Ascot preview: Mustajeeb can seal deal

Dermot Weld and Pat Smullen can end week on high in Diamond Jubilee Stakes

Pat Smullen will be on board Mustajeeb in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Ascot. Photograph: Reuters.

Australians have got used to Dermot Weld upsetting their Melbourne Cup prejudices over the decades but they may have to get their heads around the legendary Irish trainer doing the same thing to their sprinters with Mustajeeb in Royal Ascot's Diamond Jubilee Stakes.

European trainers have made hay in Australia’s top middle-distance events in the two decades since Vintage Crop’s historic Melbourne Cup success but the Aussies have consistently fought back in Ascot’s top sprints over the years.

Black Caviar famously won the 2012 Diamond Jubilee while Choisir won the race in 2003 and victory for either Brazen Beau or Wandjina would be a major morale booster to an Australian racing industry currently beleaguered in doping controversies linked to use of cobalt.

Wandjina’s trainer Gai Waterhouse is one of the leading racing figures down under and she said of her Group One winner: “I think he’s got an outstanding chance and his form is tip-top. He’s very honest and carries himself well. We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t think we could be competitive.”

READ MORE

Brazen Beau is another proven Group One winner, at Flemington in March, something Tom Hogan's stalwart Gordon Lord Byron is also, while Aidan O'Brien's Due Diligence was runner up to Slade Power in this race a year ago.

In contrast Mustajeeb’s best Group One effort was a third in last year’s Irish 2,000 Guineas on heavy ground but Pat Smullen’s suspicion that sprinting would prove his game looked on the money in a big way when Weld produced the colt in the Greenlands three weeks ago.

“I couldn’t have been more impressed with him. He looked big in the ring, you’d like to think he’ll improve from it, and if he does it leaves him there among the best sprinters around,” Smullen reported. “I think he’s got a big chance.”

Weld and Smullen enjoyed the high of Wednesday's Prince Of Wales's victory by Free Eagle before the comparative disappointment of Forgotten Rules' Gold Cup third. Mustajeeb can put a Group One seal on their week.

Potential

The potential for Irish-trained horses to put a seal on a vintage week is all over the final day card and there is likely to be something of a “

Cheltenham

banker” feel to

Wicklow Brave

’s appearance in the concluding Queen

Alexandra Stakes

.

Ryan Moore is on board the evocatively named Ballydoyle for Aidan O'Brien in the Chesham Stakes. Not much went right for the filly on her Curragh debut so the step up to seven furlongs for this should help see significant improvement.

The Hardwicke Stakes could easily pass for a Group One and Postponed looks to be on the upgrade and should relish this mile and a half.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column