Preview: Royal Ascot – St James’s Palace Stakes

Gleneagles

Would it be foolish to oppose Gleneagles in the St James’s Palace Stakes? Well, you would think so, given how impressive the Aiden O’Brien trained inmate was when he completed the English & Irish 2000 Guineas double. Undoubtedly he is a world class miler; according to his trainer, the best they ever had.

Yet I feel there is the possibility that there are horses capable of improving past him at some point this season – as pointed out on a couple of occasions in the past. He had already eight career starts, was mad busy as a juvenile and didn’t slow down with two tough races this year.

Gleneagles is as short as 1/2 to land the St James’s Palace Stakes – a price so short – I’m happy enough to oppose him, given that this race may well turn into a tactical affair and that he takes on two lightly raced but extremely promising individuals with Consort and Make Believe.

I was keen to see Consort making his seasonal reappearance. He missed the Guineas, but fullfilled the promise shown on his sole start last season when kicking off the new campaign in a good Listed event at Sandown. The manner of his success that day was impressive and no doubt, there is much more to come.

Make Believe in contrast, won both his starts as a two year old, was only beaten by the tightest of margins on his comeback run this year and followed on from there to deliver a first classic success for his prominent daddy Makfi when winning the French 2000 Guineas in style.

He clearly enjoyed the better ground that day when he went off from the front, setting a good pace. Turning for home jockey Olivier Peslier asked him to stretch his legs and he responded promptly. Make Believe produced a stunning change of gear and kicked clear in a matter of strides to win by 3 lengths eased down towards the line. These are the traits of a talented horse.

Verdict: I find it relatively easy to oppose Gleneagles here and think – given the prices on offer – one can’t do much wrong with French raider Make Believe. An improving sort, a Group 1 winner, who should relish the better ground. Consort may well up to this level as well, but has still to prove it.

Make Believe @ 7/2 Ladbrokes – 5pts Win

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