Doug Moscrop highlights some of the feature events at next week's Royal Ascot and reveals some of his early fancies
It's hard to believe Ascot has missed most of the rain this week but officials have put any watering plans on hold after 10mm fell on Thursday ahead of the five-day extravaganza.
The state of the going is vitally important when it comes to sorting out likely winners and, with our unpredictable climate, punters are advised not to get too involved with the ante-post market and wait until the day when conditions are much clearer.
Hopefully, the ground will be no worse than good, which is fair for everybody, and my first impressions are based on such a surface. It's good to firm at the moment.
The Queen Anne Stakes on Tuesday marks the eagerly-awaited return of George Washington who has been brought back into training after failing in his first season stallion duties. Last year's 2,000 Guineas and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes winner may well win on his comeback run, but I think trainer Aidan O'Brien (pictured right) has stronger contenders at the festival.
Cesare, last year's Royal Hunt Cup hero, has been supplemented for the Queen Anne after winning a Listed prize over the course last month, but his regular partner Jamie Spencer is expected to stay loyal with Red Evie following her successful reappearance in the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury. I reckon the filly is the each-way solution.
The Aussies are superior to us in a number of sports and they are likely to dominate the King's Stand Stakes given that there isn't a great deal between the European sprinters.
Takeover Target looks the most obvious one after landing this prize last year and going close to completing a Royal Ascot double in the Golden Jubilee Stakes on the final day.
Mick Channon won the Ascot Stakes last year with Baddam and this marathon test looks tailor-made for the stable's Some Tala. He was progressive last season.
He shaped with a lot of promise on his first run since October when fifth to Greenwich Meantime in the Totesport Chester Cup, despite experiencing traffic problems.
Notnowcato caused a bit of an upset when gaining his second Group One success in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh at the expense of the odds-on Dylan Thomas even though he did beat his rival in the Juddmonte International at York last August.
They cross swords in the Prince of Wales's Stakes and I fancy the O'Brien four-year-old to grab the spoils this time. He failed by just a head to peg back his rival last time and this stiffer track can bring out the best in him.