Slade ready to rock
Slade Power is aiming to give trainer Eddie Lynam an incredible third winner from just four runners at this year's Royal Ascot in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes on Saturday.
Lynam's Sole Power won his second King's Stand Stakes on Tuesday, while the two-year-old Anthem Alexander showed tremendous speed to claim the Queen Mary on Wednesday.
Slade Power has a favourite's chance, too, having won on Champions Day over course and distance on soft ground.
He looked an improved performer when beating Maarek by an easy two lengths on his seasonal reappearance, when there was also plenty of give in the ground.
However, Lynam does not see a quicker surface as a barrier.
"Asking for three out of four winners this week might be asking a bit much, but thankfully Slade Power doesn't know that," said the County Meath handler.
"He's in very good form at home and is a course-and-distance winner. I'm very happy with him and he's travelled over well and settled in. He's got no excuses.
"I'm not worried about the ground at all, we've always thought he's very versatile on the ground.
"It won't be any quicker than it was on July Cup day last year when he was third to Lethal Force. He showed then he could handle it.
"After that he went to the Curragh and was just a smidgen outside the track record set by Invincible Spirit so I have no worries about quicker ground.
"It looked like he'd improved the way he beat Maarek first time out and that would be in keeping with what he has done every season to date. Every year he gets a little better and I hope that continues.
"It would cap an unbelievable week if he wins."
Slade Power's chief market rival is Roger Varian's Aljamaaheer, a top-class miler who has reverted to sprinting.
He was a fast-finishing third on his first run over six furlongs since his debut in the Abernant at Newmarket and will wear first-time blinkers.
"He has been fine since the Abernant and is working very well at home," said Varian.
"There was a chance that he could have run in the Duke of York Stakes at York's Dante meeting but the ground came up soft so we decided to give that one a swerve and the plan since has always been to come straight here.
"We thought going into the year that he could be even better over sprint distances and the Abernant was a good first try at sprinting.
"He has always shown a lot of speed at home and Paul (Hanagan), who has got to know him really well, always felt that he was the kind of horse who would be able to drop back in distance.
"We have a lot of confidence in this horse and hope that on Saturday he can show everyone what a good sprinter he is."
The one proven Group One-winning sprinter in the field is Tom Hogan's globetrotter Gordon Lord Byron.
His versatility is shown by the fact he has won the Prix de la Foret over seven furlongs in France, the Sprint Cup at Haydock over six and a Group One over a mile in Australia.
"He's been in great form since his last run at Sha Tin," said Hogan.
"I think he's showing the benefit of having a summer in Australia and because of that he's probably more forward than when he ran in this last year (fourth).
"He looks great and feels great.
"I'm sure he'd be able to win a Group One over five furlongs if we pointed him at one, he's got so much speed.
"He'd prefer rattling fast ground, I think. He may have form on soft but arguably his best run was at Haydock two years ago when it was like a road.
"There were lots of Group One winners in that race - more than this o ne - and he went very close.
"On ratings, he should be going very close. Slade Power will be some horse to win on this ground given how good he looked on Champions Day when it was very soft."
Richard Hannon is again trying Montiridge over six furlongs on the advice of jockey Richard Hughes, despite finishing only 10th of 14 in a Windsor Listed race last time out.
"Hughesie was adamant that we should persevere with sprinting with Montiridge, so he goes for the Diamond Jubilee," the trainer told www.richardhannonracing.co.uk.
"He reckons that the leaders went five-furlong pace at Windsor last time and that a mile has always looked to stretch him, so we are rolling the dice again at the top table."
Aidan O'Brien runs American import Darwin, ridden by Joseph O'Brien, and the three-year-old Due Diligence, another who started his career in the States.
Kevin Ryan's Astaire went close in the Duke of York, while Jack Dexter, Medicean Man and Es Que Love all run again after having taken part in the King's Stand on Tuesday.
The unknown element is provided by the French challenger, American Devil, trained by Eric Libaud and winner of his last two races.