Monday 19 March 2018

O'Brien's Astrology full of star quality

Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

A memorable Royal Ascot fixture that has already yielded six Irish-trained winners could get even better this afternoon.

Yesterday evening, Irish raiders headed the market for three of the six scheduled races on day four. Aidan O'Brien is responsible for all three, with the layers taking no chances on the prospect of Homecoming Queen, Astrology and Athens adding to their trainer's two winners so far.

Despite once again facing her Irish 1,000 Guineas conqueror Samitar in the Coronation Stakes, Homecoming Queen retains favouritism for the day's Group One, principally because of the rain-softened ground.

A runaway winner of the English equivalent on testing going, Joseph O'Brien's front-running mount ultimately wasn't able to dominate at The Curragh once the ground had dried up.

Today, notwithstanding that Ascot's stiff mile isn't always suited to making all, the prevailing ease underfoot will be more in Homecoming Queen's favour and she is taken to reassert her authority over Samitar. But Mick Channon's Classic heroine might not even be the pick of her own stable now that conditions have eased.

Laugh Out Loud, whose sole defeat in her last five starts for Channon came when she never rose a gallop at Newmarket, could be deserving of that title.

A hugely progressive filly that only made her debut on the all-weather in January, the daughter of Clodovil was an impressive winner in France recently, and has the notable assistance of Frankie Dettori here.

In the preceding King Edward VII Stakes, Astrology appeals as a rock solid option. Having made all to land the Dee Stakes at Chester, the Galileo colt subsequently turned in a fine shift in the Epsom Derby, only vacating the lead in the final furlong before eventually finishing third behind his exceptional stable-mate Camelot.


Still a possible contender for next week's Irish equivalent, Astrology meets nothing of that calibre here, so it will be disappointing if he doesn't frank the Epsom form.

Athens, third to the Derby-bound Speaking Of Which in the Gallinule, tackles the Queen's Vase, where he will be joined by Ken Condon's Macbeth, which finished a neck behind Athens last time.

While neither will mind the slow conditions, they may both be vulnerable to something less exposed. Estimate, a half-brother to John Oxx's 1999 Ascot Gold Cup hero Enzeli, as well as two other Oxx Group One winners Ebadiyla and Ebadiya, could be the horse to keep on side.

Bred by the Aga Khan, the Monsun colt is now owned by the Queen, and he looked the part when recording a two-length victory on similar going in a decent maiden at Salisbury in May.

In the two-year-old Albany Stakes, Tyrone-based Andy Oliver has a fair chance of saddling his first ever winner at the meeting when Sendmylovetorose lines out under Eddie Ahern.

An easy victor, despite running green first time up at Navan recently, the Bahamian Bounty filly can only improve on that.

Later on, John Murphy's Gossamer Seed and David Marnane's Jamesie tackle the 30-runner cavalry charge that is the Buckingham Palace Stakes. Both can be backed at fancy prices, with Gossamer Seed possibly the more appealing each-way prospect over a seven-furlong trip that suits her ideally.


2.30 Sendmylovetorose

3.05 Astrology

3.45 Laugh Out Loud

4.25 Hyper

5.00 Estimate

5.35 Gossamer Seed

Irish Independent

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport