The two two-year-old races that bookend the card, the Queen Mary Stakes and the Windsor Castle Stakes, have attracted fifty-two runners between them, but from a timefigure point of view neither race makes much appeal for betting purposes. Wesley Ward usually has one lined up for one or both races and his Queen Mary representative Kimari apparently ran very fast when winning her sole start so far, but with that race being on dirt at Keeneland and her sire Munnings already responsible for one of the shortest-priced losers on turf in 2019 (at Ascot, incidentally), we'll pass her over.
Expensive breeze-up purchase Divine Spirit made the best visual impression on us of any in the field when winning on debut at Windsor last month, though she wasn't asked to run any faster than she needed to, and, like fellow Godolphin-owned filly Final Song, is one of several possibilities in an open renewal.
An even tougher puzzle is the Windsor Castle, which looks near impossible to solve. One of the liklier types is the £85,000 breeze-up purchase Summer Sands, who recorded a timefigure (92) which is right up with his form rating when winning a minor event at Beverley last time, though he would need more here. Meanwhile, Symbolize won well in a good time (90) on her debut at Salisbury last month and can be credited with an upgrade of 8lb for that run, but a similar case could be made for several others, none of whom stand out.
Western Australia has been called some names in his short career, but his defeat of Pythion in a listed race at Navan last month saw him record a timefigure of 110, which makes him the narrow front-runner in the Queen's Vase. He is passed over for betting purposes, though, as is Crystal Ocean, who has 8 lb in hand on the clock courtesy of his effort to finish second in last year's King George, but he is better at a mile and a half and faces a tough task up against the fillies Magical and Sea of Class.
One who does look worth a bet is I Can Fly in the Duke of Cambridge Stakes. With Rawdaa dropping back in trip here, the Aidan O'Brien-trained filly has some of the strongest form in the field, and it's encouraging that her best effort came over C&D - when second to Roaring Lion in last season's Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. She ran very well to finish sixth behind Mustashry in the Lockinge two starts ago, and with this race lacking the same sort of calibre, a repeat of the 117 timefigure she ran to when winning the Group 2 Boomerang Stakes at Leopardstown last September would almost certainly be good enough.
The claims of New Graduate in the Royal Hunt Cup are obvious, considering that he has long been touted for this, and the booking of Frankie Dettori is an eye-catching one. James Tate tends to have his horses forward earlier in the year, and while his win on reappearance at Ripon in April was a particularly taking one, tearing clear to score by five lengths, his timefigure for that wasn't spectacular and the dynamics of this straight mile cavalry charge will be very different from the round-track scenarios that have faced him so far.
By their very nature big-field straight handicaps tend to produce a number of 'scenario specialists' and among those in that number here are Lincoln runner-up Kyrnen and Ascot specialist Raising Sand, who are joint top on timefigures and warmed up for this when finishing second and fourth, respectively, in last month's Victoria Cup here over seven furlongs. The runner who interests us, though, is Kyrnen's stablemate Clon Coulis, who won a Listed race here last summer when she received an upgrade of 36 lb on a timefigure of 77. A repeat of that form would be good enough to go very close here off a BHA mark of 99 and it looks significant that Jamie Spencer has been on board this term. A ready winner at Chelmsford on her reappearance, she can be forgiven her effort at Lingfield last time considering she was dropped out in a steadily run race over seven furlongs (also lost a shoe), and, under a rider with an excellent record over this course and distance, this may well have been the plan for some time.
Back I Can Fly in the Duke Of Cambridge
Back Clon Coulis in the Royal Hunt Cup