It is fear of the visitors, too, that has caused Ian Balding to switch Saturday's Epsom winner Hidden Meadow from the St James's Palace to the Queen Anne Stakes. "Hidden Meadow is 99% certain to run in the Queen Anne. I've left him in the other race just in case the French sink," Balding said. "Daylami and Desert King are very good and I think we'll be better off taking on older horses."
One French challenge already sunk is that of Zamindar. The fast-finishing 2,000 Guineas fifth has a skin infection and must miss the meeting. His defection means that his compatriot Daylami is now as short as 7-4, with Ladbrokes, for the race.
The odds are shortening, too that Ed Dunlop will be in the Ascot winner's enclosure after recording his first treble yesterday. Mazboon, his first ever first-time-out juvenile winner, and Hajr won at Newbury, while Khawafi scored at Goodwood.
Dunlop's Ascot runners, most of which are owned by Maktoum Al Maktoum, may include Jiyush in the Gold Cup, Musical Dancer in the King Edward VII Stakes and Monaassib in the Cork And Orrery. Possibles for the handicaps are Bold Words, Cadeaux Tryst and Winter Romance (Hunt Cup), Over To You and Tayseer (Britannia), Broad River (Wokingham) and Generous Gift (King George V). "It's a nice team. Sheikh Maktoum loves to have runners at Royal Ascot so they've been primed for the meeting," Dunlop said.
Away from the track next week a decision will be made about Benny The Dip's participation in a rematch with the Derby runner-up, Silver Patriarch, in the Irish Derby. Transatlantic talks will take place between his trainer, John Gosden, and owner, Landon Knight.
"Mr Knight has now seen the recording of the Derby," Gosden said yesterday. "He has strong views about pedigree and does not think Benny The Dip is an out-and-out stayer. But he also thought Benny was going to be a miler and it was only after he won the Dante that I persuaded him to go for the Derby.''
St James's Palace Stakes (Ascot, Tuesday) William Hill: 2-1 Daylami, 9-4 Desert King, 3-1 Poteen, 7-1 Starborough, 10-1 Mamalik, 20-1 others. Ladbrokes: 7-4 Daylami (from 2-1), 5-2 Desert King, 4-1 Poteen (from 9- 2), 6-1 Starborough, 8-1 Hidden Meadow, 12-1 Mamalik, 20-1 others. Tote: 2-1 Daylami, 9-4 Desert King, 7-2 Poteen, 7-1 Starborough, 10-1 Mamalik, 20-1 Air Express, 25-1 In Command, 66-1 Running Stag.
NB: Gone Savage
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