Without knowing how much rain may or may not hit overnight, we have another barrier in terms of assessing form. It’s important for this race given the need for juice for one or two in the field, and if those thunderstorms hit our no.1 choice will go all the better. Here’s the shortlist:
William Haggas has done brilliantly in recent years, somehow getting better as a trainer. His Mohaafeth and Al Aasy are classy looking Shadwell horses bound to reach the very top, and another could be Aldaary.
There was talk of this course and distance winner going for the Group 3 Jersey Stakes later in the week and he’d have had a chance in that.
Superb in two runs as a juvenile, this son of Territories came out first time at Ascot this season and despite being slowly away, eased into the race before being just pushed out by Jim Crowley to score with the minimum of fuss.
He was beaten last time, but that happens to every horse for a multitude of reasons and we know now that this boy is a Group performer in waiting. He could be very well in, is proven here and is well drawn too.
Another horse drawn on the near side is Kevin Ryan’s Bielsa, the handler being a winner this week already with Juan Elcano.
Known as a six-furlong sprinter, Bielsa has some stamina on the dam’s side and can stay this trip, but he keeps going up in the weights despite not having won for some time.
Shadwell’s second choice horse in the race does have a chance and that is Danyah. Similarly to Bielsa, Danyah is a son of Invincible Spirit but is out of a Galileo mare.
In his case he’s actually coming back in trip having been campaigned over a mile to this point. He was a close enough fourth in the Lincoln Handicap and then ran well to finish second to Nugget in a 16-runner race at Newbury and he should relish these conditions.
Money will likely come for Roger Varian’s Lord Campari, a beautifully bred four-year-old expected to reach a good level in time.
He was highly tried last year, going off evens for a Listed race before being sent to France for a Group 3. The ground may have been against him there and he needs to shrug off a poor run first time out, though that run was in the Lockinge and he tried to make the running there. Seven furlongs will help.
Charlie Hills’s Persuasion is only just realising his potential now and he has some more improvement in him yet.
His debut performance two seasons ago at Glorious Goodwood marked him out as potentially top class, his next three runs all coming in Group company but with no joy.
2020 didn’t go well, albeit he showed signs of coming back to himself at the back end, with his seasonal opener in 2021 being much more like it.
On fast ground over seven at Haydock, this Acclamation offspring showed his real pace and ability to sweep by with a furlong to go and win more comfortably than the bare margin would suggest.
He’ll take another step up now and had it not been for the presence of Aldaary would almost certainly have been the selection. The excellent James Doyle takes over from Will Buick having ridden him on debut as well.
Much like Juan Elcano and a number of others at Royal Ascot, Riot is the type of horse who can show that initial promise can be realised even if it takes some time.
Having started well as a juvenile with three seconds and a win, much was expected of John Gosden’s son of Kingman. Much like Persuasion his 2020 wasn’t great, but he has shown signs of reaching his true potential now and he hasn’t had a race like this to take aim at yet which will help.
Danyah has a good race in him, while Persuasion is bang up there and even more so if the overnight forecast of some rain around Ascot does not materialise.
On all known evidence however the best handicapped horse in the race, who also loves this course and distance, is ALDAARY. We don’t yet know what level he can reach but we know it’s plenty more than 105 which is what he’s rated right now.