Wednesday, 17th Jun 2020
Trainer Andrew Balding saddled Dashing Willoughby to land the Group 2 Queen’s Vase 12 months ago and Berkshire Rocco is a strong fancy to give him back-to-back success in the 1m 6f contest for three-year-olds at Royal Ascot on Wednesday (16:10).
This son of Derby winner Sir Percy improved in each of his four outings as a juvenile, coming good at the third time of asking when landing a small field novice contest at Chester by a length from Breathalyze.
That success saw connection pitch him into Group 3 company and he was far from disgraced when a keeping on 3 3/4 lengths third of eight to Max Vega in the Zetland Stakes at Newmarket.
The runner-up, Miss Yoda, has won since and the sixth home, Volkan Star, has finished runner-up in a Listed contest to give the form a solid look.
Berkshire Rocco has had just one start this season when finishing runner-up to the hugely exciting English King in a 1m 4f Listed contest at Lingfield.
Although no match for the impressive and easy winner, he stuck to the task gamely to be beaten 2 3/4 lengths and the pair pulled seven lengths clear of the third home.
It was a highly promising return to action against an Ed Walker inmate who looks something special and is currently joint-favourite with 2000 Guineas winner Kameko for next month’s Epsom Derby.
The way in which Berkshire Rocco galloped all the way to the line suggested that the extra two furlongs in this would be right up his street.
So at 4/1 with Betvictor, he looks well-worth a wager to go one better and get back to winning ways under in-form rider Oisin Murphy.
Ballydoyle maestro Aidan O’Brien has won the Queen’s Vase six times since 2007, and Santiago looks the pick of his two contenders this time around.
This son of Authorized shaped with abundant promise on debut at Leopardstown when keeping on well inside the final furlong to finish a half-length second of 14 to Howling Wolf over 7f.
He backed that up with a solid 3 1/4 lengths second to Alpine Star over 7f Galway, where he led before getting outpaced by the smart Jessica Harrington winner who went on to land a Group 2 at The Curragh.
Santiago then appreciated the step up to a mile when opening his account in good style at Listowel, racing prominently throughout before keeping on strongly to assert a furlong-and-a-half from home and readily beat Sunchart by just over a length.
On each of those starts, he shaped like a horse that would come into his own when stepped up in trip this season.
He has the potential to make up into a smart stayer and O’Brien has used this race as a trial to determine his leading St Leger contenders.
There is undoubtedly much better to come from Santiago. It looks significant that Ryan Moore has chosen to partner him over promising stable companion Nobel Prize.
A big run looks assured and Santiago can be backed at 4/1 with Coral to land this and put himself firmly in the picture for the final Classic of the season at Doncaster.
Born With Pride was due to contest the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes for fillies’ on the opening day of this meeting, so the fact that connections scratched her from that contest in favour of having a crack at the colts in this makes her a fascinating contender.
This William Haggas trained daughter of Born To Sea looked an exciting prospect when landing a seven-runner 1m Listed contest at Newmarket back in December by a neck from Peaceful.
Born With Pride made all and stayed on strongly to win unchallenged under Tom Marquand. The O’Brien trained runner-up has gone on to Classic glory when impressively landing the Irish 1000 Guineas at The Curragh by two lengths.
Run For Wild, who finished a further 1 1/4 lengths behind in third, also scored in fine style on seasonal reappearance when landing a Listed affair at Newmarket by 3 3/4 lengths.
That gives the form a very strong look. Although Born With Pride could finish only an eight-length seventh of nine to Berlin Tango in a Group 3 over 1m 2f at Kempton on return to action earlier in the month, nothing went her way.
She looks sure to strip much fitter for that outing and the step up to 1m 6f is likely to see her in a far better light.
Born With Pride also receives a handy 3lb sex allowamce from all of her eight rivals and hails from a yard that has been among the winners of late.
So, at odds of 5/1 with 888sport, she makes plenty of appeal from an each-way betting perspective for the Queen’s Vase.