Over recent years, indigenous sprinters have been made to look rather pedestrian by those schooled in other hemispheres, and yet another Australian speedball, Star Witness, is favourite to win the King's Stand Stakes at Ascot today. His connections have a novel excuse for a disappointing run last time, that he did not take kindly to an adjacent Top Gear roadshow, and any dual Group One winner Down Under is demonstrably entitled to be competitive against our rabble.
At 20-1, however, an each-way interest is warranted in Group Therapy (3.05). He has improved steadily with maturity, and the progress he made between first and second starts for a new stable suggest a new peak to be imminent.
Wesley Ward famously discovered a parallel deficiency of speed in British juveniles a couple of years ago and can give the Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith a memorable new experience in the Windsor Castle Stakes –following a surreal reconnaissance at Folkestone – with Gentlemens Code (5.35). The day's warmest recommendations, however, are reserved (see Turf Account, right) for Veiled (5.00) and Power (4.25).
* Chris McGrath's Nap
Veiled (5.00 Ascot)
Much improved over timber since joining Nicky Henderson, and duly contributed to his excellent record in this sphere when restored to the level off a lenient mark at Newmarket. Though raised 8lb, she was strongest at the line and could improve again over this extreme distance.
* Next best
Power (4.25 Ascot)
A bit of a minefield, admittedly, with so many improving youngsters in opposition, but this one got away with a drop to 5f despite still looking green last time, and his debut win over this trip has worked out well. Physique and home reputation both guarantee further progress.
* Where the money's going
Zigato has been in demand with William Hill for the Ascot Stakes today, 4-1 from 13-2, and Roman Soldier is 14-1 from 20-1 for the Coventry. Last year's runner-up, Society Rock, is 20-1 from 25-1 for the Golden Jubilee Stakes on Saturday.