Royal Ascot Trials Day at the Berkshire venue on Wednesday, 1 May, sees a number of key contenders for the five-day spectacular in June put their credentials on the line.
All eyes in the Royal Ascot Two-Year-Old Trial Conditions Stakes over 5f which gets proceedings underway (14:15) are on transatlantic raider Lady Pauline.
This American filly is trained by Wes Ward and is currently a top-price 5/2 ante post favourite with Betfred for the Queen Mary. That is as a result of a simply sensational success on debut at Keeneland last month.
After breaking smartly, she travelled powerfully in the lead throughout and quickened a furlong from home to stretch effortlessly clear and slam Two Dot by 9 3/4 lengths.
It was a performance which oozed class and had Ward dreaming of an 11th Royal Ascot success.
Lady Pauline is certainly bred for the job as the Stonestreet Stables owned daughter of Munnings is a half-sister to Ward’s dual Royal Ascot heroine Lady Aurelia, who won the Queen Mary in 2016 and the King’s Stand 12 months later.
She looks in a potentially different league to her five rivals in this, so it’ll be a major shock if Lady Pauline doesn’t win and cement her position as Queen Mary favourite. Ladbrokes make her 2/5 to do just that and those cramped odds look fully justified.
Ventura Rebel, who scored nicely on debut at Thirsk, looks the biggest threat and can be backed each-way at 16/1 with William Hill.
Can’t Stop Me Now, also 16/1 with Paddy Power, is a very interesting newcomer to monitor in the betting as he hails from the yard of Clive Cox, who saddled Getcagetchagetcha to land the spoils 12 months ago.
Calyx up for the Commonwealth Cup Trial
Calyx makes his eagerly awaited return to action in the Group 3 Commonwealth Cup Trial Stakes (15:55) and, despite having to overcome a long absence and facing a very smart rival in Signora Cabello, is fully expected to make it a winning one.
This John Gosden trained colt won both his starts as a juvenile in a manner of a top class prospect. In the first of those, he justified favouritism when romping to a five-length success in a nine-runner maiden at Newmarket.
After tracking the leaders, the son of Classic winner Kingman ran green when hitting the front a furlong from home, but was straightened out by jockey Rab Havlin and showed a smart turn of foot to stretch clear impressively and win going away from Octave.
He produced a final furlong sectional which clock watchers drooling. This was a most taking performance visually and one which suggested Calyx could be something really special.
Coventry form sets a clear standard
That view was confirmed when he took the step up into Group 2 company on his stride to impressively land the 23-runner Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot.
After tracking the leaders, Calyx went clear approaching the final furlong before only having to be nudged out to beat Advertise by a cosy length.
The runner-up went on to win his next two starts, including a Group 1 at The Curragh, and was also far from disgraced when chasing home Too Darn Hot in the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket.
It gives the form a rock solid looks and suggests that Calyx, who is 8/11 with Betway, can make his class tell to land this on en route to a crack at the Commonwealth Cup itself.
Speaking of the actual race, he is currently 8/1 second-favourite ante post with BetVictor.
If Calyx fails to live up to expectations the the aforementioned Signora Cabello, who can be backed at 100/30 with Betfred for the Trial, looks the obvious one to take advantage.
She has landed two Group 2s as a juvenile and ran well to finish runner-up in a Group 1 in France. The John Quinn trained filly is also rated just 1lb lower than Calyx, but receives a handy 3lb sex-allowance from that rival.
Wadilsafa the punt in Paradise Stakes
In the Listed Paradise Stakes over 1m (16:25), which is a trial for the Queen Anne Stakes at the Royal meeting, the Owen Burrows trained Wadilsafa appeals as the value punt at 7/2 with Betfair.
This son of the mighty Frankel progressed through last season when winning three of his four starts. In the first of those on seasonal reappearance at Newmarket, Wadilsafa forged clear to beat Herculean in a 13-runner novice stakes contest.
It was a most taking performance and one which saw connections pitch him into Group 3 company next time up at Royal Ascot.
Although Wadilsafa eventually finished a 7 1/2 lengths ninth of 16 to Hunting Horn in the 1m 2f Hampton Stakes, he shaped a bit better than the bare result.
The fact that he was sent off a well-backed 5/1 joint second-favourite shows that he is clearly held in high regard.
He then took advantage of a drop in class to resume winning ways at York when destroying the opposition in a 1m handicap and easily bearing Get Knotted by 4 1/2 lengths.
It was a fine performance against some battle-hardened sorts, and Wadilsafa went on to round off the campaign with an easy 1 3/4 lengths success over Hathal in the Listed 1m Fortune Stakes at Sandown.
The manner of that success suggested there could be lots more to come from the imposing Wadilsafa.
Other pluses are that he has a good record fresh, and hails from a yard in fine form and operating at a strike rate of 40 per cent in the last 14 days at the time of writing.
Lengthy absence a concern for top-rated Barney Roy
A 122 rating puts Barney Roy 10lb and upwards clear of his rivals. That clearly makes him the one to beat on the pick of his form but, at 11/10 with 888Sport, he looks opposable as he must overcome a very lengthy absence.
This son of Excelebration finished a cracking second of 10 to Churchill in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket back in 2017 when trained by Richard Hannon.
He then went one better over course and distance at Royal Ascot when running on strongly to get the better of Lancaster Bomber in the Group 1 St James’s Palace Stakes.
Barney Roy then went down all guns blazing when beaten just a nose by Ulysses in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown, and backed that up with a solid third behind the same rival in the Juddmonte International at York.
The form of those races is head-and-shoulders above what any of his seven rivals have achieved, but he’s been sidelined for 579 days since bombing out in the 2017 Champion Stakes here when a 17-length ninth of 10 to Cracksman.
That means that he’s entitled to be ring rusty on his first start for Charlie Appleby; so. despite this race being a marked drop in class, he looks worth taking on.
Of the rest, the unbeaten Canvassed is a fascinating contender for in-form trainer Roger Varian.
This son of Sharmadal won easing down by 3 1/2 lengths on debut at Newcastle last September and couldn’t have been more impressive on reappearance at Kempton last month when quickening clear to score easily by seven lengths.
This demands much more, but Canvassed looks a pattern performer in the making and one to keep firmly onside. So, at 13/2 with Coral, he appeals as the each-way bet in the race.