Friday was a decent day – Clemmie is definitely one to watch over further as she once again got going quite late on, but the French winner Different League was really rather impressive. Crystal Ocean hit the front too soon and if only Permian had done that in the Derby… Caravaggio was utterly brilliant in victory – there’s no doubting Harry Angel and Blue Point are two really smart colts and to do what Caravaggio did was quite superb. Winter then completed the double in expected fashion, before Stradivarius made it three wins in succession. The last race was ultimately one of frustration as both Mainstream and Sixties Groove were held up out the back expecting a strong pace to help the closers, but the steady pace ended up favouring those who raced prominently. Our selections were the fastest finishing home in 6th and 5threspectively. But that’s racing.
For today’s final day of a quite superb Royal Ascot meeting, it looks so tough that we’ve drafted in political giants Theresa May, Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn, Diane Abbott, Donald Trump and Paul Nuttall to give their views on the races.
2:30 – Chesham Stakes, 7f, Listed
“So Theresa, what do you think to today’s opening race on this final day?”
“Well I’m very clear that Churchill won this race last year and the favourite this time, September, is from the same strong and stable, erm, stable. She’s actually a filly who’s favourite ahead of the colts, now who does that remind you of? Yes that’s right, me. When I wasn’t running through wheat fields as a child I spent a lot of time in stables. A stable girl at heart, you could say.”
“In summary, you like the Irish horse?”
“What I said was I’m very clear that I’m choosing a horse in the national interest that shows the very best of British. For example, take Her Majesty The Queen, who runs LEARN BY HEART for William Haggas. My advisors tell me this colt is by Frankel (klaxon), a national treasure, and that his dam won the Albany. And I am also told that we can make a success of British horses by encouraging strong foreign ownership that bring jobs to this country, and MASAR couldn’t be a better example of this. Charlie trains it, a fine British name, and William rides it, a fine British name. I couldn’t be clearer on this. Now I must go to Brussels.”
It seems Theresa prefers the chances of these to the obvious claims of September and the other Frankel (klaxon) colt, Westerland. We shall see.
Selection: MASAR (win)
Alternative: LEARN BY HEART (each way)
3:05 – Wolferton Handicap, 1m2f, Listed
Paul Nuttall posted his views on his website, which we’ve taken here. “As a multiple Royal Ascot-winning trainer, owner and jockey, let me tell you nobody knows better than me how hard it is to win races at this meeting. But I’m hoping to put my unrivalled experience to good use here. Firstly, I have to rule out all these horses with headgear on. How can I assess properly whether a horse wants to win or not if I can’t see his full face? It’s just not right. But I do think KHAIRAAT has a super chance as he seeks to make it 4 wins on the bounce – much like my own personal election campaigns, success just comes easily to some of us – and he should keep improving. Jim Crowley has chosen this ride as first choice. Kidmenever could keep up Godolphin’s fine record this week, particularly the duo of Charlie Appleby and William Buick (I once coached a young Buick and taught him several different languages) but at a much bigger price we’ll take a chance on AYRAD for Roger Charlton and Ryan Moore. It’s an intriguing jockey booking – my agent turned down the chance to ride – and if he can recapture his Group form from last year he could outrun his price.”
Selection: KHAIRAAT (win)
Alternative: AYRAD (each way)
3:40 – Hardwicke Stakes, 1m4f, Group 2
We asked Donald Trump for a proper interview, but instead he responded in a series of tweets.
“Great job by Wesley Ward this week, great job. He is helping to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” Not really much help there, Don.
“The Queen has yet to invite me to her house and her horses are LOSERS. Bigly” Looks like he doesn’t fancy Dartmouth, although he is very strong in the market.
“I’ve spent a lot of time in Idaho, it’s a fantastic state, and the horse is going to do the state proud. IDAHO wins and we will lower taxes!” Idaho will get similar ground to his Great Voltigeur Stakes victory at York last year and he is surely better than his last couple of races.
“Melania calls me her dream boat. She’s a beautiful woman – let me tell you, beautiful – and she deserves a dream boat like me.” This distance could be the making of MY DREAM BOAT, who was a fine second behind the classy Hawkbill when tried at the distance at Newbury last month. His form over shorter distances is strong and he is slightly under the radar here for Clive Cox and Adam Kirby. Second Step and Across The Stars also look good prices, whilst the only thing putting me off Wings Of Desire is the fact we haven’t seen him since last year’s Juddmonte. This is a tough assignment on his comeback, but he is hugely talented.
Selection: IDAHO (win)
Alternative: MY DREAM BOAT (each way)
4:20 – Diamond Jubilee Stakes, 6f, Group 1
“How’s your Royal Ascot been so far Diane? And what do you think to the Diamond Jubilee?”
“Well, erm, it’s been a fantastic meeting for me so far. By my records I’m 4,212 points up from the 73 races so far, giving me a level stakes profit of £1.2m to a £5 stake.” (At this point the interview was terminated).
