It is rare indeed at Royal Ascot that both a trainer and jockey have shouted the name of the week’s good thing from the rooftops. But Richard Hannon and Richard Hughes have not been able to contain themselves as Ivawood drops back to seven furlongs for the Jersey Stakes after finishing third behind Gleneagles in both the English and Irish 2,000 Guineas over a mile.
Hughes’ attempt to steal the Irish Classic by jogging along in front before pressing hard on the accelerator a quarter of a mile from home looked like paying off for a moment and in the end it was an honourable defeat.
“Coming back to seven furlongs has to be ideal for him,” said Hannon at the weekend. “He’s my tip of the week.” Hughes was even more bullish in his Racing Post column, while noises from Hannon’s Wiltshire stable suggest Ivawood is not just expected to win, but to win on the bridle.
Free Eagle, Dermot Weld’s one-time 2014 Derby fancy, is having just his fifth start in the Group One Prince Of Wales’s Stakes and his preparation has been typically problematic, but he is a worthy favourite, if not quite on form then on undeniable promise. The Grey Gatsby heads the ratings and would be the main danger if reproducing his best form; it is perhaps wise to forgive a rare below-par performance last time, when he was fourth to Al Kazeem in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh.
In the Queen Mary Stakes for two-year-old fillies, Michael Dods, based near Darlington, has a speedball to go to war with in Easton Angel, who did not beat much at Beverley last month, but did so in the style of a filly going places – sufficiently for the Qatari Sheikh Joaan al-Thani to add her to his Al Shaqab Racing portfolio.
In the Royal Hunt Cup, Bronze Angel has a fine record in big-field handicaps, including two Cambridgeshire wins and success in the Balmoral Handicap over the Ascot straight mile last autumn. But this may be another prize heading north, via Brian Ellison’s Baraweez, the winner of two big prizes in Ireland last year under Colm O’Donoghue and fancied to shine again with the recent Oaks-winning jockey back in the saddle.
If Frankie Dettori has not already made it to 50 Royal Ascot victories, he may well reach that landmark aboard Euro Charline in the Duke of Cambridge Stakes. Last year’s winner Integral has developed into a high quality act and will be tough to beat, but she has to concede 5lb to Euro Charline, who went close in the Coronation Stakes here last year before winning the Grade One Beverly D Stakes at Arlington, Chicago.
In the Sandringham Handicap, Touchline has the form to give the Queen a winner. She was no match for Sperry on her reappearance here in April, but that winner has since proved Listed class.