Crunchsports.com's guide to the King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot on Tuesday afternoon (due off 15:05 BST) courtesy of Bettingpro.com tipster Ross Aylward...
All eyes will be on Frankel at Royal Ascot this afternoon, but he's no betting proposition at 1/6 and there's better value to be had in the King's Stand Stakes.
Who is the favourite?
Bated Breath looked better than ever when winning the Temple Stakes last time in course record time, and he's been favourite for this race since betting opened. In recent days, he's taken a walk, though, with doubts arising over his ability to act on the prevailing soft ground (best form on fast) and in a big field (23 runners are set to go to post). For much of his career he's looked an out-and-out 6f horse too, but he did win the Temple Stakes over 5f last time in course record time and gave the impression he would relish getting a lead off the trailblazers in this Group 1 sprint. The more the ground dries out, the better his chance.
Who are his main challengers?
This race has gone to overseas sprinters in six of the last nine years and the away team looks strong again this time with Australian, French and Hong Kong-based representatives all prominent in the market. The Aussies have done the bulk of the damage in that time with four winners and their sole pick Ortensia will go close if she can repeat the form she showed when winning the group 1 Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan in March from a fast-finishing Sole Power. The latter has since filled the same spot behind Bated Breath in the Temple Stakes, and will no doubt be doing all his best work late on. The same comment applies to Gallic raider Wizz Kid, who has been solidly supported into 9/2 in a place from an early 12/1, and soft ground is no concern to him. Fast conditions, however, are an unknown quantity to Hong Kong-based Little Bridge, who booked his passage to Ascot by winning a local Group 2 in April.
Any decent outsiders?
Last year's 7/1 winner Prohibit is as big as 16/1 this time on account of the fact he's disappointed in four starts this season, and he's hard to trust now. Margot Did sprang a 25/1 surprise when winning last season's Nunthorpe under Hayley Turner but was possibly favoured by her draw and hasn't finished better than eighth in four subsequent starts. Joy And Fun appears held by Ortensia, having finished third to that horse at Meydan, and may well be better suited to 6f. A bigger danger looks to be last season's Prix de l'Abbaye winner Tangerine Trees, who "wasn't right" according to his trainer when finishing stone last in this race 12 months ago, and was in need of the run when seventh in the Temple on his reappearance. The rest are very hard to fancy.
Effect of the draw?
Seven of the last 10 winners have exited from a double-figure draw, which is a negative for Ortensia (five) and Bated Breath (eight), although winners tend to come from across the track in big fields on the straight course, and any advantage can often be attributed to where the pace is.
What's the verdict?
The key to the race is the ground with Wizz Kid showing a definite liking for soft ground, while Bated Breath and Ortensia (amongst others) preferring quicker conditions. It's officially 'good' on the straight course at the time of writing with no rain forecast, so I'm going to plump for ORTENSIA, a 5/1 shot at time of writing, to keep up the fantastic record of Australian-trained sprinters. If she wins, it will also make her compatriot Black Caviar an even bigger certainty for the Golden Jubilee later in the week.