High Standing not enough to threaten value of this Society

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The Independent Online

No other meeting matches quality with quantity like Royal Ascot. It is a real slog, for punters, and those staggering into the last lap with funds running low will find today's sport mercilessly competitive.

A persuasive case can be made for at least half the field in the final Group One race of the week, the Golden Jubilee Stakes, with an international field charging the width of the straight track.

In such an open race, it makes sense to seek out a bit of value and Society Rock (3.50) may well have been discarded too hastily by the bookmakers, having been turned over at odds-on at Newbury last month. But his excellent trainer, James Fanshawe, reproaches himself for not having given this colt enough time to absorb his comeback win over today's course and distance. He was devastatingly impressive that day, suggesting that he was building rapidly on a promising campaign at two.

Some people wouldn't yet be entertaining a three-year-old against older sprinters, but Art Connoisseur managed it here last year. Showcasing, moreover, earned his status as a worthy favourite with a blinding comeback at York, only the fifth race of his career. More of a concern is a draw that might leave Society Rock adrift in midfield, but at 40-1 it is worth taking a chance that Pat Cosgrave can get him tracking the strongest pace.

Showcasing tops a not-very-short list of dangers, featuring several raiders from racing cultures that have lately proved more fertile than our own in raw speed. Fleeting Spirit meanwhile sets the standard for the younger domestic sprinters, but the best alternative value to Society Rock might be High Standing, who won the Wokingham impressively on this card last year.

This time round the Wokingham features a dangerous "sleeper" in Laddies Poker Two (4.25). She returns from a long absence with just four starts to her name, but is only 4lbs higher than when bolting up on her sole previous visit here.

The Hardwicke Stakes introduces an irresistible force and an immovable object in Alainmaar, who could prove better still stepped up in distance, and Harbinger (3.05), affirming his trainer's particular mastery with a maturing horse.

Designed for potential middle-distance horses, the Chesham Stakes as usual gathers horses who have only shown the tip of the iceberg and you can hardly be adamant as to what lurks below. King Torus won his debut by five lengths, but Jackaroo (2.30) can give another powerhouse some overdue momentum among its own youngsters.