When the news broke at the weekend that Lockinge Stakes winner Farhh would not be running at Royal Ascot due to lameness bookmakers were quick to take the view that the opening race of the meeting, the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes, was therefore at the mercy of Dubai Cup winner Animal Kingdom with the result that the 5-year-old is now an odds-on chance with all firms.
There is no doubt that Graham Motion’s charge has a serious chance in a week’s time but there are plenty of reasons to suggest that the horse is not the good-thing that many people think. One win out of four starts on turf hardly inspires confidence while his record over the mile trip is currently zero from two, and on top of that he will be racing in Europe for the first time.
Second-favourite Declaration Of War represents little value at 7-1 after his lacklustre performance at Newbury last month while stablemate Most Improved is far from a certain starter and has yet to see a racecourse this season. The same applies to Elusive Kate who may take in an easier option at the meeting, although Giofra could be given a chance if connections decide to make the journey from France.
At the odds however the two to concentrate on are Lockinge second and third, Sovereign Debt and Aljamaaheer, who are both widely available at 25-1 and 20-1 respectively, a price that represents excellent value considering both look guaranteed runners in what could turn out to be a single-figure field. While neither horse is a genuine Group 1 performer this race may lack strength in depth and both are capable of running big races at the very least.
The former seems to save his best for Ascot and a reproduction of his Newbury run would see him go very close while Aljamaaheer has always looked as if he would improve significantly as a 4-year-old, a fact which was bourne out by his Lockinge run. With most bookmakers going a quarter the odds is all Royal Ascot races both horses look tremendous each-way value to get the meeting off to the best possible start.
Aljamaaheer E/W at 20/1 (Sportingbet)
Sovereign Debt E/W at 25/1 (Boylesports)