Phoenix team out to foil the Duke

AIDAN O’Brien and Johnny Murtagh were in fearful form on day one of Royal Ascot and bookmakers are expecting the pair to hit their satchels hard again today.

The duo, who teamed up to land the Queen Anne and St James’s Palace with Haradasun and Henrythenavigator on Tuesday, will combine with Duke Of Marmalade in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes.

Chasing a hat-trick of Group One wins after landing the Prix Ganay and Tattersalls Gold Cup this term, the four-year-old is as short as 11-8 with Boylesports for the showpiece event.

Duke Of Marmalade is widely available at 6-4, with Paddy Power and Sporting Bet going out on a limb by offering 13-8.

Next in the list is Phoenix Tower, who lost little in defeat when a close second behind Creachadoir in the Lockinge last month.

He steps up in trip to 10 furlongs for the first time but connections are expecting improvement for the greater test of stamina.

Trainer Henry Cecil said: “He’s very well, he’ll really like this faster ground and he must have a great chance.

“They went no gallop in the Lockinge last time and he’s a real 10-furlong horse.

“He should run very well but we’ll see tomorrow.”

Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to owner Prince Khalid Abdullah, added: “He’s up to a mile and a quarter, but he’s got the pedigree for it and he’s come out of the Juddmonte Lockinge really well.

“It’s a good, competitive race, but he’s only been beaten once in his life so we’re hopeful for him.”

Pressing could finish only fifth in 2007 but went on to strike at the highest level later in the year.

Although he cut little ice 12 months ago, he bumped into some top-class opponents on that occasion as Manduro, Dylan Thomas and Notnowcato filled the first three places.

“Last year’s race was probably one of the best races of the year,” said trainer Michael Jarvis.

“He didn’t run a bad race and I hadn’t had him all that long at that point so I was very much on a learning curve with him.

“Physically, he’s a much stronger horse now than he was at this time last year.”

Reappearing last month, Pressing was caught close home by Saddex, who had previously pushed Duke Of Marmalade hard in France.

Jarvis added: “He had some good form last year and his first run back was a very satisfactory one and he has seemed well in himself since.

“It’s a very high-class race again but he’s well and there is a form-line that suggests it could be quite close (between him and Duke Of Marmalade).

“I think 10 furlongs is his optimum trip and he seems quite adaptable on different ground.

“Neil Callan has won a Group One on him before and he knows him well and gets on with him.”

Sir Michael Stoute’s Ask reappeared with a promising win over Hattan in the Gordon Richards Stakes in April.

Ryan Moore has forged a good partnership with the five-year-old and will again take the reins today.

Moore would like to see some rain fall to ease conditions, but told At The Races: “I’ve always thought Ask is a very talented horse.

“He is a horse we like a lot. He probably is a better mile-and-a-half horse, but he is very talented.

“If we have a little bit of luck, I’m sure he will run a big race.”

Prince Of Wales’s Stakes, Paddy Power bet:

13-8 Duke Of Marmalade, 5-1 Phoenix Tower, 7-1 Pressing, 8-1 Ask, 10-1 Sixties Icon, Pipedreamer, 12-1 Literato, 14-1 Loup Breton, 33-1 Regime, 40-1 Red Rock Canyon, 50-1 Hattan, Stotsfold, 66-1 Petara Bay.


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