Gale Force can blow away rivals
GALE FORCE TEN, a commendable runner-up in difficult circumstances at Royal Ascot, will bid to enhance Aidan O'Brien's flawless recent record in the TNT July Stakes on the opening day of Newmarket's July carnival.
With the Falmouth Stakes and July Cup now held on the Friday and Saturday, respectively, of the new-look festival, the six-furlong contest is one of a pair of Group Twos that headline the opening salvo.
Boasting the card's sole Irish-trained runner, the July Stakes is the more interesting of the two from this side of the water, not least because O'Brien's only other runner in the race since the turn of the millennium, Ivan Denisovich, readily obliged in 2005.
Such a select approach by the Ballydoyle maestro is of note, so Gale Force Ten must have a serious chance of landing the £34,000 pot under Ryan Moore.
Conqueror of Leitir Mor and Monday's Roscommon winner Hard Yards when collecting in heavy going over six furlongs at the Curragh, the Oasis Dream colt came up just short in the Norfolk Stakes at Ascot.
On that occasion, he finished in front on the far side of the track, staying on strongly over a furlong shorter trip.
However, the eventual winner Reckless Abandon veered dramatically to the opposite side, which effectively left Gale Force Ten with nothing at which to aim.
Granted, Reckless Abandon was a worthy winner given his wayward finish, but neither did his antics help Gale Force Ten's cause.
Regardless, with two winners since emerging from the Norfolk, the form of the race has stood up well, and a return to six furlongs with a bit of give in the ground should be to Gale Force Ten's advantage.
Of his eight rivals, Richard Hannon's Sir Prancealot could be the main danger under Richard Hughes.
Ultimately a disappointing fourth behind Dawn Approach in the Coventry at Ascot, the dual previous winner had Leitir Mor a few lengths behind there, though the form took a slight knock when the third, Cristoforo Colombo, got beaten by Probably at the Curragh.
In the Prince Of Wales's Goldsmiths Stakes, Red Cadeaux and Harris Tweed vie for the market lead in what promises to be a cracking 12-furlong event.
At their best, Jakkalberry and Dandino are two others that could play a big part, but Red Cadeaux is the pick on form.
Beaten an agonising nose in the Melbourne Cup in November, Ed Dunlop's gelding had Harris Tweed back in third when scoring at York in May, before posting a fine second to St Nicholas Abbey in the Coronation Cup. Next time, he was third behind Sea Moon and his Australian conqueror Dunaden in the Hardwicke at Ascot, so this is a more realistic task.
Earlier, the unstoppable John Gosden-William Buick combination are fancied to score with two of their three contenders.
In the Bahrain Trophy, course and distance maiden winner Shantaram needs to improve, but can still do so on just his fifth start, while Nabucco could be one of the bets of the day in the 10-furlong handicap.
An emphatic victor of a decent Windsor maiden, the Princess Haya-owned three-year-old looks well-treated off a mark of 88. More importantly, he looks overpriced at up to 6/1.
Meanwhile, Ballydoyle's Maybe and John Oxx's Alanza are among 11 to have been declared for tomorrow's featured Falmouth, though Andre Fabre's French raider Golden Lilac is a short-priced favourite to accrue her fourth triumph at Group One level in that.
1.50 Gale Force Ten
3.00 Red Cadeaux
3.35 Fleeting Smile