14:30 - There's a temptation to go against Toronado given he's returning from a break and was presumably amiss when we last saw him. We are lucky enough to have the evidence to assuage those fears, though: all reports from home are good and this race has been the plan for long enough to make lack of readiness an unlikely downfall. There's also the small matter of Toronado being easily the best horse in the race, his form with Dawn Approach and latterly Declaration of War in 2013 being irrefutably in the very highest category.
15:05 - The Coventry always requires a degree of guesswork, being as it is a case of promise meeting promise. Our best option is simply to pick those that have shown the most up to now. Cappella Sansevero is already making news headlines within racing, subject to a big-money transfer to Qatar Racing on the eve of Royal Ascot. It looks like a shrewd move; Capella Sansevero is bound to wind up at least a smart performer, progressive in spite of dropping back to five furlongs last time. He'll do better still back over six. Kool Kompany is also unbeaten, his win at Naas last time coming over the fancied War Envoy who is actually shorter in the betting today. Kool Kompany was a bit free on his first try at six furlongs that day, though his breeding suggests he'll be better for it once he's more settled.
15:45 - There's been a tremendous buzz about Hot Streak, not least in Timeform House, since he won the Temple Stakes and we're anticipating that he'll be favourite for the King's Stand. It's certainly a justifiable position, though the more pragmatic approach for those in the Placepot is to take Sole Power. He's been third and first in the last two renewals of this race and when he gets a decent pace to run at over five furlongs he's as reliable a top-level sprinter as there is at the moment. His main challenger for that mantle is probably Shea Shea, second in last year's King's Stand and never out of the frame in four starts since. Irrespective of what Hot Streak does- and it could be very good indeed- you fancy that one of the two mentioned above will make the places.
16:25 - The St James's Palace is a real tester. We have just the seven runners, which include two that could be outstanding and an equal number of lurking dangers that could yet encroach on the available places. We can forget about Toormore and War Command (it would have been a very different situation had eight run) and focus on Kingman and Night of Thunder. The suspicion remains that Kingman is the superior miler, as backed up by every shred of evidence besides the 2000 Guineas. Still, Night of Thunder can't be said to have been flattered that day and he comes here the fresher having skipped the Curragh. The likelihood of Night of Thunder carrying a significantly smaller chunk of the pool draws us to take him as a banker.
17:00 - We've been relatively parsimonious up to now and legs five and six are the reasons why. The Ascot Stakes, normally the preserve of jumps trainers who fancy a summer day out, actually looks the less daunting. Ballinderry Boy is first on the list. He was a progressive stayer at three last year, his second win coming here over two miles. His reappearance over a shorter trip at Windsor smacks of a means to an end, that end presumably being here. Lieutenant Miller was third in this race last year and managed the same position in the Cesarewitch. Concerns about how he's since fared over hurdles aren't major as he's never been the same force in that realm. Waterclock is our final selection. He got even closer than Lieutenant Miller in the Cesarewitch and had the worst of the draw in the Chester Cup. He's been overlooked in the betting here but isn't without a chance, consistent and fairly treated as he is.
17:35 - The Windsor Castle is probably the toughest race on the card. We're reverting to Kool Kompany for our first selection: specifically, the fact that Merdon Castle was the only one to give him a race at Windsor last month. Merdon Castle had won a decent maiden before that and is bred to be up to the required standard. It's been pointed out that Hootenanny's form isn't up to all that much, though it's not really the point. As Wesley Ward has already amply proved, these American two-year-olds are just far more precocious than the Europeans they face in June. Hootenanny ought to go some way to further emphasising the point. In contrast, Midterm Break is all about form, and time. His Beverley run in particular had the hallmarks of one who'd be up to making his mark in listed company. Here he is, duly delivered.
14:30 - 8
15:05 - 4, 12
15:45 - 8, 9
16:25 - 2
17:00 - 5, 8, 13
17:35 - 14, 16, 17
= 36 lines