We started day one of Ascot with a 33-1 shocker so who knows what day two will have in store! Aidan O’Brien could well be on for a very successful day and we have a couple of his tipped up here, along with an expected return to form for a potential superstar to perhaps complement the performance of an undoubted one.Embed from Getty Images
3.05 Ascot (Queen’s Vase – Group 2) – NELSON
After what has happened in recent big races it would be very unfortunate for Ryan Moore to pick the wrong Aidan O’Brien horse and leave the winner for trainer’s son Donnacha once again, however I feel that is exactly what may have happened here and the recent double classic winning rider can pilot another group winner home in the shape of Nelson.
Seemingly only the third string of the Coolmore runners here, the son of Frankel was only beaten a neck by Roaring Lion as a two-year-old before recording easily the best form in this line-up when winning the Ballysax Stakes in the spring.
He disappointed when on trial for the Derby next time and there is a feeling he needs soft ground, however his breeding suggests otherwise and I’d say he’ll stay this trip and do so much more comfortably in the quicker conditions. He can get home ahead of John Gosden’s Stream Of Stars and fellow O’Brien inmate Kew Gardens.
3.40 Ascot (Duke of Cambridge Stakes – Group 2) - HYDRANGEA
Given that she carries a 5lbs penalty in this race Aidan O’Brien’s filly is no good thing but she can show her class to defy the burden of extra weight and take another valuable group prize for this powerful yard.
Having come back to the track in slightly underwhelming fashion at the Curragh in May when losing as even-money favourite, we are reliant on this daughter of Galileo showing that she can get back to her best over this one mile trip, bearing in mind she is a British Champion Filly over 1m4f on soft ground.
She was wonderful in a good ground Matron Stakes over the mile last year at Leopardstown though and still has the speed to see these off; more to the point in fact she’ll be staying on best when others are running out of puff on the uphill finish. Arabian Hope and Aljazzi represent the biggest dangers most likely.
4.20 Ascot (Prince of Wales’s Stakes – Group 1) – CRACKSMAN
OK, he’s a very prohibitive price, but we can just enjoy him or back him, the choice is ours. One thing is for sure though; if Cracksman had won his intended last engagement by 7 lengths then he would be coming into this race as a 1-4 shot so we must be mindful that prices of 4-6, should they be on offer, are actually good value.
Cracksman would have been better suited to Ireland and was due to go there at the end of May to contest the Tattersalls Gold Cup, however he was rerouted to Epsom for the Coronation Cup after John Gosden’s other superstar Enable was ruled out of the race.
He bumped his head leaving the stalls that day which made him miss the break and from there had to use up energy playing catch up going uphill and with a dazed head before then embarking on his least favoured racing endeavour – a downhill run, and then had to go right to his maximum trip of a mile-and-a-half to just about get his head in front.
He is a far, far better horse than that and barring any other freak accidents he simply cannot get beaten here should all things be equal.
5.35 Ascot (Jersey Stakes – Group 3) – EXPERT EYE
It could be time to give the precocious, even troublesome Expert Eye one more go. Getting the negatives out of the way first; he utterly flopped in the Dewhurst last season when appearing a good thing on paper, ran an under-par race in the Greenham this season then blew up again in the Guineas.
He has problems in terms of his mental state by all accounts and is a very, very hard horse to get in the right headspace come race day. However there are positives, plenty of them, and he may well end up looking incredible value on Wednesday.
He exploded past a very good Vintage Stakes field at Goodwood last season (Group 2) and was subsequently given a BHA rating of 118 after only two runs as a two-year-old. Average horses simply don’t achieve this and there is no doubt that there is a racing superstar under than skin somewhere.
Sir Michael Stoute described him as his most precocious colt for many a year and it may well be that he ran superbly on instinct when still very much a baby and perhaps simply didn’t want to do it once he knew what racing was about.
He didn’t stay the mile in the Guineas and now more and more work has been done on him at home to help him grow up a bit, and if he should get back to the form of his second run, let alone show natural improvement from two to three, he wins this.
Emaraaty is a horse I’ve been watching for a long time and in truth is probably a safer bet, though with less improvement to come than Expert Eye and he represents the biggest danger here ahead of Could It Be Love and the Charlie Appleby pair Symbolization and Glorious Journey.