St James’s Palace Stakes (1m, Tuesday, June 15, 4.20pm)
Royal Ascot is the biggest week in the British flat racing calendar. Alongside a plethora of Group 1s, racing fans are treated to some of the most competitive handicaps of the year, and some cracking juvenile contests that unearth future stars. In anticipation of this year’s meeting, Daryl Carter is providing his expert analysis and ante-post betting selections for all of the big Royal Ascot races. Here, Daryl provides his thoughts on the St James’s Palace Stakes – one of the highlights on Day 1 of Royal Ascot.
St Mark’s Basilica
He looked to be out of the top draw when winning the French 2,000 Guineas and has improved from two to three, adding a brilliant turn of foot to his arsenal of weaponry. His form stacks up nicely from last season, and he will surely only improve on the back of his Longchamp win, which came after 218 days. He will take some stopping if coming here but connections do have the option of the French Derby, which going by the sound of the trainer, may well be the plan, so hold fire on ante-post punts just yet.
Master Of The Seas
He was ruled out of Royal Ascot with injury.
Showed useful form last term when runner-up in the Middle Park Stakes over 6f and bettered those performances with a good third in the English 2,000 Guineas behind Poetic Flare, closing right to the line on his first attempt at 1m. He disappointed in the Irish 2,000 Guineas on very testing ground, but his trainer warned it, so he can be forgiven. Value at the current odds? Perhaps not, given some of the market leaders who finished ahead of him in the National Stakes at the Curragh underperformed at Newmarket.
Stayed on strongly in the closing stages at Newmarket to win the English 2,000 Guineas and showed the same trait when contesting the French 2,000 Guineas behind St Mark’s Basilica before an excellent second in the Irish version. I am not convinced by the form in Ireland this term, and should St Mark’s Basilica turn up, he would put him in his place, I would think.
Underwhelming in the English 2,000 Guineas and was weak in the market despite holding some of the strongest form in the race. He was unfavoured by his racing position on the two occasions last term when behind St Mark’s Basilica and Thunder Moon but has since disappointed in the Irish 2,000 Guineas and is becoming hard to make excuses for.
Again, another to blow out at Newmarket despite being well fancied in the run-up to the race he was another drifter on the day. He showed a blistering turn of foot to win the Group 1 National Stakes at the Curragh over 7f last term and suggested that 1m would be no problem. Confidence was high in the camp prior to the run this season so he leaves you scratching your head a little bit. Good ground will be paramount to his chances here.
Mithras could be a lively outsider if turning up here, he showed a bright burst of speed and an aptitude for stamina at Newbury when landing a run of the mill handicap off a mark of 90. Still, his trainer John Gosden did use the race for French 2,000 Guineas hopes previously. There is a good chance connections think a great deal of him but the latest performance at Sandown on May 20th was a little underwhelming.
With so many of these having targets up in the air, it’s difficult to be confident of a value play in the race, but MITHRAS could be a surprise package, and his current odds are enough not to lose sleep if he doesn’t show up. This is a horse that will progress all season and one I want to keep on side.