Familiar Faces back at Ascot on a midweek card that belongs that really shows the flat is stepping into gear.
The highlight on the card is the Sagaro Stakes in which the enigmatic Pallasator makes his seasonal reappearance. Now 8 years old he feels like he has been around forever, and first time out really could be the time to catch him, as was the case last season when he won the Henry II Stakes at Sandown. He is up against a classic winner in Harbour Law, who sadly will not be reunited with George Baker (best wishes) following his fall in St Moritz instead Tom Queally takes the ride.
Elsewhere on the card there is the Group 3 Pavillion Stakes. A dress rehearsal for the Commonwealth Cup at the Royal meeting in June it has been won in the past by horses such as Limato. Is there another Limato in here? Quite possibly in the shape of Blue Point. A speedy juvenile he won the Gimcrack at York before performing creditably in the backend group races. A winter in Dubai does nobody any harm and he looks to have a good career in front of him in this sphere.
He is up against a Frankel though in the shape of Seven Heavens. Not only is he by Frankel who seems to be once again sweeping all before him, he is trained by John Gosden and ridden by Frankie Dettori who have started the season with their usual verve.
With all that in mind Icespire has been all the rage this morning for the Spinal Injuries association British EBF Fillies Conditions Stakes. Out of a Distant View mare she was a comfortable winner of her maiden at Salisbury last season and looks a promising type for the season ahead. She has some solid opposition here, most likely in the form of Roger Varian's Prosper. A lovely looking filly she was keen enough on her seasonal debut before running on well behind the well regarded Son of the Stars in a handicap at Chelmsford. This is an altogether different test but Icespire will not have it all her own way.
Roger Varian will be hoping his afternoon is a prosperous one all round when Ennaadd appears on turf for only the second time after his two year old debut at Windsor. He finished fourth that day before being switched to the AW where he ran off a sequence of wins. He was the big name attraction at the AW Championships where confidence seemed high, yet he ultimately ran a little flat.
Seemingly tapped for toe as they swung into the straight he battled on for fourth behind the Sandown Mile winner Sovereign Debt. This gives the form a solid look in the end but you couldn't help being a little disappointed given the build up he received.
He isn't the star billing this afternoon either as Mondialiste takes a drop in class. Having won the Grade One Arlington Million his form has taken a drastic dive. Last in the Breeders Cup Turf he could be forgiven that run he then went to Dubai where he trailed in 11th of 12 in the Dubai Turf. Being a listed race his assignment is a lot easier on paper and he is favourite to get himself back on track under favourable conditions, and possibly a tilt at the Queen Anne in June a target ??