Fabre's Byword for glory
WHILE there was little joy for the Irish runners yesterday, despite the late surges of runners-up Elyaadi and Petronius Maximus, another 10 contestants from this country are at Royal Ascot today to compete for glittering prizes.
However, it is disappointing we can't manage a single representative in the afternoon's only Group 1 race, the Prince of Wales's Stakes. Two French raiders and a solitary German horse are up against nine runners from Britain in the day's highlight, with Goldikova's latest triumph in the Queen Anne Stakes pointing firmly to compatriot Byword's prospects.
A year ago, the French were celebrating when Vision d'Etat scored under Olivier Peslier and Byword is the nap selection to follow up on behalf of Andre Fabre and Maxime Guyon, for whom he was closing down Goldikova last time out.
That sterling effort by Guyon's mount in a Prix d'Ispahan renewal at Longchamp, where the track record for nine furlongs was broken last month, indicates that the step-up to a mile and a quarter will be ideal for Fabre's charge.
Godolphin have two runners in a race they won for three successive years at the start of the decade with Dubai Millennium, Fantastic Light and Grandera.
Cavalryman, representing Saeed bin Suroor, looks their best hope, but he has yet to show the sort of form that enabled him to finish a close third behind Sea The Stars in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.
Another of yesterday's heroes Canford Cliffs gave a boost in the St James's Palace Stakes to the standing of the Irish 2,000 Guineas in which Jim Bolger's Free Judgement led in the pack behind the Richard Hannon colt.
In his element on a fast surface, Free Judgement could do his bit for the Curragh form by edging out joint top weight Shakespearean and Red Jazz in the opening Jersey Stakes on behalf of the enduring Jim Bolger-Kevin Manning partnership.
Last year's winner Spacious faces a tough task under Johnny Murtagh to repeat the feat in the Windsor Forest Stakes, confined to fillies and mares, as Shamwari Lodge, for Hannon and Richard Hughes, steps up in grade after her latest success at the Curragh.
Both of them may be left, however, to share the minor honours this time, as Godolphin's Antara and Strawberrydaiquiri, which has won here before from Michael Stoute's yard, have been heavily backed to take centre stage.
The cavalry charge for the Royal Hunt Cup features the progressive Dandy Boy trying to follow up his ultra-game victory over seven furlongs here as the ante-post favourite for David Marnane and Colm O'Donoghue. Marnane is optimistic the Danetime colt will stay the mile.
Drawn toward the stands, Dandy Boy merits at least some each-way support as the evidence yesterday was that the near side appears to be riding a shade faster than the opposite rail, where the Tracey Collins veteran King Jock may end up.
Dermot Weld's Moonlit Garden, which made quite an impression when scoring on her debut at the Curragh last month, might profit most from a plum stands rail draw for the Queen Mary Stakes, in stark contrast to David Wachman's Meow and, to a lesser extent, Purple Glow for the Bolger-Manning alliance, which has something to prove after a recent below-par run at Naas.
2.30 -- Free Judgement
3.05 -- Antara
3.50 -- Byword (nap)
4.25 -- Dandy Boy (each-way)
5.00 -- Moonlit Garden