Express Sport’s racing expert Chris Goulding has asked eight leading jockeys and trainers for their banker of the week as Royal Ascot gets under way…
Mohaather – Queen Anne Stakes, Tuesday
“We’ve had a good run with Mohaather and he should be spot-on. He’s been working well, and I think he will go there with a decent chance.
“I’d like to have run him somewhere first, possibly, but I’m not too worried as the ground has been so firm everywhere. Jim Crowley (today’s jockey) sat on him about three weeks ago and was delighted with him.”
Tregoning, who last enjoyed success at the meeting with Nayef and High Accolade in 2003, added: “He obviously handles soft ground, but I’ve seen him work on good to firm. I think he probably goes on any surface.”
Cloak Of Spirits – Saturday’s Coronation Stakes
“I have some nice rides for the boss (Sheikh Obaid) at the meeting. I think she’s my best chance.”
Atzeni also partners market leader Pierre Lapin for Obaid in Friday’s Commonwealth Cup.
“I think Cloak Of Spirits can only improve on her run in the 1000 Guineas when she chased home Love.
“Also, I think she will be much better suited by Ascot than Newmarket where she ran so well in the Guineas.”
Skardu – Today’s Queen Anne Stakes)
“One that I’m looking forward to is Skardu. He dipped his toes in against the Classic generation last year and ran good races in both Guineas plus the St James’s Palace. He ran badly at Goodwood towards the backend and nothing came to light but maybe that just wasn’t his track.”
Like Doyle, William Haggas, the trainer of the four-year-old, has always rated the colt highly.
“He’s in great nick,” added Doyle. “I rode him in his last piece of work, which was pretty strong, and I was really pleased.
“He’s moving fantastic and it feels like he’s peaking for the meeting plus we know he definitely runs well fresh, as he came out and won the Craven first time up last year.”
Pinatubo – Saturday’s St James’s Palace Stakes)
Having been forced to miss last year’s Royal Ascot after suffering from a head injury, Buick was unfortunate not to have the corking ride on Blue Point, the winner of both the King’s Stand Stakes and Golden Jubilee Stakes, that went to his best buddy James Doyle.
“I will be riding Pinatubo in whatever race he runs in at Ascot,” said Buick, who has 23 Ascot winners under his belt. “He’s obviously the horse I’m looking forward to riding – he ran very well in the 2000 Guineas (third behind Kameko).”
Nazeef – Today’s Duke Of Cambridge Stakes
Gosden might train everybody’s banker at the five-day royal meeting in the odds-on favourite Stradivarius, seeking a third successive victory on Thursday in the Ascot Gold Cup, but the Newmarket trainer offers considerably better value in Nazeef.
“Let’s hit the bookmakers on the first day when Nazeef runs in the Duke Of Cambridge Stakes,” quipped the Newmarket trainer.
Nazeef, currently trading at 3-1, returned in style to make it fourth consecutive victory at Kempton earlier in the month.
Shine So Bright – Saturday’s Diamond Jubilee Stakes
“He goes so well fresh, when running first time out,” explained Balding. “Last year he won the Free Handicap (Newmarket) very impressively.
“He then ran a great race in the 2,000 Guineas, just didn’t get home over a mile. Then he had a long break, went to the City of York (seven furlongs) and beat Laurens in a fantastic race.
“After that he then rather sort of lost his way in his subsequent two runs.”
“I’m not worried about him. He’s had a racecourse gallop and goes to Diamond Jubilee Stakes, I hope, with a sporting each-way chance.”
Gifted Master – Today’s Buckingham Palace Stakes
“Gifted Master has been an absolute star for us, he’s won £760,000 in prize money, he’s won Group races over six furlongs and a mile,” said Palmer.
“He won the last two editions of the Tattersalls Millions Series, he won a Stewards’ Cup off top weight and we are now going to try to win a Royal Ascot race with him.”
“He possibly has just lost a yard of pace now that he’s seven.
“But the reinstatement of the seven-furlong handicap, the Buckingham Palace Stakes, is the perfect spot for him.”
The Lir Jet – Friday’s Norfolk Stakes
“I’m particularly excited about a couple of juveniles I’m down to ride starting with Sheriff Bianco in the Windsor Castle (on Wednesday),” said the champion jockey.
“He’s come over from America for Wesley Ward and Qatar racing own him. “I sat on him last Monday and he’s a big, powerful beast, absolutely massive, loads of strength.
“In the Norfolk I ride Michael Bell’s horse The Lir Jet, whom Sheikh Fahad purchased last week.
“He won in a very fast time at Yarmouth first time up, breaking the all-age track record. He’ll be one of the favourites and on form he deserves to be, I’m thrilled to be on him.”