Two year old action is next on the agenda for Royal Ascot, with the race a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ type of contest where they will be going fast and furious throughout. Our Coventry Stakes tips and betting preview is below.
IN SUMMARY: Arawak is interesting given his connections, trained by Wesley Ward while Brother Bear defends an unbeaten record for the Queen of 2017 so far, Jessica Harrington. Ballydoyle have an excellent recent record in the race, with Aidan O’Brien winning three of the last six renewals and eight overall. His MURILLO was a very impressive winner at Tipperary in a race where he could easily have won a bit further and he looks a strong pick.
1 AQABAH – Won on debut here over the five furlong distance back in May with a clever ride from WIlliam Buick who looked to have masked his true ability when getting him up by a head when it could have easily been more. He was a shade disappointing when last seen behind Brother Bear at the Curragh two weeks later and a turnaround in form looks highly unlikely on equal terms, though a return to better ground should help him. Not one to discount for the placings but is vulnerable for win purposes.
2 ARAWAK – American raider for Wesley Ward who stormed away to win a Belmont Park maiden by a wide margin, with rider John Velazquez coming over for the ride. Ward has a brilliant record with his two year old’s here at Ascot, though that is over the five but that isn’t to say this potentially smart son of Uncle Mo wont stay the distance, as his pedigree suggests he can. Likely player and has to be give respect, especially if the market speaks favourably.
3 BROTHER BEAR – Irish raider for the in form Jessica Harrington stable, who has won both his starts for connections, winning the Listed Marble Hill Stakes at the Curragh when last seen twenty-four days ago. That just about sets the form standard and a return to better ground should be of no issue as he won on that surface on debut under today’s rider Colm O’Donoghue. Likely much more to come from him and he looks set to go close.
4 CHOOKIE DUNEDIN – Made all on debut to win a maiden at Ayr in May, though that bare form is up for debate as he beat another debuntante who was unable to follow up subsequently in a weak looking contest. It’s possible that Keith Dalgleish’s two year old will improve but he needs to step up massively and he is far down the list in terms of likely winners, dismissed.
5 CONNERY – 15,000gns purchase who was an encouraging second at Lingfield on debut seventeen days ago, only headed in the final 100 yards. This however is a huge step up in class and the bare form of that race leaves him a lot to find with a few of these, needing to improve beyond comprehension if he’s to be hitting the frame under Martin Dwyer. Likely out of his league today and is best left alone.
6 DE BRUYNE HORSE – Improving son of Showcasing who has won his two starts after a poor debut at Newmarket, winning his first race at Ripon when making all in emphatic style. He would win the Woodcote Stakes when last seen eighteen days ago, keeping on strongly to win going away and there is substance to his form. He will appreciate conditions and the Richard Hannon yard is in good order at present, so a big run for place purposes would be no surprise.
7 DENAAR – 300,000gns as a two year old and has he’s likelywon both his starts for Ricard Hannon, scoring comfortably at Newbury on debut at Chelmsford and he improved on that performance to take another easy enough victory at Newbury when last seen. These connections (Hannon/Qatar Racing) won this race last season and the assistance of Dettori is a huge help, as he’s very much a big race player. Looks likely to play a role with conditions and progression likely, so he has to be respected.
8 HADDAF – Yet to win from three starts for James Tate but he has been markedly progressive for connections, posting a career best when last seen to finish third in the Listed National Stakes at Sandown in May. Conditions suit and Andrea Atzeni takes over the ride, so he has distinct place possibilities with him already proving he handles Ascot well after a good third on his second start over the five. He ran on strongly on his latest start so the step up in trip should suit, so he’s not one to underestimate.
9 HEADWAY – Finishing a promising second on debut at Newbury and he made a decisive move at Chester when last seen to circle the field and power clear to an easy three length success. William Haggas’ team is operating at an impressive 24% strike rate from his last 41 runners and with conditions to suit, he’s not one to rule out completely under Pat Cosgrave. He’s likely vulnerable for win purposes form wise, but a place couldn’t’ be discounted.
10 IVY LEAGUER – Well beaten on debut at Windsor eight days ago when sent off a 50/1 shot, showing very little as he was very inexperienced and green throughout. Hard to see him playing any sort of role in this and best left alone.
11 MURILLO – Showed very little on debut for Aidan O’Brien but left that well behind when winning a Tipperary maiden on his latest start by three lengths and it could have been much more. Choice of Ryan Moore and there is likely a great day more to come now he’s back to to six furlongs for a trainer who has a brilliant record in this race. Likely to be heavily involved in the finish and looks the one to beat.
12 NEBO – Bought for 75,000gns as a yearling and showed a huge amount of ability when coming readily clear to win a Newbury maiden by two lengths on softer ground. Today’s ground is obviously far different but he could improve for it and Jim Crowley taking over the ride is hugely interesting, with the Charlie Hills team in flying form at present. He looks a solid each way contender for connections with natural progression and shouldn’t be ignored.
13 PRINCE OF THE DARK – Trainer holds this two year old in high regard and he fulfilled market expectations when storming away to win a maiden at Bath by the tune of two lengths. Similar conditions today and his pedigree is all about speed, so few will be flying quicker than him early on. Not one to discount for the placings as he should have a great deal more to offer this season, though the form of jockey Adam Kirby is alarming, with no winners from his last twenty-nine.
14 RAJASINGHE – Created a big impression when storming away to win a Newcastle novice stakes in May by four lengths in impressive style and on that basis he has to be considered for Richard Spencer. Built purely for speed, he was always going to make a useful two year old and with natural progression he should be hitting the frame under Stevie Donohoe, though he’s another jockey who is having a rough time of things (one from 42 in the past two weeks).
15 RED ROMAN – Another for Charlie Hills who showed promise on debut before making all in good style at Newmarket on his latest start, though the Rowley Mile is known for often favouring front runners so the form could be up for debate. Christophe Soumillon takes the ride and the better ground shouldn’t be of issue, though he would be further down the list on this occasion as the chance of a soft lead in this is zero to none.
16 ROMANISED – Made a winning debut for KJ Condon when winning a big field event at Navan in April, with the form working out well as he had the likes of Declarationofpeace and Another Batt behind him on that occasion. The experience of that run will help him massively as this will be a similarly run affair, with Shane Foley retaining the ride. With natural improvement he wouldn’t be amiss in the placings for connections, though he’s likely to find at least one too good in this field as others have achieved more on debut.
17 U S NAVY FLAG – Stable second string for Aidan O’Brien who is yet to win from three starts, though he has looked steadily progressive and his third behind Brother Bear in the Listed Marble Hill on his latest start was a good effort. That said, far more is needed as others are likely to progress past him and a turnaround with Brother Bear looks highly unlikely, so it’s hard to see him playing a role in this.
18 ZAMAN – Second Godolphin runner who was bought for 160,00gns as a two year old and won on debut at York in good style, with the runner up following up since in a weak enough novice auction stakes at Goodwood. He did his job well on debut and it’s hard to fault him on that basis, but others have achieved more and he’s likely to need to have improved markedly to be winning this. He couldn’t be fully ruled out for the places, but that is all.