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12.40 Silver Wokingham Handicap (6f)
First thing to consider before having a bet is the ground. It had turned 'good' by the end of racing on Wednesday but overnight rain saw that changed to 'soft' on Gold Cup Day. It is, needless to say, a key factor that must be brought into play before punting.
The current market leaders for this opening handicap, Swindler and Blue Mist, will have their ground worries. Roger Charlton's runner won't mind the moisture one bit, while Ed Walker's dual C&D winner gained both of those successes on good-to-firm ground here last summer.
In any instance, they are well found in the market and something at a price is favoured in a tricky contest.
No shortage of possible four-year-old improvers here and one that appeals is PASS THE VINO for trainer Paul D'Arcy. He was very consistent last year after scoring at Newmarket (6f) in July in a valuable contest.
He twice went close afterwards, including over C&D, and is rated 1lb lower here than he was that afternoon. He had a few of today's rivals in behind when finishing third at HQ this month on his reappearance but the caveat is that he'll almost certainly need good ground to thrive on (forecast good at time of writing).
In that scenario, or indeed wherever he gets it this season in this sort of race, he's sure to be winning again.
One that seemingly won't mind the ground is LOUIE DE PALMA for Clive Cox and Adam Kirby. He was a soft-ground winner over C&D in May last year, but also handles quicker conditions as he showed when 1¼-lengths third behind the aforementioned Swindler here in July. He held his form afterwards and can go well fresh.
Again, he appeals from his current mark and while he's amongst the older contenders in this line-up; he missed a chunk of time earlier in his career and doesn't have many miles on the clock for eight-years-old.
Selection: Pass The Vino @ 20/1
Next Best: Louie De Palma @ 16/1
1.15 Queen Mary Stakes (5f)
After some giant strides forward in the National Hunt sphere, it's good to remember that Cheveley Park Stud is primarily around for events such as this one.
William Haggas introduced a smart filly at Newmarket earlier in the month as SACRED, by Exceed And Excel, defied the stamina in her pedigree to win well over 5f. Three of the beaten horses were impressive next-time-out winners while the fourth, Mick Cannon's Mahale, was quietly fancied to run a big race in the Albany here on Friday.
James Doyle's filly showed good willingness in that debut run, coming through between horses to make her challenge and that experience bodes very well now stepping up into a 20-runner Group 2.
Likely favourite here is More Beautiful for Aidan O'Brien; the War Front filly having won well on debut at Naas. This isn't a race in which the Ballydoyle handler has thrived and she looks short at 11/8.
Mark Johnston's Pelekai won on debut at Newcastle this month with MAMBA WAMBA in second spot. Both can be given some chance here but Adrian Nicholls' charge didn't get the best start and was coming home strongly over 5f, so she may be some each-way value with both likely to require plenty improvement in this company.
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1.50 Coventry Stakes (6f)
Just the nine previous wins in this contest for Aidan O'Brien, including with Arizona last year, and the Ballydoyle supremo could be hard to stop again with ADMIRAL NELSON.
A £440,000 son of Kingman, he was behind stablemate Merchants Quay in the betting on his recent debut at the Curragh but in front of him when it mattered most. Wayne Lordan's mount looked the best in the race from flagfall, travelling effortlessly and quickening through to win in ready fashion.
Arguably, some of the British contenders have done more in their winning efforts, but such was the potential of that performance that it isn't hard to imagine Ryan Moore's charge improving generously today. He's the only traveller from Ballydoyle for this race and therein also sits a clue as to what is expected of him.
That's not to say he's a certainty, with another six once-raced winners in the line-up; plenty of which have rock-solid breeding to fall back on too.
QAADER made most of the running in his debut at Newbury eight days ago and had a good deal in hand on some promising newcomers. The third won at Goodwood on Monday.
Trainer Mark Johnston won this in 2015 with Buratino and with Jim Crowley enjoying a splendid week, the Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned son of Night Of Thunder is extremely likely to put a bold show again.
Selection: Admiral Nelson @ 5/2
2.25 Coronation Stakes (1m)
Jessica Harrington trained the brilliant Alpha Centauri to win this race two years ago and she's got another fine candidate in the same colours of the Niarchos Family here in ALPINE STAR, a half-sister to the 2018 heroine.
