Queen Mary Stakes, 2.30

Any rain in the area will certainly be against Wesley Ward’s pair of Anna’s Fast and Kimari because, as daft as it sounds over five furlongs, their stamina will be called into question having won over less than our minimum trip in America.

I think Godolphin will win it but given they have four runners that is not a very big shout!

Final Song created a big impression when winning over course and distance on her debut and could be anything, as could Charlie Appleby’s pair of Divine Spirit and Theory Of Time – but I don’t think they are in the same league as his Chasing Dreams who unfortunately misses this through injury.

I like Willie McCreery’s ICKWORTH, though. There’s just been something about her that has left an impression on me.

She beat Jim Bolger’s Moments Linger on her debut by three-quarters of a length, and won next time out when they met in a Listed race in early May, though this time Ickworth put over four lengths between them.

She’d obviously improved enormously and the horse she beat went on to chase home the smart Siskin next time out.

 

Queen’s Vase, 3.05

In the last 10 years only Sir Michael Stoute and John Gosden, with subsequent Gold Cup winners Estimate and Stradivarius, have prevented a Mark Johnston and Aidan O’Brien monopoly in this race.

It’s pretty obvious why, too. Johnston seems to excel in training stayers and Ballydoyle is stocked full of horses bred to win the Derby and those that are too slow for that tend to end up in this race.

Bar the 33-1 success of Sword Fighter in 2016 all the other recent winners have been well fancied and I don’t think we have to look to long to find WESTERN AUSTRALIA.

Given he was a one-length third to Magna Grecia in the Futurity Trophy at Doncaster, it was disappointing he was beaten on his first two outings this season but stepped up massively in trip to 1m5f at Navan he relished it and could easily outclass his rivals here.

Johnston runs Nayef Road and THEMAXWECAN and it is the latter who interests me.

He was trying to give 10lb to subsequent Listed winner Technician at Leicester and did not find the Lingfield Derby Trial (won by Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck) enough of a test and was then beaten a head by Durston, who has won again since, trying to give him 13lb.

He’ll stay the trip well and looks a good each-way option.

 

Prince of Wales’ Stakes, 3.40

While this is being billed as the race of the week by many, I don’t have a hard and fast view on it.

I’d like Sea Of Class to win and had she had a prior I’d be pretty confident she would as I think she possesses the best turn of foot in the race. However, it will be some training performance to win a Group One as deep as this first time out.

I think Magical and Crystal Ocean are mile-and-a-half horses. Magical pushed Enable close at the Breeders’ Cup and while she has been winning over 10 furlongs this season, they have not been races of any note, in truth, despite the Tattersalls Gold Cup carrying Group One status.

Crystal Ocean repeatedly falls just short in Group Ones, and lacks, to date at least, push-button acceleration that most 10 furlong horses have.

I wouldn’t totally discount Zabeel Prince, who is a late maturer, but Andre Fabre has always thought WALDGEIST was top class and he went some way to proving it in the Prix Ganay, brushing aside a decent field.

He won’t mind cut in the ground and the drop in trip seemed to suit him last time out. It’s impossible to back him with lots of conviction in such a deep race, though.

 

Duke Of Cambridge Stakes, 4.20

I’ve got a feeling Rawdaa was flattered in her last race at York. It was massively better than anything she had done before and caught her connections on the hop. Given Lah Ti Dar was stuffed at Epsom, the form might not be as good as it looked at the time and I’m happy to take her on.

I think course form counts for a lot at Ascot. It does tend to have a unique texture and many compare it to the all-weather given it is sand-based, and that is why horses come back time after time and go well again.

With that in mind, AGROTERA might be the way to play this.

Very impressive in the Sandringham last year, she possesses a really good turn of foot and while she failed to replicate it again last season, she reappeared this year looking like her old self at Kempton (all-weather).

She’s getting 3lb off I Can Fly and that could prove crucial.

 

Royal Hunt Cup, 5.00

He may have a dreadful draw in stall one, and is trading at a skinny price, but I was at Ripon when NEW GRADUATE won last time out and literally turned to the bloke next to me and asked, “what was that?”

He beat a field of competitive northern handicappers with ease, winning by five and it could easily have been 10. The race could not have worked out any better, with the second finishing third in the Victoria Cup and then won and the third winning twice, as has the fourth.

Unfortunately, that forced the handicapper to add further weight to his initial rise meaning he’s a full 15lb higher but he looks a Group horse in the making.

I was tempted by last year’s winner Settle For Bay, who is only 3lb higher after apparently losing his form in Dubai. There was a lot more to like about his most recent effort, though the other one I want on my side is CHIEF IRONSIDE.

Take out his run at Chester where he failed to stay 10 furlongs in very soft ground and he has a likeable profile. He was in front well into the final furlong in the Diomed Stakes most recently and is well worth another go in a handicap given he is 4lb well in.

 

Windsor Castle Stakes, 5.35

I’ll be steering clear of the Wesley Ward juveniles this week, simply because they are an unknown quantity and every drop of rain is against them.

On experience, Michael O’Callaghan’s RED EPAULETTE is right up there having won the first juvenile race of the year in Ireland, and he still seems to be progressing.

He gave Aidan O’Brien’s Pistoletto a real fright last time out when that one was backed as if defeat was out of the question – and prior to that he was behind Ger Lyons’ Siskin, arguably the best juvenile we’ve seen in Ireland this season… as a long-term project anyway.

He’s an each-way price in a race that looks as much of a conundrum as the Hunt Cup.