Rogue Millennium made day two a better day... onwards and upwards!
I think we can narrow this one down to the two favourites - American Rascal is a son of Lady Aurelia, a dual Royal Ascot winner and probably the best horse Wesley Ward has brought to Europe. On debut at Keeneland in April, he sat just off the pace and careered away, winning by a very easy 10.5L. The Yanks are off the mark with Crimson Advocate on Wednesday, and could easily make it two here.
Elite Status is the best of the local hopes. He's two from two winning his maiden at Doncaster followed by a 5L romp at Sandown in the National Stakes. Sheikh Mohd Obaid Al Maktoum had two winners at juicy prices on Tuesday, but this is the one they'd have come into the week expecting to be their best hope.
One at odds to consider for exotics - The Fixer. This French colt struck a dry track for the first time at Chantilly a fortnight ago and won the Listed Prix la Fleche easing down on the line, ahead of a couple of decent British runners.
American Rascal, Elite Status, The Fixer
KING GEORGE V
Tough 3yo staying handicap with Aussie buyers waiting in the wings looking for a Melbourne Cup hopeful.
Unsurprisingly, given the Aussie angle, I'm going with STRUTH(!). This season he resumed with a handicap win at Chester, then finished 2L behind Saint George in a Class 2 handicap at Doncaster earlier this month, giving the winner (who ran second in the Queen's Vase on Wed) seven pounds. He is an out-and-out stayer and this race suits him perfectly.
Wonder Legend bolted in under a tight hold at Doncaster back in late April, and there's a formline there indirectly comparing him favourably against the Appleby favourite. An extra furlong is only going to be in his favour.
Ralph Beckett trained the 1-2 in the Royal Hunt Cup and Davideo is his next handicap runner. The regally-bred colt won a Newmarket maiden with ease a month ago, in his first start for the season. He looks the type to have much more up his sleeve.
Cloudbreaker gets in light and has some handy form, stepping up another furlong might put her in the frame for exotics.
Tagabawa looks too short for a horse yet to race on turf. Note the Appleby stable is back in form - but everywhere other than Royal Ascot, so far at least.
Struth, Wonder Legend, Davideo, Cloudbreaker
This could be a procession. Al Asifah is a supplemented entry but could well be the best filly in the country after just two starts. She won a Listed race by 6.5L at Goodwood without raising a sweat last week, after a similar success on debut at Haydock. Can she handle three races in a month? She's not exactly been tested in those runs so I can't see why not. She's just 5/1 for the King George in late July, regarded as the WFA championship of Britain. This girl is very, very good.
Maman Joon ran a great fourth in the Oaks at just her second start. I doubt that was a fluke, she is a half-sister to two Royal Ascot winners over this trip and should only get better with experience.
Crown Princesse could be underrated. She has handy French form but made an interesting decision to come here rather than run in the Prix Diane last weekend. She is yet to run on a dry track, perhaps she could step forward for that?
Warm Heart and Midnight Mile are amongst others with a chance of picking up place prizemoney.
Al Asifah, Maman Joon, Crown Princesse
The staying championship of Europe is wide open this year, with no obvious heir apparent now that Stradivarius has retired. The top eight in the betting all have claims:
Coltrane won the Ascot Stakes handicap here last year and the Doncaster Cup, but has come up just short in the Lonsdale and Long Distance Cups, the latter in the week when his namesake had passed away so I thought he was an absolute moral. Frustratingly, he went down by a head to Trueshan.
Eldar Eldarov won the St Leger last year but was beaten in the Yorkshire Cup last month, although the figures say it was a career best.
Emily Dickinson represents Ballydoyle who have a great record in the race, but her only wins of note have been in deep ground. Her record in ground that is at least good reads 05152436. Can't have her at any price.
Courage Mon Ami is the new kid on the block, recently bought for new Qatari owners, he is unbeaten in three starts, but in much weaker company so far.
Yibir has always been a horse who flatters to deceive for me. He normally races around the mile and a half trip, this is a significant step up in trip at this stage of his career.
Subjectivist won this race two years ago and looked set to take over the staying ranks but had 20 months off due to injury. He returned in the rich gulf state races in February and March, but didn't get that close. At his peak he'd be right in this.
Echoes In Rain is a talented dual-code mare who ran some great races in the big Flat handicaps in Ireland last summer, but she has never run on ground this firm. Never discount Willie Mullins.
While Broome and Trueshan have been around for years, picking up lower Group races regularly and the odd G1. They'll run their usual honest races and it's worth noting Trueshan has recently had wind surgery.
Now the hard part...
A lot will depend on price come raceday but I'll probably lean to Coltrane. He's crossed the line in front three times (from three) on good-to-firm ground, but lost one in the testing lab. Eldar Eldarov should be right in the mix while if Subjectivist is fully fit, he's a great chance.
Coltrane, Eldar Eldarov, Subjectivist
Another candidate for hardest race of the week. Pace runners tend to be profitable in this race so I'll put in Saxon King for Charlie Hills. This horse had to win last weekend to earn a weight penalty to get into the field and ticked that box, making it three wins from his last four. He's drawn the outside and with a couple of other pacey runners out there, he won't necessarily need to lead.
Surely Not looks a straight mile specialist under a cold ride. He travels sweetly, just needs to find the gaps at the right time to be in the finish. He's won both runs since being gelded and looks good enough for the rise in class.
The French raider Bless might catch a few off guard here. He has form through some of the best of the French 3yos (beaten a nose by Marhaba Ya Sanafi who later won the French version of the 2000 Guineas) and looks nicely treated at the weights.
A real smokey might be Dark Thirty. He has form through several of these rivals, looks reasonably treated at the weights and will be a ridiculous price.
Wide open with many chances but I'm going with
Saxon King, Surely Not, Bless, Dark Thirty, Racingbreaks Ryder
Drumroll ran a close second to Paddington in early May before being awarded a G3 at the Curragh (originally beaten a nose). Expecting him to come on for that run and keep improving, he is an absolute blue-blood.
Canberra Legend looked the real deal before flopping in the Dante at York. Prepared to forgive that run and give him another chance, especially at the price.
The three down the bottom all have a shot, Torito avoided the Derby but looks a likely type coming through the grades, while Waipiro and Caernarfon ran well in the Derby and Oaks respectively. Exoplanet looks like another of the Sheikh Obaid horses this week with plenty of talent.
Drumroll, Canberra Legend, Torito, Caernarfon
Roger Varian has a handy one here in Lir Speciale, winning three of his past four. His last two wins at Kempton have left a bit up his sleeve and he's versatile in where he can park during a race.
Northern Express loves big race handicaps, he was just beaten by Croupier at York last time and has every chance to reverse that here at a better price. Jockey Paul Mulrennan has been on a bit of a barren streak but has ridden a couple of winners this week at lesser venues.
So many chances amongst the others. I'll ignore Montassib as he has eaten my money on numerous occasions, Vafortino is very honest but now loses the benefit of Benoit De La Sayette's claim, Bopedro can show up in a big handicap, Accidental Agent won a Queen Anne a few years back and this is a big drop in class despite his age, Biggles and Croupier are obvious chances but tightly priced consdering the size of the field, while Spanish Star and Redarna are getting long in the tooth but can hit the frame at odds.
Lir Speciale, Northern Express, Bopedro, Biggles
Throwing in a French each-way trixie
The Fixer, Crown Princesse and Bless all at decent prices