Lillie Langtry can give O’Brien a welcome boost in Coronation

The form of the Aidan O’Brien stable has been a concern for punters all through the week of Royal Ascot but the performance of Age Of Aquarius, though beaten in yesterday’s Gold Cup, gives rise to some hope that his top horses can produce their best form on this stage.

Steinbeck, Rip Van Winkle and Zoffany were particular disappointments and, while there are real similarities between that trio and Lillie Langtry, it’s hard to deny that the last-named has huge form claims in today’s Coronation Stakes. The key to today’s race could be the Irish 1000 Guineas at The Curragh where Anna Salai, Music Show and Lillie Langtry took second, third and fifth respectively behind Bethrah in what was a truly run race.

There was little between the trio and it’s easy to argue that Lillie Langtry was unlucky when her flying finish failed by just three parts of a length. She sustained quite a serious injury in America at the end of her two-year-old campaign and was having her first run back that day. She’s likely to have developed her race-fitness from that outing and really ought to go very, very close.

Anna Salai was making her debut for Mahmood Al Zarooni when caught late on that occasion and she too is sure to progress further. Perhaps she was ridden a little more prominently than is ideal and if ridden to best employ her turn of foot, she should be in the frame also.

Music Show, third at The Curragh, had finished seventh in the Newmarket 1000 Guineas but that was an unsatisfactory running of the race where the draw bias was huge. She actually finished first on the far side of the track but the fear with her is that she had a hard race that day and also in Ireland where was staying-on quite well without the fear of being accused of quickening.

She’s a decent sort but there must be a chance that those two runs could catch up with her. The other filly in the race that brings Newmarket and Curragh form to today’s party is Jim Bolger’s Gile Na Greine. She had the ideal draw when beaten in a photo finish in Britain but she bombed out back in Ireland. She needs to leave that latest form way behind and is quite difficult to have confidence in today.

Jacqueline Quest was first past the post in Newmarket but the race was taken off her in the Stewards’ Room. Henry Cecil’s filly had shown nothing resembling 1000 Guineas winning form prior to that day and, again it must be considered highly likely that the draw played a big part in her showing. It’s possible that she’s improved beyond all recognition but the balance of her form suggests it’s unlikely and she looks plenty short enough in the betting for today’s race.

In recent days, there’s been a lot of money for Brian Meehan’s Lady Of The Desert who, being in similar ownership to Music Show, skipped the Newmarket 1000 Guineas in favour of the French equivalent. She was unlucky in running when a close-up fifth at Longchamp and is deserving of her crack at this sort of company.

One of the most interesting runners, however, is undoubtedly Sir Michael Stoute’s Tabassum. The filly made a really strong impression in her first two outings last year and, subsequently, was sent off odds-on to win the Group 2 Rockfel Stakes at Newmarket. Having led along the rails, she was picked up and beaten into third by Music Show.

Having been well-backed in advance of the 1000 Guineas, she was pulled out of the race just days before the off. Thus, this will be her first outing for eight months but her trainer is sure to have her well forward. It’d be no surprise were she up to the task and she looks decent reach-way value but the niggling uncertainty about her stamina over a mile means she’s passed over in favour of Lillie Langtry.

The latter was a very easy winner of a Group 2 last year, will be suited by the fast going and, at 5-1, represents very good value to give Ballydoyle its first Ascot winner of the week.

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