In the absence of four-time hero Yeats the top class staying division looks wide-open but with Manifest making little appeal at the likely prices we'll turn to ASK; Age Of Aquarius would be interesting were it not for some major disappointments for the yard on Tuesday. Sir Michael Stoute's seven-year-old ended last season with a taking Group One win at Longchamp, the second of his career. That was his first try over two miles - the first Group One win came over a mile and a half in the Coronation Cup at Epsom - and our belief is that he may even improve for the extra four furlongs here, something that would present a massive challenge for the rest because he arguably sets the standard already. Not only that, Ask has won on his seasonal return for the last three years so providing the ground doesn't get too quick he's got excellent claims and looks overpriced at the time of writing. Manifest is the talking horse coming in to the race as if there is a superstar lurking it could well be him; Henry Cecil's charge stormed to an eight-length success in the Yorkshire Cup when stepping beyond a mile and a half for the first time and should continue to improve. That said, there have to be slight stamina concerns and on last year's form he's a little to find with Akmal. John Dunlop does well with staying types and his son of Selkirk looks all stamina judging by his Henry II Stakes win at Sandown. At a double figure price compared with the favourite he looks value; it's easy to see him running a huge race. Age Of Aquarius went down fighting at Longchamp last time, pulling 13 lengths clear of the third, and is relied upon by connections to fill the sizeable boots of Yeats. The latter was a horse in a lifetime but Age Of Aquarius should win his share of prize money at trips beyond 1m6f, however the stable haven't had much success of late in their ventures over here and that's a concern. Kite Wood is Frankie Dettori's pick ahead of Darley Sun but it must've been a tough decision. The former won well enough over two miles on his return but it was his turn of foot that made the difference as he scored from Kasbah Bliss, whereas Darley Sun looks a more resolute galloper and can be expected to bridge the gap with Akmal following their Sandown meeting as it was his first start of the year. Kasbah Bliss is a top class animal who can't be ruled out with the extra four furlongs in his favour. In contrast Rite Of Passage may lack the stamina for this test and Purple Moon has leagues to find with Manifest, but our preference is for the proven Group One winner Ask.
Ask 7-4fav (9-4) won at Longchamp(FR) 1m 7f Grp 1 sft in Oct beating Schiaparelli (9-4) by 1 1/2l, 9 ran.
Bannaby (FR) (9-0) won at La Zarzuela(SPA) 1m 7f 4yo hcp gd in May, 0 ran.
Kasbah Bliss (FR) 6-5fav (8-11) 2nd of 7, 3/4l behind Kite Wood (8-11) at Longchamp(FR) 1m 7f Grp 2 (1) gd in May.
Purple Moon (IRE) 9-4 (8-13) Tracked leaders, ridden over 2f out, chased winner final furlong, no impression, 2nd of 5, 8l behind Manifest (8-12) at York 1m 6f Grp 2 (1) gf in May.
Rite Of Passage 7-1 (9-5) Chased leaders, 6th halfway, headway in 3rd 3f out, improved to lead 2 1/2f out, ridden clear from 2f out, eased inside final furlong, won at Leopardstown 2m hcp hvy in Nov beating Donnas Palm (8-8) by 8l, 21 ran.
Tastahil (IRE) 22-1 (9-10) Tracked leader, led 2f out, soon edged left, ridden and hard pressed over 1f out, headed narrowly inside final furlong, kept on, just held, 2nd of 17, hd behind Mamlook (8-12) at Chester 2m 3f hcp (2) gd in May.
Age Of Aquarius (IRE) 2-5fav (9-6) Tracked leader in 2nd, led 4f out, ridden and challenged 1 1/2f out, headed 1f out, no extra inside final furlong and kept on same pace, 2nd of 7, 1/2l behind Profound Beauty (9-3) at Leopardstown 1m 6f Listed stks (1) gf in May.
Akmal 4-1 (9-0) Made all, set even pace until steadied tempo 6f out, lifted pace over 3f out, strongly pressed 1f out, ridden found extra kept on gamely and in command final 100 yards, won at Sandown 2m Grp 2 (1) gf in May beating Saptapadi (9-0) by 1 1/2l, 9 ran.
Darley Sun (IRE) 2-1fav (9-0) Tracked winner, ridden 2f out, ridden not quicken and lost 2nd over 1f out, stayed on same pace inside final furlong, 3rd of 9, 3 1/2l behind Akmal (9-0) at Sandown 2m Grp 2 (1) gf in May.
Kite Wood (IRE) 2-1 (8-11) won at Longchamp(FR) 1m 7f Grp 2 (1) gd in May beating Kasbah Bliss (8-11) by 3/4l, 7 ran.
Manifest 13-8fav (8-12) Tracked leader, led well over 2f out, clear over 1f out, impressive, won at York 1m 6f Grp 2 (1) gf in May beating Purple Moon (8-13) by 8l, 5 ran.
Montaff 14-1 (9-0) Held up in 7th and off the pace, hanging right from 3f out, stayed on inside final furlong, never able to challenge, 5th of 9, 4 1/2l behind Akmal (9-0) at Sandown 2m Grp 2 (1) gf in May.
Clowance 9-2fav (8-9) Prominent, ridden over 3f out, weakened final furlong, 11th of 15, 19l behind Harbinger (8-11) at Newbury 1m 4f Grp 3 (1) gd in Apr.