Gleneagles tops St James’s Palace six

Dual 2000 Guineas winner Gleneagles heads a field of six for the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot tomorrow.

Gleneagles tops St James’s Palace six

The Aidan O’Brien-trained colt has looked a cut above his fellow three-year-olds in picking up both Classics at Newmarket and the Curragh. He appears to have frightened away plenty of opposition but has not scared off French 2000 Guineas hero Make Believe.

The Andre Fabre-trained colt, who was supplemented at a cost of £35,000, had his form boosted by the victory of his stablemate and Poule d’Essai des Poulains runner-up New Bay in the French Derby.

Make Believe’s owner Prince Faisal also retains an interest in Belardo, with Godolphin buying into last season’s champion two-year-old.

Trainer Roger Varian is praying there is still time for showers to hit the Berkshire course.

“Belardo is a big price, but we are hoping for thunderstorms to come. The horse is in super form and has come on for his run in the Irish Guineas,” said Varian.

“He probably had the worst run of the race as he missed the break, then he had to loop around the field.”

Michael Stoute has an interesting contender in Consort, who is taking a big hike in class after winning his two starts, most recently in the Heron Stakes at Kempton.

Hugo Palmer’s Solario Stakes scorer Aktabantay makes his belated seasonal debut, while Godolphin’s Latharnach, trained by Charlie Appleby, completes the sextet.

Meanwhile Round Two heads a strong field of 18 declared for the Coventry Stakes, also tomorrow. The Jim Bolger-trained colt has been ante-post favourite on the back of highly-encouraging wins at Naas and in the Listed Marble Hill Stakes at the Curragh.

Air Force Blue is Aidan O’Brien’s only runner while Johnny Levins’ Black Beach, third to Round Two at the Curragh, is the other Irish challenger. Richard Hannon has taken out Log Out Island but is well represented in the six-furlong Group Two by Age Of Empire and Eltezam.

American trainer Wesley Ward is no stranger to success at the Royal meeting and goes for glory with Finnegan, who scooted up by five lengths at Pimlico a month ago.

Middleham handler Mark Johnston’s three-pronged attack is spearheaded by Woodcote winner Buratino and supported by Beaverbrook and Ode To Evening.

Godolphin’s former racing manager Simon Crisford has his first Royal Ascot runner as a trainer with First Selection, who is unbeaten in two starts.

Others in a fascinating renewal include Brian Meehan’s Maccus, Ed Dunlop’s Qeyaadah, Richard Fahey’s Young John and the William Haggas-trained War Department, who looked smart when winning at Leicester.

Freddy Head reports Solow to be in tip-top shape ahead of his clash with Hong Kong superstar Able Friend in tomorrow’s Queen Anne Stakes.

Solow was a brilliant winner of the Dubai Turf at Meydan in late March and followed up with an equally stunning display in last month’s Prix d’Ispahan at Longchamp.

Victory would provide trainer Head with a second victory in the Royal Ascot curtain-raiser following the magnificent mare Goldikova’s triumph in 2010.

“He’s very well, things couldn’t be better and we’ll see how good he is. It’s his toughest task. He’s never faced as many good horses, but we’ll see what he’s worth,” he said.

John Moore’s Able Friend is almost untouchable in his homeland and adds intrigue to what promises to be a thrilling contest for which eight horses have been declared.

Heading the home challenge are the Richard Hannon-trained duo of Night Of Thunder and Toormore, who were first and second in the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury.

Andre Fabre’s mare Esoterique is a second French challenger, while Aidan O’Brien’s Cougar Mountain is the sole Irish representative.

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