Mike Cattermole previews day two of Royal Ascot 2019 and he fancies Magical to land the feature for the Aidan O'Brien team.
Those, me included, that slightly doubted the well-being of the Aidan O’Brien team coming into Royal Ascot were looking pretty stupid yesterday and the all-conquering Ballydoyle operation looks poised now to take the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes with Magical on day two.
On a line with the mighty Enable, there wasn’t much between Magical and Sea Of Class towards the end of last season as the John Gosden-trained supermare beat them both into second place in the Breeders’ Cup Turf and Arc.
This will be the first time we have seen Sea Of Class since Paris and it is asking a lot of her to take this superb contest on her reappearance. Magical has been kept busy, though, and although beating her stablemate (and stayer) Flag Of Honour three times is form that is hardly going to scare anybody, it at least shows that she is going to line up here very fit and ready.
The softening ground should not be an issue as she won the Fillies and Mares here on soft ground last October.
We don’t know about the ground for Sea Of Class as it will be the first time she has tackled it.
In some respects, conditions will put the emphasis more on stamina and that might suit both Crystal Ocean and Waldgeist who are arguably better at a mile and a half. Crystal Ocean is still chasing his first Group One and arrives in great form, while Waldgeist, two places behind Sea Of Class in the Arc, showed a great turn of foot when he dropped back in trip to land the Prix Ganay.
He beat Study Of Man by four and a half lengths and the runner-up went on to chase home the improving Zabeel Prince, at just three quarters of a length, in the Prix d’Ispahan at Longchamp (good to soft).
In the opening Queen Mary Stakes, so many of the runners have not run on soft before but Final Song has, winning very impressively here last month and the form has been boosted by the third, Star Alexander, winning by six lengths next time.
Obviously, Wesley Ward needs to be respected here and Kimari, a 15-length winner at Keeneland, is going to be well supported with John Velasquez picking her over Anna’s Fast.
Of the other notable jockey bookings, James Doyle won on both Divine Spirit and Theory Of Time on the same day at Windsor (good) and he stays with the latter who drops back in trip.
The Queen’s Vase is always a tricky one as some horses show massive improvement when they step up in trip. Norway (a brother to Derby winner Ruler Of The World) was eight lengths second to Sir Dragonet at Chester and eighth in the Derby and clearly Aidan believes he will step forward, along with Western Australia.
Nate The Great was third to the Derby winner Anthony Van Dyck in the Lingfield Trial on soft ground and enters calculations, although he was beaten by Norway at two.
An unsteady vote is given to Jalmoud who stayed on very well – in soft ground – to take a Listed event over 12f at Paris Longchamp last month. He is the product of both a Derby and Oaks winner which is also encouraging, trip-wise.
Sir Michael Stoute has gone on record as saying Rawdaa is his best chance of the week in the Dule Of Cambridge Stakes. She drops back in a trip after a narrow defeat by Lah Ti Dar at York but is half the price of Agrotera who had beaten her into third at Kempton in April.
Agrotera was an easy winner of the Sandringham Handicap here last year (good to firm) but is effective on any ground and she ought to go well at a value price.
I Can Fly could be a fly in the ointment though. A bit in and out, her best run was when beaten a neck by Roaring Lion in last October’s Queen Elizabeth II Stakes here – on soft ground. If she can run to that form here, the others better stay at home but she is unpredictable.
Settle For Bay returns to try and win the Royal Hunt Cup for the second year running, something that has not been done since 1948. He is 6lb higher but the ground has surely gone against him.
Raising Sand, a very good fourth in the Victoria Cup over seven furlongs on his reappearance, will love the conditions and Kynren, two places in front of him there, is versatile too on the ground front. These two are also quite evenly matched from last October’s Balmoral Handicap over this course and distance, too.
Whats The Story, fourth last year off 2lb lower, offers some each-way value at 22-1 to strike a blow for Keith Dalgleish and Paul Mulrennan. He looked in great shape when winning readily at York last time and has been raised a very reasonable 4lb.
He has form on all sorts of ground and the York runner-up Firmament, landed a competitive event in style back at the Kanvesmire on Saturday. Whats The Story is drawn high (26) but whether that is a good thing remains to be seen.
Finally, Fort Myers’s fourth in the Coventry on the opening day is a big pointer towards the chances of Temple Of Heaven in the Windsor Castle Stakes.
Richard Hannon’s colt edged him out at Newbury last time over six furlongs but had won over five on his debut at Nottingham. The ground is an unknown, though.
DAY TWO SELECTIONS
2.30 FINAL SONG
5.00 WHATS THE STORY
5.35 TEMPLE OF HEAVEN