The best could be saved until last on Saturday with a top class renewal of the St. James's Palace Stakes. Here we preview all the key races in our Royal Ascot Day Five Betting Preview.
Just seven line up for this year’s renewal and it’s a prize that has gone to Ireland or France for the last five years. While the latter aren’t represented this year, Aidan O’Brien throws two darts in the shame of Love Locket and So Wonderful, who is definitely of interest on her run behind Guineas winner Love in last year’s Moyglare. She was just touched off for second in this year’s Irish 1000 Guineas a week ago so hasn’t had a huge amount of time between races.
For similar reasons it may be worth passing over the likes of Quadrilateral and Cloak of Spirits who ran in the English equivalent - it’s been notable this week how many Guineas runners have struggled to make an impact. John Gosden’s Run Wild and Jessie Harrington’s Alpine Star both warrant serious consideration, especially the former who was wildly impressive in the Pretty Polly but it’s a US raider who really catches the eye, Sharing.
Graham Motion knows all too well what it takes to win a Group 1 on these shores and his filly showed she belongs in this company when beating off Daahyeh to win the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies’ Turf last year. She’s fortunate enough to have had a better-timed prep run than the home contingent and the only real question mark is whether she’ll handle the likely easier going, but makes plenty of appeal at the prices.
Only seven runners again but this promises to be a belter with 2000 Guineas bronze and silver medalists, Pinatubo and Wichita, the obvious starting point. Based on what we saw that day, Wichita definitely saw out the trip better but this track will be a bit easier on the much-lauded Godolphin colt. As mentioned earlier, the concern has to be whether this will come too soon, the likes of Juan Elcano and Kenzai Warrior struggled to make an impact earlier in the week.
Threat, a multiple Group 2 winner as a juvenile, appeals and was staying on in his Champagne and Gimcrack stakes victories last season, so the step up in trip should be fine. However he may find one too good in John Gosden’s Palace Pier, unbeaten in three runs, albeit at a lower level, the son of Kingman has looked like a superstar in waiting and may take this prize.
A slightly disappointing turnout for Saturday’s headline race but the showdown between Hello Youmzain and Sceptical is still one to look forward to. The performance of the latter in the Woodland Stakes at Naas recently was visually outstanding and marked him out as a future top-class performer, having made a mockery of the opposition in three runs on the all-weather beforehand.
Denis Hogan’s colt has to prove himself against seasoned opposition here, however, and also that he can handle potentially soft conditions. Beyond Hello Youmzain there are dangers in the form of One Master and Khaadem. The latter is proven on the ground and in Group 1 company, so a line can be put through his sub-par performance in the Champions Sprint as he suffered interference. His form in the Haydock Sprint Cup and last year’s Commonwealth Cup should be enough to win this.