The Queen Anne Stakes - 1609m
Doubt there will be a more intriguing/difficult horse to price up for the whole five days than the American mare Tepin. Almost certainly good enough - she has a Timeform rating of 127, which produced here would leave the rest with it all to do - but that's in her zone. Log way out of her zone now. Testing mile likely to be made all the more testing by the ground easing towards soft.
She handles soft ground just fine but if it switches the emphasis away from speed to stamina which probably plays away from her strengths. She did win the Breeders Cup Mile like a superstar on soft, and did have some smart European form behind her, but they were almost certainly below their best. Recent history of the jet setter with a big reputation in this race - Able Friend, Animal Kingdom etc - hardly inspires confidence either but, for all of that, ability trumps all and she has to be hard in the market.
Belardo won what looked a fairly lacklustre Lockinge but did win it well enough to have him clearly marked ahead of Kodi Bear and Toormore who started shorter than him at Newbury. Thought Endless Drama was very good there first up and he can be fitter for that. Market hasn't missed that, though. Currently trading shorter here than he did at Newbury and this is a deeper race.
Market doesn't miss Ervedya either but she has to be a big hope. Smart winner (peak rating) at this meeting last year, proven soft, and return run was okay. Beaten but rating was near enough to her best to think that she gets back there this season given she was just blowing the cobwebs off there.
Esoterique ran ahead of market expectation when second in this race last year and two starts later ran big figures winning the Marois on soft. Like Ervedya, no concerns with the fresh defeat - did enough.
Assessed odds: Tepin $3.25; Belardo $4.00; Ervedya $5.50; Endless Drama $12.00; Esoterique $12.00
Kings Stand Stakes
Far less cosmopolitan looking race this year - no Australian runner a rarity - but, flying in the face of conventional wisdom (which I love), the 'to and froms' have a very strong sprinting brigade at present and there's some star power here. Market gets the order right but keen to play the top end. Mecca's Angel is probably a bit of a Goldilocks horse but she gets it just right here with the ease in the ground.
Knocked off by Profitable in the Temple Stakes and returned genuine Group 1 figures in a Group 2 race. He's already had a run and she was first time out but not conceding that she simply turns the tables and at early prices he's the obvious gamble. Land on Mecca's Angel at about the same price as early betting but intuitively keen to play so keen to shop. Could play 'no edge' and bet at $3.20 which is around.
Waady has been quite good behind Profitable but needs two (probably three) to be well off their top to win it which makes him a fairly unlikely winner. Day will probably come when he drops back a peg or two.
Acapulco is the other 'big gun'. Went like an absolute bomb at this meeting last year and then put it to Mecca's Angel at York but Mecca's was up to the challenge there and Acapulco has to have kept pace with Admiral Rous and his weight-for-age scale since then. Big ask for one that looked to be clearly miles ahead of it 12 months ago but she did skip up in prep race for this in the States and her early prices don't look unfair at all. Thinking the bubble of horses from $14.00 to $26.00 should be shifted out to prices more like $51.
Assessed odds: Mecca's Angel $3.20; Profitable $3.80; Acapulco $5.50; Waady $21.00
St James Palace Stakes
Superb race with the three Guineas winners going head to head. Galileo Gold was the best on the clock, The Ghurka was the best visually, and Awtaad is the form horse having outpointed Galileo Gold by a comfortable margin. Early betting lines right up without our prices so have to shop well or wait for a shift to play.
The Ghurka is really interesting. Won the French Guineas by 5.5 lengths which on face value says superstar. Huge question mark on the French colts, though, the Derby since looking fairly even/ordinary as well, and The Ghurka was six lengths slower than the fillies - who looked solid as opposed to spectacular - at Deauville. Slow time doesn't mean slow horse, though. In fact, can add merit to a wide margin winner. Throw the rest in the bin, sure, but he's got to be taken seriously.
Things didn't really pan out for Galileo Gold in Ireland but really liked the way that Awtaad put them away and easing ground has to be a big tick for him.
Three key market chances flopped and ran last three in Galileo's Guineas so form is lacking some depth. Clock doesn't lie, though. He was good (good enough to start $2.25 v Awtaad $5.50 at the Curragh) and if the ground firms up the bits of $6.00 floating around are probably a twist too big.
Emotionless was very slick winning at Doncaster last year but bombed out in the Dewhurst and off setbacks now. Probably a bookmakers horse for this. They can hold onto him and hopefully they turn one or two of the others out to where we want them.
Assessed odds: The Ghurka $2.80; Awtaad $3.20; Galileo Gold $5.00; Emotionless $17.00
Grade B - Ballymore Eustace Handicap Hurdle
Grade B - Three.ie H'cap Steeplechase
G1 - Ryanair Nov Chase
G1 - Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle
G1 - Nz Oaks