He could not quite pull off the Derby itself last year, but his fulfilment – and the gratification of royalist punters – may prove to have been merely deferred. For Carlton House (3.45) has excellent prospects today of winning the monarch her first Group One race since 1977, another jubilee year, in the 150th running of the Prince of Wales's Stakes.
Sir Michael Stoute now feels that Carlton House will prove best over 10 furlongs, after he just flattened out into a supporting role at Epsom and then again in the Irish Derby. The colt disappeared thereafter, but corroborated his trainer's suspicions when outclassing inferiors in an energetic return at Sandown last month. That was only his sixth start, and Stoute has long been a master with a horse maturing into an imposing physique of this kind.
So You Think is once again hot favourite, despite being turned over in this last year. He should not be damned with too faint praise, as such a reliable operator at this level, but the bottom line remains that he has won once in his last five starts – at odds of 2-11 – despite being preceded by apparently undiminished expectation every time.
Planteur is already reliable at this level, and could keep progressing for his new stable, but there is no more fascinating candidate than Farhh. He takes a giddy step up in class, but has very few miles on the clock and is entitled to another giant leap forward now that he tries this trip.
Roger Varian is clearly destined for the top of his profession and the 33-year-old trainer could well pass a new milestone in the first hour today, with strong chances in both the first races. The opening Jersey Stakes looks as frantically competitive as ever, and few would have entertained Aljamaaheer (2.30) as a possible winner after he finished only fourth in a Newbury handicap in April, but he has really impressed since in clocking a smart time on better ground.
There is a taking air of purpose about the way Nahrain (3.05) has been aimed at the Windsor Forest Stakes, her first start since the Breeders' Cup. Her defeat in California was the only reverse of her career to date, and it was a pretty close one, yet Varian evidently shares the view that she will be better still back over shorter trips.
The other Group race on the card is pure guesswork, with so many unexposed young improvers in opposition, but Mironica and Upward Spiral (5.00) both laid very solid foundations on their respective debuts.
Dimension will have been given an expert preparation for the Royal Hunt Cup, but must just settle lingering doubts about the eighth furlong. Invisible Man could prove the pick of a respected Godolphin challenge, but Mabait (4.25) is very fairly treated on his best form and showed luminous signs of renewal under an inexperienced rider at Chester last time.
Duntle (5.35) looks a feasible sort for the day's other handicap, put away for this after dipping a toe into Group company on her first start outside maidens.
The Turf Account
Chris McGrath's nap: Star Date (7.10 Kempton)
Next best: Mabait (4.25 Ascot)
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