St James's Palace Stakes

The St James’s Palace Stakes is the final Group 1 race on the opening day of Royal Ascot and traditionally attracts the best three-year-old best colts that Europe has to offer with the roll of honour including the likes of Frankel, Kingman, Gleneagles, Galileo Gold, Canford Cliffs, Rock Of Gibraltar and Giant’s Causeway. 

It is often recognised as the race of the week to many and last year’s edition of the race proved no different, as we witnessed one of the best performances of the week. 

Jim Bolger’s battle-hardened Poetic Flare, who was having his fourth start in Group 1 company inside 46 days, followed up his 2,000 Guineas win at Newmarket with a supreme display of pure dominance to see off Lucky Vega by over four lengths. 

St James’s Palace Stakes 2022 Ante-Post Preview

The ante-post market for this year's contest is headed by Coroebus, currently available to back at a best price 4/6 through oddschecker, who bids to follow in the footsteps of last year’s winner and win this race following victory in the 2,000 Guineas at HQ. His performance there was exemplary as he took the scalp of the red-hot favourite and stablemate Native Trail. 

Given the latter got back to winning ways in the Irish equivalent over the weekend and gave the form a tidy boost, it’s no surprise to see the former being backed as if defeat is out of the question at the Royal meeting next month but he will be up against some really high-class horses and I don’t think he’s as bombproof as the betting indicates at this stage. 

Charlie Appleby’s classic winner has now won three of his four starts and should have little trouble dropping back in trip for this contest as he’s showcased loads of pace and his turn of foot was certainly in evidence when beating Native Trail. 

As much as he’s the one to beat on that Newmarket form, I think his odds are too short for a race as competitive as this. On a different course, there’s every chance Native Trail could reverse the form. 

Charlie Appleby hinted that he may pitch his superstar two-year-old of last season against his rival for a second time. He’s available at 4/1 and I really cannot see him out of the frame if given the green light at final decs so at the prices of the two, he’s the one I would prefer to side with if forced to choose. 

However, William Haggas could deploy the promising Maljoom in this event, who landed the Group Two Mehl-Mulhens-Rennen at Cologne and his trainer is now eyeing a tilt at Royal Ascot with his unbeaten three-year-old after Sunday’s success. Astonishingly, this son of Caravaggio only made his racecourse debut a couple of months ago but he’s going from strength-to-strength and his speed-figures back up his impressive-looking victories too. 

On the balance of what we have seen of him so far, he’s got a good turn of foot and does his best work in the latter stages so the Berkshire course should really suit this well-balanced sort. His only entry to date is this race, so presumably this is his main-season target. 

At a current best price of 14/1, he’s sure to attract attention given his upwardly-mobile profile with the makings of being a genuine Group 1 horse. He’s one to consider very closely. 

St James’s Palace Stakes 2022 Ante-Post Tips

From a left-field point of view for this race and after rewatching the Irish 2,000 Guineas back multiple times, I cannot help but be impressed with Sheila Lavery’s NEW ENERGY (best price 33/1) who turned in an unforeseen career-best performance to finish runner-up behind Native Trail, beaten just a length and three-quarters at the post, and has more to come. 

Held-up in rear, with opposite tactics applied to the ones used when a front-running third to Buckaroo on his penultimate start, he seemed to really benefit a strong pace and the patient tactics as he was weaving his way through very good horses from the two furlong pole before being held in a pocket with nowhere to go when right in behind Native Trail, who had a clearer sight of things, before coming home strongly. 

I’m not saying he would have won with a clearer passage but Billy Lee looked to have loads of horse underneath him when forced to sit and wait and once in the clear, and surged home to take second. 

I was adamant Wexford Native was the better horse of the two on their previous engagement going into the race but upon reflection of this race, my gut feeling tells me the second best horse in the race did in fact finish right in behind the odds-on favourite. 

There’s no doubt he will get a strong pace to aim at if ridden in the same manner and a reproduction of that latest big performance would surely see him there or thereabouts. Some might see his latest run as a fluke, some might say he was passing beaten horses, but in my opinion he was seen to best effect with how the race panned out and he should get a similar strong-pace scenario in this one. 

His participation has yet to be confirmed by his trainer so it is probably worth holding fire at the time of writing with him but the St James’s Palace is his only entry at the Royal meeting so it’s plausible to suggest this will be his next assignment. 

Looking at the odds, I think he’s been underestimated by most firms at 33/1 in comparison to Native Trail at 4/1 when you consider that he’s not got insurmountable lengths to find from the latter and could represent a decent bit of each-way value at the prices for Tuesday’s feature contest.