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Batt's the way to go on Royal Ascot opening day

 

By Keith Hamer

Battaash can rubber-stamp his position as the world's top sprinter by settling an old score in the King's Stand Stakes as Royal Ascot opens today.

He showed his true colours with a breathtaking victory in the Prix de l'Abbaye at Chantilly in October to make up for the only blot on his record last season.

Battaash has won five of his starts in that period, his only defeat coming in the Nunthorpe Stakes at York in August when he lost the race by using up too much energy in the preliminaries.

Taking that into consideration, Battaash ran well in the circumstances, finishing fourth to Marsha, who he blew away in France two months later.

The Nunthorpe had been billed as a clash between Battaash and American challenger Lady Aurelia, who was only beaten on the nod.

Wesley Ward's speedster takes on Battaash but the Charlie Hills-trained four-year-old can put her in her place this time.

Romanised can show his Irish 2,000 Guineas triumph was no fluke by following up in the St James's Palace Stakes.

Ken Condon's colt was overlooked in the betting at 25-1 but was no lucky winner at the Curragh as he bounded clear in the final furlong to beat US Navy Flag by two and a quarter lengths.

Romanised ran respectably in the Coventry Stakes on this card 12 months and ran Masar to two lengths in the Solario Stakes on his other visit to these shores.

Masar's form this term, especially his Derby victory, showed that was some run by Romanised and he is taken to register a second Group One success.

There is no real star in the mile division for older horses and that could leave the door open for a surprise result in the Queen Anne Stakes.

Suedois fits the bill as his best form bares the closest inspection.

Campaigned to success over six and seven furlongs for most of his career, the David O'Meara-trained seven-year-old has shown top-class form since being stepped up to a mile.

A Group Two scorer at Leopardstown in September, Suedois lifted a Grade One at Keeneland and was a close fourth in the Breeders' Cup Mile at Del Mar on the final start of 2017.

He fared better than his finishing position would suggest when seventh to Rhododendron in the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury last month on his return.

That will have put him spot-on for this supreme test and he is a sporting nap choice.

The Irish Rover can put the record straight for a forgettable first trip to Ascot by winning the Coventry Stakes.

The Aidan O'Brien-trained youngster was sent off 1-7 favourite in a field of four over five furlongs in May but lost all chance when left several lengths at the start. Though he finished last, he was just half a length down at the line.

With that experience behind him, he came across from Ballydoyle for six-furlong event at Newbury and won nicely.

The Willie Mullins-trained Whiskey Sour can be another Irish winner in the Ascot Stakes, while Laraaib can give Owen Burrows a first winner at the Royal meeting in the Wolferton Handicap.

Selections

BEVERLEY: 6.30 Victory Command, 7.00 Sea Youmzain, 7.30 Judicial, 8.00 Brother McGonagall, 8.30 Roddy, 9.00 Mr C.

BRIGHTON: 5.40 Born To Finish, 6.10 Nayslayer, 6.40 On A May Day, 7.10 Pride Of Angels, 7.40 Seinesational, 8.10 With Approval, 8.40 Ask The Guru.

ROYAL ASCOT: 2.30 SUEDOIS (NAP), 3.05 The Irish Rover, 3.40 Battaash, 4.20 Romanised, 5.00 Whiskey Sour, 5.35 Laraaib.

SLIGO: 5.50 The Lords Walk, 6.20 Wentwood, 6.50 Ice Storm, 7.20 St Brelades Bay, 7.50 Night Law, 8.20 Stormy Air, 8.50 Prosecution.

STRATFORD: 1.50 Passing Dream, 2.20 Tillythetank, 2.55 Border Breaker, 3.30 Regulation, 4.05 Just A Feeling, 4.45 Yensir, 5.20 Iniesta.

THIRSK: 1.40 Bandola, 2.10 Deira Surprise, 2.45 Windforpower, 3.20 Beauty Filly, 3.55 Henley, 4.35 Mutadaffeq, 5.10 Borodin, 5.45 Acrux.

DOUBLE: Suedois and Battaash.

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