Timeform's Tony McFadden previews Saturday's Diamond Jubilee Stakes, a race notable for a strong Australian challenge...
Brazen Beau may have been receiving weight from the high-class pair who finished second and third in the Newmarket Handicap, but it was still impressive how he quickened to the front in ready fashion, soon in complete control, and he's developed a likeable profile having won three of his last four starts...
There's no doubt that Royal Ascot is now a truly international spectacle, and the mile and middle-distance divisions are of particular interest this year thanks to the presence of Hong Kong superstar Able Friend in the Queen Anne Stakes and Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome in the Prince of Wales's.
The sprint division undoubtedly has the richest international heritage, however, as ever since Choisir landed a remarkable King's Stand/ Golden Jubilee double in 2003, the Australians sprinters have flocked to Royal Ascot; and they've experience d a great deal of success. Three Australian-trained horses have won the King's Stand Stakes since Choisir blazed the trail, while wonder-mare Black Caviar famously landed a dramatic renewal of the Diamond Jubilee Stakes in 2012. The top Australian sprinters are often a notch above the best in Britain, and the Diamond Jubilee looks set for export with Brazen Beau and Wandjina representing a formidable raiding party.
With Sole Power an unlikely participant (bids for King's Stand hat-trick on Tuesday), Brazen Beau is set to top Timeform's weight-adjusted ratings as well as the betting. The Chris Waller-trained four-year-old gained a second Group 1 success when putting up a career-best performance to win the six-furlong Lexus Newmarket Handicap in March, and he sets the standard based on that effort. Brazen Beau may have been receiving weight from the high-class pair who finished second and third in the Newmarket Handicap, but it was still impressive how he quickened to the front in ready fashion, soon in complete control, and he's developed a likeable profile having won three of his last four starts. Even the defeat in the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes did little to harm Brazen Beau's burgeoning reputation as he only found the top-class Lankan Rupee too strong, while the fact he was making his seasonal return over five furlongs offers a valid excuse for him being slightly below his best.
The formbook may say that Brazen Beau hasn't been seen in public since his win in the Newmarket Handicap in March, but it's worth pointing out that he's proven his well-being by comfortably winning a barrier trial at Rosehill, and he looks sure to launch a bold bid.
The other Australian challenger Wandjina may not possess such obvious form claims as Brazen Beau, and usually races over further, but is an interesting contender nevertheless. Wandjina also arrives at the top of his game having won the Australian Guineas before producing an even better effort in defeat in the All Aged Stakes, and it's conceivable that the stiff six furlongs of Ascot may even draw further improvement.
The leading European hope looks to be Mustajeeb. Dermot Weld's contender won the Jersey Stakes over seven furlongs at last year's Royal meeting, and he proved himself to be at least as good as a sprinter when comfortably taking a strong-looking Group 3 at the Curragh on return. Mustajeeb wasn't hard pressed to win at the Curragh, and is completely unexposed as a sprinter, so it's reasonable to conclude that he may have more to offer. He has a good deal in his favour, not least the stiff six furlongs, but is he as good as Brazen Beau?
With G Force declared for the King's Stand, and potential challengers such as Gordon Lord Byron and Music Master arriving on the back of poor runs, there may not be a great deal of depth to this year's Diamond Jubilee Stakes.
Lightning Moon emerged as an exciting sprinter when winning a Group 3 here last season, and he wasn't disgraced on return in the Duke of York Stakes, but will a horse so effective in testing conditions be capable of producing the required career-best effort on fast ground?
Tropics looked potentially better than ever based on the powerful way he travelled when winning at Windsor on return. He'll need to be an improved performer if he is to take this prize, however, as the balance of his form leaves him coming up a bit short at this level.
Backing a horse you've barely heard of at 3/1 to win a Royal Ascot Group 1 won't be to everyone's taste, but the evidence suggests that Brazen Beau may be a notch above his British counterparts, and he should take a great deal of beating. With the European challenge looking especially weak this year, compatriot Wandjina may be the one to chase him home.
Back Brazen Beau to win the Diamond Jubilee Stakes