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Royal Ascot: Day 2

Lady Aurelia – just wow! She was as impressive in the King’s Stand yesterday as she was when winning the Queen Mary last year.

Then it was Barney Roy’s chance to shine and reverse the 2000 Guineas form against Churchill, who didn’t turn up.

For the blog there were plenty of placed efforts with Murillo (8/1), Who Dares Wins (5/1) and James Garfield (25/1) all hitting the frame.

Time to look at Day 2!


14:30 Jersey Stakes

Ribchester won this race last year and it’s a tough race to solve for punters. The trio who head the market step back in trip after efforts in the respective Guineas races. Le Brivido represents the French yard of Andre Fabre and anything he sends across must be respected. This colt was narrowly beaten in the Poule d’Essaid des Poulains at Deauville but that was run on soft ground and he’s yet to encounter anything this fast. His sire Siyouni never race on anything quicker than good, so there has to be a question mark about him on this ground.

Godolphin had an exceptional day yesterday and they could have a great start to the second day with Dream Castle with Josephine Gordon in the saddle. He was second to Barney Roy, who won yesterday, in the Group 3 Greenham Stakes before running fifth in the 1000 Guineas when not having the best of runs. With a clearer run here up the long straight course with them going hard up front should allow him to show his turn of foot to see this out the strongest now back in trip.

Daban was third in the 2000 Guineas when being no match for Winter and she faded in the closing yards to be caught for second. She won the Nell Gwyn Stakes in April when beating Unforgetable Filly, who won the German 1000 Guineas on Sunday, so that now looks strong form. It’s John Gosden’s first runner of the Royal meeting and this filly has the speed to match the colts.

The one at a price worth taking a chance on is Chessman the other Gosden charge. He’s got plenty to work to do based on his rating of 93 and having had just two runs in handicaps when going down by the narrowest of margins. However he’s shaped well in both starts having flew home at Newbury two starts back to be beaten by a penalty carrying Bacchus before a similar effort at Haydock when finishing the race strongly without getting on terms with the winner. In a big field such as this they’ll go a good gallop and that is likely to suit this son of Acclamation. Despite his quirks this is a test he should relish, so if Adam Kirby times the finish to perfection then his turn of foot should see go close.

Escobar is worth a mention and is highly thought of by Hugo Palmer. He won a four-runner Listed Washington Singer Stakes at Newbury in good enough style but he didn’t go on from that when disappointing in the Group 3 Somerville Stakes when said to have run flat. He was kept off the track until last month when returning with encouragement behind Khafoo Shermemi at Sandown when producing a strong finishing effort but he did still look a little green. Fitness on his side is a plus but a lot will depend on his maturity as he’s only tackled a 14-runner field.

Dream Castle (9/2)
Chessman (18/1)


15:05 Queen Mary Stakes

Wesley Ward has won the last two running of this race with Acapulco and Lady Aurelia with the latter showing her ability once more yesterday when blowing away her rivals in the King’s Stand. Happy Like A Fool is the Ward runner here and she has to be taken very serious after her very commanding performance on debut at Keeneland. She was blinkered and she swept around the home turn before showing a blistering turn of foot to put her rivals to the sword. She’s been all the rage beforehand and she is likely to go off short with Ryan Moore aboard.

A Bath Fillies Novice Stakes isn’t where you’d imagine to find a Royal Ascot winner but Heartache could just do that after bolting up by six lengths. The third from that race has won since to give the form some substance and the win was backed up by strong fractions on the clock. She’s still an unknown quantity but the style she won in was impressive and she’s held in high regard by Clive Cox, so with her relaxed demeanour could give the favourite something to think about.

Out Of The Flames is another one to have on side here after making an encouraging debut over course and distance when third by a short-head to Mrs Gallagher. She came out of that well and was an easy winner at Windsor justifying her short odds that day when kept up to her work when going clear, so was arguably value for more than the winning margin. Richard Hannon got off the mark at this meeting yesterday and he trained the winner of this race back in 2011. This filly by Showcasing sets a good standard on the clock, so enters the equation.

