Month: June 2017

Royal Ascot 2017 Review Part 1

Tuesday June 27th

One of the great joys of blogging is the opportunity to watch the races again objectively courtesy of sportinglife.com and realise not only what an excellent five days of racing it was but how much I missed in real time when seeing the race through my wallet!!

Let’s start with a couple of general observations. Regular readers of this blog will have heard this before but I would love to see a false rail turning for home so that the horse on the rail turning in was now four or five horse widths off the rail. With that much prize money on offer, that many competing for it, surely we all want the best horse to win and that wasn’t always the case last week. Secondly with modern technology would it not be possible for the Clerk of the Course to engineer a situation where the middle of the track was quicker than both rails and encourage jockeys to race up the centre. The two group scenario seems both unnecessary and unfair.

What about the horses? Well I wouldn’t be in a rush to oppose a few of last week’s winners whilst they stay in their division. Ribchester (4yo+ 8F), Winter (3yo fillies 8F), Caravaggio (3yo 6F) and the pair of Big Orange and Order of St. George (16F+ G1), all were mighty impressive.

As for the 2yo form? September looks a G1 filly and Heartache clearly has talent but as for the rest, especially the colts, looked below par to me. Those that went into the notebook were;

Darkanna (Richard Fahey) This expensive filly is now getting her act together and was doing all of her best work late on in the Queen Mary and is now ready for a sixth furlong.

Marchingontogether (Ivan Furtado) This ridiculously cheap purchase has been moved on to Qatar Racing and this daughter of Havana Gold was always staying on well when others had had enough in the Windsor Castle and is now ready for a sixth furlong. At worst she could be useful in nurseries but could easily pick up some Black Type.

In the 6F G2 Coventry I thought there were four horses who would all benefit from stepping up to 7F, Headway (William Haggas), Murillo (Aidan O’Brien), Prince of the Dark (Clive Cox) and Romanised (Ken Condon).

In the 6F G3 Albany for the fillies, Take me with you (Jeremy Noseda) and Mistress of Venice (James Given) both out ran their odds but were on the ‘wrong’ stands side band both should win at 7F+. On the quicker side Snowflakes (Aidan O’Brien) went with no cover then got bumped when moving into contention. More to come at this level. I would like to see the Albany form franked as I’m wary of its strength.

Likewise the 7F Chesham looked average at best but I thought I spotted three future winners. Bartholomew Dias (Charlie Hills) did enough in the final two furlongs to suggest he’s a shoo-in for an 8F maiden as soon as they start. Bustan (John Quinn) looked a candidate for a decent 7F nursery, possibly York. Further down the line once Hey Gaman (James Tate) grows into his frame he should make a decent 10F 3yo.

Level weight 3yo’s. This year’s two furlong shorter G2 14F Queens Vase produced two likely St.Leger candidates in Stradivarius (John Gosden) and Count Octave (Andrew Balding). For me the horse to take from the race was Desert Skyline (David Elsworth) who raced right at the back under Fran Berry, made progress in the home straight but every time he tried for a run he was pushed back inside. Remains on OR100 and would be of interest in a C2 12F 3yo handicap (Newmarket/Haydock) off that, especially if ?-100.

The 12F G2 Ribblesdale was a close call between two fillies who could both expect to collect a middle distance Group 1 sooner rather than later in Coronet (John Gosden) and Mori (Sir Michael Stoute) although the former wouldn’t want Soft in the Going. Both are in the Irish Oaks. Astronomy’s Choice is clearly highly thought of at Clarehaven stables but once again hated the ground and with a bit more time to fill that large frame and Soft in the going could well reward Team Gosden in an Autumn campaign.

In the colts equivalent, the G2 12F Edward VII, Permian (Mark Johnston) remains the most reliable yardstick for 3yo middle distance colts but there is certainly no standout performer in the division, yet. Crystal Ocean (Sir Michael Stoute) remains a work in progress. As does his stablemate Mirage Dancer (Sir Michael Stoute) who was third in the G3 10F Hampton Court and it might be both will peak as 4yo’s. In the Hampton court Irish Correspondent (Michael Halford) never got a clear run at the leaders and I think these were his ideal conditions, G3 possibly Listed, 10F, Good to Firm. If he were mine I’d look for a race in the UK as he’ll get the gallop he needs and may not have to contend with a pack of O’Brien Galileo colts or late developers from Messr’s Weld or Bolger!

In the St James Palace G1 8F Forest Ranger (Richard Fahey) struck me as up in trip, 8-10F, down in grade, G3?, could see him back to winning ways. Interesting entry in the 9F G3 Meld Stakes at Leopardstown on July 21st. Ideal methinks.

The older horses 4yo+. Cougar Mountain (Aidan O’Brien) was never put in the G1 8F Queen Anne but did enough late on to suggest he could win a G3 over 8/10F when a Coolmore first choice! Idaho (Aidan O’Brien) returned to winning form in the G2 12F Hardwicke stakes in what looked a scruffy race. Barsanti  (Roger Varian) stayed on late to grab second and although he’s won his last three handicaps rising from OR85-OR105 and now 106 he would head to the Princess of Wales G2 12F at Newmarket’s July meeting as a leading player. Chemical Charge (Ralph Beckett) didn’t have much racing room close home and now up to OR114 may have to go abroad to win a 12F Group race. Across the Stars (Sir Michael Stoute) was bumped 2F out when considering a challenge and I’m sure this talented colt will be winning soon with his shrewd connections.

