There's a massive week ahead in flat racing and Gary O'Brien is looking to a pair of British-trained horses to land Group 1 success...
"Japan is justifiably a short-priced favourite for Wednesday's Prince Of Wales's Stakes (Wednesday, 15:00) but Gosden can serve it up to his great rival again here via Mehdaayih."
After so much uncertainty about whether the year's top flat fixture would take place at all, I must say it's great to be writing about the forthcoming Group 1 action at Royal Ascot. Fair enough, one or two of the feature contests during the five days have a touch of a threadbare look about them but with John Gosden and Aidan O'Brien both going into the meeting in rip-roaring form there should still be plenty of fireworks.
Plenty of good judges were queuing up to take on Stradivarius with Ballydoyle hope Kew Gardens in what had the makings of a great clash of the "superpowers" in Thursday's Gold Cup but the latter's enforced absence has robbed us of that showdown - though I have to admit I would still have been firmly in the dual winner's camp.
It should be relatively straightforward for Gosden's star stayer now, and provided he comes through the test okay I hope connections will allow him to have a crack at the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in what is likely to be his final season on the track. He may have been no match for Ghaiyyath on his return to 1m4f in the recent Coronation Cup but that outing was apparently badly needed and Longchamp in October is a much different ball game to Newmarket in midsummer.
Tregoning's star a price for opening day win
I didn't initially have a strong view on either of the top-level races on the opening day but after going through the Queen Anne Stakes (Tuesday, 13:50) a few times Mohaather finally lured me into his corner. An impressive winner of the Greenham Stakes at Newbury in May 2019, trainer Marcus Tregoning was unable to run his stable star again until the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at today's venue in October, and given the circumstances (ground also far from ideal) he emerged with a good deal of credit in finishing fifth.
It was no surprise to see him kept him training and his preparation for this big task has reportedly been much smoother, while the stable has been in great form since the resumption with three wins from nine runners. The 12/1 on the Betfair Sportsbook with four places on offer looks perfectly acceptable in anticipation of a career best in a race where whatever beats Circus Maximus will probably win.
Gosden can conquer Japan
Japan is justifiably a short-priced favourite for Wednesday's Prince Of Wales's Stakes (Wednesday, 15:00) but Gosden can serve it up to his great rival again here via Mehdaayih. The decision to bring the Cheshire Oaks heroine back as a four-year-old is a fascinating one, and given that she already boasts a Group 2 victory on her CV the suspicion is that her trainer must feel his charge has the class to bag a prize such as this.
She finished her three year-old campaign with a couple of disappointing efforts but is much better judged on earlier form, her second to Deirdre in a very messy Nassau Stakes at Goodwood possibly leaving a mark in hindsight. The fact that the Frankel filly is her yard's main hope in one of the week's marquee events, Dettori riding in preference to the progressive Lord North, is a real vote of confidence and the expected ease underfoot will pose no problems. Look out for a price when there is betting "without the favourite" but the current 10/1 outright is also worth a poke.
Good luck and enjoy the week!
Royal Ascot Free Bet Streak offer
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