In Caravaggio and Winter Ryan rides two of the hottest horses on the penultimate card of this year's Royal Ascot. Read his thoughts on that pair and his four other mounts here...
"If there is a horse in here who has the speed and ability to beat Caravaggio, then fair play to them. They’ll need to be good though. And very quick."
Alpha Centauri went past me on Actress like we were standing still at Naas last month and I don't think there is any doubt that she sets a pretty high bar for the rest of us to reach up to. But we have seen what Wesley Ward can do here this week and his Keeneland winner Fairyland has to be respected, as do any number of well-bred and lightly-raced fillies in here. Clemmie is one of those, and she shaped very well for me when third in a 6f maiden at the Curragh. Obviously, as a sister to Churchill, she will get a lot of attention here, but clearly she has to step up a good deal to match the likes of Alpha Centauri. But the potential is there, the better ground should suit, and one thing that Aidan's two-year-olds do is progress. She should run well, but the favourite looks very solid, for all we are drawn one and two.
As it stands, he is one of the lowest-rated horses in here. And that is correct, as he only has a heavy ground maiden win to his name and he disappointed in the Lingfield Derby Trial. But he clearly needed that run far more than we thought, and I think you can expect a much better performance here with that run under his belt. He will need to step up a good deal to be competitive against the likes of Derby Trial winners like Permian, Best Solution and Khalidi though, not to mention York third Crystal Ocean, who is a good prospect.
The first thing to say is that this is some race. But, then again, Caravaggio is some horse. He was an exceptional two-year-old when carrying all before him, including here in the Coventry with his electric win, and boy was he impressive on his return at Naas. We think he is a horse of the highest calibre, but no doubt connections of Harry Angel and Blue Point come here thinking the same, not to mention the well-regarded Bound For Nowhere from the States. If there is a horse in here who has the speed and ability to beat Caravaggio, then fair play to them. They'll need to be good though. And very quick.
When you are facing a French 1,000 Guineas winner, a Fred Darling victor and a multiple Group scorer from the States, you would normally think you are up against it. And, to some extent, Winter is. But the more I think about it the more I think that she beat Rhododendron on merit at Newmarket, and I can't tell you how impressed I was with her at the Curragh last time. She felt like, and indeed is, a top-class filly. She did it effortlessly. This is no easy task, as I've said, but this is a seriously good horse.
Aidan has won five of the last 10 runnings of this race, and three of the last four, so hopefully Belgravia can extend that impressive sequence. I haven't ridden him before but he has fast-ground form and the blinkers are on for the first time after a fair fourth at Navan last month. This looks wide-open to be honest and there are no stand-outs on form - the progressive Time To Study looks solid, though - but Aidan won this with 33/1 outsider Sword Fighter last year so don't rule out his beautifully-bred maiden winner Wisconsin. Anything in here could win, though. It looks that kind of race.
There has been a lot of talk about Mainstream in the past week, and apparently he has been one of the gambles of the meeting. I don't know about that but I will tell you what I know. I think he is handicapped to go close, as the form of his comeback third at Newmarket has obviously been franked time and again and he only races off a 2lb higher mark here. And the boss has an excellent record in this handicap down the years. So, yes, there are lots of reasons to be positive. But the horse is tricky and far from straightforward - he was gelded before his reappearance - and there are plenty of dangerously progressive types in here such as the Roger Varian pair of Appeared and Wadigor. If I can get him into a good position from his outside stall in 11, and settled and into a good rhythm, he should be very competitive off this mark, though.