Royal Ascot trials day at Naas on Sunday will be the focus of my attention this weekend. It’s to be hoped that a future winner at the June extravaganza shows up. Signs are encouraging, particularly with regard to the Albany Stakes. Two of the most promising juvenile fillies in Ireland renew rivalries on Sunday.
Now for some tips. We start with that Albany dress rehearsal (3.50 pm). Peace Charter got up close to the line to beat So Wonderful over course and distance in April. Both fillies should come on plenty for the experience. So Wonderful was in front soon enough. She pricked her ears, and was possibly mugged on the line. However, Peace Charter, after being asked to challenge, took time to get the message.
I make this race a match, and expect to hear plenty about both fillies as the season progresses. It’s a bit of a guess up as to which of them takes the biggest step forward. My hunch is that So Wonderful will be favourite. If that’s the case, I’ll chance a bet on Peace Charter to confirm the form.
The Lacken Stakes (4.25 pm) is the other group race on the card. It looks a good renewal. Inverleigh was most impressive in winning on his seasonal bow at Navan in April. He’s an interesting horse. His debut win at Leopardstown was uber impressive. His two subsequent efforts last season were a little underwhelming. We will see how he backs up on Sunday.
It wouldn’t come as a big surprise if The Irish Rover, second in that Navan race, reverses the form. He’s a big unit, and probably takes plenty of getting fit.
Both of them will do well to concede weight to So Perfect though. This filly brings very strong juvenile form to the party. Her fine comeback at Newbury suggests she has trained on. Seven furlongs, on easy ground, probably taxed her stamina. The drop back in trip on Sunday looks a positive.
She will enjoy the strong pace to run at, and will take plenty of beating. We should get a price of 2/1 or so. That would be more than fair.
The Sole Power Stakes (3.15 pm) gives us a clash of the generations. Gossamer Wings, like her stablemate So Perfect, brings strong two-year-old form. Her comeback was a touch disappointing, though she may have been disadvantaged by track position, and wasn’t knocked about.
She should run well here, but I’ll plump for old stager Final Venture. Paul Midgley’s charge is a regular in high class handicaps, and the lower rungs of the stakes race ladder. His comeback suggested he’s as good as ever. Expect him to jump out in front and bag the rail. He won’t be easy to pass.
Finally, a couple of handicap picks. The three-year-old handicap (5 pm) looks a solid heat. There are likely a couple of well handicapped horses in it. Giga White ran in three strong maidens last tern. He won the last of them in Gowran. The form of those races would make a mark of 87 look lenient. He looked a horse who would do well physically over the winter.
In the expectation that he has, this looks the best bet on the card.
Perfect Tapatino (5.35pm) improved the guts of two stone last season. On the basis of his comeback at cork, Joseph O’Brien can eke a little more out of him. That race looked a tune up. The trip seeming a bare minimum. He finished a running on fourth. Thar makes sense, but to my eye he rated an unlucky loser. His momentum was checked a couple of times inside the last two furlongs. That looked a strong race beforehand, and is beginning to work out well.
While the trip on Sunday isn’t ideal, I expect the Tapatino to cope. It’s a stiff track, and the race should be run at a good clip. Hopefully it won’t come to that but if looking for a getting out project, he would look the obvious contender.