Towering Treve can make Magician vanish at Royal Ascot
Queen of French racing looks to have too much power for the boys in Prince of Wales's Stakes
Magician will have to recapture all of the magic that saw him storm to a famous Breeders' Cup Turf triumph at Santa Anita if he is to thwart the mighty Treve at Royal Ascot today.
The John Gosden-trained The Fugue, which got closest to Aidan O'Brien's 2013 Irish 2,000 Guineas hero at the picturesque Californian track last November, is again among a heavyweight eight-strong line-up for this afternoon's Prince Of Wales's Stakes.
Michael Stoute's Dank is another filly set to contest the £525,000 Group One, but it is Criquette Head-Maarek's reigning queen of French racing that is fancied to become the first of the fairer sex to claim a high-quality edition of the 10-furlong showpiece since Australia's dam Ouija Board prevailed in 2006.
Reputed to be acquired for the princely sum of €8m after readily stretching her unbeaten record to three in the French Oaks this time last year, Treve spectacularly justified Al Shaqab's decision to flex its increasing muscle by annihilating the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe field in October.
While the four-year-old daughter of Motivator was just conquered for a first time by Cirrus Des Aigles on her April reappearance in the Ganay, she remains capable of proving herself a truly exceptional mare.
Crucially, Cirrus Des Aigles was race-fit in the Ganay and he has since plundered two more stylish Group One wins. Having raced keenly under the irrepressible Ascot virtuoso Frankie Dettori, there was no disgrace in Treve narrowly coming up short to him, so she is trusted to make amends now.
While Jim Bolger also saddles Parish Hall, Magician is the danger if he can leave behind his defeat to Noble Mission in the Tattersalls Gold Cup. O'Brien often uses the Curragh race as a prep for this, with his previous two winners, Duke Of Marmalade and So You Think, both taking it en route here.
Magician certainly still has enormous potential, but the general malaise that has stymied much of the Ballydoyle team recently is enough to prompt a watching brief in Treve's towering presence.
In total, there are 19 raiders representing 14 different handlers at the Berkshire venue today, plenty of which are capable of compensating should the day's sole Group One go elsewhere. Dermot Weld's Mustajeeb faces a mammoth task against 22 other three-year-olds in the Jersey Stakes.
Joseph O'Brien has opted for Giovanni Boldini of his father's three in the seven-furlong Group Three, with David Wachman's Sudirman and John Murphy's Big Time others of note. Big Time caught the eye when fifth on his return in the Irish Guineas, but whether he will be able to translate that promise into the improvement required to turn the tables on Mustajeeb is another thing.
Pat Smullen's partner served it up to Kingman on the Curragh until giving best at the furlong pole, so he is trusted to defy fears about the drying ground to further advertise the year's exceptional Classic form now.
In the Queen Mary, Smullen could double-up aboard Eddie Lynam's runaway Tipperary victor Anthem Alexander, while Fiesolana gets the nod in the Duke Of Cambridge.
The race formerly known as the Windsor Forest Stakes has come this way twice in the last three years, with Johnny Murtagh's Purr Along and O'Brien's Peace Burg also contenders here.
Fiesolana got within half a length of Purr Along on deep ground in a Curragh Group Three last time. She is 2lb better off now on more favourable ground, so she appeals as being capable of delivering Willie McCreery his first winner at the royal meeting under Billy Lee.
3.05 Anthem Alexander