Our top six for the 1m6f Copper Horse Stakes, the day one closer at Royal Ascot:
Not all of Brian Meehan’s horses have been running well of late, but those expected according to the betting to go well have done. Not least of all in that category was Mandoob, backed from around 7/2 to 6/4 before flying late to score and there could be another from the stable finishing best of all in this race.
That horse is Arthurian Fable, a horse the yard have been patient with. The Sea The Stars gelding improved steadily last season until the bad weather came, these faster conditions suiting him down to the ground.
He had to run on soft ground over this trip on his seasonal debut at Newmarket, his only race so far in 2021, where he ran on nicely towards the end to finish a respectable 2½-length fourth to Global Storm.
This trip will bring about further improvement from him, he’s actually 1lb lower in the weights than the mark he earned when running a very good second in the Melrose Handicap last season which followed a taking win in the Young Stayers Handicap at Sandown. Jim Crowley rides and the pair have a big chance.
On her second to Withhold and her fourth in the Group 2 Park Hill last season this five-year-old mare would have a fantastic chance. She is a guaranteed stayer and will attract plenty of support.
However, she may well need this first run of the season and she may need to be much handier than her perpetual hold-up jockey Jamie Spencer will be comfortable with.
Mark Johnston has a strong hand here, but while many eyes will be on Themaxwecan his best chance may lie with Hochfeld.
The soft ground may not have been to his liking when he was last seen in May, but before that he was a strong third in the Chester Cup and was arguably even better on fast ground when winning over this trip and finishing a close second over 1m5f.
There was some good improvement shown by this six-year-old mare from race one to race two this season, and more progression gives her an obvious chance here.
The ground didn’t seem to matter to her too much last season when she showed strong form, the worry being that while she is consistent, she hasn’t really shown signs of climbing to a whole new level and that’s something a few of these will achieve.
Much like M C Muldoon in the Ascot Stakes, the money has been for a Willie Mullins challenger ridden by Ryan Moore and that’s fair enough.
In the case of Saldier, he is now a Grade 1 winner over hurdles and has obvious quality. He comes to this race on the back of an easy flat win, but the bare form of that success visually impressive though it was doesn’t equate to him being as well handicapped here as many think.
Going back a little further he was a reasonable horse in France, reaching a level of around 100, but he’s rated 102 here and his astute trainer will need to have coaxed plenty of improvement from him.
There are plenty of shrewdies talking about Throne Hall this week and he must be considered a major challenger. He’s tough, he’ll most likely stay the trip, and has only had six career runs meaning in theory there is plenty more to come.
The best form line to use would be that he shares with Ilaraab. He was only a neck behind William Haggas’s horse last season in receipt of just 1lb, while he should have got much closer than 3½ lengths when the pair met in the Yorvik Handicap last time out (getting 4lbs).
Ilaraab is now rated 111 and, assuming Throne Hall is within 5lbs of that horse, his current mark of 100 makes him look well in.
Throne Hall is definitely ahead of the handicapper, but not by as much as one would think and we must keep in mind that he had to put in plenty of effort last time at York meaning there not be as much to come as would be ideal.
Saldier could make mugs of us, but we have to play it as we see it and again, we can’t simply take it on trust that can significantly outrun a flat mark of 103.
The solid play at a nice price is ARTHURIAN FABLE. Not that much was expected at 9/1 last time, it was little more than a pipe-opener and in these conditions, we should see a new career best.