Well it’s fair to say it’s been a frustrating Royal Ascot from a punting perspective so far, with several narrow misses – not least Twilight Payment who got a nice third at 20/1 but got going too late; with an extra half furlong he’d surely have won and looks one to follow for the rest of the season.
Quiet Reflection was very impressive in providing Karl Burke with a first UK Group One victory, whilst it was two Coolmore outsiders in the form of Brave Anna and Sword Fighter who took the honours in the first and last races of the day.
Across The Stars showed what a tough sort he is by winning the King Edward VII whilst Kings Fete hit trouble when attempting to run down Kinema and Elite Army in the Duke Of Edinburgh.
So onto the final day which features a race I simply cannot wait for…
2:30, Chesham Stakes, 7f, 2yo.
WHO’S THE DADDY? That will be the question from the front 3 in the market as Frankel goes head to head with his dad Galileo in the opener. Galileo sires Churchill for Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore. Churchill ran very green on his debut at the Curragh when third to Van Der Decken and Magnification, and was doing his best work at the end. The step up to 7f looks ideal, but it does also for CUNCO, who did everything wrong before his racecourse debut when his price drifted to 7/2 due to his coltish antics. He was then slow away before producing an extremely impressive turn of foot and the length of time it took Robert Havlin to pull him up after was reminiscent of his father. He is very exciting and at a much bigger price than Churchill I think he’s worth chancing.
Frankuus was always prominent at Haydock last week when winning over this trip and only showed his greenness when he started to look around after hitting the front. Mark Johnston’s 2yos tend to take their racing well, hence the quick reappearance, but this grey will have to be on top form to win this. Admiralty Arch also makes interest at a very big price.
3:05, Wolferton Handicap, 1m2f, 4yo+.
Once again Godolphin have a strong hand here with Best Of Times, Maverick Wave, Second Wave and Oceanographer making up a quarter of this field. On jockey bookings Best Of Times and Oceanographer look to be the first string but Adam Kirby is having a fantastic week so Second Wave can’t be ruled out.
However, my first selection is for MALEFICENT QUEEN, a filly who has raced six times and won the last 5 of them. She still looks like she has improvement in her and if she can overcome her draw she must have a chance. I also like Pacify for Ralph Beckett and Fran Berry but my other selection is REVOLUTIONIST for Mark Johnston. He has raced 7 times this year alone but has posted RPRs of 102, 102, 105 and 111 in his last 4 starts and is in the form of his life.
Selection: MALEFICENT QUEEN each way
Alternative: REVOLUTIONIST each way
3:40, Hardwicke Stakes, 1m4f, 4yo+.
This renewal looks as competitive as ever, although Exosphere looks to be the clear form pick with a hugely impressive win in the Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket in April. Although Simple Verse was second that day, the favourite Jack Hobbs suffered a stress fracture and was pulled up, meaning Exosphere may – just may – have been flattered by the bare result. Certainly, any juice in his price has long gone.
Simple Verse re-opposes from the Jockey Club on 5lb better terms but she was well beaten at Epsom in the Coronation Cup last time out and will need to improve to win here. Dartmouth could give the Queen a Royal winner this week finally, and Highland Reel is used to running in better company than this, but I fancy EAGLE TOP to go one better than he did in this race last year and take the honours. Although he hasn’t won in almost two years, his nose second to Postponed last July looks better with every run Postponed makes, whilst his 15th in the Arc can be forgiven as there is no shame in not being good enough to win that race. Frankie is riding superbly this week and knows this horse well.
Selection: EAGLE TOP
4:20, Diamond Jubilee Stakes, 6f, 4yo+.
The speedsters come to the fore in this feature race and it’s very hard to separate the three main protagonists at the head of the market. The Tin Man is still on an upward curve in terms of his form, posting successive RPRs of 111, 114 and 119 in his last three outings, whilst Twilight Son can be forgiven his seasonal reappearance at York last month when he didn’t run his race.
My preference, however, is for MAGICAL MEMORY, who won that day at York and under the tutelage of Charlie Hills who seems to be specialising in sprinters, Frankie Dettori can post a quickfire double on the card. Undrafted won this last year for Wesley Ward and can’t be ruled out completely.
Selection: MAGICAL MEMORY
5:00, Wokingham Stakes, 6f, 3yo+.
Another huge field handicap and the week doesn’t get any easier as the meeting draws to a close.
Interception won this race last year, completing an NFL-themed double for punters, and she will appreciate any drying of the ground. She races off just 5lb higher than her mark last year and must be of serious interest. We can’t go into too much detail given the number of runners, but I’m going with two selections here.
Firstly, HUNTSMANS CLOSE, a veteran of these big field handicaps and who was well fancied at last year’s Royal meeting before he decided to demonstrate his hurdling abilities after bolting from the parade ring. Unfortunately his choice of obstacles included fences, tables and cars and he was naturally withdrawn before winning at Windsor a week later. If he behaves himself before the race then he can build on his decent run at Goodwood last time for Roger Charlton and James Doyle.
Another I’m prepared to take a chance on is MUTAWATHEA for Simon Crisford who is proving himself to be a very shrewd trainer. This gelding showed his liking for Ascot when second in the Victoria Cup over 7 furlongs, and this drop back in trip could see his stamina come into play. The excellent young Edward Greatrex takes off what could be a valuable 5lbs. Any further rain would be a concern however.
Selection: HUNTSMANS CLOSE each way
Alternative: MUTAWATHEA each way
5:35, Queen Alexandra Stakes, 2m5159y, 4yo+.
Most National Hunt horses would struggle over this distance, let alone standard Flat horses, so we’ll keep it simple and go for two horses which have proven stamina over this sort of distance. The first is last year’s winner ORIENTAL FOX, who although carrying 3lbs more than last year has been aimed at this again, even sacrificing an attempt at the Gold Cup to go for this. At 8yo he probably isn’t open to any improvement but he is a tough sort who should relish this test.
The second selection is CLONDAW WARRIOR who won over 2m4f at last year’s meeting and was last seen over hurdles at Fairyhouse and Ayr. Ryan Moore rides for Willie Mullins and at 5/1 for both our selections we’re getting 2/1 the pair which I think is decent.
Selection: ORIENTAL FOX
Alternative: CLONDAW WARRIOR
That’s it from me and the Royal meeting and I hope you have enjoyed my analysis over the last epic week!