Having opened yesterday with three consecutive Group One races, the meeting relies heavily on its second day for its éclat upon the Prince of Wales's Stakes. And while no field containing a horse trained by Jean-Claude Rouget should be damned with any faint praise just now, this race in turn can perhaps only be redeemed from a relative lack of depth by Tartan Bearer.
Runner-up in the Derby last year, when making just his second start outside maiden company, Tartan Bearer proved rather disappointing in the Irish version and only resurfaced at Sandown in April. He scrambled home from Pipedreamer that day, but did extremely well to get involved at all after giving that rival a generous start off a steady pace.
Like so many horses trained by Sir Michael Stoute for Ballymacoll Stud, this colt promises to flourish with physical maturity. The suspicion persists that he will ultimately prove best suited by a mile and a half, but his top-class brother Golan was pretty versatile and Tartan Bearer (below) is the admirable type to offer as much as any given situation demands, and no more.
Rouget presides over the most rampant stable in Europe at the moment, and Never On Sunday merits respect on that basis alone. But his form as it stands does not measure up to that of the other French raider, Vision D'Etat, who lost his unbeaten record only with an excellent fifth in the Arc and is already back in the Group One groove in the spring.
He is respected but Virtual would ideally want rain, which would in turn heighten questions about his stamina, while the illusions brought into the Dante Stakes last year by Twice Over have long since been exposed – and not just by the winner that day, Tartan Bearer (3.45).
The Jersey Stakes features rather fewer progressive types than is sometimes the case, and it might duly be worth taking a chance on the infinite promise of Loch Linnhe (2.30). The bare form of his debut success at Newmarket leaves him with improvement to find, but that is precisely what can be expected after that eight-length romp.
His stablemate, Cadre, is an interesting candidate for the Royal Hunt Cup, where the favourite, Forgotten Voice, is palpably on his way to Group company. But the same was true of Bankable last year, when he ended up marooned by the draw, and Johnny Murtagh is hardly in a position to choose from stall one. It would be ironic if Bankable's trainer were to profit from those vagaries this time, but it certainly seems possible after an excellent comeback from Axiom (4.20) at Sandown suggested him to be well capable of winning off this mark.
The other three races are all confined to fillies. Heaven Sent was foiled only narrowly in the Windsor Forest Stakes last year, and will presumably be the one to benefit should Lush Lashes (3.05) happen to have lost the brilliance she showed in so many different tests last year. She can be readily pardoned defeat on ground she detests first time out, and her best form amply entitles her to shrug off her Group One penalty.
Tom Dascombe has quickly established his eligibility at this level, and likewise Don't Tell Mary (4.55) whose two authoritative wins give her transparent claims in the Queen Mary Stakes. Those looking for bigger odds might consider the French raider, Chantilly Creme, who beat more experienced rivals on her debut. Good Again (5.30) ran creditably against colts on bad ground last time but has won twice here in faster conditions and looks sure to go well in the last
Nap: Tartan Bearer (3.45 Ascot)
NB: Good Again (5.30 Ascot)Reuse content