Unbeatable: Tate says Invincible Army sweeping everything aside at home
Merriebelle Stable Pavilion Stakes (Group 3) | 6f | 3yo | RUK
The initiation of the Commonwealth Cup has reinvigorated this Group 3, with recent winners Limato, Gifted Master and Blue Point – who got the better of Harry Angel in the classiest running of the race to date last year – showcasing how much of a pointer this has become for the rest of the season.
This year's edition looks no different, with all eight runners possessing the potential to develop into superstars.
On last year's exploits, the James Tate-trained Invincible Army is the one to beat, with Ryan Moore booked on the colt who won the Group 3 Sirena Stakes last season.
He wasn't just a one hit wonder, either, as he finished second to the likes of Masar – on debut, beaten a short head – Havana Grey, who he chased home in the Molecomb, Group 2 Gimcrack winner Sands Of Mali and James Garfield in the Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes.
That is exceptional form and his trainer said: "He did really well last year and the form's stacking up.
"From what we can tell he seems to have improved. He's never worked better and nothing can go with him at home, he just sweeps everything aside.
"We're very optimistic for a big run. We'll see if he goes well here before we talk about races like the Sandy Lane and Commonwealth Cup."
Of his rivals, Sound And Silence is already a Royal Ascot winner having claimed last season's Windsor Castle and added a Group 3 victory thanks to his success in the Prix Eclipse.
Trainer Charlie Appleby said: "He was a consistent horse last year and has done very well from two to three – he's strengthened and looks like a real sprinter.
"It was a muddling race on his last start at Wolverhampton and came at the end of a long campaign as he'd been on the go since April. He has form on soft ground and this looks a nice starting point."
Nell Gwyn third Eirene, Group 3 Cornwallis winner Abel Handy, Group 2 Criterium de Maisons-Laffitte scorer Fighting Irish, Ripon Two Year Old Trophy winner Enjazaat – the choice of Jim Crowley – Doncaster sales race winner Laugh A Minute and the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Eqtidaar complete a classy field.
The following Listed Celebrating The Commonwealth Paradise Stakes (4.20) is another contest stacked with progressive, young talent – and old favourite Hors De Combat.
Accidental Agent, Century Dream and Easter Classic winner Victory Bond spearhead the up-and-comers, with the latter dropping down in trip in a bid for some black type.
His trainer, William Haggas, said on Tuesday: "He won the Easter Classic very well and he's been in good form since.
"I just hope it doesn't rain too much. We don't think he wants really soft ground. It's been a lovely drying day today, but there's rain around on Wednesday so we'll hope for the best.
"He's got a chance, I think Eve [Johnson Houghton]'s horse [Accidental Agent] is the one to beat. I think ours will be fine at a turning mile, but I'd be more concerned about the straight mile. I think round a turn would've been better.
"He needs some big black type. He's won a lot of money but he's never won a Stakes race, so we need to go for races like this. He's in a race at Leopardstown next week, if we did get a deluge, but my plan is to run at the moment."2.00), Aidan O'Brien sends over two-year-old The Irish Rover for an early sighter of Ascot which could prove significant come the royal meeting.
O’Brien said: “He’s a lovely colt and we were very pleased with his first run at Dundalk. We’d like to think he’s come forward for that run and this looked a nice race for him.”
It is a race that has been won by the Hannon yard four times in the last eight years and they are represented by newcomer Spell.
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