While the easy verdict from a European point of view is that the St James’s Palace Stakes is likely to be a walk in the park for Frankel, it would be wrong to overlook the chances of the Japanese three-year-old Grand Prix Boss, who has now arrived in England, where he is staying in Clive Brittain’s Carlburg Stables in Newmarket’s Bury Road.
Grand Prix Boss’s most recent outing saw him post an excellent win in the Grade 1 NHK Mile Cup in Tokyo on May 8. That victory prompted the colt’s trainer Yoshito Yahagi to embark on his bold Royal Ascot challenge – and subsequent events can surely only have increased confidence in his charge’s chances.
Real Impact, third of 18 behind Grand Prix Boss in the NHK Mile Cup, beaten two and a quarter lengths, won his next start four weeks later, beating his 17 rivals in the Grade 1 Yasuda Kinen over the same course and distance on June 5.
What made this victory particularly impressive was the fact that Real Impact, the second Grade 1 winner to emerge from the first crop of the former Japanese champion Deep Impact, was the only three-year-old in the field. Real Impact has thrice been beaten by Grand Prix Boss, to whom he twice finished second as a two-year-old, including in the Grade 1 Asahi Hai Futurity Stakes at Nakayama last December.
Like so many of the best horses in Japan nowadays, Grand Prix Boss is a grandson of the former multiple champion sire Sunday Silence. While, however, many of the stars, including Real Impact, are by Sunday Silence stallions, Grand Prix Boss, a son of Sakura Bakushin O, is from the Sunday Silence mare Rosy Mist.
Australian jockey Craig Williams, who previously tasted Group 1 glory in Britain on the Mick Channon-trained Tobougg in the Dewhurst in 2000, rode Grand Prix Boss to his most recent victory but Italian jockey Mirco Demuro is set to take the ride at Royal Ascot.