Horse Racing
Invincible Army fights for Diamond prize as Derby winner Masar returns to battle

20/06/2019 17:39

Invincible Army leads the charge to win the coveted G1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes (1200m) for trainer James Tate on the final day of Royal Ascot (Saturday, 22 June).

The Diamond Jubilee has been won by a rich variety of trainers and owners and, unlike other G1 races at Royal Ascot, has not been dominated by the big battalions of racing. In Invincible Army, Tate, 39, has a fine chance of gaining his first success at the Royal meeting.

Invincible Army looked an improved horse when winning the G2 Duke of York Stakes at York over 1200m last month, prompting his promotion to favouritism.

Tate said: “His sire, Invincible Spirit, didn’t win a Group 1 race until he was five and Invincible Army has always looked like a horse who would be better as a four-year-old. He has done very well over the winter. He’s not only stronger physically but much better mentally, too. He was a bit silly before.”

Tate continued: “I think he’s a worthy favourite. It doesn’t look a vintage crop of sprinters and he’s in fantastic shape, he’s bouncing. If he does win it will be my first winner at Royal Ascot and my first Group 1 winner.”

The Duke of York was run on good to firm going but in May last year Invincible Army won a 1200m G3 event at Ascot on soft ground, giving hope that he will cope with any give underfoot at the end of what has been a wet week in Berkshire.

Tate’s champion faces some fascinating opponents, possibly including Blue Point, winner of Tuesday’s G1 King’s Stand Stakes (1000m), and another Godolphin challenger in the French-trained Inns Of Court. He recently beat another French challenger City Light, who was also narrowly beaten in last year’s Diamond Jubilee.

To add to the interest, multiple Royal Ascot-winning US trainer Wesley Ward runs Bound For Nowhere, third in this race last year but who needs fast ground.

Lurking in the background is trainer James Fanshawe’s stalwart, The Tin Man. The seven-year-old has a fine record at Ascot, including winning the Diamond Jubilee in 2017 and finishing fourth in it last year.

Fanshawe said: “I have had three great horses, Soviet Song, Society Rock and The Tin Man. He likes it at Ascot, seems very well and is moving very well at home.”

In his comeback race at Windsor last month, after a troubled run, The Tin Man was beaten by Dream Of Dreams but Fanshawe was not disheartened.

He said: “The important thing about Windsor was that The Tin Man had a run. Since then everything has gone well.”

Fanshawe feels that, as The Tin Man’s form suggests, fast ground suits him best although he has run well on soft.

Earlier, in the G2 Hardwicke Stakes (2392m), all eyes will be on Masar, kept off the course by injury since winning last year’s G1 Derby (2405m) at Epsom. With his long lay-off in mind, the Godolphin team decided to run Masar in the Hardwicke rather than the G1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes (1993m).

Trainer Charlie Appleby explained: “Looking at the line-up, the Prince of Wales’s would be a tough race to make Masar’s return in so we have decided to run in the Hardwicke and go forward from there.”

If Masar is not fully tuned up, stablemate Ghaiyyath has an excellent chance of winning the race for Godolphin. A strong galloper, the lightly raced four-year-old should act well if the ground is soft.

Appleby said: “I’ve been keen to step him up to this trip which I think will suit him. It was good performance when he won the (G2) Prix d’Harcourt (2000m) at Longchamp in April but he then ran disappointingly in the (G1) Prix Ganay (2100m). He travelled well but ran a bit flat. I think his previous race, three weeks before, took more out of him than we thought.”