Maureen can deliver Frankie Dettori redemption at Royal Ascot
Hearts will rule many heads tomorrow, albeit resistance should perhaps be fairly minimal anyway after events here. For it is not just sentiment that will unite punters behind two Warren Place runners who seek to emulate the success of Riposte. The form book, after all, gives Joyeuse and Disclaimer strong claims – quite apart from the air of destiny preceding both. But that does not alter the fact that those hard enough of heart might find better value elsewhere.
Joyeuse, who lines up for the Albany Stakes, is a half-sister to the great Frankel. While their dam has produced a couple of reasonably accomplished colts since, Joyeuse was preceded to her debut at Lingfield last month by a reputation as something out of the ordinary. She duly bolted up, despite betraying her inexperience, and certainly warrants fast-tracking to this grade.
To be scrupulously objective, however, she is only one of several impressive maiden winners taking a similar step up in class, and the odds will reflect the depth of public affection for her late trainer. Sandiva, after all, won a listed race in Ireland a couple of weeks ago and would set the standard if she has absorbed that effort. But it looks significant that Jamie Spencer, whose employers also run the tempting Race Hunter, has elected to stick with Kiyoshi (2.30) after building on her promising debut with a stylish win at Goodwood.
Disclaimer contests the Queen's Vase – a race Sir Henry Cecil won seven times and run this year in formal celebration of those and so many other memories. This colt has progressed very well in small fields, but he has sometimes raced a little keenly, and that broadens doubt about this big step up in trip. Stamina is also a concern for the Ballydoyle raider, whose dam won the Queen Mary over the bare five furlongs here, and Dashing Star (5.0) looks much better value after getting his act together in a valuable handicap at Musselburgh last time.
However the Cecil horses fare, the headlines could yet be contested by a redemptive success in the big race of the day for another darling of the betting public. For Maureen (3.45) looks excellent value to give Frankie Dettori his first Group One success since returning from his six-month drugs ban in the Coronation Stakes.
On the face of it she is held by Sky Lantern and Just The Judge, respective winners of the 1,000 Guineas and the Irish equivalent, having finished sixth both at Newmarket and at the Curragh. But those fillies are marooned in the two outside stalls, and this turning track will play to the strengths of a filly who only just gets the trip. She finished fast when ridden to conserve her stamina at Newmarket, and was then unable to make an earlier move at the Curragh after getting delayed in traffic.
Big Break is respected, likely to improve for her comeback and berthed on the rail, and likewise Pavlovsk after being supplemented by the same owner. But Maureen, who showed lightning acceleration in her Guineas trial, looks tailor-made for a daring late burst from Dettori and is far too big at 16-1.
Battle of Marengo (3.05) sets a clear standard in the King Edward VII Stakes, assuming he has soaked up his Epsom fourth, while a graduate from the previous Derby surfaces for the first time since, when Ocean War (4.25) tries to revive his career in handicap company. The combination of two outstanding young talents in David O'Meara and Joseph O'Brien meanwhile highlights the claims of Mont Ras (5.35) whose strong-travelling style looks ideal for this type of test.
Chris McGrath's Nap
Maureen (3.45 Ascot)
Mont Ras (5.35 Ascot)
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