Amongst the sprinters Aclaim (Martyn Meade) under Jamie Spencer could never find a racing seam until the race had gone and has an interesting entry in the 7F Minstrel Stakes at the Curragh on 16th July. Tasleet (William Haggas) and Librisa Breeze (Dean ivory) strike me as two that could easily pick up a Grade 1 prize this season. I’d back both for sure in any race I could get a double figure price. Tasleet came from a fair way back in the G1 6F Diamond Jubilee and wasn’t the only horse that Jim Crowley asked to make up plenty of ground last week, which surprised me as Hamdan Al Maktoum likes his horses ridden very prominently.

 

Part 2 to follow. The handicappers – Gimme the money!

 

Royal Ascot Day 5 Saturday June 24th

Friday 6.30pm Smart 3yo’s double for O’Brien with Caravaggio and Winter. Silvestre de Sousa has had 19 rides at Royal Ascot and the closest he has got is fifth! 10-18-7-7-8-16-11-14-9-14-6-8-7-5-13-8-11-5-16. Just saying!

To me the Saturday card is the least inspiring of Ascot’s five day festival with the exception of the excellent puzzle that is the Wokingham handicap and the other five races at first glance look like it could turn into a Ryan Moore bonanza.

(11am) Just found out there is no sectional timing at Ascot despite that bloody great unnecessary Longines clock of a finishing post! Amazed. Hopefully in their meeting review the likes of Timeform and stopwatchracing will be able to come with something as the pattern and rhythm of the race is essential in summing up the strength of the form.

Martin Dwyer made a very interesting point after winning the Hunt Cup that there are so few front runners in the big handicaps, many got their marks with a hold up ride, that he was able to get a soft lead then nick a couple of lengths a furlong out and hold on. Of course the clock boys will hopefully confirm this. Surely an opportunity for Hamdam al Maktoum and/or Mark Johnson horses, both like them ridden prominently. Plenty of suitable races at Goodwood, would get messy for the hold-up horses in behind, and at York where it is notoriously difficult to come from too far back anyway.

Saturdays Lucky 15

Let’s see if we can finish off in style.

Royal Ascot 3.05                    KHAIRAAT                               4/1 general

Royal Ascot 4.20                    THE TIN MAN                             13/2 PP 11/2 general

Royal Ascot 5.00                    PROJECTION                           9/1 Coral + WH 8/1 general

Royal Ascot 5.35                    FUN MAC                                10/1 general

and here’s why

Royal Ascot 3.05                    KHAIRAAT                   4yo’s are starting to dominate this race and Sir Michael Stoute has an in form improver in the shape of Khairaat who looks to have the ideal credentials for this contest having hacked up at Chester last time out. Will probably go off favourite and I didn’t really want to put him up but at 4/1 I think he represents excellent value as I expected nearer 5/2. Being a Hamdan Al Maktoum owned horse I expect Jim Crowley to ride him prominently and stall 3 should be ideal.

Royal Ascot 4.20                    THE TIN MAN                 The Tin Man won the G1 Champions Sprint at Ascot last October and just isn’t the same horse with Soft in the going description. Always held in high regard by trainer James Fanshawe and he knows a thing or two about Group 1 sprinters. This could be The Tin Man’s summer as for once his preparation seems to have gone smoothly.

Royal Ascot 5.00                    PROJECTION               Surely this hold up horse will get the breaks sooner or later and land one of these big pots. Since being gelded he’s run four excellent races, three of them at Newmarket, with form figures of 453-6 which may suggest he’s a nearly horse so why this race. Paul Jones sums it up perfectly in the Stats Guide on the excellent At The Races Royal Ascot 2017 microsite “Roger Charlton’s record catches the eye having supplied a winner, second and four other top-six finishes in recent seasons and his Projection will be a leading fancy running in the colours of The Royal Ascot Racing Club”. His run this season was behind Mr Lupton in a really hot handicap at HQ and that should put him spot on here as he didn’t look too busy to me.

Royal Ascot 5.35                    FUN MAC                    In 2015 Fun Mac was beaten just half a length by Clondaw Warrior in this contest on Good to Firm ground and last season was deemed good enough to have a go in the Gold Cup itself but this season returns to the Queen Alexandra. One run this season when an excellent third in the Chester Cup and Jim Crowley can win the lucky last for Marcus Tregoning.

 

Fridays Lucky 15

Don’t go crazy, not my strongest selections of the week, possible each way?

Royal Ascot 2.30                    BLACK SAILS                           11th 8/1           (10/1 general)

Every chance at the furlong pole but not good enough.

Royal Ascot 3.05                    CRYSTAL OCEAN                        3rd 9/4Fav          (11/4 general)

Remains a work in progress and I’m not sure Atzeni’s sweeping move around the outside on the home bend was a wise manoeuvre but wouldn’t you love to own a horse like Permian.

Royal Ascot 5.00                    COUNT OCTAVE                     2nd 8/1             (11/1 Lads 10/1 Coral 7/1 WH!!)

Chinned. Box seat, every chance, great run.

