track contest given his ability to travel strongly. The son of High Chaparral from the further family of King’s Stand Stakes winner Prohibit looks an improved performer this season based on his sound second to Symbolization at Newmarket’s Guineas meeting back in May.
That appears sound handicap form for the grade and given it was the three-year-old’s first run in 239 days, he’s entitled to strip fitter. He was considered good enough to run in last season’s Group 2 Vintage Stakes at Goodwood, but on ground softer than ideal, he was no match for the likes of Jersey Stakes contender Expert Eye.
The faster the ground, the better his chance so hopefully Ascot go light on the watering. With his trainer operating at a 21% strike-rate, with a good draw, he looks set for a big run.
The stable’s other potential runner, Corrosive is also worth a second look.
ICE AGE, Wokingham Stakes (Heritage Handicap), Saturday
This year’s Wokingham Stakes doesn’t appear to have many progressive sorts among the entries, the hot favourite Dreamfield aside, but one horse that still appears to be on the up is the Eve Johnson Houghton-trained ICE AGE (20/1).
Like his trainer, all this five-year-old has done over the last two seasons is improve, and his latest success at Newbury’s Lockinge meeting suggests he may well be capable of climbing the ratings further again this season.
There is nothing flash about this son of Frozen Power, he jumps smartly and gets on with things. A winner over seven furlongs early in his career, the five-year-old has a nice blend of early speed and late stamina. Lighting quick ground would be a small concern, and should it happen to rain, it would certainly help his cause.
Ekhtiyaar and Tis Marvellous are also worth respecting.