A handicap on the straight mile confined to three year olds, a full field of thirty chase the first prize of £74,700. Read on for our runner by runner preview and see Britannia Stakes tips for 2017 at Royal Ascot.
IN SUMMARY: City Of Joy has won his last two starts for Sir Michael Stoute and has to be respected on his bid for the hattrick but this can go to Charlie Hills’ AFAAK, who has been improving at this distance for Haman Al Maktoum. He posted a career best by quite some way on his third start when keeping on strongly to lead late on in a Doncaster handicap, perhaps hiding his true ability with a clever ride. He’s likely capable of much better with Jim Crowley taking the ride and he’s bred to do his best work on this better ground, so he should be tough to beat.
1 RUSUMAAT – More exposed than the majority of these, but stepped his form up considerably in 2017. He ran second to Winning Ways (who ran in the Jersey) in a seven furlong handicap here before a career best effort over a mile on firm ground at Haydock. Conditions are quick again so despite an eight pound rise he needs to be respected.
2 LESHLAA – Hit with a thirteen pound hike in the weights for a Newmarket win over ten furlongs in May, the front pair pulling miles clear. He failed to back that up in a Listed race last time and minus the hood, dropped in trip, this doesn’t look any easier for him.
3 TRICORN – Didn’t make the track as a juvenile, but has made up for lost time this season. He has improved with each start, winning a mile handicap at Newmarket on good to firm so conditions will be no issue. He was second last time at Chelmsford, challenging widest of all so it’s easy to mark that effort up, with this track likely to suit much better.
4 MASHAM STAR – One of the more exposed horses in the field, he has a couple of pounds help from the handicapper but it would be a surprise to see him take a hand in this one.
5 EXECUTIVE FORCE – Made a striking impression on debut, when bolting clear on soft ground at Newbury. He has shaped well, staying on from the back in both 2017 starts but further would probably suit ideally and this is his first attempt on quick ground.
6 MEDIEVAL – Was fourth behind Caravaggio in the Coventry at his meeting last year but got unbalanced and ran no sort of race at Newmarket on his 2016 return. That is easily excused but still enough to prove on quick ground with his two worst runs coming on good to firm.
7 OMRAN – Scored a pair of win over seven furlongs on the all weather but backed out of things late on over that trip at Newmarket last time. This is more competitive and he has stamina to prove now tried at a mile.
8 SEA FOX – Smart juvenile, only beaten a length when third in the Royal Lodge at Newmarket. Struggled behind Barney Roy in the Greenham which is excusable but was well beaten behind Ronald R and Son Of The Stars last time and that leaves him with plenty to find.
9 CAPEZZANO – American pedigree so it was no surprise to see him excel on dirt in Dubai over the Winter, He has just the one run on turf, his debut, when five and a half lengths behind Rivet at York. He is interesting back on turf, with this the quickest ground he has run on.
10 HYDE PARK – Steadily progressive last season, returning with a solid third in a seven furlong handicap at Goodwood. That bare form wouldn’t be good enough but his dam is a half sister to Group 1 winner Flintshire which makes him of interest up in trip, with good to firm ground no problem on what he has done.
11 NAVAL WARFARE – Showed solid form as a two year old, but took that to a new level on his 2017 debut when romping away with a mile handicap at Leicester. That was on quick ground so conditions will be perfect and with the second, third and fourth all going in next time out (second Sabador re-opposes) that form looks strong. An eleven pound hike in the weights looks plenty but he still has potential to justify the handicappers assessment.
12 RONALD R – The pick of his two year old form was on quick ground at Yarmouth, again relishing a good to firm surface when making a winning return at Newmarket. He is a pound worse off with the runner up Son Of The Stars now and given that horse didn’t handle the dip, he might need another jolt of improvement to confirm the placings.
13 MEDAHIM – Finished just in front of Hyde Park over seven furlongs at Goodwood last time, staying on to good effect late on. That would suggest that the step up to this mile trip would suit, but his only effort at this distance at Sandown was dismal and that leaves him with questions to answer.
14 SON OF THE STARS – Ran a career best on his latest start and there is likely much more to come after just three races. He won on debut at Kempton with ease, equally as impressive on his handicap debut when only needing a hands and heels ride to draw readily clear. Raised eight pounds and put into Class 2 company, he was narrowly denied at Newmarket on his latest start behind Ronald R but he got unbalanced there, should reverse the form and looks a big player.
