Crunchsports.com's guide to the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot on Tuesday afternoon (due off 15:45 BST) courtesy of Bettingpro.com tipster Ross Aylward...
The Group 1 races just keep coming at Royal Ascot this afternoon, with the St James's Palace Stakes the third such contest in a row.
Who is the favourite?
Power proved a big disappointment when finishing next to last in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket, but he bounced back to form when winning the Irish equivalent on his next start and sets a high standard in what looks a weak renewal of this race. He's no stranger to Ascot either as he won the Coventry Stakes at last year's royal meeting, which was one of four successes last season, and he may well have made it five in the Dewhurst Stakes on his final start had he not met with trouble in-running. The ground is important to him and he was all at sea on the soft conditions at Newmarket, so the more the ground dries out the better. The stats also provide a strong pointer with the Irish Guineas proving a reliable guide, while his trainer Aidan O'Brien's record of six wins in 12 years is second to none. He's very much the one to beat at 7/2.
Who are his main challengers?
Like Power, Born To Sea was another to run poorly in the 2000 Guineas (12th of 18) and show big improvement on his next start in the Irish Guineas, when finishing fifth two and a half lengths behind the winner. The application of a hood helped him settle much better at the Curragh and there could be considerable improvement to come now that connections have found the key to him, while Ascot's stiffer mile will suit. At 8/1 he's the same price as Most Improved, who was just a head behind Power in the Dewhurst and was the subject of heavy ante post support for the Guineas, only to miss the race after a setback. You can forget his unplaced effort in the French Derby last time as he got no sort of run in what was a very rough race.
Any decent outsiders?
Take Power away and this is a very open race with several in with a chance of grabbing a valuable place at least. Hermival apparently returned home sore after finishing sixth in the Irish Guineas, so ought to improve on that effort and can be fancied on his French form. Lucayan was supplemented after winning the French Guineas, his third win in five starts. John Gosden runs three in Fencing, Gregorian and The Nile, with the latter preferred by stable jockey William Buick. Gabrial is another to have been supplemented and looks to be improving, but this is a big step up in class. Foxtrot Romeo was a 33/1 shot when finishing runner-up to Power in the Irish Guineas but there didn't appear to be any fluke about that effort and considering he was in need of the run, he can be expected to improve again.
Effect of the draw?
A wide (high) draw can be a disadvantage in bigger fields over a mile plus on the round course, so that's a negative for Most Improved and Lucayan, who will exit from stalls 15 and 14 respectively.
What's the verdict?
My first instinct was to take on POWER on as he's far from bomb-proof and would prefer faster ground. However, with both Born To Sea and Most Improved priced up on reputation rather than what they've shown on the track so far, I simply can't back them at single-figure odds. You can make a case of sorts for seven or eight others and of these I like Foxtrot Romeo each-way at the prices, but for the winner I keep coming back to the favourite, who has the best form and fewest question marks against him. With the ground drying out all the time, I've a feeling he could go off well-backed - always a good sign with the stable's runners - so I suggest taking the 7/2 on offer with Paddy Power, who are Best Odds Guaranteed anyway.