Having sent out the winner of the Group 2 Coventry Stakes no less than seven times since 1997, master trainer Aidan O’Brien is likely to be the one the bookies fear in this year’s renewal of the six furlong two-year-old event on day one of Royal Ascot.
The Amazing Caravaggio (3/1)
War Command (2013) was the last O’Brien-trained winner of this prestigious juvenile event and bookies and punters alike appear to have latched on to the yard’s Caravaggio, set to be partnered by the brilliant Ryan Moore, as the most likely winner this time around. Currently a clear 3/1 ante-post market leader, the US-bred son of influential sprint sire Scat Daddy made a winning debut on Dundalk’s Polytrack in April, creating good impression.
He built on his first outing by comfortably accounting for Mister Trader in a listed contest at the Curragh last month, suggesting there was still plenty of improvement to come. Although he has yet to race over the six furlongs of the Coventry Stakes, connections are understood to have no doubts he will stay. But will he be good enough with so many unexposed potential improvers in opposition?
Psychedelic Funk (6/1)
One fellow Irish-trained raider who might give Caravaggio plenty to think about is Ger Lyon’s unbeaten Psychedelic Funk (6/1). He recently followed his debut win in maiden company at Naas with another success over the same course and distance where he appeared to have improved considerably, slamming Ambiguity by six lengths, eased down.
We already know the trip is no issue for this sharp son of Australian superstar Choisir – a sprint winner at the royal meeting in years gone by – so Lyons’ colt appears set to have his say in proceedings.
Mehmas and Yalta (7/1)
Richard Hannon’s Mehmas is generally offered at 7/1, and alongside the Mark Johnston-trained Yalta is the highest of the British challengers in the ante-post market for this event.
Mehmas looked the real deal when winning his first two starts in style – a Chester maiden and a hot Newbury conditions stakes – so it came as something of a disappointment when he was beaten by Global Applause at Sandown last month in the listed National Stakes. However, the gaps never came in time that day for Frankie Dettori’s mount, and with an extra furlong on Tuesday he could well put up a much improved effort.
Yalta represents the yard that won this race last year with the talented Buratino, and his chance should be taken very seriously. Johnston is a master of training precocious and high quality juveniles, and this son of Exceed and Excel ticks both boxes. He knew his job when scoring on debut at Goodwood, and followed up just eight days later at Pontefract, slamming previous winner Wedding Dress by nearly five lengths. Reports suggest Johnston is keen on Yalta’s chance and market confidence nearer the race might well reflect this.
At bigger prices, David O’Meara’s Fayez (25/1) went into a lot of notebooks after recovering from a slow start and running green to come through and score nicely at Ripon earlier this month and he could be a decent horse. Aidan O’Brien could well run both Lundy (25/1) and Peace Envoy (16/1) in addition to Caravaggio, and both have shown ability and can’t be easily discounted, while Godolphin’s Top Score (25/1) improved on a quiet run on debut to win easily at Ripon last time out and wouldn’t be without hope, especially if any market interest is noted.
In the News
 irishtimes.com, Ger Lyons has shot at two winners in Royal Ascot, 2016