Monarch to Rule the Rest

  • By: Simon Holt
  • Last Updated: June 30 2012, 15:19 BST

Imperial Monarch: Can go well


2pts win Palazzo Bianco in 15.20 Newcastle at 11/1 (Ladbrokes).

2pts win Firebeam in 15.35 Newmarket at 4/1 (Coral).

2pts win Imperial Monarch in 19.40 Curragh (betting without Camelot) at 4/5 (Paddy Power).

It remains to be seen whether the John Smith's Northumberland Plate can survive an inspection after torrential rain cost us Friday's meeting.

If it does get the go-ahead, it's going to be really testing ground and that should suit Chester Cup winner Il De Re. He won that on soft ground, beating Overturn with Gulf Of Naples - who re-opposes on worse terms - back in third.

Gulf Of Naples has probably stepped forward again since that run with his very fine fourth behind Colour Vision in the Ascot Gold Cup last week and he's certainly been kept busy by Mark Johnston.

I like one towards the bottom of the weights, a horse called Palazzo Bianco trained by John Gosden and set to be ridden by Nicky Mackay off 8st2lb.

From what we've seen so far, Palazzo Bianco is all about stamina - two miles will barely be far enough for him but in these conditions, which he'll handle, he'll be doing his best work in the closing stages.

He's a lightly-weighted horse who should go in the ground and very much fits the bill.

Figaro, also entered at Windsor, is well-bred and lightly-raced but there remains a concern about the ground, while Motivado is a fine, big horse who looked good at Haydock last September.

I suspect the latter could be well-handicapped given that he's likely to improve but conditions again would have to be a concern.

At Newmarket, the big race is the John Sunley Memorial Criterion Stakes at 15.35 and it's drawn a field of eight.

A surprising runner in a way is Hoof It, the very smart sprinter trained by Mick Easterby. I say that because this is a seven furlong race and all of his best form has come over five and six furlongs. Connections are clearly desperate to get a run into him but he's run over seven furlongs three times and has been unsuccessful on each occasion.

He had a bit of a setback after his reappearance fifth in the Duke Of York Stakes, a slightly disappointing run I thought, and he may need this sharpener ahead of his scheduled run in the July Cup.

Given the distance and the cut in the ground, Hoof It is one to pass over. Libranno has course and distance form and scraped home in Listed company at Salisbury - he is a solid horse and looks sure to go well.

The one to beat though is surely Firebeam, trained by William Haggas.

He's got form with cut in the ground, seems ideally suited by seven and ran well enough at Longchamp last time, given that it was a hot contest won by Moonlight Cloud.

He's perhaps better judged on his reappearance second behind Red Jazz where he had Majestic Myles behind him, he looked progressive last season and could be the one to be on.

Over in Ireland it's the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby which for the first time is being run on Saturday evening, the last race on the card at the Curragh.

It features a really hot favourite in Camelot who has carried all before him so far. He's unbeaten in all four career starts including the 2000 Guineas and the Epsom Derby.

The Derby form took a little bit of a kick at Ascot last week when the third and fourth, Astrology and Thought Worthy, were a little disappointing.

Astrology has been declared for this again but I wonder whether he's in as a pacemaker, to set the running for Camelot.

The danger if there is one is Imperial Monarch, his stable companion. He goes in the ground and beat Thought Worthy in testing conditions at Sandown before a luckless run in the French Derby.

He's a decent horse and I'm a little bit surprised that he's taking on Camelot, who looks a prodigiously talented horse, but Imperial Monarch does look the threat.

Of the others, Light Heavy will go in the ground though he's up in distance and doesn't look good enough while Speaking Of Which is a good ground horse trainer according to his trainer Dermot Weld.

Akeed Mofeed is an interesting one for John Oxx, who has signed up William Buick to take the mount. This one was second at the Curragh on heavy ground last season and is held in high regard, although he does need to step forward.

His stablemate Born To Sea - a half-brother to Sea The Stars - is stepping up in distance after a staying-on fourth in the St. James' Palace Stakes last week. He seems to be going the right way but on breeding this trip is a concern.

It has to be Camelot here but Imperial Monarch is good enough to chase him home, or indeed capitalise should the Epsom hero be withdrawn due to the conditions.

  • Preview posted at 1535 BST on 29/06/2012.