Royal Ascot 5.35                    WADIGOR                               16th 4/1F         (13/2 BetFred + PP)

Richard Hoiles put it in a nutshell “has run no race at all”. Cheers SDS!

Friday Recommended single bets

2.30 Black Sails            11th 8/1           One star* each way @ 10/1 general See above

3.05 Crystal Ocean      3rd 9/4Fav          Two star** win @ 11/4 general See above

5.00 Count Octave      2nd 8/1             One star* each way @ 11/1 Ladbrokes 10/1 Coral 7/1 WH!! See above

5.35 Wadigor             16th 4/1F            Two star* win @ 13/2 BetFred + PP See above

 

Saturday already Recommended single bets

3.05 Poets Word                     Two star** win @ 7/1                   Non Runner

3.05 Journey                            One star* win @ 10/1                   Non Runner

5.00 Projection                       Two star** each way @ 14/1

5.00 Eastern Impact                One star* each way @ 25/1

5.00 Normandy Barriere        One star* win @ 20/1

 

Saturday Recommended single bets

2.30 Optimum Time     One star* each way @ 16/1 general especially if four places (PP in shop?)

3.05 Khairaat              Two star** win @ 4/1 general

4.20 The Tin Man        One star* win @ 13/2 PP 11/2 general

4.20 Growl                   One star* each way @ 25/1 Lads + Coral especially if four places (PP in shop?)

 

and here’s why

 

Saturday 2.30pm Chesham Stakes Listed 2yo 7F

When September won her one race to date many were talking in terms of Group 1 with Tom Segal (Pricewise) leading the cheerleading. Timeform think “Bred in the purple and looked something a bit special as she became the first Aidan O’Brien-trained juvenile to win on debut this season at Leopardstown (7f) a fortnight ago. Obvious claims.” I don’t think putting up a 5/4 shot is big or clever so let’s find an each way poke at a decent price.

Mark Johnsons filly, Nyaleti, like September gets 5lb from the colts and she battled well to win on debut over 6F at Salisbury outstaying Billesden Brook but the one that went into my notebook in big letters is Optimum Time. The bare facts, he has just won a Windsor C5 6F maiden weren’t what sparked my interest but his connections and visually how he won. He’s trained by Eve Johnson Houghton and ridden by Charles Bishop who are together having a splendid season and this cheap 18K purchase son of German sire Manduro is bred to get a trip and on debut he travelled well but running to the furlong pole was caught in a pocket and in a professional manner pulled round two horses and galloped away to a three length victory.

One star* each way Optimum Time.

Saturday 3.05 Wolferton Stakes Listed handicap 11F 4yo+

4yo’s are starting to dominate this race and Sir Michael Stoute has an in form improver in the shape of Khairaat who looks to have the ideal credentials for this contest having hacked up at Chester last time out. Will probably go off favourite and I didn’t really want to put him up but at 4/1 I think he represents excellent value as I expected nearer 5/2. Being a Hamdan Al Maktoum owned horse I expect Jim Crowley to ride him prominently and stall 3 should be ideal.

I’m really struggling to see an obvious danger though Central Square and Dragon Mall would have chances.

Saturday 3.40pm Hardwicke Stakes G2 12F 4yo+

This is what I wrote in the blog on Monday 19th June “I believe this is the race that should have seen Highland Reel and Jack Hobbs in as they built up for a clash in the King George. So how much is it going to take to win this?

Dartmouth returns to defend his crown for HM the Queen and you can be sure Sir Michael Stoute will have him trained to the moment. Dartmouth obviously gets the trip, acts on the course, is up to the grade but the question is the ground. So is he “value” currently priced at a general 3/1? Maybe. Probably. Opposition looks thin on the ground with those two big guns missing.”

However since then Frontiersman is out injured and neither Poets Word nor Journey have deemed to turn up!

The stars are aligned Dartmouth for the Queen, Sir Michael Stoute and young Ryan.

Saturday 4.20pm Diamond Jubilee Stakes G1 6F 4yo+

Looks to concern Limato and The Tin Man who will both enjoy the ground and have the form in the book at this level. If Ryan Moore rode The Tin Man I wouldn’t have a decision to make as I’m not Tom Queally’s biggest fan. Neither horse is bombproof so we need to consider a few others.

Limato when he got his fast ground in last season’s G1 6F July Cup he hosed up. Likewise in the summer of 2015 he was second in the G1 Commonwealth Cup over C&D to the outstanding Muhaarar.

The Tin Man won the G1 Champions Sprint at Ascot last October and just isn’t the same horse with Soft in the going description. Always held in high regard by trainer James Fanshawe and he knows a thing or two about Group 1 sprinters. This could be The Tin Man’s summer as for once his preparation seems to have gone smoothly.

Tasleet could be the new kid on the block who showed a sparkling turn of foot to win the G2 City of York stakes when reverting to sprinting on Soft ground with first time cheek-pieces and had The Tin Man back in fifth. Is he best at York and with some give in the ground?

Aclaim was behind Ribchester in the 8F Lockinge on his seasonal debut. Here he drops two furlongs back to sprinting and Martyn Meade’s speedy Acclamation colt had Tasleet back in 8th when he won the Dubai Challenge 100 over 7F at Newmarket. Jamie Spencer rides so will try to pounce late but looks a big leap forward to me?

