SOLDIER'S TALE looks like a top sprinter in the making and can win the Wokingham Stakes (4.20pm) on the final day of the Royal meeting at York tomorrow.
The four-year-old has overcome all sorts of problems - he fractured a leg last year and almost died after an attack of colic - but trainer Jeremy Noseda reckons he has the guts and ability to go right to the very top of the sprinting tree.
Unraced as a juvenile, he was narrowly beaten on his debut at Newmarket last spring and then won a maiden event at York last May by a long looking five lengths before his training troubles began. It was to be a year and a day before he saw a racecourse again, but Noseda nursed him back to fitness and Soldier's Tale produced a tremendous late burst to win a competitive six furlong handicap at the spring meeting on Knavesmire last month.
The handicapper put him up 7lb for that effort but the horse has had only three runs in his life and has bags of scope for improvement.
Ilfraaj is another highly rated colt who has overcome a training setback to make his mark already this term and he is chasing a hat-trick after victories at Kempton and Lingfield this term.
The latter success came over seven furlongs, but trainer Michael Jarvis is not worried about the step back in trip and rates his progressive colt high enough to have made some fancy entries for him in Group One events later in the year. There will be some battle hardened sprinters in the line-up too, including last year's winner Lafi who landed one of the biggest gambles of the year when romping home 12 months ago.
River Falcon - who won at Thirsk and York before finishing a close fifth in the big sprint at Musselburgh recently - will represent Scotland and has each-way prospects, but Soldier's Tale gets the vote.
Noseda can initiate a major sprint double with Balmont in the Group One Gold Jubilee Stakes (3.45pm) for whom he has booked top French rider Christophe Soumillon.
Balmont's four juvenile wins included the Gimcrack Stakes over this course and distance and the Group One Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket, and he was third in the July Cup on the same track last summer.
He showed signs of recapturing his best form when a close third over the minimum trip at Sandown recently and the extra furlong tomorrow will suit admirably.
Doyen can give Godolphin a second winner in what has basically been a disappointing week by taking the Hardwick Stakes (3.05pm).
The five-year-old landed this prize by six lengths some 12 months ago and although he makes his seasonal debut this time, he can still take the spoils.
Blue Monday won two of his three races as a juvenile, but missed the whole of last term. He was a promising third on his reappearance at Chester though and then made virtually all the running to take the valuable Zetland Gold Cup at Redcar.
He steps up in trip in the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes (4.55pm), but trainer Roger Charlton is confident that his horse has enough stamina and he can collect at decent odds.
Royal Ascot Selections: 3.05 Doyen; 3.45 Balmont; 4.20 Soldier's Tale; 4.55 Blue Monday.