Astaire to take centre stage
Man On The Spot's horse-by-horse guide to Saturday's card at Royal Ascot featuring the Diamond Jubilee Stakes.
This normally goes to an unexposed type so the fact that last week’s Navan winner Dick Whittington has already had three runs is a bit of a concern. Fellow Irish raider TOSCANINI makes more appeal as his form stands up to scrutiny. He just failed to overhaul Kool Company in a Listed race over 6f at Naas earlier this month and is certain to be suited by the extra furlong. Wesley Ward’s juveniles are always worth a mention at this meeting and he runs two in this. Crown The Kitten only found one too good on his debut while the well-bred Cordero was an expensive purchase. Newmarket winner Justice Well should have no trouble staying and Nafaqa should win races, though might lack the experience today.
Sir Michael Stoute won this last year and saddles top weight Arab Spring, who is bidding for a four-timer. He’s gone up a further 8lb since scoring at York, however, and may find life tougher here. Groundbreaking won by seven lengths at Newmarket last month and is still improving but Elidor also has claims. He won the King George V Stakes here last year over this trip and the ground has turned in his favour again. HAMELIN ran a nice trial for this when only beaten half-a-length over course and distance six weeks ago. He’s 5lb higher now but will like the ground and looks well drawn in this big field. Wadi Al Hattawi won at York on his reappearance but ran twice here last year and was comfortably beaten on both occasions. Dashing Star makes most appeal of the remainder ahead of Epsom runner-up Blue Surf.
Ryan Moore is keeping faith with TELESCOPE and that’s good enough for us. The Galileo colt can possibly be excused a couple of defeats by Noble Mission on soft ground this year. He won the Great Voltigeur over this trip on fast ground at York last year and a repeat of that effort would make him hard to beat. Stablemate Hillstar may be the danger. He sprang to prominence when landing the King Edward VII Stakes at this meeting last season and is another who will appreciate drying conditions. Sharestan, on the other hand, has shown his best form with plenty of give in the ground while this might be too tough for the versatile Forgotten Voice. Eye Of The Storm is better than he showed at Leopardstown on his reappearance but could find a few of these too quick on the ground. Pether’s Moon is very consistent but will probably find at least one too good again but Dandino goes well fresh and has form at the highest level.
Slade Power’s connections are hopeful of a big sprint double after their Sole Power landed the King’s Stand Stakes earlier in the week. The recent Curragh winner landed a Group 2 over track and trip in October and shouldn’t be far away. Darwin was well beaten at the Curragh and might struggle to reverse that form but Aidan O’Brien also runs progressive three-year-old Due Diligence. Another three-year-old, ASTAIRE, makes more appeal however. The Duke Of York Stakes is usually a good trial for this and Kevin Ryan’s colt travelled really strongly in that contest until just getting outbattled by Maarek. The faster ground here will suit him much better and younger horses have a decent strike rate in this from few runners. Gordon Lord Byron is a Group 1 winner but possibly better over 7f and the trip may also be too sharp for French challenger American Devil. But Aljamaaheer finished with a flourish on his reappearance at Newmarket and will strip fitter here.
York Glory carries 9lb more than when successful 12 months ago and could also have been better drawn. High Numbers have had a definite advantage on the straight course this week, though you probably don’t want to be drawn right up against the stands’ rail like unlucky Epsom second Seeking Magic. Dandy Boy is a former winner who is potentially well handicapped but is drawn low as is Glen Moss, who may face a battle for the lead with Hamza and could get outpaced dropping down in trip. Three-year-olds don’t have a great record in this so Saayerr may also be worth opposing. ABSOLUTELY SO showed he was still improving when cruising to victory over 7f at Goodwood last time. He’s been raised 8lb but Oisin Murphy’s claim will be a big help and, as he had the speed to win over 6f on Polytrack last year, Andrew Balding’s colt is taken to land this. Windsor Listed winner Rocky Ground also makes plenty of appeal under Frankie while Hoof It likes these cavalry charges and is also interesting back on Turf.
Leading jumps trainer Alan King loves to take on the Flat boys at their own game and his TIGER CLIFF has the form and stamina to take the traditional finale. Second in last year’s Ascot Stakes over 2m4f, the five-year-old went on to win the Ebor at York and his two runs this season have been in pattern company. Fellow NH stalwarts Willie Mullins and Nicky Henderson will be hopeful of good runs from Pique Sous and Royal Irish Hussar respectively while Whiplash Willie made an impressive return from injury at Salisbury before finishing third in a Group 3 at Sandown, ahead of the selection. But the placings are expected to be reversed over this much longer trip. Mubaraza stays well but Statutory and El Salvador have been out of sorts lately and this may prove a bit too far for Brass Ring.