Royal Ascot 2016: Awtaad the answer to St James’s Palace Stakes
David Metcalf | June 13, 2016
Awtaad holds all the aces in St James’s Palace Stakes
Awtaad has an ultra progressive profile and with the ground in his favour can land a stellar renewal of the Group 1 St James’s Palace Stakes on the opening day of Royal Ascot (16.20).
The Kevin Prendergast trained colt made his racecourse debut back in October when a highly promising third, and then scored easily on his final start as a juvenile when landing a 15-runner maiden at Leopardstown by two lengths.
Awtaad was then off the track for 147 days before putting in an impressive display when romping to a five length success in a competitive handicap at the Curragh, and backed that up with an easy success in the Listed Tetrach Stakes.
Awesome in Irish 2,000 Guineas
The three-year-old looked a top notch prospect in the latter, and confirmed that view when winning the Irish 2,000 Guineas on yielding ground at the Curragh last month in impressive fashion.
Awtaad travelled powerfully throughout and showed a smart turn of foot when asked to quickly put the race to bed and beat English 2,000 Guineas winner Galileo Gold by 2 1/2 lengths.
Judge on that run the son of Cape Cross has nothing to fear from the re-opposing runner-up, and Awtaad’s proven ability to act on soft ground is a major plus which can give him the edge over his rivals to land this mouthwatering 1m contest.
The Gurkha feared most
Galileo Gold was impressive when scooting to classic glory at Newmarket, but was beaten fair and square by Awtaad at the Curragh and would prefer quicker ground.
It’s hard to see him turning the tables with Awtaad, and The Gurkha looks to be the main danger to the selection.
Trained in Ireland by Aidan O’Brien, who saddled saddled Gleneagles to win the race 12 months ago, and The Gurkha justified the decision to supplement him for the French 2,000 Guineas when storming away with the Poule d’Essai des Poulains at Deauville last month.
An impressive winner of a Navan maiden just four weeks earlier after being well beaten into third on debut, the son of Galileo continued his dramatic progress by totally destroying the opposition to score by 5 1/2 lengths.
Potential to be something special
It was arguably one of the most impressive performances by a three-year-old in Europe this season, and connections decide to bypass the Investec Derby to save him for the race.
Judge on the manner of that success the three-year-old could be something very special, and The Gurkha remains open to stacks more progress.
The three-year-old also won’t mind the rain that has hit the Berkshire venue as both his wins have come on soft/heavy ground, and with Ryan Moore in the saddle The Gurkha looks sure to give Awtaad plenty to think about.
Coral’s top tip: Awtaad has done nothing but impress this season and looks worth a wager to get the better of The Gurkha in a fantastic renewal of the St James’s Palace Stakes.