Eight for the weekend: big names set to dazzle on Classic weekend
The Flat season is now in full swing and the top-quality racing isn't going to relent any time soon. Here are eight stars set to light up the weekend
So after all the speculation Churchill will not be running in the Derby. But Epsom’s loss is the Curragh’s gain and it looks unlikely the colt who has built himself a reputation for being efficiently invincible will be beaten on Saturday. Churchill makes the predictable exciting as he may not always win by very far but win he continues to do, and in exalted company too. He bears resemblance to Aidan O’Brien’s double Guineas winner Gleneagles, whom he will be bidding to emulate, and Churchill could yet prove a miler for the ages. He will face five rivals on Saturday, two of which will be stablemates Lancaster Bomber and Spirit Of Valor, as well as Glastonbury Song, Irishcorrespondent plus Thunder Snow, who returns to the racetrack after his Kentucky antics.
Ouija Board is proving just as good in the breeding shed as she was on the racetrack and her son Frontiersman clearly possesses a percentage of her brilliance. The colt has always been held in high regard and made his rivals look pedestrian in a competitive handicap on 1,000 Guineas day. He is entered in the Hardwicke Stakes and the Coral-Eclipse, but Charlie Appleby was keen to play down those targets and, in an intriguing move, the unexposed colt is now stepped up to 1m6f. He faces a deep field, however, including Dal Harraild, who was mightily progressive last season, as well as Wall Of Fire, Harrison and Alyssa, who all look as if they have more to give over this distance.
The Victoria Cup was a cakewalk. Fastnet Tempest has to be one of the most exciting horses around, such was his ability to turn the helter-skelter of a 24-runner handicap at Ascot into a peaceful procession. Chester may not be the first place you’d think to see him next but he has the ideal draw in stall 1 and should be able to take out this prize before Royal Ascot beckons. Eleven will look to derail him, including course specialist and winner at Chester’s May meeting Sound Advice and the ever-redoubtable Ice Slice.
We always knew Spark Plug would ignite in one of those big-field, valuable handicaps and he did just that with an awesome performance in the Cambridgeshire last season. After a horror fall in the 2015 Hunt Cup, it has been far from smooth sailing for Brian Meehan's stable star, but after a pleasing return behind Steel Of Madrid in the Earl of Sefton Stakes last time, Spark Plug looks set for more big-race success. Mount Logan and Abdon are among the opposition, who both look well up to Listed class.
Clive Cox hasn't hidden his adoration for Harry Angel, a horse who had his problems before dismissing his Mill Reef field last season, and in the aftermath Cox mused: "He'll keep us warm over the winter". Judged on his superb return to action when shouldering a penalty in the Pavilion Stakes, things could be hotting up at Cox's stable and they excel with horses of this nature. Mubtasim and Second Thought are decent and they oppose him here, but Harry Angel looks tailor-made for the Commonwealth Cup and he will want to be winning this en route.
Washington DC must have been to plenty of weddings as he's been the bridesmaid on what seems like countless occasions. Aidan O'Brien's hardy speedster won the Windsor Castle in 2015, but he has also finished second on eight of his 19 starts and, although the Temple Stakes is only a Group 2, this could be the day he gets more than a shadow of the limelight. Dual Group 1 winner Quiet Reflection will be hard to beat if at her best though, as well as Kachy, who are among his 11 rivals.
Those who followed home Acapulco in the Sole Power Sprint Stakes would have just been able to make out the 'baby on board' sticker on her rear, as Coolmore's rapid filly is in foal to their all-conquering sire Galileo. After blitzing her Queen Mary field in 2015, for many Acapulco is the prequel to Lady Aurelia, but she is simply brilliant in her own right. Now with Aidan O'Brien, she steps up to six furlongs here. Gordon Lord Byron, Suedois and Mobsta will be aiming to pour cold water on the baby shower this time around.
Imperious in the Qipco 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket, Winter put the race to bed in the style of a champion. Aidan O'Brien failed to do the Guineas double with superstar Minding – who could also run in the Tattersalls Gold Cup on the same card – and this filly looks well equipped to go one better. Her chief threats look to be Kevin Prendergast's Aneen and Michael Halford's Rehana, but if the grey filly is to win again we will all have goosebumps, even in this heat.