Some very good horses have won this race including the mighty Frankel. He bolted up by five lengths on his four year old debut. In the two years before that, Canford Cliffs and Paco Boy won the race. Last year, it was Ribchester who stole the show, stamping his dominance on a good field. Lightning Spear was in second that day and runs again this year.
Aidan O’Brien has four of the sixteen runners this time around. The selection of his jockeys seems to be Rhododendron, who has a fillies’ allowance as she has Ryan Moore on board. Last season, she was the favourite for both the 1000 Guineas and the Oaks but she could only manage second in both races. She’s a Fillies’ Mile winner so the trip won’t be an issue for her but it is odd that she has come back down to sprint distances after winning a Group One at Chantilly at the end of last season. On her seasonal debut, she finished fourth behind Cracksman in a Group One over one mile two furlongs. Deauville will be partnered by Wayne Lordan and he is joint highest rated in this. In Britain last season, he was very consistent but struggled abroad. He won the Huxley Stakes at Chester in May 2017. He hasn’t won over a mile but has speed for this trip as he is a seven furlong winner. Lancaster Bomber has ran in most of the major one mile races of the past few years. At two, he was second in the Dewhurst and then at three, his best run was second in the St James’ Palace. He made his four year old debut in the Dubai Turf and he finished eleventh and it doesn’t look as though he can win this. War Decree was second in this year’s running of the Huxley stakes last week and it was a good return to form by him. He won a Group Three contest in September on an artificial surface at Dundalk and won the Group two Vintage Stakes as a two year old. Based on recent form, he is probably the second best of the four O’Brien horses based on their recent form.
Limato and Labrisa Breeze are two Group One winners. Limato has been a huge star for Henry Candy. He has won eight times and five of them were at group level. He hasn’t been seen since winning a Group Two at Newmarket in October. In that race, Dutch Connection was pulled up. Henry Candy’s charge seems to be more effective over sprint trips and he has been fourth and sixth on both starts over a mile. Labrisa Breeze’s last run in Britain was in October at Champions Day when he won the sprint. Then, in March, he was ninth over in Meydan. He usually runs over sprint trips but has won over this trip so there shouldn’t be an issue with that.
ADDEYBB has made great progress already this season by winning both of his two starts. On his first start of the campaign, he won the Lincoln by two and three quarter lengths and then followed that up by winning a Group Two at Sandown. He should be able to take the step up in grade in his stride and has age on his side against the older horses. Four year olds have won the race eight times in the past ten years but he is in stall sixteen and the highest winning draw over the past ten years was stall ten. He is a progressive type that can stamp his group level qualifications in this race and his jockey-trainer combination is one to be feared.
Two of the big Dubai organisations, Godolphin and Qatar Racing, are represented in this. Goldolphin has Dutch Connection. He is a group winner but has lost his way recently. Last time out, he was pulled up behind Limato because he injured himself and went lame. A huge negative is that he hasn’t won a single one of his ten starts over a mile. The Qatar runner, Lightning Spear, probably has the best chance of the two. He won the Celebration Mile at Goodwood and has won five times over a mile. The Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot ties a lot of these runners together. Lightning Spear was the best placed of the runners who will run in this. Zonderland was eighth, Beat The Bank was tenth and Lancaster Bomber finished fourteenth.
Beat The Bank was brilliant last year for connections. He ran seven times and won five of them- three of which were over a mile and in class one company. He has won every type of group race apart from a Group One. He has the second highest mark and has a good chance of adding a Group One to his collection if the big horses flop and if he has improved from three to four. Roger Varian has promising Zabeel Prince in this. He has only been beaten in two of his six starts and he was extremely impressive in a Doncaster Listed race. Whether he is ready for the step up to Group One company, it is unclear but he has a good progressive profile.
Suedois won twice at the end of last season including a Group Two with Alexios Komnenos behind him. His other win was in America at Keenland in a stakes race over a mile. Then he went to Del Mar and came fourth in the Breeder’s Cup Mile. Lancaster Bomber was two places ahead. Alexois Komnenos is a Group Three winner over a mile at the back end of last season but couldn’t transfer that to Group Two level. He looks as though he won’t handle this grade.
Clive Cox has Zonderland in this race. He is a dual Listed winner at a mile. He has been behind Lightning Spear twice in Group Two company and was just a nose behind him in the Celebration Mile at Goodwood when headed on the line. That is good form but he needs to improve and so will Accidental Agent who looks like he will struggle to win this.