Ascot ground may favour Tamayuz

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Bookmakers are struggling to split Henrythenavigator and Tamayuz as two of the season's top milers prepare to clash in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.

Dual 2000 Guineas winner Henrythenavigator ran below form when only fifth in the Prix du Moulin at Longchamp this month, but the softer than ideal conditions were blamed for that defeat.

Freddie Head's Tamayuz on the other hand has shown he acts on varying ground and goes to Ascot on top of his game having taken two Group One events on his last two starts. Most bookmakers have Tamayuz as the marginal favourite as a result, but Ladbrokes make the pair 13-8 joint market-leaders and spokesman David Williams believes ground conditions could play a crucial part. "The clash between the two superstars is too close to call so we'll leave it to the punters to make the first move," said Williams. "The ground at Ascot will have an enormous bearing on which horse goes off favourite on Saturday afternoon."

Head saddled the filly Goldikova to take the scalp of Henrythenavigator last time and is happy with the progress Tamayuz has made since his latest victory in the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville. "Tamayuz is in very good form and I have been very happy with him since he won last time." said the Chantilly trainer.

"I just hope it is fast ground or good ground, that will be fine for him. We have also supplemented the five-year-old Racinger and he will try to make the pace for us. I am looking forward to the race and looking forward to taking on Henrythenavigator. We had Goldikova who beat him in the Prix du Moulin at Longchamp last time so hopefully we can do it again." There are a total of 13 possibles for the Group One contest at this stage with Henrythanavigator just one of five Aidan O'Brien possibles along with along with Astronomer Royal, Honoured Guest, US Ranger and Minneapolis. As well as Head's duo, Sageburg and Sabana Perdida could also make the journey across the Channel, while the field is completed by Raven's Pass, Winker Watson, Festoso and Nahoodh. In a welcome change to many of racing's recent highlights, no extremes of ground are expected in Berkshire this week for the three-day festival. The meeting starts on Friday and Chris Stickels, clerk of the course, said: "We are good at the moment and are forecast some showers today, tomorrow and Wednesday. Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday are expected to be dry so I would think the ground is likely to be a mixture of good and good to firm for the meeting."

O'Brien, meanwhile, has entered five-time Group One winner Duke Of Marmalade, along with regular pacemaker Red Rock Canyon, and the two-year-olds Rip Van Winkle and Born to Be King at Great Leighs on Saturday night.

Queen Elizabeth II Stakes betting (1m, Ascot, Sat): Ladbrokes: 13-8 Henrythenavigator, 13-8 Tamayuz, 3-1 Raven's Pass, 16-1 Nahoodh, 20-1 Sageburg, 25-1 Sabana Perdida, 33-1 US Ranger, 40-1 Winker Watson, 50 Astronomer Royal, 100-1 bar. Blue Square: 11-8 Tamayuz, 15-8 Henrythenavigator, 4-1 Raven's Pass, 12-1 Sageburg, 14-1 Nahoodh, 25-1 Sabana Perdida, US Ranger, 33-1 Winker Watson, 50-1 Astronomer Royal, 100-1 bar.

Coral: 6-4 Tamayuz, 7-4 Henrythenavigator, 100-30 Raven's Pass, 16-1 Nahoodh, 20-1 Sageburg, US Ranger, 25-1 Sabana Perdida, 40-1 Astronomer Royal, Racinger, Winker Watson, 66-1 Festoso, 150-1 bar.

Chris McGrath

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