She got within 1¾-lengths of Love in a maiden on debut at Leopardstown last season and, after winning a Galway maiden on her outing, she turned that form around with this month's Newmarket 1,000 Guineas winner when getting up late to win the Group 2 Debutante Stakes at the Curragh in August.
As well as Love, that form has been well advertised by the like of So Wonderful, Tango, Know It All and French Rain since.
With Shane Foley marooned in Ireland, Harrington has been forced to enlist a new rider and who better than 'Mr Royal Ascot' Frankie Dettori. She's ceding fitness but Alpine Star might just have the quality to overcome that and win.
Quadrilateral didn't see things go her way in the Guineas, where Cloak Of Spirits ran a stormer to be second; this comes less than a fortnight after that effort and that's a worry for both, while conditions are going to be a worry seemingly for American filly Sharing and Oisin Murphy if the rain keep falling.
With seven entered, the each-way value is diminished but LOVE LOCKET is trading as the outsider in the betting and having won a Group 3 in Ireland recently, she could go well here; especially given her proven ability to handle testing ground.
3.00 St James's Palace Stakes (1m)
Second and third in the 2,000 Guineas respectively, Wichita and Pinatubo are trading blows for favouritism for this.
Unbeaten going into the Classic, it was hard to find any excuses for Charlie Appleby's champion two-year-old that day. He held Wichita (third) quite comfortably in the Dewhurst last season but certainly has something to prove on that latest evidence.
Arizona and THREAT were first and second in the Coventry here last year. The former was pushed around by Pinatubo afterwards though and backed out of it quickly in the Guineas, so he's got questions over him now.
The Hannon contender on the other end put up his best effort in the autumn over 7f at Doncaster when winning the Champagne Stakes and might excel tackling this new trip on his return. He was well beaten in the Middle Park, but the drop in distance might have caught him out and there should be more to come.
The one that may trump them all is the highly-exciting and unbeaten PALACE PIER for John Gosden. He was well-touted before winning twice at Sandown last season and made short shrift of a handicap at Newcastle on his return from a mark of 98.
The son of Kingman has yet to explore the depths of his own talent and, despite now leaping up into Group 1 company, he's looked destined for this level and his expert handler doesn't often turn up in these races to play an extras role.
3.35 Diamond Jubilee Stakes (6f)
This could be a fairytale for connections of SCEPTICAL and he's expected to justify favouritism for trainer Denis Hogan.
A Godolphin castoff, he was picked up at the sales last year for the paltry fee of £2,800 and has rapidly ascended to be Ireland's finest sprinter. His three wins at Dundalk on the Polytrack hadn't convinced everyone but earlier this month he swatted his rivals aside with some abandon for a winning turf debut at Naas over this trip.
Young rider Joey Sheridan misses out today owing to temporary regulations and the best in the business, Frankie Dettori, is the blockbuster replacement for the must-see story of the summer. Having widely sidestepped Battaash in the King's Stand, this should work out perfectly.
The versatile ONE MASTER has yet to run a poor race in three visits here, including placed in the Queen Anne last year, and will handle the ground any way it comes; more than can be said for a few of these if its soft. She's second choice with James Doyle enjoying a fine week.
4.10 Wokingham Stakes (6f)
TINTO is a formidable and consistent turf performer, with five wins and seven placed efforts in 22 career starts. They include a C&D soft-ground win last October under claiming rider Marco Ghiani; and his 5lb today could be vital. He defied a big price on his recent return at Newmarket to score and his rider can negate the ratings-rise for that success.
David O'Meara's GULLIVER was behind Tinto in that contest but he was given plenty to do from the rear and may fair better today. He was only just denied on his sole Ascot start (6f, soft) and the booking of Ryan Moore is an eye-catcher.
4.40 Queen Alexandra Stakes (2m6f)
An interesting finale over the longest trip of the meeting. NATE THE GREAT was backed as if defeat was out of the question recently at Newmarket on his first start after transferring to Andrew Balding's yard.
His run in the Bahrain Trophy last summer was a decent one in Group 3 company and, given he must have been showing positives at home, he rates as one to keep a keen eye on now tackling this marathon distance.
Alan King has been seen to good effect here this week already and WHO DARES WINS is a dual-purpose performer that will have no stamina issues when this gets tough in the closing stages. That's a major advantage and he rates as one of the likeliest winners.
Selection: Nate The Great @ 13/2