06/17/2007 11:00PM

Notnowcato may find uphill run too taxing


Notnowcato and Dylan Thomas will pick up where they left off at Royal Ascot on Wednesday in the 1 1/4-mile $693,000 Prince of Wales's Stakes.

Notnowcato defeated Dylan Thomas by a head after a quarter-mile duel in the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh on May 27, and the pair will match strides again as they attempt to add their names to a list of Prince of Wales winners that includes Dubai Millennium, Fantastic Light, and Ouija Board. This time, however, the front-running tactics employed by the Michael Stoute-trained Notnowcato may leave him vulnerable on Ascot's mostly uphill 10-furlong course. There is also a suspicion that Dylan Thomas, who had previously landed a lukewarm renewal of Longchamp's Group 1 Prix Ganay, was not up to his best at the Curragh.

With ace French filly Mandesha bypassing the Prince of Wales for Sunday's Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, Christophe Soumillon is free to ride Dylan Thomas, the Aiden O'Brien trainee who is in search of his fourth Group 1 victory. Johnny Murtagh rides Notnowcato.

Both must beware of the dangerous Manduro. A German-bred son of Monsun, he is thriving this year under the care of trainer Andre Fabre. Victories in the Group 3 Earl of Sefton Stakes at Newmarket and the Group 1 Prix d'Ispahan at Longchamp have prepared him perfectly for a crack at the Prince of Wales, in which he was third last year behind Ouija Board and Electrocutionist. Stephane Pasquier has the ride.

Adding luster to the contest is last year's Breeders' Cup Turf winner, Red Rocks, who was the impressive two-length winner last time of the Group 3 Gordon Richards Stakes at the Prince of Wales distance. Sir Percy, winless in three tries since his 2005 Epsom Derby triumph, faces a tough task in cutting back to 1 1/4 miles.

The Group 2, $257,000 Windsor Forest Stakes for older fillies and mares on Ascot's straight mile features the first three finishers from Epsom's Group 3 Princess Elizabeth Stakes in Echelon, Bahia Breeze and Nannina.

Nannina is selected to reverse that form. Trained by John Gosden, Nannina won at last year's Royal Meeting, taking the Group 1 Coronation Stakes on the right-handed mile.

US Ranger, seventh in the 2000 Guineas, will attempt to redeem his reputation in the seven-furlong Group 3 Jersey Stakes for 3-year-olds for trainer Jean-Claude Rouget, but the colt has drawn unfortunately wide in post 16 in the 17-runner field and may have trouble holding off Major Cadeaux, who finished a half-length in front of him when he ran fifth in the Guineas.