There is nothing remotely flashy about the Michael Stoute-trained Crystal Ocean (4.20), who wins by grinding or not at all, but he might be the right ally for a race like this Prince of Wales’s Stakes. He is better known for his exploits over further but has plenty of form at 10 furlongs and the rain has come in time to help him.
There is little between him and the Aidan O’Brien runner Magical but the Irish filly has had little to beat so far this year and looks like being a shade too short in the betting. Sea Of Class may eventually prove herself the best in this field but this is a first run back for a horse whose big day is in October and she may not quite be ready for the battle this could become.
2.30 Queen Mary Stakes Final Song is easy to like but is a short price in a big field and comes from a yard that does not normally specialise in speedsters. At slightly bigger odds, Ickworth has achieved more in winning a Listed race in Ireland, travelling strongly throughout. Her trainer, Willie McCreery, does well with his five-furlong runners.
3.05 Queen’s Vase Aidan O’Brien has won this three times in the past four years and has a fine chance of doing so again with Norway. A 10-furlong winner as a juvenile, he was beaten only by the freakish Sir Dragonet at the Chester May meeting and can be forgiven for fading when next seen in the Derby after helping to force a strong pace. The cheekpieces come off to help him settle. Most interesting among the opposition is Joseph O’Brien’s Eminent Authority, well bred but lightly raced, who has hinted that this distance may suit.
4.20 Duke of Cambridge Stakes O’Brien’s chances continue to look strong with I Can Fly, who was beaten just a neck by Roaring Lion in the QEII when she last raced here on Champions Day. She has not run to that level since but she was a fair sixth in the Lockinge Stakes and was given a lot to do last time. This return to soft going may help.
5.00 Royal Hunt Cup Two of the last three runnings have been won by Irish raiders and perhaps that has alerted others to an opportunity. Joseph O’Brien comes here with the very interesting King’s Field, who has made a lot of progress in the three months after his September debut. Ridden sympathetically on his reappearance run, he was a promising third in that Listed contest and surely has more to offer now.
5.35 Windsor Castle Stakes The American trainer Wesley Ward has won this a couple of times and fields two unbeaten runners but soft going may have compromised their chances. The French raider, Wheels On Fire, may have a better chance but Iffraaz appeals most, showing precocious strength to beat a subsequent winner on heavy going at Carlisle three weeks ago.
Ascot 2.30 Ickworth 3.05 Norway 3.40 Crystal Ocean 4.20 I Can Fly (nap) 5.00 King’s Field (nb) 5.35 Iffraaz
Hamilton 1.50 Hidden Spell 2.20 The New Marwan 2.55 Highly Focussed 3.30 My Boy Lewis 4.05 Southern Rock 4.45 Three Castles 5.20 Silver The Fixer 5.55 Dew Pond
Uttoxeter 2.10 Theatre Act 2.45 Perpignan 3.20 Skeaping 3.55 Adman Sam 4.35 Darling Miss 5.10 Max Do Brazil 5.45 Isla Di Milano
Chelmsford 5.40 Captain Dion 6.10 Governor Of Punjab 6.40 That Is The Spirit 7.10 Exec Chief 7.40 Tropics 8.10 Victory Wave 8.40 Eden Rose 9.10 Ventriloquist
Ripon 6.50 Arms Of The Angel 7.20 Pink Sands 7.50 Camelot Rakti 8.20 Look Out Louis 8.50 Francophilia 9.20 Chil Chil