A Look Ahead - The St James's Palace Stakes

A Look Ahead - The St James's Palace Stakes

The St. James's Palace Stakes is one of three Group One's on the opening day of Royal Ascot, and is the feature of the week for the three-year-old colts.

Run in Berkshire over a distance just shy of a mile (7f23y), the event is named after St. James's Palace, a royal residence during the Tudor period.

The race was established in 1834 - using the 'Old Mile' start at Ascot over the straight course, and was not promoted to top-band status until 1988.

It usually features horses which contested the 2,000 Guineas - the opening Classic for horse's aged three, whether that would be at Newmarket, the Poule d'Essai des Poulains in France or the Irish Guineas at the Curragh.

The race has a special roll of honour featuring horse's that have spring-boarded onto bigger and better things, including Kingman in 2014 and Frankel in 2011, but also further back to the likes of Giant's Causeaway and Rock of Gibraltar.

Of course being exclusive to a certain age group means no multiple or back-to-back winners of the race, but Aidan O'Brien has trained a record seven winners in the race, most recently in 2015 with Gleneagles.

He could have extended his tally to eight had Churchill landed the short-price odds tagged to him in 2017, but Barney Roy breezed on by for Richard Hannon and ended the son of Galileo's unbeaten record to-date; the Godolphin horse now trained by Charlie Appleby since stepping out of retirement, and goes for the Queen Anne this year.

Galileo Gold followed up his win in the Guineas with a victory here for Frankie Dettori and Hugo Palmer, whilst the Italian was also on board twelve months ago when prevailing on the John Gosden-trained Without Parole.

This year looks a fascinating renewal of Guineas victors, with Phoenix Of Spain - the Irish triumphant, currently a short-price 6/4 favourite.

Charlie Hills' three-year-old was making his seasonal comeback at the Curragh when holding off more than two of today's rivals, and should almost certainly come off better for the run.

After victories as a juvenile at York and Wolverhampton, the grey finished second to both Too Darn Hot and Magna Grecia in two separate Doncaster contests, before reversing two bits of form and beating them both in Ireland.

Whether he goes better fresh, or that he beat a 'knackered' Too Darn Hot and an injured Magna Grecia, we will wait and see, but he is currently a very strong favourite with most firms.

Too Darn Hot will certainly have his say in the event, and was not disgraced at the Curragh having only contested the Dante Stakes at York only a week before.

He was beaten on his first start beyond the mile trip up at York - having not made it to the Guineas at Newmarket, so John Gosden dropped him back to eight furlongs instantly and threw him in the Ireland Group One the following weekend.

The Champion two-year-old is yet to repeat the scintillating form he displayed in his juvenile days, but this looks the best of his chances yet, and at 4/1, he is definitely preferred at the prices.

He will look to bounce back - which he is very capable in doing so, along with Aidan O'Brien's leading charge Magna Grecia, who bolted up at Newmarket.

As aforementioned, he did pick up an injury in the Irish equivalent - possibly pulling a hamstring, but he appears to have shaken off that knock now and is ready to fire at Ascot.

Magna Grecia - the top three-year-old miler in the Ballydoyle ranks, also won the Vertem Futurity Stakes at Doncaster and finished an outstanding second to Andre Fabre's Persian King in the Autumn Stakes at HQ last season.

They are the leading protagonists, but like any great race, there are an abundance of other horse's that certainly want to spoil the party.

Just like Too Darn Hot, John Gosden has another very interesting recruit in the shape of King Of Comedy, who is a perfect two-out-of-two for the season, after impressive wins at Yarmouth and last time out in a Listed race at Sandown.

The Lady Bamford-owned colt has winning blood from this race in his veins being a son of Kingman, and could easily step-up to the mark on what will be his fifth career start.

Skardu has run with much credit for William Haggas this term, finishing third and fourth in both sets of Guineas after victory in the Craven.

He looks a valuable individual at a nice price but would need to reverse form with his rivals, whilst Madhmoon still holds an entry, but may consider racing over further after a fantastic performance in the Derby.

Shaman represents the incoming French invasion in the familiar colours of Wertherimer & Frere, whilst Fox Champion - another Guineas winner in Germany, will look to provide King Power with their first big win at Royal Ascot.

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