Saint James’s scorcher on Day One

Tuesday 18th June, 4:25pm

Notable Speech @ 11/8
Rosallion @ 7/2
Henry Longfellow @ 4/1
Alyanaabi @ 14/1
Darlinghurst @ 14/1
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*prices correct at time of writing. 

There is nothing quite like a St James’s Palace Stakes-showdown between the major European 2000 Guineas winners, plus a few of their vanquished and some potential rising stars, but that’s what we have in a hotly-anticipated staging of the one-mile feature on Royal Ascot’s opening day (4-25).

Not only is 2000 Guineas winner Notable Speech unbeaten in four career starts – all of them this year and, prior to Newmarket, all on the all-weather circuit – but the form of that highly-authoritative Classic success is increasingly glittering, with the runner-up, third, fourth, sixth, eighth and ninth all to one extent or another advertising its quality. Godolphin’s homebred son of Dubawi clearly sets a high standard.

Rosallion, a length-and-half away in second that day with his stablemate Haatem third, subsequently confirmed those placings, albeit more narrowly, in the Irish 2000 Guineas, making up an impressive amount of ground late on. From the French Guineas come supplemented Metropolitan, the winner, and Coolmore’s undefeated juvenile Henry Longfellow (beaten only four lengths in eighth), with Henry Longfellow fancied to have come on enough to turn the tables.

Having finished fifth behind Notable Speech in the Guineas, Alyanaabi is the only one of the Newmarket principals not to have raced since, but he certainly performed with credit. Almaqam trotted up in Sandown’s Heron Stakes on soft ground, while Darlinghurst, another French challenger, drops back marginally in distance having seen off the ultimate Prix du Jockey Club runner-up at Group Three level in comprehensive style.

Notable Speech looks to have more than enough of everything – what do you think?

The first four races of the week provide flat racing’s most compelling couple of hours of the year, and ahead of the Queen Anne (2-30) the vibes from France are strong for apparently still-improving Dubai Turf winner Facteur Cheval to get the better this time of fellow countryman Big Rock. Ground could be an issue for Charyn.

There are all kinds of Coventry Stakes (3-05) lines to ponder, one of which revolves around Arran, The Actor and Al Qudra, all graduates of a five-furlong novices’ race at the Craven Meeting, and it would be no surprise if subsequent six-furlong winner Al Qudra goes close.

The name of Big Evs is on plenty of lips ahead of the King Charles III Stakes (the old King’s Stand, 3-45) but two to take out of their recent races are Rogue Lightning (some top-notch form; not suited by Haydock ground) and Twilight Calls (previously fourth and runner-up in this; too much to do and not enough time to do it at Newmarket).

At the start of an important week for the Emir of Qatar’s big-spending Wathnan Racing, despite three runners in the Coventry and two decent hopes in the King Charles III Stakes (including Rogue Lightning), progressive Wolferton Stakes hope Torito, trained by the Gosdens, is the real standout having made an excellent return from an absence at the Guineas meeting.

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