King’s Stand Stakes – Guerre To Stand Tall
King's Stand Stakes
The fastest race to be run over the five days of Royal Ascot takes place on day one at 3.45 courtesy of the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes, where a lack of international opposition could see a British Or Irish winner.
Often dominated by Australian runners over the last 10 years, the King’s Stand Stakes has a more domestic look this time around, with the likes of Kevin Ryan’s, Hot Streak sharing favoritism in the betting at 4/1.
This improving 3yo colt won a Group 3 over C&D last season, and showed he had progressed when winning the Group 2 Temple Stakes at Haydock (5f, soft) on his second run this season. Hot Streak’s first outing saw him under 1l behind Sole Power in a Group 3 at Newmarket at the Guineas meeting, but stepped up to score at Haydock when leading all the way.
Hot Streak held on by 1/2l from the fast-finishing Pearl Secret that day, but may find it harder to use such tactics against a field of this caliber on a stiffer track.
Pearl Secret (8/1) was beaten over 1l by Sole Power when third in this race 12 months ago, and tends to be thereabouts, but may come up short once more.
As for Edward Lynam’s Sole Power (6/1) making it back-to-back wins in this race (third in 2012), he arrives in good form following Newmarket and may improve under the services of Richard Hughes, who will deliver him late.
Sole Power held on by 1/4l in last year’s win, having just pipped Mike De Kock’s, Shea Shea (4/1) on the line. Shea Shea was subsequently placed in the July Cup and Nunthorpe, before a Group 3 win and Group 1 third in Dubai. Highly consistent, it will be a surprise if Shea Shea isn’t involved in the finish.
Godolphin’s, Ahtoug (14/1), figured in both the aforementioned Dubai races, beaten a head by Shea Shea in the first, then finishing just ahead in the latter Group 1 (Medicean Man was 1l back in fourth). A winner of handicaps last season, including over C&D in August, Ahtoug has improved a lot since and is terrific each-way value.
But, could Aidan O’Brien have the dark horse in the race via the lightly raced 3yo, Guerre (16/1). Twice-raced last term, he showed improvement in beating the reliable yardstick, Maarek, over 1l in a Listed race at Naas in April (5f, good), and another step forward step could see him ruffling the big boys’ feathers.
Another improver, Moviesta (16/1), has a bit to prove after flopping in a muddy Group 2 at York last time, where Es Que Love (33/1) was third. Moviesta was beaten only 2l by Sole Power at Newmarket in May and would be interesting if bouncing back.
Last season’s Stewards’ Cup winner, Rex Imperator (20/1) is another improver who will need to progress, but showed he had trained on when a fast-finishing second in a Listed race at Windsor a few weeks ago. That would have put him spot on for this.
It’s conceivable that the first three in this 12 months ago, Sole Power, Shea Shea and Pearl Secret, could fill the places once more, but Guerre could be the surprise package at each-way odds of 16/1.
All 18 winners were 7yo’s or younger.
16 won over 5f – two in the Temple Stakes beforehand – while nine were prepared in Australia or France.
16 won a Group/Graded event.
16 made the top four last time.
16 ran in a Group race last time.
14 were non-British-bred.
All 13 European winners ran over 5f last time; four Australian exceptions ran over 6f prior to Ascot.
8 of the last 11 arrived via foreign shores – half arrived from Australia following a near four-month break.