Mabs Cross looks overpriced and cracking value at 8/1 with 888Sport to win a stellar renewal of the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes run over the flying 5f at Royal Ascot on Tuesday (15:40).
This Michael Dods trained five-year-old filly is a tough and consistent performer who has won seven of her 15 starts and also made the frame on four other occasions.
The daughter of Dutch Art ran a stormer in this 12 months when a running on two-length third to Blue Point – finishing just a neck behind the runner-up Battaash.
Mabs Cross went on to record a fine second of 15 to Alpha Delphini in the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes at York, where she looked sure to win when produced to take it up inside the last before the winner rallied and prevailed on the nod by a nose.
It was heartbreaking for connections, but still a superb effort and she had Battaash – who led a furlong and a half from home and had every chance – 2 3/4 lengths behind in fourth.
Mabs Cross then gained compensation for that near miss when producing a career best performance to land the Group 1 Prix de l’Abbaye at Longchamp on her final start of the campaign when beating Gold Vibe by a head
She comes into this having looked as good as ever when winning the Palace House for a second time on seasonal reappearance, before finishing a solid 3 1/4 lengths third to Battaash in the Group 2 Temple Stakes at Haydock.
Mabs Cross had to give 2lb to Battaash that day on a track which doesn’t play to her strengths, but now meets the winner on 5lb better terms and will be far better suited by the stiff finish of this venue.
Battaash a class act on his day
The aforementioned Battaash won in scintillating style at Haydock on his first start after a wind op and is the 85/40 market leader with Unibet to follow-up.
This Charlie Hills five-year-old has a tremendous strike rate having won eight of his 16 starts.
He enjoyed his finest hour when putting an awesome display to make all and easily beat Marsha by four lengths in the 2017 Prix de l’Abbaye at Chantilly.
The son of Dark Angel also put in some fine performances last season, finishing a 1 1/2 lengths runner-up to Blue Point in this before landing the Group 2 King George Stakes at Glorious Goodwood in runaway style by four lengths from Take Cover in almost track record time.
Battaash then disappointed when fourth to Alpha Delphini in the Group 1 Nunthorpe at York, but bounced back to be beaten just three-quarters of a length and filling the same spot behind Mabs Cross in the Prix de l’Abbaye.
He was electric when landing the Temple Stakes by an easy 2 1/2 lengths on Merseyside 24 days ago and is officially the highest rated in the line-up off 123.
It makes him the one to beat, but the problem is that Battaash can boil over in the preliminaries and get fractious in the stalls.
He cannot be totally relied upon to run his race, as has been proven in the past, and is also now far worse off at the weights with Mabs Cross whom he beat at Haydock. So, at the cramped odds on offer, he looks worth taking on.
Blue Point a major player
Reigning champ Blue Point won last year’s renewal in impressive fashion, but then failed to sparkle in his next two starts.
He was never travelling when a 4 3/4 lengths seventh of 13 to U S Navy Flag in the Group 1 July Cup at Newmarket, and ran flat when third to Alpha Delphini in the Nunthorpe – in which Mabs Cross placed in front of him.
However, the Charlie Appleby trained five-year-old has won all three of his starts this year at Meydan in ultra-impressive fashion and now looks the real deal.
After landing a Group 2 and a Group 3 by an aggregate of 5 1/2 lengths, the son of Shamardal comfortably beat Belvoir Bay by 1 1/4 lengths in a Group 1. It’s hard to fathom exactly what the form of those races amounts to as they were weak events for the grades.
Blue Point could, however, do no more than win them and is clearly in fine fettle both physically and mentally.
He is also 1-1 over course and distance and has won three of his four starts at the Berkshire venue – finishing third in the 2017 running of the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup at this meeting on the other occasion.
The forecast ground conditions also hold no fears, so Blue Point looks sure to make a bold bid to retain his crown. He is 3/1 with Coral to do so and could well be the one to give Mabs Cross most to think about.
Sergei Prokofivev looks plenty short enough
Top Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien saddles two in his bid to win the race for the first time and Sergei Prokofiev, an 8/1 shot with Paddy Power, looks the pick of the duo.
This son of Scat Daddy had some very smart form as a juvenile last season when winning three times.
After shaping with stacks of promise on debut at Dundalk when he was given a tender ride and went down by a short-head, he duly showed the benefit of that experience when bolting up by 7 1/2 lengths at Navan.
Sergei Prokofiev was then pitched into Listed company at Naas and produced a similarly impressive display when scoring easily by four lengths.
He then ran a cracker in defeat when third to the very smart Calyx in the Group 2 Coventry Stakes at this meeting 12 months when beaten just over a length, before going on to win in stunning style at Newmarket three starts later when easily beating Well Done Fox by 1 1/4 lengths in the Group 3 Cornwallis Stakes.
Sergei Prokofiev comes into this having made a winning return in a Listed contest at Navan, before finishing a staying on never nearer 2 1/2 lengths fourth of 11 to Mabs Cross in the Group 3 Palace House at Newmarket.
There were seemingly no excuses in the latter, but he now meets the winner on 7lb worse terms. It’s therefore had to make a case for Sergei Prokofiev turning the tables.
He simply shouldn’t be shorter in the betting than that rival – for all that he hails from an all-conquering yard whose runners always command the utmost respect.