The Deep Impact horse made his European debut in the Prix d’Ispahan at Chantilly in May, and produced a stunning performance on testing conditions. Always travelling well, he went to the front in the straight and coasted clear to a ten-length victory in that Group 1.
Officially the highest-rated horse in the world, that French trip proved his ability in testing conditions, and it’s hard to look beyond him in his quest to become the first Japanese-trained winner at Royal Ascot.
The obvious danger is Found, who can be brilliant at best but who, although twice a winner at the highest level, more often than not finds one too good.
In a typically competitive renewal of the Jersey Stakes, the Richard Fahey-trained Ribchester can come out on top. The colt won the Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes, beating Log Out Island, on his final start of last season and, after a troubled passage on his return in the Prix Djebel at Maisons-Laffitte, he improved on previous form when finishing third behind Galileo Gold in the Newmarket 2000 Guineas.
The form of that race received a nice boost in yesterday’s St James’s Palace Stakes, and Ribchester is entitled to take another step forward. With ground conditions of no concern and the return to seven furlongs to suit, he represents value at double-figure odds.
Usherette looks the one to beat in the Duke of Cambridge Stakes. Andre Fabre’s four-year-old filly was unraced as a two-year-old but quickly made up into a useful sort, finishing fourth behind Amazing Maria in a Group 1 at Deauville last August.
Unbeaten in three runs this season, on her most recent start she made a successful trip to England for the Group 2 Dahlia Stakes, in which she reversed previous form with Amazing Maria. Today’s conditions will be very different, but the task is no more demanding, and she can take this at the expense of Willie McCreery’s Devonshire.
Michael Halford’s Anamba can take the listed Sandringham Handicap. Touched off in a Group 3 on her second and final start of last season, she made her return in May and duly ran out a comfortable winner of a listed race, beating older horses at Naas. Improvement should be forthcoming for the imposing filly and, back against her own sex and age, looks sure to run a big race.
The Royal Hunt Cup may look like its usual puzzle, but it’s easy to see why Convey is towards the head of the market. Michael Stoute’s horse was unlucky in defeat behind the classy Home Of The Brave on his most recent start and will have to run off a 7lb higher mark in future races.
While without a win since his debut in late 2014, the lightly raced four-year-old looks progressive and should run a big race. The high draw is a concern, however, and thus preference is for Mr Owen. The latter has some high-class form to his name, most notably his fourth place finish in last season’s French 2000 Guineas.
His recent return, when third behind Vadamos and Ervedya in a Group 3 at Saint-Cloud, was a pleasing effort, and he can be expected to improve for it. With winning form on very soft ground and the make-up of this race likely to suit, he can be delivered late to land the spoils.
A Shin Hikari