By Racinguk.com staff
Ribchester could face up to 16 rivals in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.
Richard Fahey's stable star is a top-priced 9-4 with bet 365 and Coral for the straight-mile Group One having struck three times at the top level this season in the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury, the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot and, most recently, the Prix du Moulin at Chantilly.
“Everything has gone according to plan," said Fahey. "He’s a very easy horse to train with no issues, touch wood. I’m able to get the work into him when I want and he’s a very willing horse who enjoys his work, which is a huge help.
“He tends to go on any ground. When he got beaten at Goodwood I’m not blaming the [heavy] ground, I’m blaming the conditions – it was blowing a gale and pouring down with the rain. It was a horrible day. If you’ve ever run yourself in rain and wind, it’s not comfortable and it just caught him out but he’s bounced back and won a Group 1 in France since so we are very happy and comfortable with him.”
Aidan O'Brien won this prize for the fourth time with the brilliant filly Minding 12 months ago and has whittled his potential team down to four.
Heading the quartet is dual 2000 Guineas hero Churchill, a best-priced 6-1 with William Hill. He could be joined by triple Group One-winning filly Roly Poly, as well as stablemates Lancaster Bomber and Sir John Lavery.
Andrew Balding is set to field Here Comes When and the fast-improving Beat The Bank, with the latter a general 9-2.
“Beat The Bank has done very well for us this year," Balding said. "He’s been very progressive, seems to handle any type of ground and the way he won the Joel Stakes suggests he might have a chance at the highest level. He won it emphatically and deserves a step up in class. Only time will tell whether he is up to it, but we hope so.
“A lot depends on the weather forecast for Here Comes When, who’s obviously a much better horse when there is a lot of rain around. He’s in great form and is a horse who historically has goes very well fresh. We are very happy not having run since Goodwood.”
Other contenders include David Simcock's Breton Rock and the Andre Fabre-trained Al Wukair. The latter is a general 6-1.