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A bit like buses, two superstars have come around at the same time for Sir Michael Stoute, and Bay Bridge can continue his road to the top in Royal Ascot’s feature Prince Of Wales’s Stakes (3.40).
Stoute, who turns 77 this year, took out his license 50 years ago. Desert Crown’s Derby win recently had him back in the headlines and Bay Bridge was something of an echo from the past in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown, routing his rivals in the manner of a horse still progressing under Ryan Moore. Only four horses take him on, but it is a compelling renewal.
Japanese hope Shahryar never seems to run a bad race and prevailed in Meydan’s Dubai Sheema Classic last time. Joseph O’Brien’s State Of Rest, meanwhile, was narrowly denied at the Curragh in his bid to win a fourth successive Group One, all in different countries.
He has an edge on Lord North on that running. Completing the field is Grand Glory, trained by the French-based Italian Gianluca Bietolini. It is a race full of storylines.
The Queen Mary (2.30) sees a huge field go to post, but it is really hard to look beyond Dramatised. The daughter of Showcasing seemed a bit special on debut at Newmarket, showing some inexperience but an ability to travel and quicken that immediately suggested this race would be the logical next step for her.
Royal Ascot 2022 Style Guide
It would not be the Queen Mary these days without Wesley Ward having a tearaway hope. The blinkered Love Reigns will likely attempt to go gate to wire, as she did at Keeneland, but this will tell us much more about her capabilities.
Aidan O’Brien, unusually, has no runner in either of those races, but he can strike in the Queen’s Vase (3.05) with Anchorage.
He would amount to a rarity in victory, having won his only race to date at Thurles, more known for its jumpers, but the key to him may be his stepping up from 10 to 14 furlongs under Moore.
Moore rode the Galileo-bred in a Group Three race at the Curragh last time, when he was not knocked about and looked in need of this sort of distance. Intriguingly, he is already rated no lower than every runner in the race bar Hafit, who has cheekpieces on for the first time and represents the powerful Charlie Appelby.
New Bay is the sire of Bay Bridge and also Saffron Beach, who is disputing favouritism in the Duke Of Cambridge Stakes (4.20) after a spirited run behind Lord North at Meydan.
Day Two tips
5.35Little Big Bear11-4
Tentative preference here is for Mother Earth, who was a bit disappointing when ridden more prominently than usual in a Lockinge dominated by the superstar Baaeed. She likes Ascot and is solid.
The Royal Hunt Cup (5.00) is a minefield, with Bless Him a token pick under Jamie Spencer. He is having his 40th run and may not be quite good enough, but two of his wins came at Royal Ascot on good to firm ground over a mile and there is no doubt that it will be quick terrain this week, much of Europe subjected to an alarming heatwave.
Little Big Bear makes plenty of appeal in the Windsor Castle Stakes (5.35). This son of No Nay Never might have gone for the Coventry today instead, but he has plenty of pace and looks high-class after winning on his second start at Naas. He was heavily backed then and is obviously considered very smart in Ballydoyle.
Look out for good offers from the bookies in the closing Kensington Palace Stakes (6.10), which is tricky, but Haziya is really interesting for Joseph O’Brien.
Qatar Racing’s filly was well-fancied to win back-to-back handicaps this season, bolting up in the first one before going close at the Curragh, and she has been left on the same mark. However, White Moonlight is preferred. She looked better than a handicapper at two and was not knocked about on her reappearance.