He obviously bumped into a very well-handicapped horse when second to Addeybb in the Lincoln on his reappearance, so that was a good start to his campaign. He ideally wants some ease in the ground and hopefully it won’t be too quick with this being the first race of the meeting. He clearly has a fair bit to find with these – he is the lowest-rated horse in here, in fact – but he is progressing, has good course form and has an each-way squeak at a price. Rhododendron is probably the one to beat; she only won narrowly at Newbury but I felt she was going away at the line and this stiffer mile would suit her.
He did a lot wrong in the Marble Hill last time and still looked very inexperienced, but he finished off his race really well and was only beaten 3 lengths in the end. If he comes forward again, then he may run better than his price suggests. There has been a lot of talk about Calyx and he was very impressive at Newmarket but I always think you have to be exceptional to win second-time-out at Royal Ascot. There will be less chance of Sergei Prokofiev getting stage fright after three runs, and I would favour his chances on grounds of experience.
King’s Stand Stakes
Wesley seems to peak Lady Aurelia for this meeting, and I would side with her over Battaash. This is her first trip of the season after her Keeneland prep in April, and she would have been primed for this, just as she was when winning this race by 3 lengths last season. Battaash was exceptional in the l’Abbaye and he did well to win on his reappearance at Haydock given the way the race unfolded. But Ascot, with its big crowd, can light up some horses, and there has to be a danger of that happening with him.
St James’ Palace
It’s a very open race but I think Wootton will hit the board if he relaxes, and maybe even win. The draw in nine is not ideal and he needs to settle better than he did at Longchamp last time, but he is a colt with a lot of talent if it can be harnessed.
My horse will be one of the outsiders here, and I don’t really think you can argue with that assessment. He has been running over much shorter trips than this of late and running below par. He has come down a fair bit in the weights as a result, but he needs to step up a lot on recent efforts and his stamina is a big question mark. I see Willie has five in here and I imagine one of them will win. But which one, I don’t know!
I think being drawn 1 to 7 in here is worth a few lengths if you have the horse to take advantage, so I am happy with stall five for Spark Plug. I am not sure why they have changed this race from being a handicap to a Listed race but the upshot is my horse has a bit to find with a few of these. But he ran well when third at Goodwood last time, he loves fast ground and he ran well in a Balmoral here. Mirage Dancer could be the one to beat but this is the kind of race where any number of horses could win and you would look back afterwards and say: “Yes, I can see why that came out on top.” It’s very open.
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