Growl was a huge improver last season and on the G1 Champions Sprint form from last October he only has a length to find with The Tin Man. I think he’s best on this fast ground but since that Ascot run he’s been to Hong Kong (disappointed) and this season they’ve tried to make him a 7F horse with little success. These are his best conditions, stiff 6F on fast ground, but my notebook says “..surely all the big gigs are on their agenda! My opinion is G3 at best but never say never.”

Librisa Breeze loves this course and has a remarkable finishing kick but in my book is still a handicapper and if Dean Ivory can have him ready to win a Group 1 on seasonal debut, I doff my hat! Finished sixth in the Champions Sprint.

At the prices it has to be The Tin Man one star* win and Growl one star* each way especially if you can get four places.

Saturday 5.00pm Wokingham Stakes handicap C2 6F 3yo+

This is what I blogged ten days ago, “The Wokingham is run over Ascot’s stiff 6F and I expect the ground to be Good to Firm (watering to maintain) by the time we get to Saturday. Identifying where the pace is going to be is probably more important here as you have two furlongs less to get in the right position. Once again we are looking for an upwardly mobile 4yo with Group potential who can handle a big field, quick ground and may have a few pounds in hand. There would seem to be many routes to getting to the Wokingham looking at those most likely to run with hardly any form tying in so I’m going straight to my three selections and then having a look at those who could be dangers.

I really fancy PROJECTION. Surely this hold up horse will get the breaks sooner or later and land one of these big pots. Since being gelded he’s run four excellent races, three of them at Newmarket, with form figures of 453-6 which may suggest he’s a nearly horse so why this race. Paul Jones sums it up perfectly in the Stats Guide on the excellent At The Races Royal Ascot 2017 microsite “Roger Charlton’s record catches the eye having supplied a winner, second and four other top-six finishes in recent seasons and his Projection will be a leading fancy running in the colours of The Royal Ascot Racing Club”. His run this season was behind Mr Lupton in a really hot handicap at HQ and that should put him spot on here as he didn’t look too busy to me. Two stars** each way @ 14/1 with BetFred 1234 ¼

My second selection is EASTERN IMPACT who was of course second, having done all the hard work, in that race at Newmarket Projection ran in. I wouldn’t normally consider backing Eastern Impact at anywhere but Newmarket as he’s a ten pound better horse in Suffolk. However the more I think about it the more I’m warming to his chances. He handles quick ground, he’s a course and distance winner, he needs a stiff course, he’s finished sixth and third in the last two runnings of the G1 July Cup, he ran a cracker last time out setting it up for the now OR113 rated Mr Lupton and he runs here in a handicap off just OR103 (..put on either Adam MacNamara and claim three pounds or even Connor Murtagh and claim seven pounds I wouldn’t be disappointed..) in a race #FantasticMrFahey mentioned as a target two months ago. One star* each way @ 25/1 Ladbrokes 1234 ¼

My final selection is NORMANDY BARRIERE purely based on the fact that he wants rattling quick ground and he runs this 6F brilliantly. Trainer Nigel Tinkler is bullish, the gelding is guaranteed a run and William Buick in the saddle would be a real bonus. One star* win @ 20/1 general.

As for the others:- William Haggas has Squats entered who has solid course form but probably wants a seventh furlong. The highly tried but out of form Birchwood for what would be his first handicap off OR105, he’s down nine pounds. Last year’s winner Outback Traveller is another out of form and six pounds higher. 3yo Top Score was beaten less than four lengths in seventh behind Churchill in the 2000 Guineas. This is very different! First Selection and Steady Pace haven’t raced since Meydan in February but both have solid Group form as two year olds. Culturati burst into the market with a win at Newmarket last Saturday after eighteen months off. Bounce? He and the rapidly improving Naggers, both need a few to come out to get a run. This race looks to be Plan B for Fastnet Tempest.

Otherwise it’s a case of familiar faces aged six or older! I’ll stick with my three.”

Since then Keiron Shoemark is no longer a Royal Ascot virgin after his win on Atty Persse and he takes three pounds off Projection. Culturati is out injured. Fastnet Tempest ran in the Hunt Cup.

To repeat myself I’ll stick with the three. Projection, top price 9/1 Betfred drawn 28. Eastern Impact (Paul Hanagan), top price 20/1 Paddy Power drawn 8. Normandy Barriere (William Buick), top price 12/1 general drawn 26.

Saturday 5.35pm Queen Alexandra 21F 4yo+

Has no place on the Royal Ascot card in my opinion. Run the race at Ascot by all means but not the Royal meeting, let’s have the 7F Buckingham Palace handicap back please. However as it’s here certain horses are made for the races. In 2015 Fun Mac was beaten just half a length by Clondaw Warrior in this contest on Good to Firm ground and last season was deemed good enough to have a go in the Gold Cup itself but this season returns to the Queen Alexandra. One run this season when an excellent third in the Chester Cup and Jim Crowley can win the lucky last for Marcus Tregoning.

Opposing a Willie Mullins horse is a short cut to the poor house but Thomas Hobson repeating Simenon’s feat is too much to ask and as for Coolmores massively disappointing US Army Ranger well surely this will be just another stepping stone to a Thurles novice hurdle.

