Stone Ridge heading straight for success

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The Independent Online
Last year's Royal Hunt Cup provided one of those rare (to be honest, almost unique) occasions when a big handicap unfolded entirely as predicted, as Chickawicka cut out the running from stall 31 to give the far side a crucial advantage, and set the race up for Realities.

Bitter experience tells us that our chance of a repeat performance today is slightly smaller than that of the Princess of Wales arriving in the Queen's carriage. None the less, it seems reasonable to adopt the same initial approach to the Hunt Cup, the biggest betting race of the week, and attempt to find the early pace which always favours one side or the other.

This year, it is a case of the same horse, but the other side. Once again, Chickawicka seems sure to make the running, but is drawn seven, and with another probable front-runner, Ger's Royale, also on the stands' side, there seems no reason to look beyond stall 15 for the winner. It is also worth recording that Nick Cheyne, Ascot's clerk of the course, commented yesterday that despite the new full-cover watering system, he expects the stands' side to be "slightly favoured" as the meeting progresses.

This immediately excludes such well-supported horses as Blomberg and New Century, and when those with no obvious chance on form are discarded, the short-list is very short.

Yeast, the ante-post favourite, has an outstanding chance from stall three, but at such relatively short odds it is a serious concern that his stamina may not stretch to a fast-run straight mile on one of Britain's most demanding tracks. He is worth a small saving bet on the off-chance that it will, but a much more interesting proposition is STONE RIDGE (nap 4.20).

The Lincoln winner is back on a straight track for the first time since Doncaster, and while his success there came on very soft ground, he also has plenty of form on a fast surface. From stall nine and with Pat Eddery holding the reins, he has an outstanding chance, and the 25-1 available with Coral and William Hill this morning will surely be the best value bet of the week.

Revenge is the tantalising undercurrent to today's Group One event, the Coronation Stakes, as Ed Dunlop's Ta Rib attempts to confirm Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (French 1,000 Guineas) form with Shake The Yoke, trained by Elie Lellouche. Shake The Yoke was beaten by three-quarters of a length at Longchamp, but received one of the poorest rides that will be seen anywhere in Europe this season from Dominique Boeuf.

As a result, Shake The Yoke (2.30) has a new partner in Olivier Peslier, whose superb ride on Glory Of Dancer in the Derby was surely one of the finest Epsom debuts we have seen. He did not receive the credit he deserved from commentators more used to criticising French jockeys, but that oversight can be corrected today.

Almushtarak (2.30) is an interesting outsider for the Jersey Stakes. He was beaten by Ramooz at Epsom last time, but Gay Kelleway, his trainer, points out that "there was no pace that day, and when he gets a good pace he will be a very, very good horse."

More Silver (3.05) and Sherpas (4.55) are other likely winners, though not at tempting odds. Save the cash for Remaadi Sun (next best 5.30), another who will enjoy the fierce pace.