15 LEADER’S LEGACY – Too green to do himself justice on his only juvenile start, he showed that run all wrong when comfortably landing an Epsom maiden, despite connections saying that he “will still come on for the race as he was carrying condition.” An opening gambit of 89 massively underestimated him, bolting up in a Newmarket handicap and now able to get a tow longer into a race with a bigger field, he looks a leading player.
16 CITY OF JOY – Looking for the hat-trick after poking his head in front the last twice for owner Saeed Suhail. The winning sequence started at Doncaster where he got up in the dying strides despite being carried across inside the final furlong, a five pound rise wasn’t enough to stop him as he took a comfortable victory at Chelmsford more recently, despite dropping the bridle early on. He’s up a further five pounds put he remains with potential and a switch back to turf should suit him better, solid each way chance.
17 THOMAS CRANMER – Has won a couple of handicaps at Musselburgh already this season but they were at a lower level and it would be a surprise if he were able to get competitive here.
18 SABADOR – Flattened out close home when behind Naval Warfare at Leicester over this trip. He settled much better at Ayr when stepped down to seven furlongs, impressively landing the money and our preview tip with it. A bigger field should allow him the chance to relax so he boasts an each way chance if seeing out the mile better now.
19 SULTAN BAYBARS – Two runs over a mile have both come on the all weather, fading close home at Chelmsford. His sole turf run is arguably his best but that came on good to soft ground so he has enough to prove with regards to trip and conditions.
20 COLIBRI – Fourth in a blanket finish in the Esher Cup suggests that he is weighted to be competitive at this level. More to come after only four runs but a note of caution from the twice he ran on good to firm as a juvenile as they were by some way the worst of his efforts.
21 KEYSER SOZE – The Richard Spencer yard have already had the winner of the Coventry this week with this son of Arcano is 2/2 in 2017. He is ten pounds higher for beating Gymnaste (favourite for the Sandringham) at Kempton, with the return to quick turf no concern. He got a little worked up in the paddock on that occasion though so he is perhaps one to watch in the preliminaries to see how he handles it, before parting with any cash.
22 AFAAK – Made giant strides in a short time, picking up a maiden on good to firm before shrugging off a mark of 86 on handicap debut, That run was on soft but the return to quick ground will be no problem as he’s bred to be better on this ground. His dam won the 1000 Guineas and Coronation Stakes in 2009 on good to firm so with further improvement likely, he looks tough to beat under Jim Crowley and can take this contest.
23 MORITZBURG – Off the mark at the sixth attempt when running riot in a Listowel maiden last time. He has been put up ten pounds for his troubles and that looks enough to stop a follow up.
24 THE GRAPE ESCAPE – Has shown up well in a pair of decent handicaps this season, probably unlucky not to win the Esher Cup when squeezed out of racing room late on. The bigger field could allow him to drop the bridle and settle a little better and although a pound higher than when beaten by the re-opposing Leader’s Legacy at Haydock, he has an each way squeak.
25 INDIAN DANDY – Consistent type is yet to finish outside the first two, he was seen last when runner up to Rusumaat at Haydock. He is five pounds better off for that two and half length beating which should make it close between the pair but he is going to need more improvement to get his head in front.
26 GILGAMESH – Winner of four on the bounce, including in handicaps the last thrice. All those were only Class 4 races however so although this mark is probably still a workable one, such a big step up in class demands an awful lot more from him.
27 SENATOR – A perfect 2/2 on good to firm ground, it’s easy enough to excuse his runs at Listed level and on soft ground since. His dam was third in a Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot on firm ground with his pedigree suggesting that the step up in trip will suit. Interesting outsider who is likely to be well supported being a son of Frankel.
28 LIGHTNING FAST – Got off the mark in a Navan handicap over this trip last time. This is a much deeper assignment but trainer Ger Lyons said in the Navan aftermath, “we hope he can progress into a Listed horse down the line” so better can be expected, though there will need to be to win.
29 VIA SERENDIPITY – Showed decent form as a juvenile and his run in the Greenham was another solid enough effort given the Group 3 nature of the race. He was well behind a couple of these at Newmarket last time however, which leaves him with plenty to find in this company.
30 MATHS PRIZE – A third to Khalidi in a Doncaster handicap last September reads well in the context of this race and it’s interesting that connections opt to come back to a mile after being beaten by Shutter Speed over further at Newbury. He needs to up his game if he is going to get involved, but an end to end gallop over a still mile might just suit.