3.40: Group 1 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes, 1m 2f
This is going to be the coronation of Bay Bridge, right? It feels like it, reading all the previews and various opinion pieces this morning – the Sir Michael Stoute trained colt only has to turn up, do a lap of honour in the pre-parade ring and Group 1 glory is his.
Now, who am I to dare and say I know better than fabulous experts like Simon Rowlands who is quite strong about Bay Bridge in his piece. No question about it, Bay Bridge is a potential superstar.
His Brigadier Gerard victory by five lengths easy as you like – awarded a 102 topspeed rating; he could have ran faster that day, if he would been asked to do so. These are the signs of potential superstar. No denying.
But from a betting perspective I have to be cynical and try to see if there are any holes to be found in the odds-on shot. And there certainly are.
For one: Bay Bridge steps up to Group 1 company for the first time. He hasn’t been to Ascot before, certainly not encountered a unique atmosphere as the Royal Ascot meeting provides, and whether he truly can be at his very best on proper fast ground remains to be seen.
These are only small question marks. And I am pushing it hard to find faults. Nonetheless, this edition of the POW – albeit small in field size – is highly competitive. And I feel there is value in the market behind Bay Bridge.
The Japanese Derby- and Sheema Classic winner Shahryar is proven top-class. Perhaps more so over the 1m 4f trip, which makes him vulnerable on fast ground in small field, potentially. Regardless, he’s one to respect.
The only filly in the race, Grand Glory, looked strong in two starts this spring. Fast ground is a question mark, but she clearly performs really well over 10 furlongs.
Lord North ran a fine race in defeat at the Curragh recently. The Tattersalls Gold Cup was an ultra-competitive affair and he ran to topspeed 104, not too far off a 107 rated performance when winning the Dubai Turf in March, or a 104 when runner-up in the Winter Derby, and also not far off his career best 110, suggesting he’s still running close to his best form at the age of six.
Undoubtedly the main rival for Bay Bridge I see in Joseph O’Brien’s State Of Rest, though. He’s had a number of tough races this year already, and that’s a question mark. Most recently at the Curragh when finishing one better than Lord North. But connections say the colt thrives on racing and is a hardy sort. He clearly must be, if you read through his form.
In my view he enhanced his reputation with the third place effort in the Tattersalls Gold Cup. He travelled much the best approaching the home straight, perhaps was asked a little bit too late for full effort, though. That gave the eventual winner Alenquer an advantage. State Of Rest finished the last three furlongs fastest and on another day wins the race, I believe.
The 4-year-old seriously impressed me on different occasions. His Saratoga Derby victory last year, doing it in a canter, despite having to overcome some trouble; his gusty Cox Plate success. The brilliant win at Longchamp in the Prix Ganay six weeks ago.
And he looks still improving. Topspeed 102 at Longchamp, 107 at the Curragh. Yes, this isn’t always a totally accurate reflection of performance, but it’s one I do trust to the most part.
With that in mind State Of Rest sets a high standard that Bay Bridge first has to run to. Not to forget that State Of Rest is probably at his best on fast ground. Exactly what he encounters today.
Therefore at given prices I can’t miss out on backing the proper Group 1 horse against a favourite where all potential improvement is more than factored into the price already – before we have truly seen it delivered on the race course.
10pts win – State Of Rest @ 8.4
4.20: Group 2 Duke Of Cambridge Stakes, 1m
It was impossible not be totally in awe with the way Bashkirova won at Ascot. She didn’t have the perfect race but found a way to win. Despite hanging a bit she kicked clear in the closing stages in impressive style, running to a 108 topspeed rating.
She improved nicely from an excellent seasonal reappearance at Goodwood, when a close runner-up after a fine juvenile campaign that saw her win three of four starts. She look still improving and I reckon might enjoy this more conventional track even more so than Epsom.
Backing up so quickly is always a concern, but if she runs to the same level of form she’s hard to beat today, I firmly believe. Thanks to that Epsom performance she owns the fastest topspeed in the field, by quite a bit. The competition in this Group 2 contest today is solid but not frightening.
Saffron Beach carries a penalty and never ran to anything better than topspeed 90. She’s a Group 1 winner and ran with credit at Meydan. I don’t see the appeal at current odds, though.
Mother Earth is hard to trust these days. Primo Bacio hasn’t won since impressing at York last May, but never looked able to bring that sport of form to the next level subsequently.
German raider Novemba has obvious claims judged by her Coronation Cup performance from last year. Her runner-up effort behind Real World last October is also noteworthy. She was desperately disappointing on her return three weeks ago though. Sibila Spain perhaps wants a longer trip, especially on fast ground.
Everything brings me back to Bashkirova. Perhaps beside the quick turnaround, the wide draw is another slight concern as well as potentially a lack of pace, unless Novema and Saffron Beach do the donkey work. Nonetheless, she looks a cut above these.
10pts win – Bashkirova @ 3/1