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Diamond Jubilee Stakes preview

The final day of Royal Ascot is the big one for the sprinters. Just how good is this field? Has the Commonwealth Cup stripped some of the quality from it? Are the Aussie stars a class above or is it genuinely wide open? Returning to the blog after a bit of a hiatus is astute judge Dave Stevens, @davestevos.

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DIAMOND JUBILEE STAKES
GROUP 1, 6 FURLONGS
£525k
Part of the Global Sprint Series
1620 local, 0120 AEST


Some of the best six furlong horses on the planet on show in Saturday's feature race at Royal Ascot, and a fascinating contest with a case to be made for many of the contenders. This hasn't been a great race for favourites in recent years, with only three obliging in the last decade. Past winners include the likes of Slade Power, Starspangledbanner and the Aussie super mare Black Caviar, a truly impressive selection of horse. This year sees challengers from Ireland, the UK, Australia and the USA, and below is my preview of a race that no racing fan will want to miss.

ANSGAR Sabrina Harty/James Doyle (Stall 5)

Seven year old gelding that has been an absolute superstar for his trainer Sabrina Harty. Tasted success at both Group 3 and Group 2 level last season before finishing off with a gallant run behind Olympic Glory in a Group 1 at Longchamp. Made no impact on his return at Haydock last month, but is entitled to improve with that outing under his belt. However, the big worry has to be the trip, seeing as all his best form has come over 7F and today will be his first crack at 6F. It is doubtful that he will have the necessary speed to trouble the best of these, and his current odds of 33/1 look to be a fair reflection of his chance.

ASTAIRE Kevin Ryan/Jamie Spencer (Stall 3)

Already a Group 1 winner having tasted success in the Middle Park at Newmarket back in 2013. Has failed to hit those dizzy heights again since though, and his first and only victory since then came when he was dropped back into a Group 3 at the same track this year back in April. That was on fast ground, but his best form at the top table has come with a bit of cut in the ground. He has had two runs since then at Group 2 level, including on his preferred ground at The Curragh last time out, and has come up short on both occasions. I can see a similar scenario unfolding here. He likes to get on with things in front so at least he will ensure the race is run at a proper gallop. Not for me at 25/1.

BRAZEN BEAU Chris Waller/Craig Williams (Stall 15)

The first of two Aussie raiders, and this one would appear to be their main hope. Hacked up in the Newmarket Handicap (Group 1) at Flemington last time out in March, and according to his trainer that was just a stepping stone towards today. He is currently favourite at a best price of 11/4. He is a dual Group 1 winner, and has won his last three starts over 6F. He has also finished a head 2nd in a Group 1 over 8F, which bodes well for his ability to handle the stiff Ascot straight 6F. However, there are always doubts about how horses that travel a long way for the first time will handle the journey and adapt to their new surroundings, so that has to be a slight negative. Whilst a big run is probably on the cards, 11/4 is perhaps a little bit skinny, and there is better value to be found elsewhere from a betting perspective.

CASPAR NETSCHER David Simcock/Andrew Mullen (Stall 2)

Quadruple Group 2 winner, including a valuable event at Woodbine last year, who has run with credit in two of three starts this year including a close 4th In the Clipper Stakes at York at 25/1. The only blip came on his sole start at Group 1 level in Meydan in March, where he finished a well beaten fifth behind Sole Power. That was over 5F though, and today's trip will suit better. Andrew Mullen, who knows the horse inside out, retains the ride, and his trainer David Simcock has been bullish about this horse since his return from Meydan. Back in April he said 'I like to think this will be his year-it is the first time I have had a clear run with him'. His subsequent run in The Clipper indicates that Mr Simcock wasn't just waxing lyrical. He is currently priced up at 33/1, but that is nothing to worry about, as on his last two close calls he was sent off at 18/1 and 25/1 respectively. Definitely one to be interested in each way, and no back number despite his price.

DUE DILIGENCE Aidan O'Brien/Ryan Moore (Stall 12)

For those who like to follow owners/trainers/jockeys in form, then look no further than this horse. Ryan Moore has been on fire this week, and bar one blip on Kingfisher he hasn't put a foot wrong all week. Aidan O'Brien has been in none too shabby form either, and is firing out the winners at a relentless rate for Coolmore. Due Diligence was a good second to Slade Power in this race last year, and doubtless has been aimed at the race again this year. His reappearance was disappointing, of that there is no doubt, but his yard was in the doldrums when he ran, it was over 7F on soft ground and in all honesty it is probably best to put a line through that run. Returned to today's trip on fast ground I am sure we will see a different animal. He has a fair few lengths to find with the favourite on official ratings, and that is reflected in his current price of 8/1. However, that run here last year remains fresh in the memory and I can see the money coming for this one. 8/1 is a cracking price in my opinion, and an each way bet is definitely in order. I can't see him finishing out of the first four, and if he brings his A-game he could be hard to beat.

