A Classic winner and third, several Guineas flops with obvious potential to bounce back and two up-and-comers from the Heron Stakes combine to make Tuesday’s renewal of the St James’s Palace Stakes the most open for nearly two decades.
Poetic Flare is the marginal favourite overnight after a battling performance to win the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket and then a return to form in the Irish equivalent last time. He was just half-a-length in front of Lucky Vega (4.20) at Newmarket, however, and Jessica Harrington’s colt, who is likely to head to stud in Australia after the race on Tuesday, is the pick of the prices at around 7-1 to retire as a dual Group One winner.
Royal Ascot 2.30 Palace Pier had his only defeat in eight career starts on Ascot’s straight mile on Champions Day last year, but the going was very soft and he lost a shoe while trying to make ground after a slow start. He has produced a series of top-class runs either side of that, however, and anything close to his best would surely be enough to seal a fourth Group One win of his career.
Royal Ascot 3.05 It is two months since Berkshire Shadow made a winning debut at Newbury despite missing the break badly and running green for much of the race. Gisburn, who finished fourth, there, has since franked the form in style (and is a much shorter price to win for this contest) while Wesley Ward’s Kaufymaker gets the fillies’ allowance but the market seems to have forgotten about Berkshire Shadow, who can be backed at around 16-1.
Royal Ascot 3.40 Battaash does not start at odds-against too often and won this first time up last season, so many punters will find 9-4 irresistible. His preparation has hardly been smooth, though, and in Winter Power he faces a fast-improving rival with both an age and sex allowance in her favour. The form of her easy success at York last month was franked by Atalis Bay, the runner-up, on Saturday.
Royal Ascot 5.00 It feels like Cheltenham again with Willie Mullins and Rachael Blackmore both prominent in the betting but good-to-firm ground is a question mark for several of the Irish-trained runners. A similar query about Elysian Flame was largely dismissed by a win at Newbury in April and he stayed on strongly at Chester last time, suggesting this marathon trip could be just what he needs.
Royal Ascot 5.35 Racing alone seemed to help Solid Stone at Windsor last month but his two-and-a-half-length win was backed up by the clock and he is a fair price at around 6-1 to back it up here.
Royal Ascot 6.10 The consistent Arthurian Fable was gelded over the winter and looked as good as ever on his reappearance at Newmarket over Tuesday’s trip last month. His second at the Ebor meeting last season is strong form and while his ability to act on good-to-firm needs to be taken on trust, the same is true of Saldier, the warm favourite, and Brian Meehan’s runner is nearly four times the price.