A tremendous renewal of the Prince of Wales’s Stakes is the highlight on day two of Royal Ascot, but we get going with a flying five-furlong race for the juvenile fillies.
2.30 Ascot (Queen Mary Stakes – Group 2) – RELIEF RALLY
This is all about furious pace. Naturally, it’s a close one too and it is so hard to compare the form and ability of once and twice-raced fillies going over the minimum distance.
Money will be around for Beautiful Diamond and Got To Love A Grey for Karl Burke, a stable which knows how to win this race.
Born To Rock (Jane Chapple-Hyam) made an excellent debut four weeks ago and must be seriously considered, but preference in the end is for Relief Rally.
William Haggas’ filly made a lovely debut as far back as April and will have improved plenty since, especially given that she was also an April foal. She backed up that win with another using up minimal effort last time out and she will use her experience well.
3.05 Ascot (Kensington Palace Fillies’ Handicap) – TARRABB
A very tasty looking one-mile race on the round course for the fillies, one in which much of the cash will be going the way of Joseph O’Brien’s Yerwanthere.
She was unlucky in running in a Listed race last time, but she wouldn’t have won it and will still need to improve in these handicap conditions.
The suggestion is the quick and talented Tarrabb. Rated 91, she got to that level a full ten months ago and there is no doubt that she will have improved a good amount since then.
She has had a pipe-opener but has had this as her target, she has won here before, seen out the mile before and has a better turn of foot than many. William Buick rides.
3.40 Ascot (Duke of Cambridge Stakes – Group 2) – PROSPEROUS VOYAGE
I was really hope that Laurel would run in this race but alas, a number of classy fillies have come out at the final declaration stage leaving a half-dozen or so of them closely matched.
Grande Dame, Prosperous Voyage, Jumbly, Queen Aminatu, Honey Girl and, if she’s on a going day, Potapova, are all capable of landing this event.
The strongest one is Prosperous Voyage. Put simply; she is an unpenalised Group 1 winner who won last time out and she may just outclass this field.
4.20 Ascot (Prince of Wales’s Stakes – Group 1) – ADAYAR
We don’t have a huge field here, as is often the case in such high-class events, but we really do have a ton of quality even without the presence of Desert Crown who was withdrawn.
Aidan O’Brien has started well and his Luxembourg is the likely favourite. He was good last time in beating Bay Bridge, who reopposes here, finally maturing after finishing 2021 as the Futurity Trophy winner though he did win the Irish Champion in between.
He isn’t the most consistent horse at Group 1 level and he may be vulnerable, while Bay Bridge gives the impression that he’s getting there after losing out in Ireland and France.
He just about beat 2021 Derby winner Adayar in the Champion Stakes last year, though Charlie Appleby’s horse was having only his second run in a year.
My Prospero is good but shouldn’t be winning this, while Mostahdaf hasn’t yet broken through at the top level but is a much better horse than his price would suggest.
Going back to Adayar; he may prove ultimately to be the classiest of this bunch. A good Derby and King George winner, he is being primed for a ten-furlong Group 1 win, he already has the form in the bag to go close and he will peak around now.
For good measure, he won his prep race comfortably from Anmaat who has won a Group 1 race since.
5.00 Ascot (Royal Hunt Cup – Heritage Handicap) – PEROTTO
A Royal Hunt Cup featuring the usual massive field means this will be difficult, but not impossible as one horse stands out at least on the numbers.
That horse is Perotto. Only a five-year-old and therefore not past his peak, Perotto reached a mark of 110 in 2021 and ran to around 106 last season.
Formerly with Marcus Tregoning, he has now been sent to Roger Varian for whom he made a decent start on soft ground in May. He comes into this race match fit and off a mark of 96, some 14lbs below his highest, and he could simply be very well handicapped under David Egan. Ghaly is best of the rest.
5.35 Ascot (Queen’s Vase – Group 2) – GREGORY
The Queen’s Vase is always intriguing. Having produced Estimate, Stradivarius and Eldar Eldarov among others, it’s usually a top race.
This year’s renewal is not as deep as normal, but that’s great news for the Gosden team as their Gregory looks to be ahead of his opposition.
Two from 2 after an easy win at Goodwood, he looks the best horse in this race and seems sure to stay the extra couple of furlongs.
Chesspiece, who is now with Godolphin, Circle Of Fire and Peking Opera can all challenge for places.
6.10 Ascot (Windsor Castle Stakes – Listed Race) – BARNWELL BOY
The Windsor Castle is a tough way for punters to finish the card; another juvenile race run over the minimum distance of five furlongs.
If contenders haven’t shown immense speed as yet it’s hard to recommend them, while even if they have it could be that there is minimal improvement to come from them.
Johannes Brahms will of course be fancied for the O’Brien yard but his breeding doesn’t scream five furlongs, while Maximum Impact is good but has had one more chance than some other major contenders.
Barnwell Boy was blistering on debut for Charlie Johnston and, with some improvement likely, he gets the nod to round off the Ascot card in style.