Royal Ascot Day One: St James’s Palace Stakes – The Contenders

4.20 St James’s Palace Stakes: This is one of the showdowns of Royal Ascot as John Gosden’s Too Darn Hot – a sensation as a 2yo but disappointing so far at three – takes on Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Phoenix Of Spain. There is a good supporting cast including another Gosden runner King Of Comedy and William Haggas’s Skardu as well as a quartet of Aidan O’Brien runners.

PHOENIX OF SPAIN (Trainer: Charlie Hills, Jockey: Jamie Spencer) 7-4: Convincing winner of the Irish 2,000 Guineas and rightly favourite.

TOO DARN HOT (pictured; John Gosden, Frankie Dettori) 9-4: After suffering setbacks has run twice and came second at Curragh behind Phoenix Of Spain but has huge scope to improve on that.

KING OF COMEDY (John Gosden, Adam Kirby) 11-2: Comfortable Listed winner last time but this is a big step up on that but still on the upgrade.

SHAMAN (Carlos Laffon-Parias, Maxime Guyon) 10-1: Just came up short in the French 2,000 Guineas but was that a lower standard than the English and French equivalents?

CIRCUS MAXIMUS (Aidan O’Brien, Ryan Moore) 11-1: Seemed to be better over the longer distances but cannot be dismissed.

SKARDU (William Haggas, James Doyle) 11-1: Performed capably in both English and Irish Guineas and if recovered has solid place claims.

FOX CHAMPION (Richard Hannon, Silvestre De Sousa) 20-1: Barely done a thing wrong in career to date and entitled to take his chance after winning German Guineas.

ROYAL MARINE (Saeed bin Suroor, Christophe Soumillon) 28-1: Not quite delivered on the promise he showed as a 2yo but not to be written off entirely.

BELL ROCK (Andrew Balding, Oisin Murphy) 66-1: Made no great impression when beaten by King Of Comedy on first run of season.

VAN BEETHOVEN (Aidan O’Brien, Donnacha O’Brien) 66-1: Recent form figures not encouraging but has always kept good company on turf and could be with no better yard.

THE IRISH ROVER (Aidan O’Brien, Seamie Heffernan) 125-1: Seems way out of his depth.


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