The Main event of Saturday is the Greenham Stakes which has been won by some pretty good’uns down the years not least, of course, Frankel in 2011. Barney Roy won it last year before putting in solid performances all summer; second in the 2000 Guineas and winning the G.1 St James’s Palace Stakes. 2014 was a pretty good renewal as well when Night Of Thunder was second to Kingman before going on to win at Newmarket in that infamous renewal of the 2000 Guineas, in which the field split into two groups, with Kingman in second place. The Khalid Abdullah owned miler gained revenge and confirmed who was top dog that year, in the G.1 St James’s Palace Stakes at the Royal meeting.
There is another Khalid Abdullah owned colt in the line-up this year as Expert Eye is set to make his seasonal reappearance in the Group Three Al Basti Equiworld Supporting Greatwood Greenham Stakes at 3.10 to give it its full title. He made a successful debut at the Berkshire circuit last June and looked right out of the top drawer when dominating his rivals in the G2 Vintage Stakes at Glorious Goodwood. He then trailed home last of nine runners when odds-on for the G1 Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket and even though various problems were mooted nothing was ever confirmed as having caused the lacklustre effort. He worked at Chelmsford on Saturday as part of his build-up and connections seem happy with him. Ryan Moore rides and quite simply if the colt is back to the sort of form he should at Goodwood he wins which is why he is Even money overnight.
The fillies get their chance to stake a Classic claim earlier on the card in the Group Three Dubai Duty Free Stakes, better known as the Fred Darling, at 2.35. Those Khalid Abdullah silks are on show again, once more worn by Ryan Moore, this time on Roger Charlton's Gavota who is the pick on all known form. Last back end at Newmarket she was third in the G2 Rockfel Stakes (Hikmaa fourth) and second in the G.3 Oh So Sharp Stakes (Hikmaa fifth) behind Alytn Orda who came out and franked the form when second in the G.1 Nell Gwyn earlier this week. Connections feel she possibly didn’t handle the dip at HQ despite those placed efforts which probably explains why she comes here for her trial and the fact they are thinking of a possible tilt at the French Guineas rather than returning to Newmarket. She is another that is short in the betting at 7-4 but I wouldn’t lay you 5-2!
Group Three honours are also up for grabs in the Dubai Duty Free Finest Surprise Stakes, registered as the John Porter, over 1m4f at 2.00. The Bookies have this between Defoe and the Queen’s (gawd bless her) Call To Mind, biggest with Hills overnight at 3-1, on the boards and I can’t disagree. Defoe had a stellar rise through the ranks last season from handicapper to competing in the G.1 St Leger by the end of the year and he beat Call To Mind in a Listed heat at Hamilton in July over 1m3f. That said the Varian yard is not exactly firing on all cylinders yet in 2018 with just the 3 winners so far and I think the drying ground is going against him. At the prices, I am taking a punt on the Queens colt as I think they are a lot closer matched than the betting suggests and I read with interest that William Haggas is very happy with how his charge has been going at home saying this week "He's fine and ready to go. The ground should be fine for him and this looks a good place to start. We've been pleased with how he's wintered. He's grown up a lot”. Another plus is the yards runners have been going well in the early weeks of the season with the stable at 15 winners from 50 runners with 12 also placing-up.
Humbolt Current returns to action in the colours of the Queen (Gawd bless her) for the maiden stakes opener at 1.25 over a mile. Runner-up on his sole start at two over at Yarmouth he looked pretty green having fluffed the start but when the penny dropped stayed on nicely into second behind Willie John. That colt subsequently changed hands for £1.9 million guineas and is now in the ownership of Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum at Roger Varian’ s yard though he has suffered a setback and the trainer is “mapping out a Group-race programme for him from July onwards.” Talking earlier this week the Queen's racing adviser John Warren said: "All I know is he's working nicely. It's obviously a fact-finding mission to see where he sits in the picture.” The 2,000 Guineas has been mentioned and if he is to run at HQ next month he’ll need to be winning this. I will be hunting around for the best price in the morning and all being well it will be a double for her Majesty.