Royal Ascot Day 4 Friday June 23rd

Thursday 6.30pm

Couldn’t fault the racing today. A winner a day keeps the bank manager at bay! Spencer on the straight course again! Tomorrow’s card doesn’t look punter friendly with no value in the Commonwealth Cup and Winter odds on in the Coronation but we’ll give the other four a go!

Fridays Lucky 15

Don’t go crazy, not my strongest selections of the week, possible each way?

Royal Ascot 2.30                    BLACK SAILS                           10/1 general

Royal Ascot 3.05                    CRYSTAL OCEAN                        11/4 general

Royal Ascot 5.00                    COUNT OCTAVE                     11/1 Ladbrokes 10/1 Coral 7/1 WH!!

Royal Ascot 5.35                    WADIGOR                               13/2 BetFred + PP

and here’s why

Royal Ascot 2.30                    BLACK SAILS               The filly I’m attracted to is the Qatar Racing owned, Ger Lyons trained Black Sails. She beat the boys at the Curragh and she wouldn’t be without a chance in the Coventry. She is a long and rangy daughter of Lope de Vega and I can’t see her having a problem with the ground or the trip and she looked very professional.

Royal Ascot 3.05                    CRYSTAL OCEAN           Everything points to Crystal Ocean for me. Strong in the market, Sir Michael Stoute trained, middle draw, son of Sea the Stars who will like the ground.

Royal Ascot 5.00                    COUNT OCTAVE         Andrew Balding said in his Racing Post stable tour that Count Octave “could be one for the Queens Vase”. My interest was aroused as Count Octave is a son of Frankel no less but suited to 14F!? Drawn 3, the boy Murphy is riding with confidence, solid form last time when fifth to Venice Beach in the Queens Vase.

Royal Ascot 5.35                    WADIGOR                   4yo, won last time out, on the improve, shouldn’t be involved in the early scrimmaging on the inside, SDS rides. I’m going for Wadigor. Unbeaten son of Champs Elysses who looks to relish trip and ground.

Thursdays Lucky 15

Another day, another win. £28 for our £15

Royal Ascot 2.00                    McERIN                                   7th 13/2JF        (5/1 PP 9/2 general)

Rapid but didn’t stay 5F! Market spoke volumes.

Royal Ascot 3.05                    IRISHCORRESPONDENT            5th 6/1                             (6/1 WH and PP)

Never in the right place. Got no run in the straight.

Royal Ascot 3.40                    CORONET                               1st 9/1             (15/2 PP 17/1 general)

Great run, loves the ground, stays the trip, loads of horse. St Leger player or even the Arc.

Royal Ascot 5.00                    CITY OF JOY                            10th 8/1           (10/1 WH + Coral)

Sorry Ryan but you went the wrong way and that after saying the pace was far side after winning the first race on that side. Troubled run but kept on.

Thursday Recommended single bets

15 stars out, 24.5 stars in.

2.30 McErin One star* win @ 9/2 general                                   7th  13/2JF

Rapid but didn’t stay 5F! Market spoke volumes.

3.05 Mirage Dancer One star* win @ 4/1 general.                            3rd 7/1

Considering he doubled in price, great run and more to come probably over further.

3.05 Irishcorrespondent two star win @ 6/1 general                      5th 6/1

Never in the right place. Got no run in the straight.

3.40 Coronet two star** win @ 15/2 with PP                           1st 9/1

Great run, loves the ground, stays the trip, loads of horse. St Leger player or even the Arc.

4.20 Quest for More One star* each way 16/1 123 1/5 selection 12th 25/1

Big Orange broke his heart. Faded turning for home.

5.00 City of Joy is a three*** star win @ 10/1 WH + Coral         10th 8/1

Sorry Ryan but you went the wrong way and that after saying the pace was far side after winning the first race on that side. Troubled run but kept on.

5.00 Keyser Soze one star* win @ 10/1                                                  26th 8/1

Travelled too well. None of that rocket finish. Out of his depth perhaps better on sand.

5.00 Afaak one star* win @ 16/1 general                                            DH7th 8/1

Every chance, will win again.

5.35 Drochaid one star* e/w @ 14/1                                       4th 14/1

Needed to be further up the field, stayed on well, not a lot of running room

 

Friday Recommended single bets

2.30 Black Sails            One star* each way @ 10/1 general

3.05 Crystal Ocean      Two star** win @ 11/4 general

5.00 Count Octave      One star* each way @ 11/1 Ladbrokes 10/1 Coral 7/1 WH!!

5.35 Wadigor              Two star* win @ 13/2 BetFred + PP

 

and here’s why

 

Friday 2.30pm Albany Stakes G3 2yo fillies 6F

This is the blog from a few days ago, “POSITIVES Won a maiden last time out. Had just one career start. Trained by Mick Channon/Jeremy Noseda Sandown form    NEGATIVES Failed to contest a maiden last time out

This one looks harder to solve than the boys race, the Coventry. Jessica Harrington (see above) has the market leader in the enormous, unbeaten in two, Alpha Centauri (9/4 tops PP) and Wesley Ward has the second favourite in Fairyland, a Scat Daddy filly owned by Coolmore.