Anything Mick Channon enters is worth looking at and Neola is the one he sends after her second in the Listed Marygate Fillies Stakes at York when looking slightly weary in the closing stages. That was soft ground that day but I’m not exactly sure this fast ground will bring out the best in her despite the pedigree on her dams side. Her win at Nottingham has been franked a couple of times and she posted a decent figure that day when winning by seven lengths. In this the main pace comes low, so the draw in the middle isn’t too bad but she may find a couple too good.

Happy Like A Fool (5/4)
Out Of The Flames (16/1)


15:40 Duke Of Cambridge Stakes

Laugh Aloud has cruised through her last two races and looks the one to beat here on the back of those two emphatic successes. In the Princess Elizabeth Stakes at Epsom she travelled powerfully through the race and handled the track well before quickening clear of her rivals. That race proved she can be held up after going from the front of previous occasions. She’ll love this fast ground and will handle the big field. The Godolphin filly ticks a lot of boxes and she can take another step forward in this race.

Qemah will strip fitter from her return to the track when beaten by Mix And Mingle at Lingfield last time out. She herself was beaten a distance but came away from those in behind but the bump entering the last two furlongs may have knocked her off her stride a little but if she’d have matched the winner is open to question. There were excuses that day and the 2016 Coronation Stakes winner does have plenty of ability but the ground is a concern as she’s never tackled anything this fast but being by Danehill Dancer she should cope.

A filly I really like and have to have a bit on here at her price is the ever-improving Mix And Mingle who defeated Qemah last time. She did it ploughing a lone furrow along the stands’ rail and ran on well in the closing stages to extend her lead. She’s a nice type and holds good form throughout her career but does have to prove herself at this trip. The way this daughter by Exceed And Excel has shaped suggests she’ll see it out, so she is worth taking a chance on. If you look back through her form she was beaten by just a neck by Aljazzi in the Dick Hern Fillies Stakes at Haydock last August over this trip, so Chris Wall’s charge isn’t totally out of this given the improved form this campaign.

Smart Call for Sir Michael Stoute could prove the fly in the ointment here on her second start for the master trainer. She came from South Africa where she was a dual Group 1 winner, so has proven quality. Now she’s had time to settle into her new surroundings and a run at York for fitness then a bold showing from the mare can be expected. Greta G is an unknown quantity on her first start for John Gosden and she returns to action after a 326-day break. The last time she was seen she was winning by seven lengths in a Group 1 in Argentina. All her runs have been on heavy ground, which have to be the concern. The grey filly could be one to offer some pace into the early stages of this contest.

Laugh Aloud (3/1)
Mix And Mingle (12/1)


16:20 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes

Many will be rushing into back Highland Reel after his success in the Coronation Cup and he’s the one with leading claims on the back of that victory with many saying he’ll be more suited by the drop back in trip but it can take him a bit of time to get going and the bird may have flown by then in a race like this. We all know he’s a quality type having travelling the world contesting some of the richest races but I don’t think this will be ran to suit.

There is pace on offer here with Scottish likely to set a quick tempo in a bid to make this a test of stamina and if that’s the case then it should suit Jack Hobbs. He made a striking impression when winning the Sheema Classic at Meydan beating Postponed and Highland Reel with the blinkers on for the first time – they remain on here. There will be an argument that the drop back in trip won’t suit but if he can be ridden prominently behind his pacesetter then he has the turn of foot to see his rivals off. Remember he’s rated as the joint fourth best horse in the world.

The filly Queen’s Trust will bounce back after her last of four at York when she disliked the soft ground. She won the Breeders Cup Filly & Mare Turf proving she is a high quality type over this trip and ran a number of good races last year including fourth in last year’s Ribblesdale when not quite getting the best of rides from Olivier Peslier, who is up again. In that she was given too much to do and was flying at the finish. With her in receipt of weight and a very nice type, she is the one to look at to cause an upset.

 Jack Hobbs (10/3)


17:00 Royal Hunt Cup

A race that requires a throw of the dart, well it might as well be. 30-runners head to post for this mile handicap and in the past four year olds have been the way to go with last year seeing the first six home being at that age, plus seven of the last ten winners have been four.

