17:35 Royal Ascot: Stable politics highlight Anticipated

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Given his sky-high reputation as a trainer of two-year-olds it’s perhaps surprising to learn that the listed Windsor Castle Stakes is one Royal Ascot prize to have eluded Richard Hannon in his lengthy career to date.

Having hit the crossbar in 2012 when his Alhebayeb finished an agonising half-length second to Kevin Ryan’s Hototo, the Marlborough handler could well hold the key to this year’s renewal, saddling no fewer than four representatives.

With so little form to go on in such a contest, Racing Post Ratings can be particularly useful as a guide to the relative strengths of runners and they seem to vouch for Hannon’s chances of ending his Windsor Palace drought.

In Sascha Park, Anticipated and Steventon Star Hannon sends out the top three Racing-Post-rated horses in the field and the first two give us a fair insight into both the perceived hierarchy of the yard’s runners from within and to their usefulness relative to the wider two-year-old crop.

Sascha Park boasts the highest RPR in the field on the back of a one-and-three-quarter length second to Aidan O’Brien’s Stubbs last time out. Given that rival is currently favourite for the Group 2 Coventry Stakes this would have to rate as some fairly decent form, despite the slowly run nature of the contest in which they clashed.

With that in mind the fact that Sascha Park is passed over by stable jockey Richard Hughes in favour of stablemate Anticipated speaks highly for the esteem in which the latter is held by team Hannon.

Anticipated is one of just two unbeaten colts in the field and the only one to retain that tag after more than one visit to the track.

He’s also the only cub in this pack that has the ‘course and distance winner’ badge sewn on his sash having scored here on his second start and the form of that race hasn’t been let down. Justice Day, second to Anticipated at Ascot, had won his sole start before his duel with the Hannon colt and scored again on his next outing to give the form a decent look.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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