Sea Of Class, Magical and Crystal Ocean all feature in a red-hot renewal of the Prince of Wales’s Stakes on day two of Royal Ascot, in what could prove to be the race of the week – weather permitting.
It is Aidan O’Brien’s Magical who is favourite for the 10-furlong showpiece, having pushed Enable close at the Breeders’ Cup and won each of her three starts this season with the minimum of fuss.
“She had a good winter, has had her three runs over a mile and a quarter and obviously we’ve been very happy with all her runs,” said O’Brien.
“She came out of the last race very well and everybody seems happy with her at home. We’re looking forward to running her.
“It looks a very good race, but it’s the Prince of Wales’s, it should be like that and it always is very competitive, so we’re looking forward to seeing her run.”
The race forms part of the Qipco British Champions Series, in which Sea Of Class was one of the stars last year for William Haggas.
The Sea The Stars filly won the Irish and Yorkshire Oaks and just failed to reel in Enable in a pulsating finish to the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. She is, however, making her seasonal debut and rain-softened ground is not ideal.
Speaking after bagging the Wolferton Stakes with the mud-loving Addeybb, Haggas told ITV Racing: “I’ll talk to Mrs Tsui (owner) in the morning, but we’re not going to make any hasty decisions tonight.
“We’ll have a look at the track in the morning. I really want to run her, but I don’t want to bottom her at this stage of the season.
“She’s in great form, looks great and it’s a fabulous race, but all the ones she runs in will be.
“We just want to make the right decision – I stress I am keen to run her, but I’m not keen to bottom her.”
Assessing the task facing Sea Of Class in general, Haggas said: “You never know. Lots of horses don’t go on from three to four. A few fillies do, but there are lots that don’t and you never know until you run them.
“You don’t normally see it at home, especially if they are not really flash, as you never ask them.
“I don’t ask her; you know what she’s like in front, she swishes her tail and doesn’t whoosh clear. At York she did it on the bridle, but she was in great form.
“Her work has gone well. I’d love to have had a run beforehand, but it was not to be. She’s got to start somewhere and we always wanted to run in this race.”
Some of Crystal Ocean’s best performances to date have come over a mile and a half – including in the Hardwicke Stakes at this meeting 12 months ago – but he does have three wins over 10 furlongs to his name.
With Ryan Moore committed to riding Magical, Frankie Dettori steps in to partner Sir Michael Stoute’s charge for the first time.
Stoute said: “He has to go for Group One races now and he has won plenty of Group Two and Group Three races.
“He has run creditably in Group One races and has decent 10-furlong form.
“It is a very tough race, but he goes there in great form.”
Dettori added: “He is a very versatile horse and likes Ascot. He has had two runs and two wins.
“He doesn’t know how to run a bad race. He has had two runs (this season) and is a very fit horse. It is building up to being the race of the week.”
One who is perhaps coming in under the radar is Roger Varian’s Zabeel Prince, winner of the Prix d’Ispahan last time out.
“He’s been a delicate horse over the years and has not got many miles on the clock, but for some reason he’s been easier to train this year,” Varian said.
“Whether it’s because he’s a bit older or had a good winter holiday, I don’t know, but he’s maintained soundness and well being. It’s shone through in his races and I think he could just be going into Ascot better than I’ve had him all year. We are quite excited to run him.
“The race has got a bit of a superstar look to it. He’s not achieved what some of the others have, yet, but he has run well enough in his two starts this year to at least not be frightened of running.”
Andre Fabre’s Waldgeist looked much happier down in trip when winning the Prix Ganay on his return, while Japanese runner Deirdre has pieces of form that give her a chance.