Mount Athos can stay on upward curve and leave rivals in his wake
Mount Athos, which is situated in an autonomous region within Greece, is inhabited by 1,800 monks and has no less than 20 monasteries scattered throughout.
Interestingly, no women or children are allowed to visit the holy mountain and the number of daily male visitors is strictly limited.
As much as we all love our women and kids, I reckon a male-only mountain like Mount Athos would prove extremely popular in Ireland, although it would have to have a boozer and bookies if it were to catch on.
While I don't have a mountain to go up, I do have my own little sanctuary in the shape of my local bar and on my way up this afternoon, I'll be sure to stop into the bookies and back the Luca Cumani-trained horse named after the Greek mountain which seems a cracking bet at 5/2 for the Group Two Hardwicke Stakes at Ascot (3.05).
I stuck Mount Athos in my notebook following a trio of victories last year including a Group Three at Newbury but he went off my radar when they sent him off to finish the season in Australia and Japan.
Unfortunately, I somehow missed his return to British racing last month when he won a six-runner Group Three at Chester at 11/8, beating Aidan O'Brien's 6/5 favourite Memphis Tennessee in the process.
It wasn't the strongest race in the world but he was impressive nonetheless, considering the ground was less than ideal being on the softer side of good.
Around four furlongs out, he asserted his authority by quickening up and forging clear and his manner of victory suggests he's well capable of stepping up in class and taking a Group Two.
The fact that connections have entered him in the Group One King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot in late July should be taken as a hint as to how good he might be and I'll be extremely surprised if he's not a major player today.
Of the rest, Sir John Hawkwood is worth a second look considering Michael Stoute's excellent record in this race, while Roger Varian's Ektihaam is expected to give a good account of himself following a career best when winning the Listed Buckhounds Stakes here back in May.
Later on the same card, the James Fanshawe-trained Society Rock is very hard to oppose at 3/1 in the Group One Diamond Jubilee Stakes (3.45).
He was particularly impressive when winning a Group Two at York last time considering he was under a penalty for his Sprint Cup win. Given a patient ride by Kieren Fallon, he showed a fantastic turn of foot to take the lead in the final furlong and while at one stage it looked like Lethal Force was going to chin him at the line, the selection dug deep and showed some true class.
Lethal Force reopposes today but there's no real reason to believe he'll reverse the placings. Another one that's expected to go well is Gordon Lord Byron, which is trained in Ireland by Tom Hogan. He was third behind Society Rock and Lethal Force in that race at York but he seems to be enjoying his racing this year and there could be room for improvement.
MASTER CARPENTER'S odds of 12/1 offer some nice each-way value in the opening Listed Chesham Stakes at Ascot (2.30). A son of multiple Group One winner Mastercraftsman, the colt enjoyed the step up in trip to six furlongs when landing his second win from three races at Pontefract recently and the extra furlong today should be within his range.
Training assistant James Millman reckons he'll get a mile over time and the two-year-old is described as one of the best juveniles they've had for a while.
2.30 Ascot: Master Carpenter (e/w)
3.00 Ayr: My Propeller
3.05 Ascot: Mount Athos
3.45 Ascot: Society Rock
4.25 Ascot: Rex Imperator
6.50 Haydock: Mecca's Angel