Beat The Bank won the Summer Mile 12 months ago and looks value to retain his title at 7/2 with Bethard in the Group 2 feature at Ascot on Saturday (16:00).
Trained by Andrew Balding, this five-year-old Paco Boy gelding has won eight of his 17 career starts including all four outings over the trip at this level.
After progressing throughout 2017, he found Group 1 company too hot on his final start of that campaign and reappearance last season.
Beat The Bank was far from disgraced on the straight course here at Royal Ascot 2018 when a close up 1 3/4 lengths sixth to the re-opposing Accidental Agent in the Queen Anne Stakes.
When eased in grade and switching to the round course of this, Beat The Bank had to wait for a gap to appear.
Once there was daylight, he was driven through the space and ran on to lead and hold Lord Glitters by a neck.
Although then beaten at Glorious Goodwood in the Group 1 Sussex Stakes, Beat The Bank returned there when again down in grade and resumed winning ways.
Soft ground here on British Champions Day didn’t suit and a line is also put through his effort in Hong Kong.
Beat The Bank resumed winning ways in the Group 2 Sandown Mile on reappearance when driven ahead and holding Sharja Bridge by half-a-length.
While he was then again disappointing in the Lockinge at Newbury, he put in his best Group 1 display yet last time out.
That came in the Queen Anne where old rival Lord Glitters just held Beat The Bank by a neck.
Although he has to give 3lb to his main markets rivals, on that evidence he’s capable of doing it.
Zaaki respected and feared most
Sir Michael Stoute hasn’t won this for over 30 years, but Zaaki is in the form of his life since being gelded.
He looks like a typical improver with age for the yard and is thus feared most. Zaaki was a maiden when joining his current stable and ran some solid races in defeat last season.
After landing a novice event at Thirsk, he was a fine five-length third to Hunting Horn in the Group 3 Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Later in the season, Zaaki filled the same spot in the similar grade Rose Of Lancaster at Haydock.
The gelding operation looks to have done the trick as he won on return to action in a Listed contest on the straight course here on Royal Ascot Trials day.
As Zaaki always held former Group 1 winner Barney Roy, then followed-up on Derby day at Epsom in the Group 3 Diomed Stakes, he is clearly making belated progress.
Taking into account the 3lb penalty Beat The Bank must give away to him, Zaaki only has 1lb to find on official figures. Provided he continues to improve, he is respected at a standout 9/4 with Betfred now up in grade.
That price is based on potential rather than proven form at this level, however. It’s for that reason, plus Beat The Bank’s superior showings at the course, why we are taking Zaaki on in the Summer Mile.
Accidental Agent an each-way Summer Mile alternative
Last year’s Queen Anne hero Accidental Agent shaped with real promise in the Lockinge on reappearance but then refused to race when given the chance to defend his Royal Ascot crown.
It was hugely disappointing to see Eve Johnson Houghton’s stable star not leaving the stalls last month. #
If forgiving the five-year-old, however, he comes out 3lb on top on adjusted ratings and is thus each-way value on the pick of his form at 6/1 with BetVictor.
Accidental Agent beat Lord Glitters, who followed him as Queen Anne winner this year, by half-a-length at Royal Ascot in 2018. That form thus arguably sets the standard in this lower grade contest.
He improved on sixth in the Lockinge last year to finish a three-length third to Mustashry this term. It was an encouraging reappearance run which suggested there was more to come from Accidental Agent.
You didn’t get a run for your money last time out, but this was the first time in his career that Accidental Agent refused to race.
This occasion is less prestigious than Royal Ascot and the Summer Mile looks a chance for connections to gain compensation.