Two selections for the final day of Royal Ascot...
In the Hardwicke Stakes (3.05) Mount Athos could well be sent off favourite but there's a question as to whether this is his optimum trip these days. A four-year-old has won the last five renewals while a six-year-old has won twice in the past decade; course and distance winner Ektihaam gets the vote. The favourite has obliged on five occasions in the last ten years.
The concluding Queen Alexandra Stakes is the longest race in the Flat calendar.
Last year Shahwardi finished seven lengths adrift of Simenon, a gallant second in this year's Gold Cup. On that form Shahwardi has an obvious chance but I like to pick one with NH form. Nicky Henderson won this in 2009 with Caracciola (as well as the Ascot Stakes with Veiled in 2011) and saddles Courtesy Call here. This one was second in a Newmarket Cesarewitch trial last September when trained by Mark Johnson and finished fourth behind Irish Saint in the Adonis at Kempton on his first run for the yard. He took an ordinary novices' hurdle at Taunton last month off a mark of 123 and has the look of one prepared for this race.
Mad Moose is appropriately named and not certain to consent to face the starter while at the age of ten Junior's best days are probably behind him.
First Avenue won the Imperial Cup at Sandown in March but wouldn't be certain to appreciate the additional six furlongs here. That comment also applies to Rebecca Curtis' Meganisi - booked jockey Brendan Powell booted home Glen Countess to win the Grimsby and Immingham Stevedores Novices' Handicap Chase at Market Rasen for his father earlier today.
Cloudy Spirit is a grey mare who will stay the trip but she's unlikely to be quick enough.
I'm tempted by Meganisi but in a Weekender Stable Tour last October the handler described a trip of two and a half miles as 'possibly a little too far for him as he has bags of speed'. The fitting of a first time tongue-tie could help the cause but I'm going to take an each-way interest in Courtesy Call (9/1 with several layers this evening). For the brave, double those odds are available about Meganisi with Coral.