Aidan O’Brien’s decision to duck the 2000 Guineas with Washington DC can be vindicated by victory in the Merriebelle Stable Pavilion Stakes at Ascot.
The Royal Ascot-winning colt was shortlisted by Ballydoyle for the Newmarket Classic, but he instead rocks up for this Group Three over six furlongs.
Washington DC is an absolute ball of speed, so O’Brien is presumably a shade wary about him getting a mile in top-class company at this stage of his development.
The Pavilion Stakes will be an entirely different ball game, though, and is a race that should ideally suit.
Runner-up to none other than Air Force Blue in the Phoenix Stakes at the Curragh in August, having previously landed the Windsor Castle at Ascot, the Zoffany colt looked a picture of health on his Dundalk return.
Washington DC won a seven-furlong Listed event with supreme authority, which was no mean feat as runner-up Alphonsus and third-placed Most Beautiful are held in some esteem.
Gifted Master is a serious rival from Hugo Palmer’s stables, but it will be difficult giving the Ballydoyle resident 3lb, especially as that one has always been viewed upon a seven-furlong specialist - despite having won over six at Newmarket a fortnight ago.
The Group Three Longines Sagaro Stakes looks tough, but it may pay to side with venerable stayer Clever Cookie.
Peter Niven’s inmate must reverse form with Frosty Berry, against whom he missed out by a neck at Nottingham earlier this month, but the selection will now have fitness on his side.
Ascot: 2.10 Sterling Silva, 2.45 Light Up Our World, 3.20 Clever Cookie, 3.55 WASHINGTON DC (NAP), 4.30 Arod, 5.00 Pearl Spectre.
Pontefract: 2.00 Valentino Boy, 2.35 Lord Yeats, 3.10 Just Be Lucky, 3.45 Maleficent Queen, 4.15 Barkston Ash, 4.50 Extortion, 5.25 Captain Dion, 6.00 Hit The Lights.
Brighton: 4.35 Lucata, 5.05 Vizier, 5.40 Hurricane Volta, 6.15 Knight Commander, 6.50 Black Caesar, 7.25 One Big Surprise, 7.55 Time Medicean.
Cheltenham: 4.45 Delta Borget, 5.15 Itchymei’Mscratch, 5.50 Blazing Whale, 6.25 Dicky Bob, 7.00 Durban Gold, 7.35 Carruthers, 8.10 Double Bank.
Punchestown: 3.40 Poker School, 4.20 Bello Conti, 4.55 Bellshill, 5.30 Cue Card, 6.05 Aspen Colorado, 6.40 Foxrock, 7.15 Copper Kay.
Wolverhampton: 1.50 Diamond Runner, 2.20 Packing, 2.55 Love Oasis, 3.30 Assertive Agent, 4.05 Wedgewood Estates, 4.40 I Am Not Here, 5.10 Capo Rosso, 5.45 Bombilate.
Double: Washington DC and Cue Card.