Gleneagles to star in St James’s Palace Stakes
The St James’s Palace Stakes is the one-mile championship race for three-year-old colts at Royal Ascot. It is the fourth race on the card on the opening day of the festival on Tuesday and past winners include Kris, Marju, Giant’s Causeway, Rock Of Gibraltar and Frankel.
The odds-on favourite is the winner of the English and Irish 2000 Guineas, Gleneagles, trained by Aidan O’Brien.
The son of Galileo was a brilliant two-year-old and ran out an impressive two and a quarter length winner at Newmarket last month. He took up the running with a furlong to go and powered clear of Territories. He reappeared in the Irish Guineas where he did not get the easiest of runs but still came home three-quarters of a length ahead of Endless Drama.
The going was on the soft side in Ireland but good to firm at Newmarket so the prevailing ground should suit him perfectly. O’Brien resisted the temptation to run the colt in the Epsom Derby last week, believing that a mile is his optimum trip.
Andre Fabre is responsible for two of his biggest rivals in Territories and French Guineas winner Make Believe.
There seems no reason for Territories to reverse Newmarket form unless Gleneagles is not at his best. Make Believe stormed to a three-length win at Longchamp and the form received a massive boost when stable companion and runner-up New Bay won the French Derby last weekend. The question mark for the son of Mafki is his ability to handle faster conditions. All four of his races to date have been on good to soft or softer ground.
Frankie Dettori partners Consort for Sir Michael Stoute, a grey colt by Lope De Vega. He is unbeaten in two starts, most recently taking a valuable Sandown handicap off a mark of 99. He lacks the experience of the leading contenders and that could prove vital in a race of this calibre.
Richard Hannon’s Ivawood found Gleneagles too strong in both Guineas’, although he did finish a bit closer at the Curragh. Stable companion Estidhkaar was a promising second in the Greenham Stakes but ran a shocker at Newmarket, beating only two horses home. He subsequently scoped badly and it will be a surprise if he can bounce back quickly here.
Highland Reel missed Newmarket to run in France where he finished six lengths behind Make Believe. He was a good second to New Bay in the French Derby and reverts to a mile here.
Gleneagles – St James’s Palace Stakes (Royal Ascot 4.20 Tuesday) @1.67 Betfair