Free Eagle To Soar In Prince Of Wales’s Stakes
Wednesday’s Group 1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes (4.20) is always a pulsating affair that attracts the best mile-and-a-quarter runners around, and this year has a really open look to it, with Dermot Weld’s Free Eagle, heading the market at 3/1.
Eagle To Swoop On Rivals
This 4yo colt has been lightly raced in his two previous seasons, which mustered just two outings per term, though he has shown during that period what a good horse he is – winning a Group 3 by 7l (1m2f, good to firm), before a close third in the Champion Stakes over C&D in October.
That final outing saw Free Eagle just over 1l behind the classy pair, Noble Mission and Al Kazeem, while having Western Hymn (8/1) over 3l back in fourth, and a repeat of that effort would put him close on Wednesday. The question is fitness, but having won first time out for the last two years, he seems to go well fresh.
Free Eagle is also officially rated 120, which bodes well on past trends for this race…
Of the last 10 Prince of Wales’s winners…
10 were officially rated 117+ or more (non-British)
9 returned 8/1 or shorter
Grey Can Brighten Up Ascot
The above pointers also highlight the solid record of those at the head of the market, which provides a nod for the highest rated horse in the race, The Grey Gatsby (6/1). This 4yo makes his belated debut at Ascot, having appeared at numerous worldwide venues, in the process winning a couple of Group 1’s over this 1m2f trip.
Although disappointing when only fourth of six runners at the Curragh last time, it’s possible Wednesday’s bigger field will help him be delivered late in the race.
French In The Mix
Like Free Eagle, the French 4yo colt, Ectot (9/2), also comes here following an absence, having been well beaten in October’s Arc. A Group 1 winner at a mile in 2013, he possesses both speed and stamina, handles most ground and will be of interest if the market speaks in his favour.
Further international flavour comes in the guise of the Australian, Criterion (10/1), who is a four-time Group 1 winner back home. One of those came in April in the mud (1m2f), and any rain would make him of definite interest.
Then there is the American contender, California Chrome (10/1), who of course won last year’s Kentucky Derby (1m2f, fast), which was one of four Grade 1 wins last year. Beaten under 3l when last seen in March’s Dubai World Cup, he is top class, handles fast turf ground, yet is available at 10/1. He looks excellent each-way value.
As for the remainder of the domestic challenge then, Sir Michael Stoute has the 4yo colt, Cannock Chase (10/1), who won a Group 3 over C&D at this meeting 12 months ago (good to firm). He wasn’t seen again until beaten twice in two more Group 3’s this spring, though more can be expected if the ground firms up.
An intriguing renewal in store, and one in which Free Eagle can confirm the promise shown over the last two years. Unbeaten first time out for the last two years, he may have been kept back on purpose for this.