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King's Stand preview

Opening day of Royal Ascot sees a few short-priced favourites served up, and I reckon the bookies might be taking all of them on. The sprint doesn't have the high-class Aussie raider this year although Shamexpress did look an absolute machine in the pics from Newmarket last week. Can the South African hotpot claim the chocolates?. What does international form expert David Haddrell, @davidhaddrell think? David appears courtesy of 'The Gentleman's Bookmaker', Star Sports.

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King's Stand Stakes

Tuesday sees the King's Stand Stakes, a group one sprint over Ascot's five furlong course. This race is often plundered by foreign raiders with Australian, Spanish and Hong Kong horses winning seven of the last ten renewals of the race.

This year sees another country trying to get in on the act with South African champion sprinter Shea Shea looking likely to start favourite for the race. Australia also are having a crack with the usual faces from the UK lining up. Let's go through the field in racecard order...

1. Ballesteros - First time hood for this lad who's only won handicaps although did manage a fourth in last year's Abbaye at Longchamp. Two runs this year have been disappointing and it's easy to pass over him.

2. Doc Hay - Another handicapper trying to make it pay at the top level but another one that has failed when he's tried in pattern company. He has won at Ascot but on soft and he'll need a lot of rain to get anywhere near winning a race at this level imo.

3. Heeraat - Another one that was running in handicaps last year but managed a fourth in the Palace House Stakes behind Sole Power at the Guineas meeting and looked as though he might be capable of moving up to better things. However, got beat as even money favourite at Beverley at the end of last month. I can see him outrunning his price if he gets the run of things as he has plenty of pace but I think he'll be playing for place money.

4. Jack Dexter - Extremely talented horse who's won races from 5f-7f at handicap and listed level but all on soft-heavy ground. Will be unlikely to see those words in the going description at Ascot and therefore couldn't consider backing him. Definitely one to keep an eye out if he lines up in a race like this in heavy ground though.

5. Kingsgate Native - Looks as good as ever at the tender age of eight after winning the Temple Stakes last time out at Haydock and has won at Ascot before when a surprise winner of the Golden Jubilee. On this year's form, he's very dangerous to underestimate and I certainly couldn't put anyone off backing him at 14/1 but I personally think he might just fall short as he did when going off favourite for this race in 2010 and 2011 (6th both years).

6. Medicean Man - Won three handicaps at Ascot in the past and posted arguably his best performance to date last time out at Haydock when beating Jwala. He came fourth in this race last year and arguably looks in better shape this year and 25/1 looks a bit big for him in a field where there isn't much between the main UK sprinters.

7. Move In Time - Won his first two races this year (handicaps) in good style before placing in two group threes (at Newmarket and Chantilly). The Chantilly race has been used as a prep for winners of this race before (Equiano) and he's a dangerous horse to rule out at a massive price. He's won and finished second at Ascot and goes on most ground so 50/1 makes no sense to me and I can see him running a huge race and potentially causing an upset.

8. Pearl Secret - It would be cruel to label him a talking horse as he's won four of his five races and only came up short on his run in a group one as a 3 year old in a very good Nunthorpe. He has long been thought highly of and plenty of well respected judges seemed to think he was a sprinter going places last year. He's an interesting runner and I'd be very tempted to back him at around 14/1 but he has had an interrupted prep for this race. I predict he'll just get beat in this before going on to win the Audi Stakes at Goodwood and the Nunthorpe but again, very hard to put anyone off at the price.

9. Prohibit - The 2011 winner of this race has only been seen once since last July and he really looks to have gone off the boil as he's matured in age and was beat fair and square at Maisons-Laffitte last week and that looked like a bit of a rushed prep for this race. He's only 33/1 because he's won this race before and there are plenty of rags with better recent form and better claims at bigger prices.

10 - Shamexpress - Australian sprinter in the King's Stand. Wins.

No? Well apparently not. The Aussies seem to think this one is a long way behind their previous winners of this race and the ratings would agree too as the RP only rated him 108 for his win in the Newmarket Handicap off a feather weight. The horses he beat that day have all been smashed since too. It's very dangerous to rule out a sprinter from down under but the talk and form suggests this one will need to step up on what it's done round Melbourne's tracks to even take care of our modest sprinters.

11. Shea Shea - A champion sprinter in South Africa, winning a group one at Turfontein last year in good style. He then travelled to Dubai and disappointed on debut in a handicap (behind Medicean Man) before improving beyond all recognition in his next two starts winning a listed sprint and the G1 Al Quoz Sprint beating some very very good horses from Hong Kong. I can't help thinking that those two runs, as impressive as they were, might have been exaggerated by the conditions out in Dubai. If he runs to the same level of form as he did in Dubai, he will bolt up but it's a massive question as to whether he does. Dubai has a very different climate and until recently, different medication rules and it's worth mentioning that Mike De Kock bought another one very similar to Ascot a few years ago in JJ The Jet Plane and he got found out when he came to Europe to compete in the top sprints. Plenty of other impressive Dubai winners have lined up at Ascot before and not troubled the judge. You'd be a very very brave man or woman to take 2/1 about this horse repeating that form here IMO and he'd count as one of the lays of the week.

12. Sole Power - Ultra consistent group one sprinter who was beat at Haydock as odds on favourite but his record speaks for himself. You could see him turning round the form with Kingsgate Native last time out but my concern about Sole Power is the track, he's been beaten the three times he's ran here and I see no reason why you should take 10 about him where there is 14 about Kingsgate Native out there, unless the ground gets very quick.

13. Spirit Quartz - Another consistent sprinter who won at Chantilly two weeks ago and came fifth in this race last year. His second places to Ortensia last year read very well and repeating of those would see him go very close but there is a cigarette paper between him, Sole Power and Kingsgate Native on numerous runs and he's another which will just come up short.

14. Stepper Point - Not won since two year old days and whilst he's ran well in two French group races the last twice which doesn't put him far behind quite a few of these, he's still a few lengths off them and I aren't rushing to take the 100/1.

15. Swiss Spirit - Another one that keeps finishing close to the usual UK sprinter crew and could be called an unlucky loser behind Kingsgate Native last time out at Haydock as he had a rough passage through the race. That aside, you're still betting the same form line again but at 10/1 because he was unlucky LTO and as crude as it sounds, in my experience, you don't see many folks driving Rolls Royces because they kept backing horses that were unlucky in their previous runs because they're very often... underpriced.

16. Angels Will Fall - Looked a sprinter to follow when winning a listed race at Ayr last year before finishing fifth behind Ortensia but really gone off the boil since and firmly put in her place at group level since then. Efforts this year have been lacklustre and the only hope of her getting close is if her new jockey buries her in the pack and if she travels, he could fly at the death but she'd be a real shock winner given her form.

17. Bungle Inthejungle - Very good two year old but always looked a two year and whilst he's ran very well (won once) on his two runs at Ascot, he just looks like a horse that hasn't trained on and he's easy to leave out of the reckoning.

18. Reckless Abandon - The fly in the ointment for me. He was a fantastic two year old, winning all 5 races at sprint distances in good style and connections decided to send him sprinting rather than tackle the Guineas this year. He was beat on debut in the Temple behind Kingsgate Native and Swiss Spirit but if anything is going to improve and cement itself as a top UK sprinter then it'll be this one but I'm not sure there's much juice in the price.

19. Hoyam - Another decent two year old who's been found out since and has at least a stone to find to get competitive. His trainer has managed it before though at this meeting with a similar type (Art Connoisseur) but even so, he's 66/1 with justifiable reason.

Conclusion

This has boil over written all over it to my eyes. The flashy favourite has it all to prove in a new country coming from somewhere where plenty before him have disappointed when they've reached the heady heights of European group racing but the home challenge is very exposed and really, only two UK sprinters have won this in ten years (if you count Equiano as being Spanish for his second win). Kingsgate Native, Swiss Spirit, Sole Power and Spirit Quartz know one another inside out but they keep beating one another and all of them bar Swiss Spirit have failed in this race in the past and I can't see why that will change on Tuesday. The young pretender that chased them home that day is the most likable of the main domestic contenders but his price reflects that.

With a weakened or questionable foreign challenge and an exposed domestic defence at the top end of the market, it makes sense to look outside the box in this race and I think course form is more important at Ascot than at most tracks. Medicean Man and Move In Time bring great course records to the table and both have hinted at being capable of running well at this level and I'm much happier having them on my side at 25/1 and 50/1 respectively over the front end of the betting.

Advice

Bet Medicean Man EW at 25/1
Bet Move In Time EW at 50/1

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