With the scores level between Ireland and the host nation, on three apiece, the final Group One race of the meeting can tilt things in favour of the raiders.
In the Golden Jubilee Stakes Dandy Boy (3.45) returns to the scene of his finest hour, over the same course and distance in the Wokingham Handicap on the equivalent card last year. Though sent off at 33-1 that day, his performance under a big weight compared pretty favourably with that registered by the Group One sprinters in this race. Moreover he actually remains relatively unexposed in this discipline, having previously spent most of his career at longer distances.
Dandy Boy’s initial elevation to this level did not work out. He became bogged down in heavy ground in the July Cup, and then lacked the speed for a bare five furlongs in the Nunthorpe Stakes. But he shaped very well behind Society Rock at Haydock, finishing fast for fourth in a race dominated by those closer to a relatively modest gallop. Having failed to show his form in a couple of races on synthetic surfaces during the winter, Dandy Boy signalled a return to form in his rehearsal at the Curragh last month and looks good value at 16-1.
Society Rock, the 2011 winner, commands obvious respect after defying a penalty in the Duke Of York Stakes on his reappearance, not least in the hands of a trainer with such a brilliant touch at this meeting. But Hawkeyethenoo, third in the Wokingham last year, was hampered before closing for fourth at York; and the third home, Gordon Lord Byron, is also eligible to close the gap.
If there is a future Golden Jubilee candidate in the Wokingham this time round it could well be Rex Imperator (4.25). A progressive sprinter for Roger Charlton, he made a solitary start – too free over a mile in Dubai – for David Nicholls before joining William Haggas. He made a luminously promising debut for his new stable when second at Doncaster three weeks ago, over seven furlongs, striking for home off a strong pace before excusably running dry in the closing stages. Reverting to six today, he looks as solid a prospect as you could hope to find in what is always a frantic stampede.
Haggas also saddles a tempting one in the final handicap of the meeting, in Stencive, but a brutal draw instead encourages interest in Lahaag (5.00). Miles clear of the rest when an excellent second on his return at the Dante meeting, he could improve again stepped up to this trip for the first time and is berthed towards the inside.
Sir John Hawkwood (3.05) has a conspicuously progressive profile relative to some of his rivals for the Hardwicke Stakes, while Friendship and Bunker (2.30) represent stables with formidable depth against which to measure their eligibility for the Chesham. The curtain comes down with the Queen Alexandra Stakes, where Shahwardi (5.35) remains the class act despite an unnervingly poor effort on his return.
Chris Mcgrath’s Nap
Madrasa (2.40 Redcar)
Nardin (5.15 Newmarket)