Maarek: already a Group 2 winner over today's course and distancePICTURE: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images
Nagle hopeful Maarek can show true colours
BEING beaten at odds of 4-11 in a Listed race wouldn't to be the ideal preparation for one of the most competitive Group 1 sprints in the world but David Nagle is confident Maarek can show his true colours in today's Diamond Jubilee Stakes, the feature race on the final day of Royal Ascot.
Nagle and Maarek are no strangers to big-race glory at Ascot having plundered the Group 2 Qipco British Champions Sprint over the Diamond Jubilee course and distance in October and the trainer thinks a return to Ascot will be ideal for Maarek, who rates a general 20-1 shot with bookmakers.
Nagle said: "He runs unless the ground gets any quicker. He's won a Group 2 over the course and when he got beaten at Cork on Sunday they went no pace and the easy five furlongs there didn't help. He's well and we're hopeful."
Light overnight rain has maintained the Ascot ground as good to firm and Nagle will be pleased to hear there is the possibility of a further shower later today.
Clerk of the course Chris Stickels said on Saturday morning: "We've had nearly 3mm of rain overnight to 8am but it's stopped at present (8.15am).
"We could get a blustery shower later but I would say it's likely to remain as good to firm and it should be very similar to yesterday. Obviously if we get a few more showers it could ease."
Aidan O'Brien, who won the race with Starspangledbanner in 2010, runs 25-1 shot Reply and is praying the rain stays away for the Oasis Dream four-year-old.
He said: "He's in good form but fast ground is the key to him. He'll be in trouble if it's on the slow side."
The other Group race on the card is the Hardwicke Stakes over a mile and a half and bookmakers are finding it hard to split Ektihaam, an impressive winner over course and distance last time, and Ormonde Stakes winner Mount Athos at the head of the marker.
Roger Varian, trainer of Ektihaam, said: "He's in great form. If he can reproduce his last performance then he will have a big chance. We know he acts at the track and he is versatile regarding the ground conditions."
Ladbrokes go 5-2 each of two, although both can be backed at 11-4 elsewhere.
Today's key pointers
Seven out of the last ten winners of the Chesham Stakes had raced just once previously; the other three had just two previous runs under their belts.
All of the last ten winners of the Wokingham had posted a top-six finish on their most recent outing, with seven of them finishing first or second.
If you fancy attacking one at a big price, backing a long-priced 3yo in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes could be the way to go, as their record in the last ten years is two wins and seven places (a couple of fourths as well) from 28 to take their chance. Zanetto fits the brief.
Since 1999 Mark Johnston has had four winners, two seconds and a third from just twelve runners in the Hardwicke Stakes, for a profit of £22.50 to £1 level stakes. Universal, who is seeking a four-timer, is his runner today.
Sir Michael Stoute's record in the Duke of Edinburgh Handicap since 1998 reads 11402015401202 and backing all his runners in this period would have produced a profit of £15.00 to £1 level stakes.
Pointers courtesy of Raceform Interactive
Ascot Good to firm
Ayr Good to firm
Down Royal Good, good to firm in places
Haydock Good to firm
Lingfield Turf: Good to firm, firm in places.
Newmarket Good to firm
Redcar Good to firm