Coventry Stakes (Group 2) | 6f | 2yo | colts | ITV/Sky
Aidan O'Brien's first two Royal Ascot wins were both in the Coventry Stakes, a race he has come to dominate with eight victories. Harbour Master, his first winner in 1997 in a list that includes Fasliyev, Henrythenavigator, Power and Caravaggio, was a 16-1 chance despite arriving unbeaten.
Since then the majority of the stable's winners have started favourite but War Command was a notable exception, for he was the stable's third choice according to the betting when he stormed home six lengths clear in 2013.
Multiple entries are the Ballydoyle norm now, and there are four this time, but Arizona, an eight-length Curragh winner since being beaten first time out by Sunday Sovereign, is easily the pick judged from the betting, although Racing Post Ratings give Fort Myers a similar chance.
Weighing up his four contenders, O'Brien said: "Arizona came forward nicely from his first run to win well at the Curragh last month. We were delighted with his performance that day and he's been in good form since.
"We were very happy with Fort Myers at Newbury last time when he lost out narrowly. We think he has come forward. We think King Of Athens has progressed too since finishing second to Arizona at the Curragh, while Royal Lytham travelled well when winning at Navan and should appreciate six furlongs."
Hannon hoping to pose big Threat
The Coventry has long been the target for the Hannons' best young colts, and Canford Cliffs in 2009 and Strong Suit 12 months later were continuing where Rock City started for the stable in 1989.
It was earmarked for Threat, the Cheveley Park Stud's son of Footstepsinthesand, in the Newmarket winner's enclosure after his impressive debut on 1,000 Guineas day, and Richard Hannon is hopeful he can get his name on the trophy for the first time since he took over from his father.
Hannon said: "Threat won very nicely at Newmarket. He's pretty inexperienced, but he's been working very well and we are hoping he can run a big race. Stepping up to six furlongs will suit him very well."
Stable companion Kuwait Direction is a rank outsider, but Hannon is adamant he will not be disgraced and said: "Kuwait Direction will outrun his price. It was a big improvement from his first run to his second run and if he does that again he'll run well."
What they say
Hugo Palmer, trainer of Coase
We've always liked him and he won with any amount of ease at Carlisle from a horse who ran well at York on Saturday. He's come on plenty and I've been impressed with his work since. He's among the outsiders, but I'm very happy with him.
Archie Watson, trainer of Guildsman
Guildsman won nicely at Goodwood, which was no surprise, and we haven't had any hold ups with him.
John Gosden, trainer of Light Angel
It's a competitive race but he deserves to be in it and what he lacks in stature he makes up for in heart.
Karl Burke, trainer of Lord of the Lodge
Lord Of The Lodge won well first time out at Ayr and he's improved a lot for that first run. Whether he's good enough to win I don't know but I'm always one for rolling the dice and having a go. He certainly won't disgrace himself.
Michael Bell, trainer of Maxi Boy
We've liked him from day one and he won tidily at Yarmouth. He's definitely improved for the run and he's got a great temperament and the right profile for the race. He should give a good account of himself.
Mark Johnston, trainer of Makyon and Monoski
Those second runs at Pontefract and Hamilton were not Coventry class, but nothing is. Both horses deserve to be there and to see if they’re up to that mark. On cost, Makyon has come from humbler beginnings perhaps, but that shouldn’t be held against him. He’s done absolutely nothing wrong and they’ve got a similar profile.
Charlie Appleby, trainer of Well Of Wisdom
Well Of Wisdom has put in two good runs so far. It was a bit of a messy race at Newbury last time and he was possibly the horse who suffered the most interference out of the first three home. There were three nice colts who pulled away in that race and I think that he is a player from what he has shown so far.