It’s the final day of Royal Ascot, and already the post-Christmas / post-Cheltenham / post-anything-that’s-really-fun blues are creeping in. Let’s hope we can all finish with a bang and walk away with a profit for the week.
2:30, Chesham Stakes. There is only one place to start with this race for two year olds; the lads at Coolmore don’t like to waste good horse names, and whilst John F Kennedy didn’t live up to his namesake this year, eyebrows were certainly raised when one simply named Ballydoyle emerged from the ranks. She was very green on debut when finishing fourth but is sure to come on for that, and given the way Washington DC and Waterloo Bridge won their races, Aidan O’Brien’s juveniles are nothing if not prepared for this week. Tonkinese was an odds-on winner at Leopardstown two weeks ago, whilst Love The Kitten is another runner from Wesley Ward who is likely to make a bold bid for success. Dessertoflife won very impressively at Doncaster on Sunday but the ground conditions are likely to be different here, but she looks a lively outsider and as we have mentioned several times this week, Mark Johnston’s success with two year olds this season mean you must at least take a look at his runners when weighing up where you see the value.
3:05, Wolferton Handicap. A tricky race albeit one with a clear favourite in Mahsoob. Unbeaten in three starts, this colt won well at York on the first day of the Dante meeting, and the ground looks unlikely to be a problem; but taking 15/8 in any handicap is always a danger. Behind Mahsoob that day was First Flight, the Godolphin runner, who looks hard pushed to overturn that form given he is much more exposed than Mahsoob. One lower down the weights who caught the eye recently is Sennockian Star, who has been raised 5lbs for his impressive Chester win last week but is 4lbs lower than when he finished fourth in this race last season. Being turned out again so quickly is often a sign of confidence from connections and this 5yo gelding may threaten the places.
3:40, Hardwicke Stakes. Telescope comes back to defend his crown but whilst he is a consistent horse (never finishing outside the first four in his career), he has an annoying (for punters) habit of regularly finding a way to get beaten, especially when he is a short price. Sir Michael Stoute comes to this race mob-handed, also saddling Snow Sky and Hillstar – although the fact Hillstar has not raced since October must be a concern. Postponed is unbeaten when racing at 11 furlongs or longer, and so this step back to 1m4f makes him of interest, whilst Eagle Top for John Gosden and Frankie Dettori should come on for his reappearance this season.
4:20, Diamond Jubilee Stakes. Brazen Beau leads the market and this Australian star has been redirected to this race having also held an entry for the King’s Stand. Although there is a paucity of top-class middle distance horses in Australia, the same cannot be said for their sprinters, and given he is a 3yo, perhaps him running here rather than in the Commonwealth Cup is another positive. Mustajeeb was much better on his seasonal return than Due Diligence, but both come from top stables and warrant respect, whereas Undrafted and Wandjina add to the international flavour of this renewal, running for Wesley Ward and Gai Waterhouse respectively. Tropics is a proven performer over 6 furlongs, whilst Pearl Secret may find this a bit too far after a fine fourth on Tuesday.
5:00, Wokingham Stakes. Roger Charlton has had a week to remember, not only with the superb performance of Time Test in the Tercentenary Stakes and a good second for Temptress on Wednesday, but he has also featured in the royal procession twice, even sitting in the Queen’s carriage on Friday. He is sure to have Huntsmans Close in prime condition for this tough handicap; having William Buick on board is a bonus but as so often is the case in these handicaps, you can make a case for about three quarters of the field. As usual, we’ll leave the solving of this puzzle to our experts, but other entries of note include the French raider Robert le Diable and at a big price Algar Lad, who won well at York on his latest racecourse appearance.
5:35, Queen Alexandra Stakes. The meeting comes to a close with the longest race of them all at 2m5f (and 159 yards for good measure), and so we have to start with the proven stayer from the National Hunt game in Wicklow Brave. A surprise winner at the Cheltenham Festival this year, he has also won twice on the flat since then, and the Ryan Moore / Willie Mullins combo is sure to have bookies running for cover. A word of caution is necessary, however, given both his recent flat wins have come on heavy ground – as Forgotten Rules discovered on Thursday, it is a long way to run on unsuitable ground. Marzocco has not run further than 2m but is proven over that distance, whilst there are similar question marks over stamina on Rawaki. Oriental Fox is another horse who is sure to stay, but being off the course since June 2014 is a worry, whilst Times Up warrants respect given how Trip To Paris was primed for the Gold Cup, although as a 9 year old he may be past his best.