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St James's Palace Stakes (Group 1)
The natural stepping stone for Guineas horses on their way to taking on their elders later in the season, the St James’s Palace Stakes has been won by a who’s who of the top milers through the years. See our St James’s Palace Stakes Tips and betting preview below.
IN SUMMARY: Barney Roy is likely to be a popular pick as he was only a length behind CHURCHILL on his third start in the 2000 Guineas, but it’s well documented that Aidan O’Brien’s star isn’t one to go bounding clear and he quite simply is the class of this field. He was won four Group 1’s in a row for connections and despite Barney Roy having the race fitness edge over him at Newmarket, he still dismissed his challenge towards the finish in the 2000 Guineas. He was more impressive when easily winning the Irish 2000 Guineas ahead of Thunder Snow and he should be simply just too good for these, with more still likely to come from this three year old. Of the rest, the front running Lancaster Bomber can give his best running back on better ground and could snatch a place.
1 BARNEY ROY – Runner up to Churchill at Newmarket in the 2000 Guineas, only going under by a length, despite not handling the run down into the dip at all. He was never going to get past the winner but given his inexperience – only his third career race overall – he is certainly open to improvement, especially on a track without so many of the undulations that Newmarket provides. He will have plenty of followers in the belief that he can reverse the placings given a little more luck in running but, despite his relative inexperience, he had the race fitness edge on Churchill and that is something he won’t be able to boast in a rematch. He is a strong traveller, as he displayed when landing the Greenham at Newbury and is likely to be a force in mile races as the season progresses, but today simply wont be his day as Churchill is far too classy.
2 CHURCHILL – Put his stamp on the Classic generation already this year, making his seasonal debut in the 2000 Guineas before landing the Irish equivalent. He isn’t the flashiest and that workmanlike demeanour won’t win as many casual fans as a horse winning on the bridle would but, he oozes class and he puts his head down and battles. His Irish 2000 victory was his fourth Group 1 in a row, stamping himself as the best of his generation, he fully deserves to be a warm order and should prove tough to beat here at the Royal meeting.
3 FOREST RANGER – Only four runs under his belt for Richard Fahey, progressing with every run and he readily came clear to win a competitive conditions race at Newcastle in April on his third start. He perhaps didn’t stay the trip when fourth in the Dante Stakes at York, but he faces an equally tough task back down in trip for this and on the bare form figures, he faces a simply impossible mission against the principles. Can give his running with conditions to suit, but he should fall short of the placings unless others under perform.
4 LANCASTER BOMBER – Flopped when last seen at the Curragh on softer ground, with this return to a sounder surface a big help and a rejuvenated performance would be no surprise in the same colours of stablemate Churchill. Finishing second behind that rival in the Dewhurst Stakes back in October, he was far from disgraced when fourth in the 2000 Guineas back in May, keeping on well under pressure and only beaten around half a length by Barney Roy. He was well beaten when last seen in the Irish equivalent, but the softer ground caught him out that day and he could be hugely over priced for the placings with the ground now ‘good to firm’, as he’s proven already he has the talent in the locker.
5 MR SCARAMANGA – Won a big prize out in Doha in February but this is much tougher for the three year old son of Sir Percy, who has nothing in his form book to suggest he can play a hand at this level. He was last seen finishing fourth in the Listed Surrey Stakes, well beaten on that occasion and he’s rated 23 pounds lower than Churchill, which goes someway to show how outclassed he is in this. A struggle beckons.
6 PEACE ENVOY – Third string for Aidan O’Brien who has not progressed since a promising third in the Prix Morny behind Lady Aurelia, well beaten on his last three runs and his stamina was up for debate when well beaten in Deauville when last seen over the mile. The better ground should help in the sense he has a better chance of staying, but others have simply achieved far more and this looks a very tough task. Hard to see him getting involved.
7 RIVET – Largely disappointing this season for William Haggas and he’s done little to convince he’s going to play a strong hand in this contest. Winner of the 2016 Racing Post Trophy, he was well held by Churchill in the Dewhurst prior to that run and he hasn’t been improving since returning this season, if anything going backwards since a pleasing enough return at Newmarket behind Eminent in the Craven. He was last seen well beaten in the Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly two weeks ago, with that form nowhere near enough to see him threatening in this. A drop back in trip is likely to suit and he has an outside place chance only in this despite how well the yard is going at present.
8 THUNDER SNOW – Another who will need to reverse form with Churchill, finishing second to him in the Irish 2,000 Guineas when last seen. That effort was by no means a disgrace, but he was beaten two and a half lengths and a turnaround would be surprising even with the introduction of cheekpieces, as he’s now been held by that rival twice. He posted a career best effort three starts ago when winning the UAE Derby at Meydan with a game effort, but he didn’t match that when trying to win the Kentucky Derby with a very strange performance, bucking as soon as the stalls opened and having to be pulled up. He looks a big contender for the placings, with his ground versatility another big plus, but it’s hard to see him landing a blow with Churchill who quite simply has his measure.