Photo: Sergei Prokofiev clears away to win easily for the O’Brien team. Source: https://www.theirishfield.ie/naas-sunday-sergei-prokofiev-is-a-confident-choice-372911/.
The O’Brien team is no doubt set to dominate across Royal Ascot with their incredible strength in depth. Some who are some of the key contenders to note for the Champion trainer?
The son of Scat daddy looks to be at the head of the pecking order of 2 year olds for the Ballydoyle team. He was sent off at odds of 4/9 in a maiden at Dundalk and shaped with a fair bit of promise only to lose a short head to Skitter Scatter. Skitter had already had a run under his belt and clearly showed the experience on the day.
Sergei was then pitched in again just 12 days later at Navan and was supported as if defeat was out of the question. Ridden by Ryan Moore he sat behind the leaders always travelling the best before taking it up with just over a furlong to go. He cleared away to win by 7 and a half lengths with ease. This was a performance stamped with class and one that shows why the horse is held in such high regard by connections.
Sergei again returned over the weekend for his final prep race in a tough looking listed contest but was sent off at odds of at prohibitive odds of 2/7. He again looked a complete class above and a clear Group 1 performer in winning by 4 lengths. All roads are now likely to lead to the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot in just a few weeks’ time. He is currently priced at odds of 4/1 for the race and if showing similar improvement again it is going to take a seriously top horse to stop him from following in the footsteps of previous stable stars in 2013 and 2016 winners War Command and Caravaggio.
St James Palace Stakes
Yet another classy horse to have been sired by the great Galileo. He entered his current 3 year old campaign following two successes in his three starts as a 2 year old. His only defeat coming on debut which comes as no surprise as being trained by O’Brien. The final of those victories was at Newmarket in a Group 2 where he found a significant amount of trouble only to fly late on to get up and land the odds. This performance firmly stamped him down as a horse with a significant amount of ability and one to follow.
Gustav returned with a victory in the 2000 guineas trial at Leopardstown where he got up to beat the promising Imaging cosily on unsuitable ground. Following this he was made a short favourite for the guineas at Newmarket. However, on the build up to the day he drifted heavily with his stablemate Saxon Warrior continued to be gambled on. The market got this correct with Saxon Warrior as he was a very impressive winner of the race. Gustav is clearly still a horse with a lot of ability so is still one to follow. His next start is likely to be in the St James Palace Stakes in which he is currently priced at odds of 4/1.
Order of St George
The final horse to make the select list is the classy stayer Order of St George. The 6 year old is another star from the stable who is not far off surpassing the £2 million prize money mark. He has returned with a solid victory showing the horse is in fine fettle ahead of another testing campaign. He has always looked all about stamina and is renowned for finishing best, which is why this race is tailor made for the horse. To further back up his claims, he has placed in the last two runnings of the Arc over an inadequate trip – again, not only showing the class, but the will to win in the horse.
Order was a very impressive winner of the Gold Cup back in 2016 where he made up an incredible amount of ground in the latter stages of the race. He came back to contest the race again last year and was a very unlucky fast finishing second from an enterprisingly ridden Big Orange. There is no doubt the horse is one to follow and if bringing his A game again it will certainly take a class performance from one of the younger brigade to topple the experienced campaigner. You can place a bet on Royal Ascot and he is currently 9/4 to go on and land his second Ascot Gold Cup.