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'He appeals at 20-1' - why you should look further afield for Royal Ascot value

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This time last week Desert Crown was a double-figure price for the Derby. His odds then started to tumble for the Epsom Classic, with Luxembourg ruled out and the bookies seemingly unimpressed by the trials at Chester and Lingfield.

He's 6-1 now and only Leopardstown trial winner Stone Age is shorter in the market, which goes to show just how open this year's Derby is looking.

We'll find out if he is going to come close to justifying the market plunge in the Dante Stakes on Thursday, while Wednesday's Musidora will tell us more about the Oaks favourite Emily Upjohn, who comes up against the two fillies I initially liked for last week's Cheshire Oaks in Luna Dorada and Ching Shih.

With the Lockinge Stakes on Saturday looking as if it is Baaeed's to lose, I thought I'd cast my eye further ahead to Royal Ascot.

My eye is always drawn to the international entries and I was pleasantly surprised to see representatives from America, Australia, Japan and even the Czech Republic.

The latest crop of British sprinters look decidedly average, so it's exciting to see a few new names among the entries.

Wesley Ward and Chris Waller may be represented by Golden Pal and Nature Strip in the King's Stand and by Campanelle and Home Affairs in the Platinum Jubilee.

Golden Pal and Nature Strip are simply light years ahead of what Britain has to offer at the moment, but I often feel the market underestimates how different races here can be.

Time and time again we see the raw speed of Ward's juveniles found out in the second half of the race and both early pace pressure and a relatively stiff finish aren't to be underestimated.

The extra furlong of the Platinum Jubilee reinforces this point and it's no coincidence that last year's winner Dream Of Dreams had winning form over seven furlongs.

Let's not forget Campanelle wasn't even first past the post in the Commonwealth Cup last year and she was beaten comprehensively in her two subsequent starts, so she has something to prove now.

Home Affairs looked a high-class colt when winning the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes in October but he was also found out on his most recent start in the Newmarket Handicap and tends to go from the front, which could make him vulnerable to a closer at Ascot.

The Prix de l'Abbaye and Al Quoz Sprint winner A Case Of You is rock solid but there must be a concern he'll join Romantic Proposal in the shorter race and I think there could be some value to be had.

Earlier this season I thought Naval Crown could shape up into a six-furlong sprinter but Godolphin have another four-year-old trading at 20-1 and he appeals more.

Andre Fabre: trainer of Egot

The Andre Fabre-trained Egot, who won over a mile as a juvenile, needs things to fall right but is definitely a sprinter to keep on side.

Frequently held up, he has a potent turn of foot if presented with a decent pace to aim at, which isn't always guaranteed in France. He got it in the Group 3 Prix de Seine-et-Oise in October, though, where he flew home to beat a classy field.

The second, Brad The Brief, was very impressive in a conditions stakes at Haydock on Saturday, the third, Mo Celita, had been fourth in the Abbaye, and the fourth, Air De Valse, was only narrowly defeated in the same race.

Egot recorded a Racing Post Rating of 118 then, which puts him right up there with the best British-trained sprinters, and he's capable of recording an even better figure in a more demanding race.

The son of Invincible Spirit did well to win over five and a half furlongs on his reappearance and had a legitimate excuse last time when he finished a never-nearer fifth after getting a bump at the start in a slowly run race.

He has won over a mile on good ground but some give underfoot would serve to strengthen his claims tactically, so I'll be keeping an eye on the weather forecast closer to the time.

Twilight Spinner, who won the Group 3 Athasi Stakes over seven furlongs last time, fits into a similar bracket and should be feared in soft-ground Group 1s later in the season too.

It probably hasn't escaped your notice how this column has had a Gallic flavour over the last few months as I put up Zellie for the 1,000 Guineas and Agave for the Arc this season.

I was also pleased to see Fabre's Baratti, who received a mention a fortnight ago, feature among the Hardwicke entries at Royal Ascot.

There is method to the madness because I think bookmakers are still guilty of underestimating international form and there are lessons to be learned if you put the work in – you only need to see last year's Arc for the proof.

Another French horse who could become more familiar to British fans in the next few months is the Jean-Claude Rouget-trained Lassaut.

Jean-Claude Rouget: has a smart prospect in Lassaut

He hasn't achieved anything like Coroebus or Native Trail yet, but I won't be surprised if he is up to facing them before the season is out and his trainer wasn't afraid to give him an entry in the St James's Palace Stakes.

He's a big, heavy colt but still managed to come from last to first on Chantilly's all-weather to beat subsequent winner Tribalist in March.

He confirmed that form in the Prix Machado at the end of last month and, like Egot, a strong pace in a better race is likely to show him in a better light.

I suspect we will see him in the French 2,000 Guineas on Sunday and a big performance there, or in the Prix du Jockey Club later on in the season, would surely give connections the confidence to take on the Godolphin duo.


Don't miss the Racing Post Royal Ascot Guide 2022. Only £14.99, the 192-page guide is packed with tips and information for the five-day festival of top-class Flat racing, including profiles of the leading horses and the lowdown on the top trainers and jockeys. Order your copy here or call 01933 304858.


He has a potent turn of foot if presented with a decent pace to aim at
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