GLASS OFFICE David Simcock/Jim Crowley (Stall 11)

The second of two entries for David Simcock, and he will be partnered by his usual pilot Jim Crowley. Sprang a massive shock at 40/1 on his second run this season in The Clipper at York, where he had his stable-mate and today's rival Caspar Netscher 3/4 of a length behind in a blanket finish. Priced up at 25/1 today, shorter than his stable companion, but there is reason to believe that Caspar can turn the tables. Simcock reckoned that Glass Office was fitter that day and he also received 3lbs from his rival. This will be his first start at the highest level and he is probably best watched for that reason. Place prospects at the very best.

GORDON LORD BYRON Tom Hogan/Wayne Lordan (Stall 7)

Admirable globe-trotting seven year old, who has been a grand servant to connections over the years. Triple Group 1 winner, including one in Australia last year, and effective from 6F to 8F. Wayne Lordan, so cruelly jocked off Curvy earlier this week, retains the ride. He has not been at his best so far this year, and worryingly his best form has come with cut in the ground. It will be fast ground today, and unfortunately this horse just hasn't got the turn off foot on that type of surface. If there was to be an unforeseen deluge before the start of the race and the ground turned soft then he would be a lot shorter than his current odds of 20/1. However, with no rain forecast and conditions likely to remain as they are, Gordon Lord Byron won't be troubling the quickest of these. Best left alone until encountering a softer surface later on in the year.

MOVIESTA Eddie Lynam/Paul Mulrennan (Stall 13)

Ex-Bryan Smart gelding, now in the care of the Irish sprint king Eddie Lynam who trained Slade Power to victory in this last year. A Group 2 winner over 5F back in 2013 at Goodwood, and yet to get his head in front since. However he has run some big races at Group 1 level in that time, including an excellent 3nd in the Prix L'Abbaye at Longchamp (5F) on his final start last year when he was denied a clear run at a crucial stage. The worry is though that all of his best form has come over the minimum distance of 5F, and he has been well below par on his most recent attempts at 6F. He has won over the trip, but that was in a Class 3 Handicap off a mark of 83. It is a much hotter race today. He is currently priced up at 20/1, and that is probably an accurate representation of his chance. Over 5F he would be a much more interesting contender, and he is one to take note of when he drops back down to that trip. Until then though he is best left alone.

MUSIC MASTER Henry Candy/Fergus Sweeney (Stall 13)

Group 3 winner last season at Newbury over this distance, and represents the yard that hit the crossbar with Limato in yesterdays Commonwealth Cup. He is another that took his chance in this race last year, and he lost no caste in defeat with a creditable 4th place finish only a length behind Due Diligence. Has undoubtedly been campaigned this year with this race in mind, and made a satisfactory reappearance behind Astaire in a Group 3 (6F) at Newmarket. Dropped back to 5F last time out and was a well beaten favourite, a run that is more than likely the reason he is available to back at 25/1 today. His trainer stated that he wasn't right for that run, and had trouble breathing due to the type of bit that he used. I think those odds are too big, and I can see a much better performance forthcoming today returned to fast ground and 6F. Another with each way claims at the very least.

MUSTAJEEB Dermot Weld/Pat Smullen (Stall 4)

A winner at the meeting last year over 7F in the Group 2 Jersey Stakes. Has come up short on both tries at the highest level so far, but both those attempts came over a mile, a trip that undoubtedly stretches his stamina, even though he did manage to bag a Group 3 at the trip on his seasonal return last year. Returned to action this season with an excellent victory over reliable sprinting yardstick Maarek, and had Gordon Lord Byron and Astaire well behind. That showed his aptitude for today's trip, and it was also on easy ground which makes it an even more impressive performance, as Weld has always maintained he is best on a quick surface. He is the current scond favourite at a best price of 5/1, and I can see him shortening up tomorrow. Weld has already tasted victory this week and also saw Forgotten Rules running a huge race in the Gold Cup so the well being of his horses is assured. This son of Nayef should run a big race, and is definitely one of the main protagonists.

