French threat looms large at Ascot

Manduro can make the trip across the Channel more than worthwhile by grabbing gold in a mouth-watering renewal of Royal Ascot's Prince Of Wales' Stakes.

Manduro can make the trip across the Channel more than worthwhile by grabbing gold in a mouth-watering renewal of Royal Ascot's Prince Of Wales' Stakes.

Andre Fabre's charge finished a close third to Ouija Board in last year's 10-furlong cracker, before posting a string of placed efforts in the highest company.

He has returned this year looking better than ever, and finally ended his Group One hoodoo when slamming his rivals in France last time. This race will pose a much sterner question, with Dylan Thomas, Notnowcato, Red Rocks and Sir Percy among a stellar cast.

However, Fabre's star should not be underestimated and seems to have fewer question marks hanging over him than that quartet ahead of what is shaping up to be the race of the meeting. While he may not have beaten Cockney Rebel in the 2,000 Guineas, French raider US Ranger's bad luck at the start certainly cost him a trouble-free run.

Jean-Claude Rouget's Danzig colt arrived for the Newmarket classic with a big reputation. Unbeaten in four starts, the French runner was supplemented for the big race only to have his hopes dashed early when carried to the far side. In the end, the horse did well to finish seventh and was less then four lengths behind Geoff Huffer's impressive winner.

US Ranger appears better treated by the draw in the Jersey Stakes, however, and could well reignite his lofty reputation over a seven-furlong trip. The Windsor Forest Stakes is another tricky contest, but it might pay to side with Echelon, who has already got the better of a couple of her main rivals this year.

Sir Michael Stoute's mare has won both her starts in 2007 and beat the reopposing duo Bahia Breeze and Nannina in the process recently. Echelon looks the form horse on that running and may have most to fear from the French raider Satwa Queen. The annual one-mile cavalry charge that is the Royal Hunt Cup is probably best avoided or approached with a sharp and lucky pin. But if the threatened showers are heavy enough to affect the going, it could be worth having an each-way flutter on My Paris.

Kevin Ryan's charge is enjoying his best season for some time and capped a string of decent efforts with a battling win at Thirsk last month. He is 6lb higher for that triumph but would come into the reckoning if the storm clouds gather.

Today's saraband selections

royal ascot: 2.30 us Ranger, 3.05 Echelon, 3.45 Manduro (nap), 4.20 My Paris, 4.55 Polar Circle, 5.30 Truly Enchanting.

HAMILTON: 2.10 Binario Uno, 2.45 Western Point, 3.20 Neil's Legacy, 4.00 Thoughtsofstardom, 4.35 Katie Boo, 5.10 View From The Top, 5.45 Fantastic Delight.

KEMPTON: 6.10 Night Cru, 6.40 Hypoteneuse, 7.10 Guiseppe Verdi, 7.40 Gypsy Baby, 8.10 High Tribute, 8.40 Gaelic Roulette, 9.10 Bonnie Prince Blue.

RIPON: 7.20 Rievaulx Valentino, 7.50 Off The Record, 8.20 Harvest Warrior, 8.50 Fenners, 9.20 Apache Dawn.

WORCESTER: 2.20 Night Groove, 2.55 Hero Again, 3.30 Are You There, 4.10 Great Character, 4.45 Ballyboley, 5.20 Keepitsecret.

DOUBLE: Manduro and US Ranger.

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