NATIONAL Hunt trainers have a stranglehold on the marathon Ascot Stakes (5.00pm) – winning nine of the previous 10 renewals.
Willie Mullins may be better known for his heroics at the Cheltenham Festival, but he saddles five of the 20 runners here in an attempt to land the prize for a fourth time in seven years.
The truth is you can make a case out for all five of his runners who occupy five of the top seven places in the market.
Stratum has been the subject of plenty of ante-post support and even though he hasn’t raced on the Flat since October 2016, he blew the cobwebs away with a spin over hurdles at Ballinrobe last month.
Ryan Moore partners Chelkar, who makes his debut for Mullins having not raced for nearly two years.
When last seen in action in France in October nearly two years ago, he was racing over half this trip, so this afternoon’s distance is a big unknown.
However, the fact he is the mount of Moore is significant and it would be no surprise to see him go close.
Meri Devie, Whiskey Sour and Lagostovegas are all fit from the jumps and also certainly cannot be discounted.
However, I’m going to oppose the Mullins battalion with Alan King’s COEUR DE LION who looks well worth a try at this monster trip.
The son of Pour Moi has been improving with each run this season and has flown home late only narrowly failing on both occasions.
With his stable in such rude health, he looks worth supporting here with the extra two furlongs looking ideal.
With Paddy Power paying five places, the 8/1 on offer looks a tasty each-way play.
Coeur De Lion e/w 5.00pm Royal Ascot