It’s quite rare to see a Group One race with 20+ runners; they only come along every few years, but we’ve a very big field to get stuck into for this year’s 27-runner Platinum Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot (4.20).
The last time this contest saw a field near that big was in 2010, where Aidan O’Brien’s Starspangledbanner beat 23 other runners to land the prize at 13/2, the race then known as the Diamond Jubilee Stakes.
O’Brien has no runners this time around – although the betting is largely based around the Coolmore-owned Australian raider, Home Affairs, which is trading at 2/1 at the time of writing for Chris Waller with James McDonald booked to ride.
Waller won the Kings Stand Stakes on Tuesday with Nature Strip, also under Waller, and it will be interesting to see if the bookmakers lay some big bets on the colt this afternoon.
Having won a couple of Group Ones at Flemington, he’s the class act here no doubt, but he was well-beaten on his latest start in March, albeit with some valid excuses, and I just can’t have the four-year-old at such short odds in a competitive field like this.
With Artorius also making the trip from Australia, Grenadier Guards from Japan and Campanelle from the USA, there’s a big international feel to the race and the latter-named filly also attracted support in the betting.
Trained by Wesley Ward, she won the Commonwealth Cup here last year (Dragon Symbol was first past the post but later demoted) and she also won the Queen Mary here in 2020. She looked quite well when winning at Keenland in April so is well-respected and won’t be far off.
To be honest, a good case could be made for quite a number of runners in this but the one that jumps out at me as an each-way bet is the John Quinn-trained mare, Highfield Princess, available at 14/1 in places under jockey Jason Hart.
With nine wins from 26 races, the five-year-old has been a great servant to connections having cost 29,000 guineas, and she looked as good as ever when landing her first race above Listed level last time out in May with a victory in the Group Two 1895 Duke of York Stakes at York. She won a handicap here last year and although Home Affairs is the one they all have to beat, she’s definitely a bit of value for a place at the least.
I reckon Charlie Appleby and William Buick will have a good day at Royal Ascot for owners Godolphin, and the obvious one is Hurricane Lane which is impossible to oppose in the Group Two Hardwicke Stakes (3.40), although the odds will be restrictive and the colt was priced 8/11 yesterday.
A multiple Group winner last season including the Irish Derby and the St Leger at Doncaster, the son of Frankel wasn’t disgraced when third in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp last time out in October following a busy season.
The only concern here is how fit he will be after that break, but the word from the yard following a recent gallop is that he’s come on impressively in a physical sense from age three to four, and this race has been the target.
The one most likely to follow him home is Aidan O’Brien’s Broome, available at 5/1 yesterday. He’s talented but somewhat inconsistent and looked in need of the run when fifth of eight in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh last time.
Appleby and Buick team up a little earlier with Noble Truth, which I thought would be shorter than the 7/2 available in the early markets for the Group Three Jersey Stakes (3.05).
A Listed winner in September as a juvenile, he finished off the season tamely in Group Three company, but he looked better than ever when taking a Listed race at Newmarket
While he can sometimes appear agitated and unsettled, he’s been gelded since last seen which may help calm him down and make him a more rounded racer.
Another one I like from the same connections is Falling Shadow, expected to go off in the region of 11/2 for the Golden Gates Stakes Handicap (5.35).
He’s been given a rating of 92 here for his handicap debut which is not too harsh following a Newbury race where he got off the mark officially last month in good style. He finished off last term with a victory in a novice race on the all-weather at Wolverhampton, but he was later disqualified for a prohibited substance. He’s surely got more to come.
In the Wokingham Stakes Heritage Handicap (5.0), Marco Botti’s Silver Samurai is a very interesting entry and early odds of 10/1 seem generous under Ben Curtis. The five-year-old was rated 88 when winning a handicap at Newbury in the middle of May, and followed up with a decisive victory off 92 a couple of weeks later in another handicap at Haydock.
With declarations for today made a little early, he gets to race off 92 once again along with a 5lb penalty for his win. In reality, he was due to go up to 98 so he may just be a tiny bit ahead of the handicapper, and he is beginning to really thrive at this 6f trip.