PEARL SECRET David Barron/Andrea Atzeni (Stall 14)

Six year old that has won twice at Listed level and grabbed his first success at Group level in the Temple Stakes at Haydock (Group 2) this season. Ran a cracker here in the King's Stand on Tuesday, a run that proved quick ground holds no fears. However, it is difficult to be confident that he will be at his best for today's race having run just three days ago, and he looks to be up against it with his rivals being a lot fresher. Has been campaigned over 5F in the main, but ran a decent race on his only attempt over 6F at Haydock last year behind G Force. He is currently available to back at 16/1, and if he was coming straight to this race and hadn't run on Tuesday he would definitely be more of interest. A break of just three days is not long enough at this level in my opinion, and he is best watched.

TROPICS Dean Ivory/Robert Winston (Stall 8)

Seven year old that is a triple listed winner and has also tasted success at Group 3 level, a win that came over today's track and trip. The apple of his trainer's eye, who was absolutely delighted with him after his Listed reappearance win at Windsor earlier this month, unsurprisingly so as he is a horse that usually takes a few runs to come to hand. Has some strong Group 1 form in the book, including a good 2nd to Slade Power last Summer in the Darley July Cup, and there is no doubt that he deserves his place in this field. He goes on any ground, so he should have no problem with today's underfoot conditions. Robert Winston, who is Tropics regular partner, takes the ride and it would be an amazing story of redemption if he was to bag a Group 1 at Royal Ascot given his chequered past. Capable of a big run, but will probably come up a bit short at odds of 20/1.

UNDRAFTED Wesley Ward/Frankie Dettori (Stall 6)

The sole American representative that hails from a yard that has had a winner already this week. This five year old gelding is a Group 3 winner over this trip back in his own country, but he proved he could mix it with Europe's best on his sole start on these shores last year, a good 4th behind Slade Power and Tropics in the July Cup. He will be ridden by Frankie Dettori, who also partnered him at Newmarket last year. He has run twice this year in Group 3 contests back home, and his second run was much more encouraging than his first when he was a fast finishing 2nd over 5F on fast ground at Churchill Downs. His trainer is typically bullish about his gelding, and is expecting him 'to run unbelievable'. He will need to if he is to get his head in front, and I can see him finding a few too good on the day. Best watched at 14/1.

WANDJINA Gai Waterhouse/Damien Oliver (Stall 10)

The second of the Aussie raiders, this three year old colt has improved beyond recognition this year, winning a Group 3 (7F) on his reappearance before following up over a mile in a Group 1 at Flemington. He again ran with credit last time out, also in a Group 1 over a mile, but was beaten a head in to 2nd on easy ground that would have been far from ideal. He won his maiden over 5f, but the fact that he has found so much improvement after being stepped up in distance means that dropping back in trip today has to be seen as a big negative. His half brother Inspiration was a crack sprinter though, so it is no surprise that connections fancy having a crack at this race. Worth keeping an eye on, and could make a bold bid, but at 12/1 there are too many doubts about the suitability of the trip, and he is another best watched for today.

LUCKY KRISTALE George Margarson/Tom Queally (Stall 9)

The sole filly in the field, and has gotten her career back on track this year after failing to impress during her three year old season after being stepped up in trip. Just failed to reel in Tropics last time out at Windsor after the winner got first run on her. Her reappearance at Newmarket (6F) in a Group 3 was also very encouraging, but her run in the Clipper at York, where she was behind a few of today's rivals, was very disappointing. The ground had a little bit of juice in it that day, and this filly needs it like the road to be seen at her very best. She managed a couple of Group 2 wins as a two year old, and lowered the colours of Rizeena on the first occasion. However, overall her form looks a little bit short of what is required in this race, and she will need to put in the performance of her life if she is to be competitive. She is currently available to back at 33/1, and that is probably an accurate reflection of her chance. One to be interested in when pitched into action against her own sex.

CONCLUSION

This is a truly fascinating and competitive Group 1 sprint, and as was stated earlier and has been illustrated above, there are a good few of these with chances. Brazen Beau is the current favourite, but looks a bit skinny at 11//4 given that it is his first run outside his home country. A similar sentiment applies to his Aussie compatriot Wandjina, who also has to prove this trip suits.

The Coolmore operation has a live contender in Due Diligence, and he should leave the form of his seasonal reappearance well behind. Mustajeeb is another at the head of the market that needs to be considered having shown that 6F suits him well on his last outing. Music Master cannot be discounted with much confidence either having run so well here last year.

However, the one that really catches the eye and looks way overpriced is CASPAR NETSCHER for David Simcock and Andrew Mullen. This is his trip, his trainer predicted big things for him at the start of the year, and his run last time out showed he is coming to hand at just the right time. At his current odds of 33/1 he is the each way selection in a wide open race.

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