The changing of the guard returns to King Edward
For someone who has earned a reputation as a dominating trainer of middle-distance colts, it’s a surprise that Aidan O’Brien has only saddled one winner of the King Edward VII Stakes (G2) since 2004.
A logical reason for this is King Edward VII’s June 17 proximity to the Cazoo Derby (G1). O’Brien is regularly mob-handed in the Classic and this race is obviously less of a priority for the operation.
Changing of the guard ran for credit at Epsom when he attempted to make all 13 days, fading in the final two stages in the cheeks for the first time.
It may be worth forgiving as Trainer Ballydoyle’s record with horses in this gear for the first time is a measly 6-66 (9%) and well below his overall strike rate of 19%.
Cheeks are left out and it’s a class drop for the changing of the guard, whose luck hinges on their ability to handle the quick turnaround and whether Ryan Moore is allowed to control things beforehand .
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The changing of the guard was Ballydoyle Brigade’s best in the Derby and Wayne Lordan, on board that day, described him as “a relentless galloper who doesn’t really pick up the pace but stays at a canter and is very , very authentic.
The question for punters is whether you can trust him at such a short price given that the Derby took place just 13 days ago.
The only Epsom Classic horse that has raced since is Nahanni (seventh) and he caused bitter disappointment in the Queen’s Vase (G2) on Wednesday, finishing just sixth and beaten by eight lengths.
Given his official rating of 110 and the fact that he is rated eight pounds ahead of anything bar Ottoman fleet who has yet to receive a rating, the changing of the guard should take some time if he is fully recovered from his efforts at Epsom.
O’Brien, who saddled Japan to win this race in 2019 after finishing third to Anthony Van Dyck in the Derby, agreed there wasn’t much time between Epsom and Royal Ascot but hoped his son of Galileo could cope with the speed of execution.
O’Brien said: “It looked like a great run for him. The Derby isn’t that far away and although he seems to have come out of it in good shape, you never really know how it affected them until you ran them. We haven’t done much with him since Epsom, just run him around.”
Lysander is the other colt with recent form in mind and could try to lead. He looked straight out of the top drawer as he strolled through a Newcastle rookie, although there seemed to be no excuses on his next outing when he finished third in the British Stallion Studs EBF Cocked Hat Stakes. It was yet another improved effort and it deserves its place in this company.
Charlie Appleby issues a stern challenge to O’Brien’s supremacy with 3-year-old colts and Godolphin’s trainer relies on the Ottoman fleet. The way he landed a listed run at Newmarket after stumbling off the stalls meant we were dealing with top talent after just two runs, although the value has dried up now.
Watch this race listed and you’ll struggle to understand how the Ottoman fleet can be a 2-1 shot with a third home Wise Victory bearable at 20-1.
Savvy Victory traveled better at Newmarket and was forced to change direction to get a run, ending up with something in the tank.
While the Ottoman fleet is highly respected and could improve beyond the more exposed Savvy Victory, the price differential is false.