St James's Palace Stakes Guide

1. BELL ROCK

T - Andrew Balding

J - Oisin Murphy

Bell Rock has been a big drifter in the betting since early showings, doubling in price from 40/1 into 80's.

He landed the spoils on debut in October at Newmarket, but was nowhere near King Of Comedy in the Heron Stakes at Sandown on first start as a three-year-old.

Hard to see the improvement needed coming here, and one to axe early on.

2. CIRCUS MAXIMUS

T - Aidan O'Brien

J - Ryan Moore

Finished sixth in the Derby this year under Frankie Dettori, and may have been denied the gaps needed to finish first up the placings.

Stays ten furlongs after his easy win at Chester in the Dee Stakes, but this a mile, a distance he has only succeeded over once in three starts.

That was his maiden success at Gowran Park, but fourth in the Vertem Futurity Trophy behind Phoenix Of Spain does make for good reading.

3. FOX CHAMPION

T - Richard Hannon

J - Silvestre De Sousa

King Power Racing's Fox Champion ensures it is still a clash of Guineas heroes, after Magna Grecia dropped out through injury.

Fox Champion is a perfect three out of three this season and progressing well.

The three-year-old took the Germany Guineas from the front last time out, and will look to provide Richard Hannon a second win in this race in the last three years.

More is needed here though.

4. KING OF COMEDY

T - John Gosden

J - Adam Kirby

The interesting dark horse, who asserted last time out in convincing style in the Heron Stakes.

A second player for John Gosden could very much be his leading participant, and currently poses a few more guarantees than Too Darn Hot does.

Wins at Sandown and at Yarmouth has thrown his name into the mix, and an exciting prospect going forward for the yard that took this race twelve months ago with Without Parole.

5. PHOENIX OF SPAIN

T - Charlie Hills

J - Jamie Spencer

Returned to the frame with a pillar-to-post victory in the Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh last month.

Really turned on the tap from the front end over old advisory Too Darn Hot, bouncing back after two defeats at Doncaster at the end of his juvenile campaign - one at the hands of the Champion two-year-old.

Already a shorty; must prove that was no fluke.

6. ROYAL MARINE

T - Saeed bin Suroor

J - Christophe Soumillon

Very useful two-year-old campaign looked to set him up for a promising year, which so far has not gone to plan.

A Group One winner in Longchamp last term, and fourth on first crack at the dirt in Meydan were both eyecatching performances, but he could not get any room to manoeuvre into in the Craven.

Excuses yes, but never featured in the 2,000 Guineas itself at the same venue.

Waited with since.

7. SHAMAN

T - C Laffon-Parias

J - Maxime Guyon

French challenger, Listed and Group Three winner before second a Longchamp in heavy going in the French 2,000 Guineas.

The impressive Persian King will return to a mile in the future after failing to stay in the French Derby - according to his trainer, but Shaman eventually overcame early inexperience and greenness early on in his career to eventually get the hang of things in the past eight months, including that close effort at the Arc venue.

Should give a good account of himself.

8. SKARDU

T - William Haggas

J - James Doyle

Winner of the Craven, Skardu has ran spiritedly in defeat in the English and French 2,000 Guineas this season.

He was probably on the end of some possible draw bias the Newmarket when finishing third, and was fourth at the Curragh when ridden much closer to the pace.

Has plenty of form to reverse here - but would be no miracle if he did manage to prevail.

9. THE IRISH ROVER

T - Aidan O'Brien

J - Seamie Heffernan

Derby winning rider Seamie Heffernan jumps on The Irish Rover, and he will not be expecting any sorts of life-changing results in this.

This will be his first attempt at a mile, and his one previous attempt over seven offered little encouragement.

One to rub out.

10. TOO DARN HOT

T - John Gosden

J - Frankie Dettori

Champion two-year-old of last season was rated the same as Frankel as he commenced his three-year-old campaign unbeaten, but two defeats from his last two is the initial concern.

Various excuses for the brace of defeats - did not stay the Dante trip at York, and was probably knackered in the Irish Guineas a week later when chasing down Phoenix Of Spain.

However, still managed to finish second in both of those, and should arrive here fresh as a daisy.

Surely his last chance with some backers.

11. VAN BEETHOVEN

T - Aidan O'Brien

J - Donnacha O'Brien

Plenty of efforts this season and last term, with just two victories from twelve starts.

He has been beaten by the likes of Phoenix Of Spain (latest), Too Darn Hot, Shaman and Skardu all comfortably this side of Christmas, and has plenty of work to do.

Likely to be held up, so doubt we will really see him.

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