Royal Ascot tips: Donn McClean on five Irish juveniles to look out for at Ascot

Donn McClean looks ahead to some of the top juvenile races
Donn McClean looks ahead to some of the top juvenile races

The highly-touted Siskin comes under the spotlight as Irish expert Donn McClean highlights five two-year-old raiders to monitor closely ahead of Royal Ascot.

It’s some week ahead next week. Here are five Irish two-year-olds that might be worth a second look.

Ickworth (Willie McCreery)

Queen Mary Stakes: 6/1 (Sky Bet)

Ickworth was impressive in winning her maiden on her racecourse debut at Dundalk at the end of March, and the form was boosted before she raced again when the runner-up in that contest, Moments Linger, won her own maiden back at Dundalk the following week.

Ickworth herself stepped up in grade last month to contest a Listed race at the Curragh on the first day back at headquarters after the new development.

Allowed to go off at 8/1 that day, the Godolphin filly travelled well through her race, in the front rank, up on the outside of warm favourite King Neptune. Still on the bridle as they raced to the furlong pole, she picked up impressively when Billy Lee asked her to. She came away from her rivals willingly and won well.

Trainer Willie McCreery mentioned the Queen Mary as a probable target after that race. She is fast, she is two for two, and she could run a big race.

Sunday Sovereign (Paddy Twomey)

Norfolk Stakes: 5/1 (Sky Bet)

Some 35 minutes before Ickworth won her Listed race at the Curragh on that opening day, Sunday Sovereign won the maiden.

Paddy Twomey’s colt had run encouragingly on his racecourse debut at Naas three weeks earlier to finish fourth behind American Pharoah’s son Monarch Of Egypt, and he showed the benefit of that experience by running out an impressive winner of that six-furlong maiden. Arizona was three lengths back in second place that day, and Aidan O’Brien’s colt won his own maiden next time on Irish Guineas weekend by eight lengths.

Sold by the Sunday Racing Club after that, Sunday Sovereign raced in King Power blue and white when he went to Tipperary next time and won a five-furlong median auction race by seven lengths. He has options at Royal Ascot, but it looks like the Norfolk Stakes on Thursday is his most likely target, and he will be a player wherever he goes.

Lil Grey (Sheila Lavery)

Albany Stakes: 14/1 (Sky Bet)

Lil Grey out-ran big odds when she finished second behind Mohican Heights in a maiden at Leopardstown on her racecourse debut last month, and she stepped forward from that when she won at the Curragh last week.

That looked like a good race beforehand, there were several well-bred types in it, and Lil Grey won well. Sheila Lavery’s filly travelled like the most likely winner from a fair way out, and she picked up nicely for Robbie Colgan to come clear of her rivals.

A daughter of Diamond Jubilee Stakes winner Starspangledbanner out of a mare by Coventry Stakes winner Verglas, she has Royal Ascot pedigree, and she could be a lively outsider if she takes her chance in the Albany Stakes on Friday.

Lope Y Fernandez (Aidan O’Brien)

Sky Bet's latest Royal Ascot odds

Lope Y Fernandez looked good in winning his maiden on his racecourse debut at the Curragh last Friday evening.

Sent off as favourite in front of his stable companion Kipling, a full-brother to Seventh Heaven, Aidan O’Brien’s colt travelled well through his race, and he stayed on strongly to win well. It was a really likeable performance from a racecourse debutant.

A son of Lope De Vega out of a Dansili mare who won over seven furlongs and over 10 furlongs, Aidan O’Brien mentioned the Chesham Stakes as a potential Royal Ascot target, and that makes sense. He stayed the seven-furlong trip well at the Curragh, and it is probable that he will progress from his racecourse debut.

Siskin (Ger Lyons)

Coventry Stakes: 8/1 (Sky Bet)

Siskin is not certain yet to run in the Coventry Stakes on Tuesday, but Ger Lyons left him in the race at the five-day stage, and he could be a big player in the race if he does make the trip.

Khalid Abdullah’s colt was impressive in winning on his racecourse debut at Naas last month, and he stepped forward nicely last time when he landed the Listed Marble Hill Stakes at the Curragh on Irish Guineas weekend, showing a fine turn of foot when Colin Keane asked him to pick up.

Ger Lyons is very selective in his Royal Ascot forays but, if Siskin does make the journey, he could run a big race. He is a likeable and talented and well-bred individual who has the potential to go high.

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