Limato looks to get his favoured ground over what is probably his ideal distance – his versatility is sometimes a problem as it gives many tempting options to connections, but a fast pace over 6 furlongs should be perfect. Ryan Moore is on board, taking over from Harry Bentley due to the owner fearing psychological issues after the disaster in Meydan. He’s a cracking horse and one I hope runs well, but he is plenty short enough considering his last two racecourse experiences in Santa Anita and Meydan have been far from ideal. Whilst I’m tempted to give Librisa Breeze another chance on this ground over 6f, it still may be that 7f is better for this gelding, but again if it’s a strong pace that could suit him as he has the stamina to cope. However, it’s with THE TIN MAN and TASLEET we’ll try to find a winner with. The Tin Man won here for James Fanshawe and Tom Queally on Champions Day last year and he has only been beaten once on good to firm ground and that was on his debut back in early May 2015 – we can forgive him that one. He needed the comeback race at York which was won by a race fit Tasleet, who was dropping back down in distance after racing over 7f for over 18 months. I’m hopeful one of these can get their nose in front.
Selection: THE TIN MAN (win)
Alternative: TASLEET (win)
5:00 – Wokingham Stakes, 6f, Class 2 Handicap
Over to Jeremy Corbyn for this one. “Well, fundamentally I agree with the concept of handicaps in that every person and every horse should have an equal opportunity in a race and in life. Regardless of ability, we should all be the same. However, where I do start to have a problem is with the idea of unequal prize money – a horse who has finished first shouldn’t get more money than a horse who tries equally hard and has finished last. It’s just basic equine decency. But you simply can’t ask me to pick some horses who I think will win as that will damage the others’ confidence and I can’t have that on my conscience.”
Unfortunately Jeremy refused to move on this point, so instead we’re left with PROJECTION for the in-form duo of Roger Charlton and Kieran Shoemark, who continues to climb the ratings and with just 9 starts under his belt he has scope to continue that rise. This is another cavalry charge of a race, and as my form has been worse than awful in these races this week we’ll stick with just one more selection and that’s a flyer on BIRCHWOOD. This is his handicap debut for a horse considered classy enough to go to the Breeders Cup as a 2yo, when he finished third in the Juvenile Turf. With the Richard Fahey stable boosted by Ribchester and James Doyle riding with plenty of confidence, there’s a chance he can get back on the right track.
Selection: PROJECTION (each way)
Alternative: BIRCHWOOD (each way)
5:35 – Queen Alexandra Stakes, 2m5f143yds, Class 2
Famously, Boris Johnson wrote two articles, one discussing the virtues of the European Union, and one discussing why we should leave. So we asked him to recreate this, only this time revolving around Thomas Hobson…
“Thomas Hobson will win this because, much like myself, Willie Mullins is an absolute genius. His placing of horses, whether in Cheltenham or Leopardstown or Melbourne or Royal Ascot, is second only to my placing of political campaigns and who am I to argue with him? He wasn’t given a hard time by Ryan Moore during the race, letting the others burn themselves out before scooting clear by fully six lengths. You know, that’s the sort of victory I’m used to, and if Willie thinks he’s ready to go again, then he’s ready to go again.”
“Thomas Hobson won’t win again this week because it’s so hard to do. He may not have been given a hard race, but it was still over 2m 4f on quick summer ground. We probably won’t know what he’s got left in the tank until it’s too late. Only in April he attempted a Fairyhouse / Punchestown double in the space of 11 days when he won the former by 3 lengths before weakening to finish 7th at Punchestown. It’s so hard to do, and this time he doesn’t get the benefit of Ryan Moore on board. It’s a no from Boris here.”
Whichever argument convinces you, I’m bound to get it wrong. I said I’d get it wrong on Tuesday, and I did. I’m going to go against Thomas Hobson again here, and I’ll almost certainly regret it. But with whom should I oppose him? US Army Ranger? What on earth – seriously, what on earth – is he doing in this race? He was an unbeaten favourite for the Derby less than 13 months ago. He finished second that day, a fine performance. And since then, his form figures have been 428320 and he’s not raced beyond 13.5 furlongs. Ryan Moore will be a miracle worker if he gets this one round to challenge. Perhaps this is just a prep race before he goes to join Joseph and is aimed at the Albert Bartlett next March? I will say one thing though – Aidan O’Brien knows a lot more than me so watch if the money comes here. Do we oppose him with Qewy? Yes. Yes we do. Off since November after a fine effort in the Melbourne Cup before winning a Listed race in Australia, he has the talent and the Charlie Appleby / William Buick duo is proving good value this week – Rare Rhythm won on Friday at 20/1 having been off since September so that shouldn’t put us off. So it’s with QEWY we’ll go. I like Montaly but I’m happy to go with just the one selection.
Selection: QEWY (win)