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COCKNEY REBEL can rack up a brilliant Group 1 hat-trick - and put one hoof on the milers' crown in the process - by landing the St James's Palace Stakes (3.45) on the opening day of Royal Ascot 2007 this afternoon.

The Val Royal colt, who takes his name from the 70's tunesmiths fronted by Steve Harley, has catapulted one-time top trainer Geoff Huffer back into the big time.

He was a 25-1 shot when lifting the 2,000 Guineas on his reappearance, beating Vital Equine by a length and a half.

Before going for the Irish equivalent, Cockney Rebel had Huffer purring with a brilliant piece of work on the Newmarket gallops.

And, sent off the 6-4 favourite to follow up at the Curragh, the superstar didn't disappoint his followers.

In the past week the colourful Huffer has found it hard to contain himself after another blistering morning workout by his man.

There is already a firm bid of pounds 10million on the table for Cockney Rebel - but that figure will have to rise if, as expected, Olivier Peslier's mount goes in again today. He won't have it all his own way, as Newmarket third Dutch Art, trained by dual Derby winner Peter Chapple-Hyam, comes in search of revenge.

Dutch Art, whose homework has also been the subject of rave reviews in the run-up to the Royal meeting, had an excuse at Headquarters. For while the action was unfolding down the stands' rail, he was marooned towards the far side, leading home his group of 10 runners.

Chapple-Hyam is adamant things would have been different if his colt had steered a path down the near side, and the rematch is something to savour.

Of the remainder, Aidan O'Brien launches a three-pronged attack, with Duke Of Marmalade, Astronomer Royal and Excellent Art.

While Duke Of Marmalade stayed on to take fourth behind Cockney Rebel at Newmarket, Ast ronomer Royal beat Creachadoir for the French equivalent at Longchamp.

However, Excellent Art was a luckless fourth that afternoon and may prove best of the trio.

Later in the afternoon, LEG SPINNER is fancied to repeat his success of two years ago - when the meeting was staged at York - in the Ascot Stakes (4.55).

O'Brien's ACHILLES OF TROY is worth a chance to confirm the promise shown at Newmarket last month, in the Windsor Castle Stakes (5.30).

RAMONTI is fancied to down returning superstar George Washington in the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes (4.20).

'Gorgeous George' is back on the racecourse after proving a flop at stud. But the Ballydoyle colt always walked a knife-edge in terms of temperament, and Ramonti makes more appeal.


TOP OF THE POPS: Cockney Rebel and his groupies; STAR: George Washington (nearest camera) wins the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot last September
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jun 19, 2007
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