The declarations came through on Sunday for tomorrow’s opening day of Royal Ascot and Mark Johnston’s Newmarket winner Visinari was a significant defection from the Coventry Stakes. The once-raced colt had been 5/1 second favourite with BetVictor and very well supported. Aidan O’Brien’s Arizona is the 5/2 favourite with BetVictor following his impressive 8L win at the Curragh on his second start and looks the one to beat.
At Carlisle this afternoon Archie Watson fits Space Age (2.00) with cheek-pieces for the first time after his filly was a beaten odds on favourite at Chelmsford on debut. Hollie Doyle takes over in the saddle and the selection receives 12lbs from previous winner Troubadour who was beaten 6L on his latest start.
A huge day for Charlie Hills and his team tomorrow with Battash and Phoenix Of Spain short priced favourites for the Gp 1 King’s Stand and St James’s Palace Stakes respectively. The yard drop Rhossili Down (2.30) back in trip to 6f for the first time since her racecourse debut when she shaped with promise at Newbury on good to soft ground. She is only rated 77 which would suggest she is vulnerable to a potential improver, but she has only had four career starts and Kieran Shoemark become the fifth different jockey to try his luck on the filly.
Archie Watson also saddles the filly Sneaky (2.15) in the opener at Catterick. The selection showed plenty of pace when runner up at Sandown last time and, as a daughter of Charm Spirit, today’s soft ground should hold no terrors.
Theatre Of War (3.45) looked in need of the run when beating just one home at Musselburgh on his seasonal reappearance. He is 2lbs lower this afternoon and has a good draw in stall two for one who like to race prominently. Trainer Keith Dalgleish has only had one winner in the last couple of weeks, but I feel Theatre Of War can reward each way with that comeback run under his belt.
At Windsor this evening Shammah sets the standard and is better than she showed at Kempton last time when she was free to post. Marginal preference, however, goes to the debutante Passing Nod (6.10) who comes from a speedy family that I like and is taken to make a winning debut although the market will provide valuable clues as to market expectations.
Hamish (8.10) refused to enter the stalls when an odds-on favourite at Redcar last time and the hope is that he has been reintroduced to the stalls in recent days. As a son of Motivator this evening’s good to soft but tacky ground should not be a problem and the hope is that it is a good eve of Royal Ascot for James Doyle and William Haggas who team up with Sea Of Class in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot on Wednesday.
Nottingham must pass an 8am inspection this morning but if racing goes ahead then I hope to see War Brigade (8.50) go close for Ian Williams. His astute handler fits his five-year-old with first-time cheek-pieces this evening and Cameron Noble is good value for his 3lbs claim. Battle Of Issus has been waiting for soft ground and is another to consider off just a 4lbs higher mark.
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