St James’s Palace Stakes – King Of The Palace
St. James's Palace Stakes
It’s the rematch we’ve all been waiting for. Ever since May 3 when Night Of Thunder beat Kingman in the English 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket, there was a sense of unfinished business.
Having clashed for prior to the Guineas in a Group 3 at Newbury in April when Kingman was mightily impressive in beating Night Of Thunder over 4l (7f, good), it was a major shock when roles were reserved at HQ several weeks after.
John Gosden’s, Kingman (EVS) took the running up a furlong from home on their rematch at Newmarket (1m, good to firm), but was just swallowed up by the winner on the line, though made up for that disappointment in no uncertain style three weeks alter by securing the Irish 2,000 Guineas.
Kingman, was impressive at the Curragh that day (1m, soft), coming 5l clear of Shifting Power, who was 2l behind Kingman at Newmarket three weeks prior. The fact he beat Shifting Power more comprehensively suggests there was improvement, and he’ll need to show that level of performance once more when renewing rivalry with Night Of Thunder.
As for the Richard Hannon’s Newmarket winner, he certainly won’t be going off at odds 40/1 at Ascot this time around, but looks the one Kingman still has to beat in what will be round three between the two top-class colts.
But, if there is a danger this fantastic renewal of the St james’s Palace House Stakes has been labeled a “two-horse race”, then there is an abundance of talent lying in the wings – and as such plenty of each-way value.
Let’s take Aidan O’Brien’s, War Command (5/1) for example, who was beaten only 5l in the Newmarket Guineas, keeping on at one pace into ninth place. The feeling from connections is that even faster ground would have suited, which he may get at Ascot.
Night Of Thunder’s stablemate, Toormore (8/1) meanwhile, was the more fancied of the pair at Newmarket having won a Group 3 at HQ in April (1m, good). He led during the Guineas but failed to run up to his Craven win, and was reported to have run flat. Ryan Moore takes over, and it’s possible he could bounce back under such handling here.
Dermot Weld throws an interesting contender into the mix via Mustajeeb (16/1), who was beaten 2l by War Command on his final juvenile outing, but improved to win a Group 3 on his reappearance (1m, yielding). It’s possible the very soft ground (almost heavy) failed to suit when beaten 7l by Kingman in the Irish Guineas, but a return to better ground at Ascot could make him a live each-way punt.
With seven of the last 10 winners of this race being returned as favourite – with the biggest winner 9/1 – it may pay not to look too far down the betting lists, which brings us back to Night Of Thunder and Kingman.
The stats show that six Irish Guineas winners followed-up in the St James’s Palace (including several that had won the English version beforehand), but only one of the two Newmarket winners which came straight to Ascot triumphed – his name, Frankel.
With that in mind, and with not much between the pair, odds of EVS make Kingman the more appealing investment.
Here are the full trends covering the last 18 winners…
All 18 winners made the top three of a Group 1.
16 raced in Ireland or France last time. Eleven winners ran in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket. Henrythenavigator joined Rock Of Gibraltar in becoming the second dual English and Irish Guineas winner from the five to have tried during the last 20 years.
16 made the first four of a Guineas.
16 won a Group race.
16 were drawn away from stalls 1 & 2 on the troublesome inside rail (low).
15 made the top four last time.
14 were non-British-bred.
Aidan O’Brien trained six winners.