Candy's sprinter looks sweet in Jubilee
Twilight Son can turn tables on Dettori's market leader
Published 18/06/2016 | 02:30
The curtain comes down on a memorable Royal Ascot with another intriguing spread.
Topping the bill on day five is the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, which, like Tuesday's King's Stand Stakes, doesn't feature an Irish runner.
Giant strides have been made in recent years in terms of improving the quality of our sprinters, but it is indicative of how small the pool still is that there wasn't one cross-channel prospect declared for either of the traditional five and six-furlong Group Ones at the royal meeting.
Granted, the prevailing soft ground played a part in that eventuality, and it will doubtless be a significant factor in establishing the best horse in today's six-furlong showpiece.
Charlie Hills' in-form Magical Memory heads the betting. Frankie Dettori's mount has been beaten just twice in its last seven runs, winning both of its outings this term.
At York last month, he relished the fast ground to win with a little authority and is entitled to be favourite. Nonetheless, there is a more appealing option in the shape of Twilight Son, which was conceding five pounds when fifth in the York Group Two.
On the day, Magical Memory also had the benefit of race-fitness, but Twilight Son did plenty to suggest that he would have more big days in him. Unbeaten in his first five starts as a two and three-year-old, he is trained by one of the sprint kings in Henry Candy, who saddled him to win the Group One Sprint Cup at Haydock in September.
On the Kyllachy colt's only subsequent run in 2015, he emerged with plenty credit when second to the exceptional Muhaarar on Champions Day at Ascot, where a stands' side draw was something of a disadvantage.
This time, he will break from a potentially more favourable stall in trap three, and it's worth noting that he had Magical Memory back in third when successful in the Sprint Cup.
Clearly, Twilight Son needs to step forward for his comeback, but there is every reason to believe that he can, as that would be Candy's style. Moreover, he will relish the bit of give underfoot, probably more so than Magical Memory. At odds of around 4/1, then, Twilight Son is too big to ignore under Ryan Moore.
In total, eight Irish horses will represent Aidan O'Brien, Willie Mullins and Gordon Elliott on the finale. There are familiar faces like Clondaw Warrior and Simenon in the Queen Alexandra and Highland Reel and Wicklow Brave in the Hardwicke, plus a relative unknown such as Churchill in the Chesham.
Of the travelling party, The Happy Prince might be a bit of a dark horse at odds of around 20/1 off a mark of 101 in the annual cavalry charge that is the Wokingham Stakes.
Twice a winner for O'Brien last year, Moore's partner has been frustrating, but the drop back to a stiff six furlongs should be ideal, as his form figures at the trip read 1122 in pretty good company.
In the Hardwicke Stakes, a chance is taken on Dettori''s mount, Eagle Top. Second to Snow Sky in this Group Two last year, John Gosden's charge then turned in a career best at this venue when just touched off by the classy Postponed in a thrilling climax to the King George.
The five-year-old is sure to come on for an indifferent return behind Astronereus at Newbury, and as a son of Pivotal he enjoys getting his toe in, so odds of 6/1 look quite generous.
Of the 13 English, Irish and French Classics, Aidan O'Brien has yet to win just two - both French.
It will be at least 2017 before the Ballydoyle genius plunders a Prix du Jockey Club, but Ballydoyle and Coolmore are two regally-named contenders for tomorrow's Prix de Diane.
With the unbeaten French 1,000 Guineas heroine La Cressonniere among some smart rivals in the Chantilly Group One, this will be no formality. Nonetheless, Ballydoyle's claims are robust.
Just denied as a maiden in the 2015 Chesham at Ascot, she has been beaten only twice in five starts since, both times by Minding in Group Ones.
In the 1,000 Guineas, the Galileo filly defied a troubled passage to get closest to her stable-mate. Nathra was nearly three lengths behind, yet she got to within a length of La Cressonniere at Deauville.
At Newmarket, Ballydoyle looked as though she would stay further, and her pedigree certainly backs that up.
The forecast slow ground shouldn't be an issue, and O'Brien has given her plenty time, so odds of 3/1 about Ryan Moore's mount look fair.