Alpha Centauri has won both her races very easily, beating Actress (20/1) both times, by 2½ and then 5 lengths. Could be the real deal as the good big’un beats the good little’uns but the filly I’m attracted to is the Qatar Racing owned, Ger Lyons trained Black Sails. She beat the boys at the Curragh and she wouldn’t be without a chance in the Coventry. She is a long and rangy daughter of Lope de Vega and I can’t see her having a problem with the ground or the trip and she looked very professional. Richard Hannon is very excited by his €305K daughter of Kodiac, Natural, and she is also owned by Qatar Racing. She won a 6½F maiden at Doncaster on Soft ground when well supported on debut.

The bet is Black Sails one star* win @ 14/1 general. We may go in again each way when she’s a confirmed runner.”

Friday 3.05 Edward VII Stakes G2 12F 3yo colts & geldings

Just about all these are on my 3yo radar! As I mentioned in my Hampton Court report for Thursday my Derby horses Ante Post were Mirage Dancer and Sir John Lavery and the latter runs here. Like Mirage Dancer, Sir John Lavery is very much a work in progress also and this may well be a race too soon.

Having watched the Wolferton and the Ribblesdale don’t like the look of those inside three stalls. Messy and get stuck for a run. So what do the Stats say:

POSITIVES

The favourite or second-favourite Contested a recognised Derby Trial  Yet to win over 1m4f+

Trained by Sir Michael Stoute, by Saeed Bin Suroor or Mark Johnston Yet to win a Group race

NEGATIVES

Ran well in the Derby Yet to win this season Irish-trained contenders

Everything points to Crystal Ocean for me. Strong in the market, Sir Michael Stoute trained, middle draw, son of Sea the Stars who will like the ground.

Friday 3.40pm Commonwealth Cup G1 6F 3yo

A race for 3yo flying machines and this is a strong renewal.

The blog a week ago “3yo sprinters, probably the hardest category to win with. This is the most difficult of the five to find a selection at a price as Caravaggio, Blue Point and Harry Angel are most likely to fill the first three paying places, indeed it’s 12/1 bar the three.

Could the fillies gate-crash the party? Lady Aurelia isn’t in the Kings Stand, is she coming here? #FantasticMrFahey has the flying Frankel filly and if stepping back to 6F and sprinting saw her return to her G2 Lowther win she would be over priced at the 25/1 PP are currently offering. Big ask.

So can’t back Caravaggio but right now I can’t oppose him.”

Queen Kindly isn’t there but the three main protagonists are. My views haven’t changed. Probably put two of the three in the place-pot and maybe stick O’Briens other one, Intelligence Cross, in the tipping comp’s.

Friday 4.20pm Coronation Stakes G1 8F 3yo fillies

Blogged over a week ago, “If Winter strolls in here to collect her third Group 1 of the season having strolled the two Guineas and David Wachman says he has no regrets at packing in, I simply don’t believe him. So looking to oppose Winter you have to look outside those two 1000 Guineas. Indeed I see that the fourth at Newmarket, Talaayeb, and as low as 12/1 for the Coronation Stakes, runs in a Listed 10F contest at Newbury tomorrow (Thursday).

The man with the fillies this season has been John Gosden and surely he trains the only viable alternative in Nell Gwyn winner Dabayh. She’s been effective on quick ground, looks like this extra furlong will help and still has improvement in her. Taking 8/1 general 123 1/5 on Dabayh now seems a bet to nothing as I can see this race cutting up badly.”

Quite happy with that. Put them both in the placepot.

Friday 5.00pm Queens Vase G2 3yo 14F

This is a new trip in 2017 having dropped two furlongs from the two miles previously. Interesting stalls position, almost on the finishing post! Low draw must help. Stats won’t mean a lot so I’ll go for ‘a man with a plan’. Andrew Balding said in his Racing Post stable tour that Count Octave “could be one for the Queens Vase”. My interest was aroused as Count Octave is a son of Frankel no less but suited to 14F!? Drawn 3, the boy Murphy is riding with confidence, solid form last time when fifth to Venice Beach in the Queens Vase.

Another host of Notebook 3yo’s here and I’ll be watching Fierce Impact, Stradivarius and Time to Study (main danger) but hopefully on the replays!

Friday 5.35pm Duke of Edinburgh Handicap 12F 3yo

Has to be top of the market and I must have changed my mind a dozen times here.

4yo, won last time out, on the improve, shouldn’t be involved in the early scrimmaging on the inside, SDS rides. I’m going for Wadigor. Unbeaten son of Champs Elysses who looks to relish trip and ground.

The other two considered were Mainstream for HM Queen/Stoute/Moore but with a hood on and form figures of 3222-3 I just think he keeps a bit for himself! The other is Appeared for the Postponed connections, as is the selection, with stable jockey on and I’m sure Roger Varian said he wanted to bring this C&D winner back for the two furlong shorter Wolferton on Saturday. 5yo and up another ten pounds.

Ascot Day 3 Thursday June 22nd Update

1.40pm Thursday

Looks like Ascot has missed the storms.

GOING/TRACK Good to Firm, watered

Going Stick: Standside: 9.1, Centre: 8.6, Farside: 9.0, Round: 7.9 on Thursday at 08:15

Watering: Watered 5mm on whole course after racing on Tuesday. Watered 5mm again on whole course after racing on Wednesday.

 

5.30 King George V 12F handicap

Having had a good look again at the field I’ve chosen Andrew Baldings gutsy Drochaid. He’s in form, drawn low-ish, races prominently, right weight and rating and if he stays must go close.

