St James's Palace Stakes (Group 1) | 1m | 3yo colts | ITV4/RUK
Without Parole will need to buck a trend, for it is unprecedented in recent years for a St James's Palace winner to have arrived at Royal Ascot without having already been tested at the highest level.
He is one of just three runners here who has not run in a Classic, which says much for the impression he has made while rising through the ranks, as he looks set to go off as favourite ahead of Tip Two Win, who, like seven of the last ten St James's Palace winners, finished in the first two in the 2,000 Guineas.
However, but for what John Gosden describes as "a small hiccup", Without Parole would have run at Newmarket, and for all we know would have given Saxon Warrior a race, and possibly even beaten him.
We can only judge him on his impressive Yarmouth novice win and his subsequent Listed victory at Sandown, where he made hard work of beating Gabr, albeit on rain-softened ground that worried all involved with him.
However, he's by Frankel, he's unbeaten, he's ridden by Frankie Dettori and he's with a master trainer.
Gosden, whose long wait for a first St James's Palace win ended with Kingman in 2014, insists that Without Parole should not be favourite, but remains hopeful.
He said: "Without Parole went to the Heron on the back of a small hiccup, which ruled him out of the 2,000 Guineas, but he won well at Sandown despite not liking the ground.
"This surface will be better for him and he's been in good form at home since, but I don't know why he's favourite as Tip Two Win has the best three-year-old form in Europe, having finished just ahead of the Derby winner last time."
Owner-breeders John and Tanya Gunther are immensely proud at having bred Triple Crown winner Justify, but that pride will always be tinged by an element of regret at having sold him.
This is different. They chose not to let Without Parole go, despite bidding reaching 650,000gns. This race, they say, means more.
Pros: Unbeaten son of Frankel who promises to appreciate this quicker ground and has limitless potential.
Cons: Racing Post Ratings put five of his rivals ahead of him.
Tip Two Win bidding for an "immense" success
For three-year-old colts there is only one more prestigious mile race in Britain than the St James's Palace Stakes, and there's not a trainer in the land who would not love to win it.
But for trainer Roger Teal, success in one of the feature races on Flat racing's biggest stage of all would be, in his own words, "immense".
Against all expectations Tip Two Win went close in the 2,000 Guineas at 50-1, beaten only by hot favourite Saxon Warrior and finishing ahead of subsequent Derby winner Masar.
That's top-class form by any measure, yet Tip Two Win still returns to the track as the underdog, second best in the betting behind a colt that is more potential than substance but represents racing royalty.
Teal, who was with the vet when called on Monday – no need to panic, he was having his basset hound puppies microchipped – does not underestimate the opposition, but remains positive.
He said: "You look at the form and you can see dangers, but while I respect everything in the race – Without Parole could be anything and Romanised is an Irish 2,000 Guineas winner – all we can do is worry about our own horse. It's not a walkover for sure, but we've got a great chance if we can repeat the Guineas run.
"He's in great shape. he looks well, he's eating well, and he's working well. He went back to Lambourn on Friday and did a sharp one, ridden by Georgie McCabe rather than David [Probert, his Guineas and Royal Ascot rider], as she rides him every day and knows him better than anyone. She was delighted with him."
Teal reckons he will be "in dreamland" if he and Probert can pull it off for owner-breeder Anne Cowley.
He said: "It would mean the world to all of us. You'll see me up on the moon. It would be a massive achievement for the whole team, Georgie especially. It would be immense."
Pros: His second in the 2,000 Guineas gives him a great chance.
Cons: He was a 50-1 chance that day and Roger Teal and David Probert have yet to score at this level.
Roman primed to rule on Royal soil
A little bit of history. Julius Caesar's Romans invaded Britain twice during his Gallic wars, in 55 and 54 BC. Caesar's initial invasion proved unsuccessful, but after knocking on the door a second time the Romans broke through and installed a king.
