Blockbuster St James’s Palace Stakes the undoubted highlight of Royal Ascot

PERHAPS it has been swept away by football fever — although the appetite for Euro 2024 may have been swiftly washed away on Friday night for some — but there are some cracking races at Royal Ascot this week that are worth savouring.

None more so than the St James’s Palace Stakes on Tuesday. The winner of the English, Irish and French Guineas all look poised to take each other on to kick-start the five-day meeting that is the best British Flat racing has to offer.

It looks like the race of the week because the big players are in attendance and there are already encouraging signs that the Guineas is proving to be a strong piece of form.

Notable Speech was something of a surprise winner but there appeared no fluke in his one-and-a-half length success over Rosallion. The Charlie Appleby-trained colt is unbeaten in his first four starts and rates as one of the most exciting prospects in training.

City Of Troy was beaten favourite at Newmarket last month but he bounced back to win the Derby. The second won the Irish Guineas. The third, Haatem, was second in the Irish equivalent and will be a leading player in the Jersey Stakes later in the week.

Inisherin finished sixth in the Guineas and then bolted up at Haydock in the Sandy Lane Stakes to propel him to favouritism for the Commonwealth Cup.

Notable Speech was a mightily impressive winner of last month's 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket

Notable Speech was a mightily impressive winner of last month’s 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket


Rosallion was beaten at Newmarket but prevailed in the Irish Guineas at the Curragh

Rosallion was beaten at Newmarket but prevailed in the Irish Guineas at the Curragh

Metroploitan won the French Guineas and will also contest the St James's Palace Stakes

Metroploitan won the French Guineas and will also contest the St James’s Palace Stakes

Rosallion was a high-class two-year-old and has confirmed he has trained on with his fantastic efforts in both Guineas. He just caught stablemate Haatem with a well-timed late burst of speed and going around a bend at Ascot will suit him.

River Tiber was outstayed in third but he looks the part as well and is another that will have a big chance in the Jersey Stakes.

Unquestionable won a Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf and he shaped as if he needed the run when fourth at the Curragh. Don’t rule out a bold run from him at a big price for Aidan O’Brien.

But the main flag bearer for Ballydoyle will be Henry Longfellow, who has the chance to step out of the shadow of stablemate City Of Troy. It’s easy to forget that he was a brilliant juvenile as well.

He won the Group One National Stakes by a whopping five lengths and was unbeaten until suffering a horror trip in the French Guineas, finishing eighth of 14 in a blanket finish.

O’Brien’s horses have come on for the run significantly this season and Henry Longfellow looked unlucky and was staying on to be beaten by four lengths.

The French have one of their strongest squads over for Royal Ascot in recent times and provide the international flavour this meeting craves.

Mario Baratti is a trainer who is very willing to have a go at Britain’s major races and Metropolitan sprung a 25-1 surprise at Longchamp last month.

The prospect of quicker ground holds no fears for the trainer and he will be hoping he has a strong pace to aim at as he looks a grinder over the mile trip.

The St James’s Palace Stakes looks a mouthwatering renewal and the highlight of the week. Inspiral v Auguste Rodin in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes looks a cracker, too.

The Commonwealth Cup is full of intrigue and supporting races like the Hampton Court Stakes looks very strong.

Notable Speech stretches clear at Newmarket and is favourite for the St James's Palace Stakes

Notable Speech stretches clear at Newmarket and is favourite for the St James’s Palace Stakes

The Albany Stakes and Coventry Stakes are shaping up to be brilliant two-year-old contests once again.

The handicaps look deeply competitive. Kyprios in the Ascot Gold Cup is the sole odds-on favourite in the whole week and that’s a refreshing change from a Cheltenham Festival that was full of odds-on shots that represented little value for punters to get stuck into.

So look out the top hat and tails. Take a break from football fever and savour all things Royal Ascot. It’s shaping up to be a cracking five days of racing.

Nothing ever gets done in corridors of power… 

ALL change at Westminster is expected next month and it’s no different in racing’s corridors of power. A Labour Government looks inevitable and Julie Harrington announced her departure as chief executive of the British Horseracing Authority.

Harrington intends to quit at the end of the year. Her exit comes hot on the heels of the chief executive of The Jockey Club Nevin Truesdale, who announced his imminent departure the week before.

The chairman of the BHA, Joe Saumarez Smith, will leave in May 2025. The chief executives of the Racehorse Owners Association and Great British Racing left their roles earlier this year. The ability for people in power to sense trouble and walk away at the perfect time seems to be uncanny. After years of slow grappling with the Gambling White Paper it seems that it’s back to square one with a new government and new people as powerbrokers in racing. Labour did mention gambling in their manifesto last week — unlike the Conservative Party, and are committed to making gambling safer.

What that means for racing is anyone’s guess. Expect more white papers to be drafted and more committees assembled to talk the same thing over again. As this column has been consistently pointing out for years on the subject, one thing is guaranteed. Still. Nothing. Gets. Done.


RYAN MOORE gave KLONDIKE a majestic ride to win the Grand Cup Stakes at York by a short head. There is no better jockey in the world in dictating the pace in small-field tactical races than Moore and he gradually wound up the gears on Klondike and the four-year-old had enough in the tank to hold on at the line. 


TAMFANA (3-1, betfair) was slightly unlucky when fourth in the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket but David Menusier’s filly can make amends in the Prix De Diane today (Chantilly, 3.05). Stall four is the perfect draw to attack from and Oisin Murphy should be able to get a handy position around a tight track.

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