Gosden set for big day after arriving politely late at party
David Carr assesses Jack Hobbs and the rest of the team
He spent plenty of time in California but John Gosden is undeniably British, so it's no surprise that he should adopt the traditional home approach to Royal Ascot.
We have always had an inordinately polite attitude to our big summer sporting parties.
Remember how the home country let the visitors have their fun before stirring themselves to land a first gold medal nearly a week into the Olympics in 2012?
How the England cricket team considerately ducked out of the Champions Trophy last week, so that old friends India and Pakistan could enjoy an afternoon in the sun together in the final at The Oval?
Or how a prolonged British sense of generosity towards our foreign friends meant we let them win the men's title Wimbledon every year from 1937 until a certain uppity Scot crashed the party in 2013?
Gosden has plenty in common with Andy Murray – they're both tall, highly intelligent men with a dry sense of humour who work hard to achieve a level of success so continual that it is often taken for granted.
The Cambridge-educated former javelin blue let Aidan O'Brien, Wesley Ward and the other visiting trainers have their fun on Tuesday – when he did not have a single six-day entry, let alone a runner.
But he could smash them off the court this afternoon as he makes a politely late entrance at a meeting where he has had 41 winners of 25 different races since 1990, with just one barren year in that time.
It will be a shock of election night proportions if 2017 is another 2003 and it's not at all fanciful to suggest that Stanley House stables could be welcoming back three winners on Wednesday evening.
Jack Hobbs goes in to bat
Fittingly the star turn is Jack Hobbs, named after a cricketing legend who was often praised for personifying sportsmanship, humility and good manners.
Not that there was much politeness in the brusque way he dealt with his rivals in the Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan on World Cup night, treating them like frightful riff-raff from below stairs and brushing them aside with disdain.
First-time blinkers clearly did the trick and brought the 2015 Irish Derby winner back to his best after an injury-hit four-year-old campaign.
That's clearly the view of his trainer, who could have waited for Saturday's lesser Hardwicke Stakes, in which he'd have been extremely hard to beat, but instead pitches him a mightily competitive Prince of Wales's Stakes.
If Jack Hobbs can drop back in trip and see off Coronation Cup winner Highland Reel and the improving Ulysses, he'll fully deserve to stop being remembered as the colt who chased home stablemate Golden Horn in the Derby.
Game for a Laugh
Of course, Epsom in June is about more than one race and Laugh Aloud turned the Princess Elizabeth Stakes into something to remember 18 days ago.
She made Jack Hobbs's Dubai success look almost scrambled by comparison as she bolted up by fully five lengths under James Doyle.
That would have been warning enough for her rivals in the Duke of Cambridge Stakes but Gosden stressed recently that the Royal Ascot race "has been her target all year".
Which suggests that last year's winner Usherette may need to be better than ever to become the first filly or mare to land this prize twice.
Gymnaste shapes up well
The third of Gosden's ante-post market leaders in action on Wednesday afternoon runs in the Sandringham Handicap, a 24-runner event that would not appear to be an obvious target for favourite backers.
But Gosden does better than almost anyone else in these straight-mile dashes, having won this race, the Royal Hunt Cup and the Britannia Stakes seven times in total.
Most of those victories have been gained by lightly raced horses of enormous potential, just like Gymnaste – who has the physique and pedigree to be expected of a filly who cost €260,000 as a yearling and has shown bundles of promise in her three outings to date.
Really up for the Cup
That compelling straight-course record means that none of Gosden's four Hunt Cup runners can safely be written off, especially GM Hopkins who won the contest two years ago and is racing off his lowest mark since that success.
And Nell Gwyn Stakes winner Daban has claims for the Jersey Stakes, dropped back to 7f after losing her unbeaten record when third in the Qipco 1,000 Guineas.
But the trainer politely steps aside from the Queen Mary Stakes.
Wesley Ward has not attempted to disguise his enthusiasm for Happy Like A Fool in a race he has won for the last two years with flying machines Acapulco and Lady Aurelia.
He's come all the way from Florida, so it would be rude to stand in his way, wouldn't it?