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St James’s Palace Stakes preview

First cab off the rank with a Royal Ascot preview is the very talented Jack Milner. Follow him on Twitter, @JJMSports
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The St James’s Palace Stakes is the last chapter of the opening day's three-pronged Group One assault, and features the best three year old milers in Europe, with an influx of horses from France and Ireland this year; I suppose that is one way of helping the local economy. You would assume if only the Greeks knew about this horse racing lark eh, they would be out of recession in no time.

This is the race where Frankel almost lost his unbeaten record last year, in Tom Queally’s not so finest hour, kicking on from the front at just over the half way stage; it was not quite the spectacle we had all hoped for. Frankel was completing the 2000 Guineas/St James’s Palace Stakes double, something that is quite a trend, whether is be the French, English or Irish equivalent. Henrythenavigator did The English and Irish Guineas double before winning this, and most recently Mastercraftsman and Canford Cliffs both completed The Irish 2000 Guineas before winning this race as a warm favourite. Power will look to continue that feat for Aidan O’ Brien who was impressive at The Curragh, getting his season back on track after finishing an ‘also ran’ at Newmarket. The Champion two year old last year was impressive when winning The Coventry Stakes and the Oasis Dream colt is an understandably short priced favourite for the race. He is the stable’s first choice, with Joseph on board, and Seamie Heffernan on the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf winner Wrote, but I just have a suspicion that Power will be massively underpriced, and Wrote, like in the Irish 2000 Guineas, will be used as a pacemaker.

Taking out the rags, there are horses in this race, which plainly have absolutely zero chance, and if it weren’t for the trainers wanting a day out and a jolly up at Royal Ascot, would not be running at all. Arnold Lane won a Chester handicap on horrendous ground, and his best form comes after a break. Miblish has generally disappointed after winning an average looking maiden last year at Newbury. He finished second in a conditions race at Kempton before finishing tenth of twelfth in The Craven, with the form working out horrendously. Gregorian has failed to run any form of race at Longchamp and Chantilly after a handicap win at Newbury. Similarly Saigon, who has good pieces of form at two, but has been unable to place in her last two listed races, I’d rather look at a market that lays me a price her finishing in the car park.

The French runners look to have chances on paper, but history dictates on the contrary, with French runners having a dismal record, with their last winner here being Sendawar for Alain Royer-Dupre in 1999, and before that Kingmambo for François Bouton. They have had two winners in the last fourty-two years. The French send over Hermival, Dragon Pulse and Lucayan, but I can not have any, and it may be short sighted, but neither strikes me of having enough class. Lucayan won an awful French Guineas as a 33/1 shot, where Dragon Pulse wouldn’t settle, and Hermival ran a nothing race in the Irish Guineas.

Gabrial is an interesting runner for Richard Fahey, supplemented after absolutely hacking up in a decent handicap at Haydock. The trainer said it was his best chance of the week, and it seems a lot of money for owner Dr Marwan Koukash to stump up in a race of this depth. He was unable to get the better of Arnold Lane on his seasonal run though, and doubts remain over his class.

It may be something matter-of-fact about it, but I really don’t like Brian Meehan runners, and on the whole, it offers little value following his runners, it is only in my humble opinion of course. He has only had 19 winners from 295 Ascot runners, a strike rate of 6.44%, and I will gladly lay every one of his runners at the meeting. That would immediately rule out both Most Improved and Cogito.

The Nile ran a good race in behind Aljamaaheer, who I fancy for the Jersey Stakes on Day Two, and has a progressive profile. As do Fencing and Foxtrot Romeo, who placed in the Dante Stakes and Irish Guineas respectively, but both did so in questionable circumstances, and are open to doubt.

The most intriguing runner of the entire field is BORN TO SEA for John Oxx and J P Murtagh. He is of course out of that star laden family of Urban Sea, Galileo and is a half brother to Sea The Stars. The colt set tongues wagging when winning a listed race on debut, before injuring himself on heavy ground in a Group Three at Leopardstown, and still able to finish second. He never settled in the English Guineas, and in the Irish equivalent settled too well. Pat Smullen made sure the colt learnt how to race properly though, switched off at the back, he made giant strides to make up around fifteen lengths in the last furlong and a half. John Oxx would not run a horse over here unless he thought he had a great chance of winning, from 20 runners, has had 7 winners and four further placed in Britain in the last five years. I think he could go off an outrageously over priced animal, and there is no better man in the saddle to steer this colt to Ascot glory than four time champion jockey Mr J P Murtagh.

3.45 Ascot

Born To Sea (Ew)
Power/Born to Sea (Reverse Forecast)

The Yorkshireman – Jack Milner (@JJMSports)

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