The Fugue can topple big guns
Simon Holt previews day two of Royal Ascot and he's backing The Fugue in the Prince of Wales's Stakes.
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The Prince Of Wales' Stakes is billed as an intriguing rematch between Al Kazeem and Camelot, who finished first and second in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at The Curragh last month, but value may lie elsewhere with John Gosden's smart filly THE FUGUE.
There appears to be no obvious reason why Camelot should turn the tables on his recent conqueror except for the fact that Aidan O'Brien tends to train his horses for Royal Ascot, a meeting that is very close to the hearts of his Coolmore paymasters.
Al Kazeem was a decisive winner that day after momentarily looking discomfitted about five furlongs out and, for Roger Charlton's lightly-raced five-year-old, that was a first success at Group One level.
- 1 pt e-w Music Master in 2.30 Royal Ascot at best morning price - shaped well behind decent sorts the last twice and open to improvement
- 3pts win Duntle in 3.05 Royal Ascot at 5/2 (StanJames) - has done nothing but impress since winning at this fixture 12 months ago
- 1pt win The Fugue in 3.45 Royal Ascot at 7/1 (BetVictor, Youwin) - looks the value over a trip that could be her optimum with solid form in the grade
- 1pt e-w Prince Of Johanne in 4.25 Royal Ascot at 12/1 (1/4 1,2,3,4,5 BetVictor) - won the race last year and seems to thrive in these big field handicaps
However, with Camelot's form last season repeatedly devalued - even though he took both the Guineas and the Derby - the quality of their confrontation might be slightly exaggerated and, at better odds, The Fugue looks value given she has solid form in this grade.
Unlucky in the Oaks, and again at the Breeders Cup, the Lord Lloyd-Webber-owned filly showed her best form when gaining a deserved victory over this distance in the Nassau Stakes at Glorious Goodwood and ten furlongs may be her optimum.
That certainly looked the case when she proved no match for an on-song Princess Highway in the 12-furlong Ribblesdale Stakes here last season though she later ran well enough when just denied by top-quality French filly Shareta over the longer trip of the Yorkshire Oaks.
The Fugue could have taken the easier option of the Duke Of Cambridge Stakes but her presence in this line-up suggests that the Gosden team are very happy with her.
Again, it would be a mistake to consider this just a two-horse race as the French raider Maxios, winner of the Prix D'Ispahan at Longchamp, also looks a serious horse and one can never quite rule out Ed Dunlop's splendid globetrotter Red Cadeaux who finished second to Animal Kingdom over this trip in the Dubai World Cup.
Earlier, the aforementioned Duke Of Cambridge Stakes could prove set up for DUNTLE who has done nothing but impress since winning the Sandringham Handicap at this fixture 12 months ago.
David Wachman's filly later proved she was Group One class when short-heading Chachamaidee in the Matron Stakes at The Curragh only to lose the race in the stewards room and won well enough on her reappearance.
Duntle could prove just too good for Dank and Chigun, who fought out a tight finish in the Group Three Dahlia Stakes at Newmarket in early May, and the consistent Thistle Bird for whom this represents a rise in class.
Later on, PRINCE OF JOHANNE is fancied to become the first horse in 55 years to win back-to-back Royal Hunt Cups (the last was Master Vote in 1948) running off the same mark as when defeating Excellent Guest (now worse off) last year.
Tom Tate's grey hit a quiet patch after his Royal Ascot triumph but looked on his way back when second to Navajo Chief at York last month and, a past winner of the Cambridgeshire, seems to thrive in these big field, straight-course handicaps.
One concern might be the draw; Prince Of Johanne came from stall 33 (on the stands side) last year whereas now he is drawn in stall eight.
The day begins with the Jersey Stakes in which Gale Force Ten, placed in both the French and Irish Guineas, looks an obvious candidate along with 2000 Guineas failure Garswood, a horse who is very highly regarded by his trainer Richard Fahey.
However, Henry Candy's likeable colt MUSIC MASTER may reward a small each-way interest.
The winner of a Newmarket maiden in April, he stepped up to finish second behind the smart Dundonnell in a listed races on the same course and Baltic Knight, the third horse that day, won nicely at York on Saturday.
More improvement will be needed from Music Master here but, having only the fourth start of his career, it may well be forthcoming.