Royal Ascot 2015: St James’ Palace Stakes preview (16.20)
Dual Guineas winner Gleneagles look a cut above his rivals, and a worthy odds-on favourite to provide trainer Aidan O’Brien with a seventh winner of the Group 1 St James’ Palace Stakes in the feature race on day one of Royal Ascot.
The colt was a top class juvenile who put in a stunning display on his seasonal reappearance when landing the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket.
After racing in touch on the stands side, Gleneagles made smooth headway two from home to take up the running at the furlong marker and quicken clear to beat Territories by 2 1/4 lengths.
Jockey Ryan Moore never had to get serious at any stage, and the turn of foot shown by Gleneagles suggested he would be extremely difficult to beat in Group 1 mile contests during the rest of the season.
That view was confirmed when the beautifully bred son of Galileo followed up with success in the Irish equivalent at the Curragh.
The three-year-old didn’t get the clearest of passages, but showed a smart turn of foot to mow down the leaders and get up and score by 3/4 of a length.
Gleneagles was value for more than the winning margin on ground that was softer than ideal, and with underfoot conditions now perfect is going to be extremely tough to beat in the hands of jockey Ryan Moore.
Make Believe won the the French 2000 Guineas, and is a fascinating contender for trainer Andre Fabre.
The colt beat stablemate New Bay by three lengths in the Poule d’Essai des Poulains at Longchamp last month, and that form has been given a massive boost by the runner-up going on to land the Group 1 Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly in impressive fashion.
Make Believe made all to make it three wins from four runs, and could prove dangerous if allowed an easy lead in what is likely to be a tactical affair.
Another not to be underestimated is the Sir Michael Stoute trained Consort, though he has lost jockey Moore to Gleneagles. This colt is unbeaten in two starts and looked an exciting prospect in the last of those when easily landing the Listed 1m Heron Stakes at Sandown.
The fact that connections are now pitching the Consort into Group 1 company shows how highly the son of Lope De Vega is regarded, and he now has the services of in-form Derby winning jockey Frankie Dettori in the saddle, who rides the track as good as anyone and needs just one more winner to make it 50 successes at Royal Ascot.
Coral betting tip: Gleneagles glory has an air of inevitability about it, and new customers get enhanced odds on him winning this one.