Royal Ascot 2015: Albany Stakes preview (14.30)


American handler Wes Ward saddles two leading contenders in the Group 3 Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot, in the shape of Back At The Ranch and Laxfield Road, and the former is taken to come out on top in the 6f juvenile contest.

Back At The Ranch finished runner-up on debut in a 4.5f contest at Keeneland, being reeled in late on after being ridden aggressively following a slow start and quickening three lengths clear a furlong from home.

The daughter of Artie Schiller then showed the benefit of that experience when going one better in a 5f maiden at Belmont when different tactics were employed.

Jockey Jose Rosairo allowed stable companion Assoulin to open up a huge lead before unleashing Back At The Ranch in the straight to win going away by 2 1/4 lengths.

It was an effort which suggested Back At The Ranch had a huge engine, and Ward believes she will be better on turf after working in scintillating style on it in recent breeze-ups.

Ward, who has already tasted success at the meeting with Acapulco in the Queen Mary Stakes, also believes that Back At The Ranch is the narrow pick of his duo, and has the power to mow down the trail blazing Laxfield Road over a 6f trip which should suit.

Laxfield Road created a huge impression when winning on debut over 4.5 at Keeneland, showing blistering early speed from the gates and quickening clear in the straight to win by 11 1/4 lengths.

The daughter of Quality Road is clearly a very exciting prospect and looks sure to make a bold bid from the front under in-form jockey Frankie Dettori.

However, whether Laxfield Road will able to last home over what is quite a stiff 6f has to be questionable given her run style.

Illuminate looked a smart prospect when scoring on her debut at Salisbury, and the Richard Hannon trained filly looks the pick of the home team.

The daughter of Zoffany showed distinct signs of inexperience and had to be niggled along in the early stages, but when the penny did drop picked up in good style to lead approaching the final furlong and quick clear to beat stable companion Great Paige by 2 3/4 lengths.

It was a very taking performance, especially as Great Paige is a useful sort who has gone on to bolt up by three lengths in a Listed contest at Naas.

With the prospect of plenty improvement assured, and Richard Hughes in the saddle, Illuminate looks a big player.

Coral betting tip: Back At The Ranch is one worth keeping onside by punters.

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