An old friend of mine, FLAMING SPEAR has become very treated after a disappointing season last year.
He has popped up in some very competitive handicaps over the years, winning a big pot up in York off a mark of 101 in 2017. He reappeared in 2018 in the Royal Hunt Cup and ran a cracker, finishing fifth but he was drawn on the wrong side. He won his side by a length and course specialist Raising Sand was second on that side.
That run came off a mark of 105. He won a competitive handicap over 7 furlongs at Glorious Goodwood off a mark of 104. That was a strong renewal, as the following season’s Wokingham and Bunbury Cup winners were placed behind him.
His rating went up to 110 after that win and he managed to win at Listed level at Kempton to close the season. Last year didn’t quite go to plan but he had excuses, running well when beaten less than three lengths in the Group 2 Lennox Stakes at Goodwood and then found the testing ground against him in two subsequent runs. He closed the season with a poor effort on the all-weather at Kempton, but as a result now finds himself on a mark of 100.
He is drawn high, with pace around him and I reckon this race will set up perfectly for him. He has a great each-way chance at a rewarding price and we have the benefit of Paddy paying extra places here.
This looks quite open this year. Pominent runners are at a disadvantage at a mile on the straight track and that might count against a few here, but mainly Circus Maximus. MOHAATHER is very interested as stable jockey Jim Crowley has picked him over Mustashry, despite Mustashry being the highest rated horse in the race.
Moohather won a Group 3 as a two-year-old and was extremely impressive on his reappearance as a three-year-old when bolting up in the Greenham in a decent time. He looked to have laid down a marker for the Guineas but met with a set back and had to miss the race. He missed most of the season, but did return to the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on Champions Day and he ran a cracker, finishing fifth with the heavy ground probably not ideal for him.
He is said to have worked really well last week and Marcus Tregoning has his string in decent form, with a strike rate of 40% for the last two weeks. He looks to have solid each-way claims with Paddy paying four places.
Frankly Darling has been all the rage for this race, but there are slight concerns about what she actually achieved up in Newcastle as the time was pretty ordinary and there would be slight concerns with regards to her getting this extra two furlongs here.
TREFOIL is a horse that I have been looking forward to seeing stepped up to this trip since she impressively won on debut at Newmarket over a mile at the backend of last season. There were subsequent winners in behind that day, most notably English King who is now disputing favouritism for the Derby next month.
She did plenty wrong that day too, as she was keen for the first furlong and a half, and only relaxed when let stride on. But what was most impressive was how she put her head down and battled to the line when it looked like she might be swallowed up just outside the furlong pole. She was slightly disappointing on return when third behind Ru Wild in the Pretty Polly at Newmarket, but Run Wild got an easy time on the lead that day and there was a pronounced advantage in being on the speed all week at Newmarket.
Trefoil shaped like she wanted a step up in trip and I believe she will improve plenty for it and while Ralph Beckett had a slow start to the racing after the resumption, he has really hit form with 10 winners in the last week. Paddy is paying four places here too for those wanting to play each way.
MOGUL looks to be Coolmore’s number one hope for the Derby and if he is to be a creditable Derby contender, he will need to be winning this in good style.
To date he is more hype than substance, as while he won a Group 2 at Leopardstown on Champions weekend, he was no more than workmanlike and that race didn’t look to be overly strong. He then was disappointing when fourth in the Vertem Futurity Stakes in Newcastle, but the Tapeta surface may have been against him.
His main danger here is Mohican Heights is trained by David Simcock, who has had a very quiet time of things since the resumption of racing and there will be a lot of long faces if Mogul can’t get it done here.
Battaash is obviously the one to beat, as he is miles clear on ratings, but he can throw in a poor run every now and then, and wouldn’t be one that I’d want to be taking a very short price about. The one that I reckon makes each way appeal against him is LIBERTY BEACH.
Four from six as a juvenile, she was impressive when winning the Hilary Needler on her second start at Beverely and the second, Rose Of Kildare, would end the season as a Group 3 winner. At Royal Ascot, Liberty Beach ran a cracker when fourth in the Queen Mary, but she was drawn away from the action and won her side. She would have gone close if drawn better and that looked a strong renewal.
The winner Raffle Prize won a Group 1 later in the season, the second Kimari is among the favourites for this year’s Commonwealth Cup, the third Final Song ran a cracker when fourth in the Guineas and the fifth Al Raya won a Group 3 in France. Liberty Beach was extremely impressive when winning at Listed level at Sandown and following up in the Molecomb at Goodwood, the turn of foot she showed at Goodwood was sensational.
She was beaten in the Group 1 Lowther Stakes on her final start as a two-year-old, but the 6 furlongs may have caught her out and she lost nothing in finishing second.
She travelled powerfully again on her reappearance at Haydock over 6 furlongs and shaped there like a stiff 5 furlongs is exactly what she wants. She looks a cracking each-way bet and might be the one to benefit if Battaash has an off day.
This is best race on Tuesday’s card for me, but LAVENDER’S BLUE appeals as the best bet on the card. She was unraced as a two-year-old, but was very impressive when winning over a mile on debut at Newmarket.
She was touched off in a hot looking Listed event at Newbury over 10 furlongs on her second start, but she travelled like the best horse in the race that day and might have been done for experience. That looks hot form, as the third that day, Star Catcher, won four Group 1’s through the rest of the season.
Lavender’s Blue found the trip in the Oaks too much for her and after a mid-season break, she returned to the Group 3 Atalanta Stakes at Sandown. The drop to a mile worked brilliantly, as she travelled like a weapon and was so impressive in picking up to win going away by three lengths without even getting a tap of the whip from Jim Crowley.
She was stepped up to Group 1 level on her final start and didn’t get the clearest of runs when fourth beaten just over three lengths. That was a hot renewal full of Group One winners:
- The winner Billesdon Brook had won the 1000 Guineas
- The second Veracious had won the Falmouth Stakes
- The third Iridessa had won the Fillies Mile at 2 and won the Breeders Cup Filly and Mares after this
- The fifth I Can Fly was Group 1 placed
- The seventh Laurens was a multiple Group 1 winner
- The eight Hermosa was also multiple Group 1 winner
That is the best form on offer here and that’s why Lavender’s Blue makes strong appeal here.
We have extra places on offer here again, and I’m going to take a chance on PIANISSIMO at a double figure price with Frankie Dettori booked. Initially trained by John Gosden, he was second in four of his first five starts (including at Ascot) before getting off the mark over just short of 14 furlongs at Chelmsford.
He then was picked up by Anthony Carson for 22,000 guineas and looked to be a good piece of business, as he won his first two starts in handicaps over a mile and 14 furlongs off marks of 81 & 83. The second of those wins was over Grandmaster Flash, who had looked well treated for Joseph O’Brien, and Pianissimo looked to have plenty of stamina when getting up on the line.
He followed that up with a decent second behind big all-weather performer, Rainbow Dreamer at Kempton with Mildenberger back in third. He got a two-pound rise for that second, but that was a useful race despite the small field. He might not be from the most fashionable of connections, but he might surprise at a nice price.
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13:15 Buckingham Palace Stakes – Flaming Spear
13:50 Queen Ann Stakes – Mohaather
14:25 Ribblesdale Stakes – Trefoil
15:00 King Edward VII Stakes – Mogul
15:35 King’s Stand Stakes – Liberty Beach
16:10 Duke Of Cambridge Stakes – Lavender’s Blue
16:40 Ascot Stakes – Pianissimo
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