Wanted desperately to put up Atty Persse but concerned that 3lb claimer, Keiron Shoemark, rides for Godolphin? He’s drawn 22 and as one of the smallest Frankels I’ve seen he could get bashed about and he’s Favourite!

Apologies for the error last night, Sir Michael Stoute hasn’t a runner! If one of Mark Johnston’s gets an easy lead they could be hard to pass!

 

2.30 McErin A leg seems to have fallen off as he’s drifted from 4’s to 7’s! Anyway here’s what the Royal Ascot news tells us “McErin (USA) – Norfolk Stakes

Breeding: 2 ch c Trappe Shot (USA) – Erin Rose (USA) (Purge (USA))

Breeder: Waterford Stables Inc

Born: March 17, 2015

Owner: Waterford Stable Trainer: Wesley Ward USA Jockey: David Flores

Form: 13

*Won on debut by seven and a half lengths over four and a half furlongs in juvenile contest at Keeneland on April 12.

*Close third, beaten a neck and a nose, on only other start in Kentucky Juvenile Stakes over five furlongs on dirt at Churchill Downs on May 4.

Race record: Starts 2; Wins 1; 2nd -; 3rd 1; Win & Place Prize Money: $45,700 (£37,154)

 

Couple of today’s fancies ridden by guys on the twitternetty thing!

Jamie Spencer 32Red Blog 4.20pm Ascot Quest For More

Order Of St George and Big Orange are the obvious ones to beat here, but Quest For More is no forlorn hope if coming back to his best. Granted, he has run two modest races this season. You can forgive his run on rain-softened ground in Dubai but he was pretty lack-lustre behind Big Orange in the Henry VII Stakes at Sandown last time. That clearly wasn’t his true running and he scoped badly afterwards, and a return to some of his better efforts of last season – notably his win in the Cadran – would make him a danger to all and he has a win and a narrow second to his name from just two starts at this course. But he does have something to prove after that Sandown run last time, and he does need a career-best.

 

Jamie Spencer 32Red Blog 5.00pm Ascot Gilgamesh

There will be some big improvers lurking in here but my horse has a good profile. He has only ever just done enough in three wins for me this season, which has worked out well as he has just got into the handicap off a mark of 92; getting into these big handicaps these days is getting increasingly hard. He isn’t obviously well-handicapped, as he has gone up 5lb for a Redcar win in a handicap last time that hasn’t really worked out, but he is progressive and George has given him a nice break since. I think the extra furlong will definitely suit him too, and the quick ground should be fine. He has plenty of positives in an open race.

Gilgamesh Withdrawn: Wed 21 Jun 6:14pm Reason: Vets Cert (Not Sound)

UPDATE: With Gilgamesh ruled out on Wednesday night, I switch to Bless Him. I definitely think he is handicapped to win races off this mark, and I mentioned in this column before his Doncaster return that we had this race in mind for him. And he certainly was very unlucky at Goodwood last time. But  a draw in three, on Wednesday’s evidence, makes life very difficult for him.

 

RyanMoore Betfair 17:00 – City Of Joy

He is a horse I liked at two and obviously nothing he has done this season has taken me away from that view. He won what I thought was a strong Doncaster handicap first time out and then defied a 5lb rise in the weights to beat a progressive horse in Tricorn at Chelmsford last time. He has gone up another 5lb but I’d like to think that his improvement hasn’t stopped there, and he has winning fast-ground form. With luck in running, I’d expect him to be thereabouts.

Royal Ascot Day 3 Thursday June 22nd  

Wednesday 6.30pm

Couldn’t touch them today, not a sniff. Deep in the poo and along comes that genius of a man Jamie Spencer and does exactly what this blog wanted him to do. Jamie Spencer take a bow. I honestly believe you could run the first five races today again, same conditions, in a month’s time and get five different results. Would love to see the ‘Jockeys’ take on the ‘Eggheads’! Not the brightest bunch. Surely they discuss tactics, visualise a race?

Thursdays Lucky 15

On the nose today.

Royal Ascot 2.00                    McERIN                                   5/1 PP 9/2 general

Royal Ascot 3.05                    IRISHCORRESPONDENT            6/1 WH and PP

Royal Ascot 3.40                    CORONET                               15/2 PP 17/1 general

Royal Ascot 5.00                    CITY OF JOY                            10/1 WH + Coral

and here’s why

Royal Ascot 2.00                    McERIN           What I’ve seen of McErin on line I’m happy to back him at 4/1. Either Wesley Ward is a midget or this a big well-built lad with some attitude. His work on the grass at Keeneland was fine, he seems to move easily. Effortless victory on his one run on the dirt at Keeneland. After the 5.35 yesterday I’m a big Wesley Ward fan.

Royal Ascot 3.05                    IRISHCORRESPONDENT However having watched the race videos I think Irishcorrespondent is crying out for 10F on fast ground and Mike Halford’s Teofilio colt was a staying on third in the G1 Irish 2000 Guineas and has his conditions here in a G3. That was his third start as a 3yo having won his first two easily by a combined eight lengths not having got to the course as a 2yo.

