Take it to the Max
Matt Brocklebank provides a horse-by-horse guide to the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot and is sticking with recent Longchamp scorer Maxios.
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BURWAAZ: The lowest-rated runner in the field only has a Leicester maiden triumph to his name from 17 career starts. Classy juvenile in 2011 and showed signs of a revival when third in the Stewards' Cup at Glorious Goodwood this year, but subsequent efforts less than good and his chances here are slim.
CASPAR NETSCHER: Three times a winner at Group Two level but always come unstuck when previously asked to dine at the top table. No disgrace in his 2013 form thus far but he was beaten by Top Notch Tonto at Redcar recently and that rival is 3lb better off.
GORDON LORD BYRON: Really likeable individual with versatility to match his undoubted class. Better known as a sprinter having won the Haydock Sprint Cup last month but stamina certainly stretches to 7f and he has won in Ireland over a mile, albeit at Group Three level. Relishes soft ground and gets on well with Johnny Murtagh so big run forecast.
GREGORIAN: Not too far off the best of these on the pick of his form but possibly caught Soft Falling Rain cold when winning Newbury Group Two in August and not quite up to scratch the last twice. Still room for some improvement but a place might be the best he can hope for in such a hot field.
MAXIOS: Looked a highly promising youngster before losing his way a little but has really matured as a five-year-old, winning a couple of Group One prizes at Longchamp this term. Had Olympic Glory five lengths behind in the Moulin last time and every reason to expect another big run if there is any more rain around.
SOFT FALLING RAIN: Won his four starts in South Africa and carried on the fine work at Dubai Carnival at Meydan earlier this year. Suffered first career defeat when second to Gregorian in Newbury Group Two in August but that came after a five-month break and he's since left the form well behind with a taking success at Newmarket. Strong contender but genuinely soft ground would be a negative.
DAWN APPROACH: Consigned Derby disappointment to the distant past when winning at Royal Ascot in June and followed that with a narrow defeat to Toronado at Glorious Goodwood. Slightly worrying he hampered his chances by pulling too hard again and finishing fifth at Deauville last month but will be hard to beat if bringing his best form.
ELUSIVE KATE: Tough and classy filly with no less than four Group One wins to her name on varying ground. They all came against her own sex, though, and previous efforts against the top-class boys suggest she is going to come up just short.
KINGSBARNS: Very much the dark horse of the race having looked a potential 'world-beater' when claiming last season's Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster, only to miss the start of this season before returning with a lifeless effort in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown last month. Plenty of questions to answer dropping back to a mile but ease underfoot suits him best and foolish to overlook completely.
LEITIR MOR: Dual Group Three scorer and penultimate effort when close third to Gordon Lord Byron entitles him to a crack at this prize. However, likelihood is he'll be used as a pace-setter for stable companion Dawn Approach so best overlooked.
OLYMPIC GLORY: Produced one of the best three-year-old performances of the season when beaten a short-head by subsequent Foret winner Moonlight Cloud in the Jacques Le Marois at Deauville in August but couldn't match that level when soundly beaten by Maxios last time. Clearly has the talent to take centre stage here and interesting to see connections now opt for blinkers.
TOP NOTCH TONTO: Has shot to prominence over the past couple of months, winning Haydock Group Three before following up in Redcar Listed event. Supplemented for this prize at a cost of £70,000 so clearly thought capable of sneaking some prize money, but others are preferred for top spot.
VERDICT: The race revolves around 2000 Guineas and St James's Palace winner Dawn Approach, whose best form would be good enough to see him prevail, but Jim Bolger's charge continues to dent his chances by pulling hard in the early stages of his races and won't get away with it if repeating the same antics here.
Soft Falling Rain is a massive threat to all with the promise of further improvement to come, while Kingsbarns could still be anything, but it could be best to focus on the form of last month's Prix du Moulin.
MAXIOS took top spot from Olympic Glory at Longchamp that day and, although the winning margin of five lengths may have flattered him slightly, there was a lot to like about the performance and he's worth backing to confirm the form with Richard Hannon's charge on 2lb better terms.