Many of these would make a shortlist, so I’m going to talk about who I think the main players are:

El Vip carries a penalty after running on strongly from the rear at Newcastle last time but the time before he pulled to hard. He is a headstrong type, so the strong pace is likely to suit.

Fastnet Tempest weaved his way through the field under Josephine Gordon to win the Victoria Cup over course and distance. He backed that effort up at Chester when getting up after missing the start. He’s got an engine on him and he might not be done improving just yet. He fits the bill for some of the recent winners in this race.

Abe Lincoln second in last year’s Britannia by a short-head. He hasn’t been seen for 370-days, so fitness is unknown despite making a winning debut as a juvenile plus he’s yet to encounter ground this fast. Banksea was gelded and made a good late challenge to win the Spring Cup at Newbury last time; he’s a big player off just a 4lb higher mark and he was second over course and distance on just his third career start.

The first one for me is George William who’ll come from stall one on the far side. He was second to Fastnet Tempest in the Victoria Cup when finishing the race strongly after not getting the clearest of runs to challenge. With him able to come out of the stalls and track the pace all Sean Levey needs to do is pull him out right to get the clear air then utilise his turn of foot. A strong pace over this trip could see the best out of him.

Bossy Guest was seventh in that race and ran along the near rail throughout. He may have been inconvenienced by the fading Zhui Feng, who lead and held on for third. Both of them have chances, as does GK Chesterton for last years winning owner Godolphin. He carries a penalty for his win at Epsom where he went from the front and the cheekpieces helped to improve his performance after the Newmarket triumph. The son of Poet’s Voice adds a pace angle to this race but front runners here aren’t generally the way to go in these sort of races.

Richard Hannon’s other charge is quite an interesting sort in the shape of Tabarrak. He carries top weight here, which is the slight concern but he is proving a useful type. Yet to be out of the front two on seven starts he continued his upward curve when winning the Listed Paradise Stakes over course and distance when possibly worth more than the neck-winning margin. The handicapper has put him up 4lb for that to 111, so he does face a difficult task but he has shown he’s a smart individual who can make a splash back in handicap company.

GM Hopkins won this race in 2015 off a mark of 103. He’s off 105 here but hasn’t shown too much of late to suggest a revival but he does look feasibly treated. Early Morning ran a nice race on his seasonal return at Haydock and he should strip fitter for that. He was eighth in this last year on soft ground and this better ground is likely to suit him much better. The grey son of New Approach is one that could outrun his odds.

George William (12/1)
Tabarrak (25/1)


17:35 Sandringham Handicap

This fillies handicap is another tough puzzle to try to solve but I like the claims of On Her Toes. She was a Listed race winner last season and finished her campaign off with a third in a Group 3 where the winner was given too much rope from the front. Her return to the track was an encouraging one when second on soft ground proving she had trained on from a juvenile. In that race on the Knavesmire she was boxed in on the rail at a crucial time, so with more luck in running on the straight course she has the makings of a useful type at this level.

Tisbutadream put in a really good effort from the front at Epsom in the Group 3 Princess Elizabeth Stakes and even though there was a bias to front-runners, that was still an improved effort. She is likely to try similarly bold tactics here under Silvestre de Sousa and if he gets the fractions right she could prove hard to pass given her lovely attitude.

Gymnaste only has three starts under her belt and runs for connections who won this race last year for the same trainer in John Gosden, who is a master when it comes to fillies. He took his time with her as a juvenile giving her just one run when narrowly denied. She was a decisive winner of an ordinary maiden at Chester on her first start this season and was given too much to do at Kempton last time. She’s respected but for me needs to find more in this sort of race on her bare form.

Grecian Light is the other one I’m looking at given her consistency of late. She’s being holding her form well and started her season off at Saint-Cloud when running third in a Listed race on soft ground. She faded late in the contest but that will have sharpened her up for this. The fact Charlie Appleby left a bit on her is unsurprising as his tend to need their first run back. This daughter of Shamardal was well-tried last season and finished ahead of On Her Toes in the Sweet Solera at Newmarket, which started her sequence of places in Group races. In Listed company she can make her presence felt and despite the high mark is one that looks to be primed for this.

On Her Toes (11/1)
Grecian Light (16/1)

 

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