The King’s Stand Stakes is the undisputed sprint highlight of the opening day at Royal Ascot (3.45pm Tuesday). Last year’s winner Sole Power (9/2) lines up again aiming to make it two victories in a row – a feat that has not been achieved in the past thirty years.
Trained by Edward Lynam, Sole Power comes into the race in good form. He was last seen winning the Group 3 Palace House Stakes at Newmarket in May, beating Robert Cowell’s talented veteran, Kingsgate Native by half a length. That outing suggests he has suffered no ill effects from his trip to Meydan in March but, now a seven-year-old, he is unlikely to be getting quicker. Another question mark is the potentially good to soft surface. As a son of Kyllachy, it is no surprise that he seems at his best on a sounder surface.
Mike De Kock’s Shea Shea (9/2) got the better of Sole Power twice in Meydan but we haven’t seen him since he finished a very close third in the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint there at the end of March. Sole Power was two lengths behind him in seventh.
There is always an element of doubt on a first run back in England and, as another seven-year-old, he is older than ideal. He came second in this race beaten a quarter of a length last year and should put in another good performance if he is untroubled by the surface.
The favourite by a short head is the three-year-old Hot Streak at 4/1. This son of Iffraaj has the highest official rating of 117 and most recently won the Group 2 Temple Stakes at Haydock in May. He made all and beat David Barron’s Pearl Secret by half a length, providing a one-two for owner Qatar Racing. He benefited from an 8lb weight for age allowance.
Trained by Kevin Ryan (pictured), he won the Group 3 Cornwallis Stakes here last year on good to soft and seems unlikely to be inconvenienced by give in the ground. He looks progressive and may well get the better of his elders.
Pearl Secret (7/1) will carry only 6lb more than Hot Streak giving him a 2lb pull and a chance of reversing the Temple Stakes form if he is not dependent on soft ground. This five-year-old son of Compton Place came third last year when rated 6lb lower than his current mark of 115, so the handicapper believes he has improved. His jockey Olivier Peslier has won this race twice before and has a decent chance of achieving a third win here.
An interesting runner at a more generous price is Roger Varian’s Steps (16/1). He started slowly in his most recent run in the Heritage Handicap at Epsom earlier this month but finished strongly to take fourth under Kieren Fallon. He was beaten less than a length by Tony Carroll’s Caspian Prince when carrying top weight.
This six-year-old is thoroughly exposed with 36 starts to his name but is still edging up in the handicapper’s estimations, recently gaining a mark of 110. This will be his first encounter of Group 1 company but Varian’s recent form makes it hard to ignore him.
Aidan O’Brien took the Derby with Australia and sends out the lightly raced Guerre (12/1) who, like Australia, is owned by Derrick Smith, Michael Tabor and Mrs John Magnier. This three-year-old son of War Front was successfully tried over five furlongs last time, winning a listed race at Naas at the end of April. He beat Evanna McCutcheon’s stable star Maarek by a length and a half when carrying nearly a stone less than him.
He has started as the favourite in his three runs to date and has won two of them gaining a rating of 110. He will benefit from Ryan Moore’s expert assistance as Joseph O’Brien cannot do 8st 12lb.
King’s Stand Stakes Preview and Tips Conclusion
Favourites have a patchy record in this race and Pearl Secret looks an interesting prospect at 7/1 but it is difficult to oppose HOT STREAK. He is not only the highest rated horse to line up but benefits from the weight for age allowance making him a worthy favourite. He has to be our pick to win, best priced at 4/1 with Bet365, Paddy Power and BetVictor. The first two named bookies are 1/4 odds a place the first three, so you could bet each-way and gets evens for the place as a saver because he looks nailed on for the frame.