Aljamaaheer has speed to deny Lynam sprint double
Eddie Lynam will strive to cap a memorable week for himself and the broader raiding contingent at Royal Ascot when Slade Power leads the final onslaught in today's Diamond Jubilee Stakes.
Bought back at the sales as a yearling after attracting a bid of just £5,000, the five-year-old speedball is fast becoming a worthy deputy to his fellow Sabena Power-owned Sole Power. He has progressed steadily over the last couple of years, getting placed in the 2013 July Cup and Sprint Cup before plundering a fine Group Two win here in soft ground on Champions Day last autumn.
On his reappearance in really testing conditions at the Curragh, Slade Power absolutely demolished a field of smart sprinters, including the race-fit Group One winner Maarek. As such, he remains hugely progressive and is a deserving favourite to send Lynam home with his third win of the week.
Given how well Slade Power operates on soft ground, the one slight concern is the lightning fast conditions. In recording eight wins from 17 starts, he has only once obliged on good to firm.
Still, that victory came when he denied the reopposing solid benchmark Es Que Love and his subsequent dual Group One conqueror Lethal Force in a Listed race at Haydock two years ago, so he and Wayne Lordan will doubtless be thereabouts. Tom Hogan's globe-trotting Gordon Lord Byron is also among the 15-strong field, but he is much less likely to excel on the ground.
While the Ballydoyle imports Darwin and Due Diligence should relish the fast fractions, they have a bit to prove in this grade. Darwin has each-way appeal at odds of 16/1, but the one that is of real interest is Aljamaaheer, a Hamdan Al Maktoum colt representing Roger Varian and Paul Hanagan.
A classy five-year-old that was placed here in the 2012 Jersey Stakes, the son of Dubawi was third to Farhh in last year's Lockinge before returning here with a cracking second to Declaration Of War in the Queen Anne.
He then stormed up in a mile Group Two at the track next time, so there is no doubt that he is a horse with serious ability that seems to be well suited by the historic venue.
Having failed to fully hit the heights over a mile, a decision was made to drop the often keen-running Aljamaaheer to six furlongs for his seasonal bow at Newmarket.
On good ground that day, he was unusually slowly away, before flashing home to be denied a half-a-length and a short-head by Hamza and the redoubtable Es Que Love, which reads well in the context of today's opposition.
In short, it was a really encouraging trial, and the combination of first-time blinkers on fast ground is expected to bring about further improvement now. If that happens, Aljamaaheer could win this with a bit of style, because, with the exception of Slade Power, few of his rivals have shown anything like the Group One potential he already boasts.
At up to 9/2, he is surely the best value win option in the race. Of the remaining Irish-trained runners, Pique Sous stands out as being worth a look in the concluding Queen Alexandra Stakes.
With a rating of 96, the grey has a bit to find with plenty of his 16 rivals, but Willie Mullins won this with Simenon off a pound lower mark two years ago.
While the two-mile-five-furlong trip is unknown territory, Pique Sous was just denied over two miles at Wexford last year and he subsequently won snugly over a mile-six at Leopardstown. Crucially, he is a fast-ground specialist.
On his Curragh return over 12 furlongs last month, he travelled powerfully before proving one-paced, so he could be primed to go close now that he steps up in trip under Ryan Moore. The brilliant former champion is also trusted to deliver on Michael Stoute's Telescope in the Hardwicke.
Denied only by the subsequent Group One victor Noble Mission on his two starts over 10 furlongs this term, the Galileo four-year-old returns to a mile and a half now. On his only previous run over the trip, he won last year's Great Voltigeur at York, so he is strongly fancied to win this.
Best bet: Telescope