A couple of thousand years later, step forward Ken Condon. Though similarities with him and the man behind the rise of the Roman Empire may be few, the County Kildare-based trainer will bid to resolve some unfinished business on British soil and notch his first Royal Ascot success with Romanised, who brought his Classic dreams to life last month at the Curragh by winning the Irish 2,000 Guineas.
Condon said: "To be going there with a real chance is great and it would be wonderful to win.
"We had Macbeth finish fourth in the Queen's Vase to Estimate in 2012 and Newsletter gave it a good rattle in the Queen Mary in 2014, and it's a great festival to be a part of."
The trainer added: "Romanised travelled over fine on Sunday with Stephen McCarthy and had a canter this morning. All seems well with him over there, and he's been good since the Curragh."
Having worked particularly well in the week leading up to his Curragh assignment last time, Condon explained of his programme pre-Ascot: "It's very hard to say if he's come forward from the Irish 2,000 Guineas or not, you wouldn't be searching for anything at home, but what we've asked him to do has been good. Physically, we're happy with him and his weight is very good."
Pros: Only member of the field with a Classic win to his name.
Cons: This is arguably a stronger race than he contested at the Curragh.
O'Brien three-handed in bid for eighth win
US Navy Flag, Gustav Klimt and Threeandfourpence renew rivalry with Romanised, having run second, third and fourth behind him in the Curragh Classic last month.
Their trainer Aidan O'Brien will be bidding for an eighth victory in the race, which he last won with Gleneagles three years ago, while Ryan Moore has again opted to partner US Navy Flag, on whom he forced the pace in the Irish Guineas.
Last year's champion juvenile, US Navy Flag took time to get his act together last season, taking five races to win a maiden before going on to achieve Group 1 success in the Middle Park and Dewhurst.
This contest will be his fourth of the year, and O'Brien said: "We were very happy with US Navy Flag's run in the Irish Guineas. We've been very happy with him since and we think, and hope, he has come on since."
Gustav Klimt, the mount of Donnacha O'Brien, has also pleased his trainer since his Curragh run last month.
"He ran well in the Irish Guineas and we've been happy with him recently – we think he's progressing," O'Brien said.
Threeandfourpence produced his best effort to date in the Irish Guineas and O'Brien added of Seamie Heffernan's mount: "He improved nicely at the Curragh and we think he has progressed again since."
US Navy Flag
Pros: Champion juvenile last season and best effort this year when second in the Irish 2,000 Guineas. Improved with racing last season.
Cons: Forced the pace in Irish Guineas and yet to prove conclusively he gets a mile. Turning track might help but being drawn widest not ideal.
Pros: Solid effort in Irish Guineas and open to the improvement that will be needed.
Cons: Requires a career best if he is to win.
What the others say
Martyn Meade, trainer of Chilean
I don’t think he got home over that extended one-mile-two-furlong trip – and a particularly testing one – at Sandown, where the ground was quite holding. If you go back to the Prix La Force, it’s good form to have beaten the Jockey Club winner Study Of Man. He’s never been on fast ground but his action tells me he'll skip along. He’s drawn one and as long as he jumps and takes full advantage, he can dictate, though he has a good turn of foot if it pans out differently.
Oisin Murphy, rider of Kings Shield
He's by Scat Daddy and didn't handle the soft ground at Epsom last time. He'll enjoy the quick ground at Ascot and he's got a good draw, but Tip Two Win is the benchmark and we've all got him to beat.
Sir Michael Stoute, trainer of Gabr
He ran really well in the Heron Stakes last time out and the horse who beat him [Without Parole] is favourite, so he's a possible.
Alex Pantall, trainer of Wootton
He has worked well and everything has gone fine in the build-up. His last race was most unfortunate as he got lit up and then, when the O'Brien horse [US Navy Flag] stumbled and slowed the field up, he got shuffled to the outside and then did too much running in the false straight. All that considered, he was very brave. I hope there will be plenty of pace on and, from stall nine, he can get across for some cover. In those circumstances his turn of foot could be decisive.