Thursday 19 July 2018

Cracksman a tough nut but 'Hawk' can swoop

Frankie Dettori. Photo: Getty Images
Frankie Dettori. Photo: Getty Images

Michael Verney

There are no prizes for guessing where all the attention will be on day two at Royal Ascot with the brilliant Cracksman headlining another mouthwatering card.

Seven go to post in the Group One Prince Of Wales's Stakes (4.20), but all eyes will be on John Gosden's four-year-old and barring a sub-par display, the son of Frankel should oblige under Frankie Dettori.

Getting involved at prohibitive odds is a dangerous exercise, however, with dual Arc heroine Treve turned over at a similar price in 2014, as was Japanese superstar A Shin Hikari two years ago.

If he reproduces the jaw-dropping display which saw him trounce the re-opposing Poet's Word in last year's Champion Stakes, this is a one-horse race but there are a few small question marks after his Epsom showing.

Aidan O'Brien saddles the sole Irish challenger in Cliffs Of Moher and while he is admirably consistent, Group One success still eludes last year's Epsom Derby second and that run is likely to continue.

As regards value, Charlie Appleby's HAWKBILL had the number of Poet's Word in the Dubai Sheema Classic earlier this year and may be overpriced if he can bounce back from a shocking effort at Epsom last time out.

O'Brien has never won the Group Two Queen Mary Stakes (2.30) and the Ballydoyle fillies So Perfect and Gossamer Wings look outclassed whereas Jessica Harrington's Servalan - which comfortably had So Perfect's number at Naas - looks to have strong claims.

Wesley Ward is bullish about the prospects of his two-year-olds, however, and CHELSEA CLOISTERS is the selection given his American trainer knows a thing or two about taking these prizes, having won three of the last ten renewals.

O'Brien looks to hold all the aces in the Group Two Queen's Vase (3.05) - a race he has won five times - with three of the market principals and despite Ryan Moore choosing Kew Gardens, it may pay to side with NELSON, which showed plenty of guts in his Ballysax win over Delano Roosevelt and The Pentagon.

The step up to 1m6f will be no problem having disappointed in the Derrinstown, while O'Brien's dual Group One winner HYDRANGEA looks a cut above the opposition in the Group Two Duke Of Cambridge Stakes (3.40).

Mick Halford's Saltonstall can make the frame in the Royal Hunt Cup (5.0), while a competitive Jersey Stakes (5.35) may go the way of long shot Walk In The Sun.

Irish Independent

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