Ryan Moore discusses all six of his rides at Ascot on Saturday afternoon, including Highland Reel in the big race of the day...
He's clearly improving and has form on good and soft ground, so he comes into the race with plenty of positives. There are one or two with similarly progressive profiles though, and this is a step up in class.
There isn't that much between the form horses in the race - and there are some decent maiden winners in here, too - but I'm pretty sure Nyaleti comes into this race boasting the best credentials. She beat a fair sort on her debut and has come up against the two best juvenile fillies we have seen on her last two starts, following home September in the Chesham and Clemmie in the Duchess Of Cambridge last time.
I know you probably can't rate the form too highly, given the proximity and bunched nature of the horses in behind, but I wouldn't be in a rush to downplay the merit of her second at Newmarket. I think Clemmie is a progressive and high-class prospect. She has obvious claims here. This will be the easiest surface she has raced on but hopefully that won't be an issue; in fact, her dam won in the soft.
This race has cut up a bit, numbers-wise at least, and I look to be on a horse with a favourite's chance. He didn't look to be getting home over 1m2f earlier in the season, while shaping very well on occasions, and the drop down to this 1m trip, and the fitting of a hood, appears to have been the making of him. He has gone up 11lb for his two wins, but he is clearly improving and has form on good and soft ground, so he comes into the race with plenty of positives. There are one or two with similarly progressive profiles though, and this is a step up in class.
He looks to have a fair bit going for him, but there are better handicapped horses than him going into the race and he is a hold-up horse who needs to get the breaks in running. It appears things didn't fall right for him in the Hunt Cup last time - he certainly wasn't the only one to meet trouble in that race, though - and he possibly would have been placed with a clearer run.
He won the Victoria Cup here off a 10lb lower mark in May and then did very well to follow up at Chester, getting up on the line. Although his recent form has come on fast ground, he has won in the soft, and hopefully there is more to come from him, and first-time blinkers will hopefully help as well. He does meet some very well-treated rivals though, and luck in-running will be crucial in this big field.
Viscount Barfield is an obvious contender if he can back up his Chester win, and Makzeem is a horse I know well, having ridden him on his last three starts. He was clearly meeting a well-treated horse in Parfait when second at Newmarket last time but, given the conditions of this race, he can actually race off a 3lb lower mark here. He is, quite obviously, handicapped to go close to winning and there was a bit of juice in the ground when I won on him previously.
It is easy to see why Enable has leapt to the top of the betting since being confirmed for the race on Wednesday. I made no secret of the fact that I was very impressed with her when she beat Alluringly at Chester and she confirmed that impression, and more, when beating Rhododendron so emphatically in the Oaks. And, although I didn't ride in the race, you had to be very taken with the manner of her win at the Curragh last time, where she dismissed a smart and progressive filly in Rain Goddess with some ease.
Getting so much weight, I'll be honest and say it is not hard to envisage her following in the footsteps of the stable's Taghrooda, who won this three years ago. But this is only a fortnight after Ireland, and horses can take more out of themselves than it first appears, even when seemingly winning on the bridle. And, while everyone has been highlighting Highland Reel's preference for fast ground this week, don't forget that the filly has never raced on anything worse than good, even if the Oaks was run in a deluge. Mind you, her sire and dam both handled soft ground well.
She also meets older and male opposition for the first time. Of course, Highland Reel would prefer it faster, a look at his record tells you that, though some of his below-par efforts with dig haven't only been ground-related. But we are where we are, and I just hope it doesn't ride very testing. It's not as if he doesn't have form with a bit of dig, either; after all, he was second in a French Derby on it, and only beaten a head by Dartmouth in last year's Hardwicke. And he does come here in the form of his life, after showing his adaptability - trip-wise and tactics-wise - when winning the Prince Of Wales's last time. He is a good horse, all right, and I think the price difference between him and Enable is now too great.
Idaho is another horse who would ideally prefer better ground but, again, he does have form with cut and chased home Harzand in heavy ground in the Ballysax last season. The form of his defeat of Barsanti in the Hardwicke last time may give him a fair bit to find here, but he looks to me like he will continue to improve throughout the season and I think he could well post a career-best here if handling the conditions.
Jack Hobbs will get his ground and trip, and he was very good in winning the Sheema Classic in these conditions back in March, and you had to be impressed by the way that Ulysses travelled and then dug deep to edge out Barney Roy in the Eclipse. If he can last out this trip in the ground, and he will be played late, then he has the form and profile of a horse who you have to respect. A lot of people are questioning his stamina but I see an improving Group 1 winner who is by Galileo out of an Oaks winner. I said before the Eclipse that I have been a fan of Desert Encounter this season, but he surprised me there with the level of his performance in third. The longer trip and easier ground will definitely suit him, and it is not hard to see him posting another career-best, too. He looks the best of the outsiders, though I can't see him being good enough to win, to be honest. There are at least four proper Group 1 horses in here.
You can give all these a chance. My colt has plenty to recommend him though, after a very impressive win over course and distance on his debut earlier this month. I think that may have been a decent race too, and he could hold strong claims in a competitive race on the back of that victory. He is well-regarded but I imagine a few of these will be fancying their chances too. It's that kind of race.
He doesn't look to have run any kind of race last time over 1m5f at Ayr last time and races off the same mark here. But he had earlier looked a progressive type, so hopefully he can bounce back to that level of form and be in with a chance here back down to 1m4f.