5.00 Royal Ascot – EL VIP (nap)
The selection, trained by Luca Cumani, is a son of Pivotal who made a winning start to his career in a 10f maiden at Doncaster last summer, things not really falling his way the next twice and a step back to 1m at Leicester seeing him round off his three-year-old campaign with an authoritative victory. He shaped well on his return to action in a well-contested 1m handicap at Bath in April won by Oh This Is Us, not helping his chances by refusing to settle fully, and that was very much a feature of his next run at Haydock when taking a fierce grip and eventually failing to beat a rival home. He proved much more amenable to restraint when returning to winning ways in a 1m handicap at Newcastle at the beginning of this month, dropped out in rear and closing in over two furlongs out, waiting for the gap to appear against the stands’ side rail and sweeping through to challenge once it did approaching the final furlong, leading inside the final 150 yards and running out an easy 2¼-length winner over Torrid. This colt looked well suited by exaggerated waiting tactics that day, appealing as the sort to thrive in a big-field and coming off a strong pace; the booking of Jamie Spencer is a positive in that regard and, still far from exposed, it wouldn’t at all surprise to this son of Pivotal confirm himself a colt of Pattern-race potential by landing this valuable prize.
5.35 Royal Ascot – TISBUTADREAM
The selection, trained by David Elsworth, is a daughter of Dream Ahead who hasn’t looked back since a disappointing debut effort last summer, reeling off a hat-trick of victories in handicaps on the all-weather within the space of a month in January/February, her winning run halted when awkward from the stalls and eventually beating one home on AW Finals day in March. She made a winning return in a course and distance fillies’ handicap a couple of months later, close up from the outset and taking over soon after halfway, pressing on over two furlongs out and finding plenty for pressure to see off Permission by a length. Her latest outing saw her contest the Group 3 Princess Elizabeth Stakes at Epsom earlier this month, soon working her way to the front and leading until pressed inside the three furlong marker, soon headed but sticking on determinedly to finish third behind Laugh Aloud. This filly has shown a tremendous attitude for pressure the last twice, seeing it out well here prior to acquitting herself with credit against her elders upped to Group company; booking of De Sousa a positive and, down in grade against her own age group/back at the scene of her latest victory, a bold showing from this filly would come as little surprise.
8.10 Chelmsford – MAZZINI (nb)
The selection, trained by James Fanshawe, is a well-bred son of Exceed And Excel who improved for being gelded last season, coming good at the sixth time of asking when played late to account for course specialist Kenny The Captain in a 6f handicap at Newcastle last summer and running well in defeat the next twice before signing off with victory at Kempton (produced late from off of a strong pace). This season hasn’t quite gone to plan thus far (holds entries in Wokingham and July Cup), fractious in the preliminaries and rearing over in the paddock before his return to action in a 6f handicap at Ascot last month, travelling into things smoothly but finding less than expected. His latest outing came in a similar event at Goodwood a couple of weeks later, drawn widest of all and also forced to deliver his challenge out wide having travelling comfortably in behind the pacesetters, his effort rather understandably flattening out as a result as he came home in eighth behind Boy In The Bar. This gelding is certainly not the most straightforward of customers, and the excuses are starting to mount up, but he is bred to improve with age and, perhaps more crucially, is now returned to a synthetic surface (2-4 on AW; 0-7 on turf); mark has eased another pound and, from a kinder draw this time, he is worth one final chance to show what he can do.