One of the keys to a successful Royal Ascot (other than following our excellent tipping services) is to manage your bank carefully. It is 5 days of top racing, and so having a staking plan to cover you for all eventualities over the 5 days is crucial.
Therefore whichever horses you’re planning on backing, bear in mind Eddie’s excellent article on bank protection, so that by the time the Wokingham Stakes entries go to post, you still have more chance of becoming a loan shark rather than needing one.
With that in mind, let’s have a look at some of the highlights of Days Two and Three. The handicaps have not been covered here – they are certainly the fields in which our tipping experts will be of most use as they try to solve some of the trickiest puzzles known to mankind.
2:30, Wednesday – Jersey Stakes.
Ivawood was placed in both the English and Irish 2,000 Guineas this season, and so it is significant that the Hannon / Hughes combination both see this 7f trip as being optimum for Ivawood, and also both see this classy colt as their banker of the week. Quite a few of our columnists have recently covered the issue of value, and at 6/4 to 13/8, you must decide whether the value lies here or elsewhere, such as with Bossy Guest who finished just one place behind Ivawood in the English Guineas.
Hathal looks to have lots of potential and you won’t find a jockey in better form than Frankie Dettori at present, whilst the runner-up in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, Luck Of The Kitten, takes her chances for Wesley Ward’s team of US raiders.
Sir Isaac Newton finally got off the mark in his last start, having been a beaten odds-on favourite in his first two career starts, and 16/1 for the deadly duo of Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore may end up looking big.
3:40, Wednesday – Duke of Cambridge Stakes.
A chance for the fillies and mares to make their mark, and Sir Michael Stoute is well represented with market leader Integral and Bragging, the former winning this race last year whilst the latter disappointed last time out at York.
Rizeena, representing Clive Brittain, wasn’t at her best in the 2014 1,000 Guineas but recovered to win at Royal Ascot, and she’ll need to do the same again having trailed off 7th of 8 at this year’s Guineas meeting. She remains of interest given her obvious talent, as does Euro Charline, who has posted two of her top three career high RPRs at Ascot, and is sure to appreciate the ground conditions.
Cladocera is the French challenger having raced well in Dubai over the winter.
4:20, Wednesday – Prince of Wales’s Stakes.
If the mouth-watering clash on day one of Royal Ascot featuring the foreign-raiders Solow and Able Friend doesn’t excite you, then surely this race must tick all the boxes. 10 horses, 6 countries and lots of chances. Starting off with the home challengers, we have Western Hymn for John Gosden and Frankie Dettori; having taken The Derby and the French Oaks in the past 10 days, confidence will be sky high for this talented colt who is unbeaten this season.
The Grey Gatsby, on the other hand, has yet to get off the mark in 2015 but has been beaten by some high-quality rivals in Solow and Al Kazeem among others, but his victory over Australia in last year’s Irish Champion Stakes gives us a reminder of how good this horse can be.
Cannock Chase has been tipped in several places at big prices, and Ryan Moore would love to do the business for Sir Michael Stoute. The Corsican needs to step up to make an impact, but his six career starts to date have each yielded a higher RPR than the one before and he may just improve again.
We then come to the Irish hope, Dermot Weld’s Free Eagle, who is very lightly raced (only having 4 career starts as a 4yo), but he ran extremely well fresh on his 2014 debut – he will certainly need to do the same again to repel his challengers.
Gailo Chop and Ectot are the Gallic raiders, and Ectot in particular was a talented colt who went off third favourite for the Arc before finishing 17th. This will be his first race since then. California Chrome was the beaten favourite in last year’s Belmont Stakes when attempting to win the US Triple Crown, and having finished a good second in the Dubai World Cup, has been given plenty of time to recover and acclimatise to the British way of life. If he takes well to the turf, he could run a huge race. However, news of a bruised foot would be disappointing for fans and connections alike.
Criterion is an experienced Australian horse, who has made 23 more starts than Free Eagle, and so is the most exposed horse in the field. As with many of these horses, Criterion remains a bit of an unknown quantity to many British enthusiasts, so the market may be our best guide on the day.
And finally, Spielberg is the great Japanese hope. The Japanese and their army of dedicated racing fans have two main ambitions – to win the Arc and to win at Royal Ascot, and connections seem confident that Spielberg will give them a film to remember.
2:30, Thursday – Norfolk Stakes.
The field for this race will become clearer after the efforts of the 2 year olds on Tuesday, although the one to note is Log Out Island as it appears he has been rerouted to this race from the Coventry, whilst King Of Rooks has been an expensive purchase for Al Shaqab Racing, and has looked an extremely exciting prospect, winning over both 5 and 6 furlongs in his fledgling career.
Waterloo Bridge looks an intriguing prospect for Ballydoyle – out of Zoffany, who despite winning 5 races will forever be remembered for pushing Frankel all the way at Royal Ascot in 2011 – he improved 23lbs on his debut and if he takes up this engagement he may well improve on his most recent efforts.
Many of the juveniles here will be making only their second starts and if there is to be an upset, it could be one of those open to a big improvement.
3:40, Thursday – Ribblesdale Stakes.
The fillies again get a chance to hog the limelight, with some eyecatching entries.
Curvy, owned by Coolmore but trained by David Wachman, recently beat Giovanni Canaletto who went on to finish fourth in The Derby, and having been an average 2yo she looks to be extremely progressive as a 3yo.
Gretchen, for John Gosden and William Buick, has had just one career start, at Newmarket in May in a Class 5 race, but she won with ease and being out of Galileo, she must be showing something at home and could go under the radar.
We also have the impressive Irish 1,000 Guineas winner in Pleascach, trained by Jim Bolger and yet another recent purchase for Godolphin.
Yarrow was a decent winner at Leicester for Sir Michael Stoute, whilst Words would be an interesting entry but she only ran (and won) in Ireland on Sunday so may not be declared.
Pamona and Pandora for Luca Cumani and Charlie Hills respectively will also pose a threat.
4:20, Thursday – Gold Cup.
The one for stayers and the race where it would be most advised to take an early price before the final decs are out, because the likely fast ground will probably lead to some non-runners on the day.
Clever Cookie has been a revelation since returning to the flat, but he certainly likes some give in the ground and his trainer, Peter Niven, has already said he won’t risk his stable star on unsuitable ground.
Forgotten Rules, so impressive for Dermot Weld on Champions Day at Ascot in the mud last October, is the hot favourite but again may wait to take his chances later in the year. That may well open the way for Mizzou, who won on good to firm ground at Ascot in April, or perhaps the big-priced Kingfisher, who just ten days ago was winning on good to firm at Leopardstown.
There would be more doubts over his ability to last the full 2m4f than Mizzou, although both are by Galileo.
Trip To Paris has been supplemented by his owners – £35k is a not insubstantial amount for one of the smaller players, and he has improved with every start this year, including winning over 18 and a half furlongs at Chester in May.
Whilst the markets are still NRNB, it may be wise to take a price now and see what ground Thursday brings… As ever, be lucky!