We were delighted when we thought Irish raider Sceptical had emerged as a legitimate contender for this five-furlong dash after easily winning the Listed Woodlands Stakes at Naas on the first day of the resumption of Irish racing. However, our hopes were dashed on Friday.
That was because connections made the decision to give their potential superstar a few more days to recover from his exertions at the Kildare county town venue and instead aim at the Diamond Jubilee Stakes.
That strengthened BATTAASH’s case at the Royal extravaganza and he’s been well supported to go one better than last year, when finding only Blue Point a length and a quarter too powerful in this top-class heat. Battaash was an opening 6/1 in October, but is into favourite now having been even money before the Sceptical announcement.
Blue Point denied him the previous season as well, but with his retirement after completing a Royal Ascot double, punters clearly believe Battaash’s time has come.
Perhaps unsurprisingly ‘Big’ John Gosden’s staying star STRADIVARIUS is now the worst result for us in the ante-post markets for the Royal fixture.
The Sea The Stars horse hasn’t been beaten over two miles or further since 2017 and even though he could only muster a third in the Coronation Cup at Newmarket earlier this month, that was still an exceedingly good effort over a mile and a half against a very good winner in Ghaiyyath.
Gosden has used the Yorkshire Cup as a starting point for Stradivarius the last couple of years, but obviously he wasn’t able to this year and his stable stalwart is probably just below top-class over the shorter trip of the Coronation.
He can be beaten at Ascot as his defeat in the British Champions Long Distance Cup in October showed, but punters can’t see a repeat in the Gold Cup.
This year’s juvenile heats have the potential for a few shocks as all of them are so lightly raced, but Mark Johnston’s Exceed And Excel colt EYE OF HEAVEN has really caught punters’ imagination and he heads the market for this contest.
He was really professional when landing the odds in the hands of Italian stallion Frankie Dettori in a 5 furlong novice stakes at Newmarket on June 4, being pushed out towards the finish to score by three quarters of a length from Get It.
It won’t be plain sailing for him as the likes of The Lir Jet will have their supporters – that one having been purchased by Qatar Racing after breaking the all-aged course record at Yarmouth when winning on his bow – but if the money’s right, Eye Of Heaven is the one to beat.
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This fellow has it to prove at the highest level. But, given that he’s trained by Roger Varian – a pupil of the late great Michael Jarvis, who was known by his colleagues as the professional’s professional – it could be highly significant that he heads the market.
PIERRE LAPIN made his debut at Haydock last May, when he was not an angel unawares as he went off a furiously backed Evens favourite in a novice stakes and he didn’t let backers down, winning going away by three and a half lengths in the manner of a nice prospect.
Upped in class in the Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes at Newbury four months’ later, he remained unbeaten when readily scoring by a length and a half under pilot Andrea Atzeni. That set up an exciting 2020 in the process as a possible top three-year-old sprinter.
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