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The best two three-year-old milers in Europe, Kingman and Night of Thunder, are set to renew rivalry in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot on June 17, one of three Group 1 races on the opening day of the prestigious five-day meeting.
Night of Thunder inflicted defeat on Kingman for the first time in his career when proving half-a-length too strong for John Gosden’s star in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket, which levelled the score between the two colts at one apiece.
Was Kingman unlucky at Newmarket?
In many ways the Guineas was an unsatisfactory race, with the first three home split by the width of the track. Kingman was arguably at a disadvantage racing against the far side rail, whereas Night of Thunder hung markedly left and ended up in the centre of the track.
Meanwhile, the third Australia, who underlined the strength of this year’s Newmarket Classic by subsequently landing the Investec Derby at Epsom in fine style, came up the stands’ side rail and was a head adrift of runner-up Kingman crossing the line.
The trio were literally spread across the expanse of the Rowley Mile, and the notion that Kingman was unlucky on that occasion is, perhaps, largely influenced by the fact that he beat Night of Thunder easily three weeks earlier in the Greenham at Newbury.
Night of Thunder 3/1 with Paddy Power to uphold Guineas form
It will be fascinating to see which colt comes out on top at the royal meeting. Kingman, who has since landed the 2,000 Guineas at The Curragh, is widely available at even money, while Richard Hannon’s charge Night of Thunder can be backed at 3/1 with Paddy Power to uphold the Newmarket form.
Even if Night of Thunder is beaten, the Hannon team could still taste Group 1 success on the opening day of Royal Ascot via Toronado in the Queen Anne Stakes. Winner of the Sussex Stakes last season, the son of High Chaparral is a top-priced 2/1 with Ladbrokes to make a winning seasonal reappearance.
Aidan O’Brien, who has sent out the winner of the Queen Anne three times since 2006, including with Declaration of War 12 months ago, is likely to field US import Verrazano who shaped well when third in the Locking on debut for Ballydoyle at Newbury last month. He is a 7/2 chance with several firms.
In the other Group 1 contest on day one of Royal Ascot 2014, the King’s Stand Stakes, last year’s first and second, Sole Power and South African raider Shea Shea, are 6/1 and 11/2 with 888sport and BetVictor respectively, while Temple Stakes hero Hot Streak is a standout 11/2 with Ladbrokes.
Royal Ascot 2014 betting tips
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