Royal Ascot 3.40                    CORONET                   She looks the one to me. 12f will be ideal for this daughter of Dubawi as will the quick ground and her two runs this season have been in Group 1’s on unsuitable Soft ground and plenty to like about her fifth in the Oaks and I think she can bridge the five lengths she was behind Alluringly with conditions in her favour.

Royal Ascot 5.00                    CITY OF JOY                City of Joy is the nap of the meeting. Stoute and Moore know the time of day and I think this race IS the plan. City of Joy was talented as a 2yo, last race was a G3, but wayward, gelded over the winter and has won mile handicaps at C3 and C2 level this season. He has a genuine turn of foot but seems to me to be one of those horses that Moore can put where he wants. May not beat some of these later in the season but I believe this is his day and from stall 17 Moore can pick and choose his route.

Wednesdays Lucky 15

If like me you did the Lucky 15 £1 each way we got back £77 for our £30!

Royal Ascot 2.30                    DABAN                                               6th 7/1                 (7/1 WH 13/2 general)

Market hinted it wasn’t to be her day. Every chance furlong out but not good enough.

Royal Ascot 4.20                    MEKHTAAL                             6th 17/2           (11/1 Ladbrokes 10/1 general)

If he had raced where Decorated Knight was he would have gone very close. Stuck behind the rag was not the place to be. C’est la vie!

Royal Ascot 5.00                    FASTNET TEMPEST                9th 15/2           (10/1 general)

Never involved.

Royal Ascot 5.35                    CON TE PARTIRO                   1st 20/1           (12/1 general)

The blog said “the selection is mainly out of curiosity? Why has Wes Ward got a horse in a handicap? So she’s a speedball? No she’s a hold up filly? Best rider of the straight mile at Ascot especially on a hold up horse? For me Jamie Spencer and yes he has been booked! He rode her in work when going for that controversial spin at Ascot no less. She’s a daughter of Scat Daddy, wears a tongue tie for the first time and her name, Con Te Partiro.”

All hail Jamie Spencer. All hail simplesimonsays. God I love this game!

 

Recommended single bets

2.30 McErin One star* win @ 9/2 general

3.05 Mirage Dancer One star* win @ 4/1 general.

3.05 Irishcorrespondent two star win @ 6/1 general

3.40 Coronet two star** win @ 15/2 with PP

4.20 Quest for More One star* each way 16/1 123 1/5 selection

5.00 City of Joy is a three*** star win @ 10/1 WH + Coral

5.00 Keyser Soze one star* win @ 10/1

5.00 Afaak one star* win @ 16/1 general

and here’s why

Thursday 2.30pm Norfolk Stakes 2yo colts 5F

I shouldn’t be having a bet in this but if Karl Burkes Havana Grey, #FantasticMrFahey’s It Don’t Come Easy and Declan Carrolls Brocklesby winner Santry are the best we can muster then what I’ve seen of McErin on line I’m happy to back him at 4/1. Either Wesley Ward is a midget or this a big well-built lad with some attitude. His work on the grass at Keeneland was fine, he seems to move easily. Effortless victory on his one run on the dirt at Keeneland.

McErin One star* win @ 9/2 general

Thursday 3.05 Hampton Court Stakes G3 10F 3yo

I am keen follower of 3yo form having identified those with potential as 2yo’s and Mirage Dancer was one of two horses I had on my Derby list, the other is Sir John Lavery who is declared for Friday. In October 2016 Ryan Moore told Lord Grimthorpe, Juddmonte’s racing manager, after winning at Doncaster that Mirage Dancer was the best Frankel he had sat on. His only run since was at Chester this May when fourth in the Listed Dee stakes over 10F+ behind Cliffs of Moher after a considerate ride from Oisin Murphy. Sir Michael Stoute has an outstanding record in this race, the world’s best Ryan Moore rides and Mirage Dancer looks a serious player but is Mirage Dancer ready for this step up to Group 3.

Mirage Dancer One star* win @ 4/1 general.

However having watched the race videos I think Irishcorrespondent is crying out for 10F on fast ground and Mike Halford’s Teofilio colt was a staying on third in the G1 Irish 2000 Guineas and has his conditions here in a G3. That was his third start as a 3yo having won his first two easily by a combined eight lengths not having got to the course as a 2yo.

Irishcorrespondent two star win @ 5/1 general

Thursday 3.40pm Ribblesdale Stakes G2 12F 3yo

A race for 3yo fillies, first stop Clarehaven Stables and John Gosden and he saddles a third of the field, four of the twelve.

Astronomy’s Choice is a big girl and this race has always been her target. She won her only race as a two year old but was only third when odds on in the Pretty Polly at Newmarket behind Horseplay having looked very one paced. She’ll love this step up to 12F but probably needs more time to grow into that substantial frame. William Buick rides and they are drawn in stall 2.

Hertford Dancer is a surprise package, not very big but she went from second in a C5 handicap to winning the Listed Lingfield Oaks trial. I would be surprised were she good enough to win here. Jim Crowley rides and she is in stall 8.

Gracious Diana is a gorgeous looking filly who won her maiden over 10F at Newbury ‘comfortably’, then returning to the course on Soft ground was well behind Natavia in their Listed Oaks trial. Ascot’s fast ground should help and being out of a Generous mare should help her stay the 12F. She wears a first time tongue tie but still has ten pounds to find. Adam Kirby rides and they will come out of stall 8.

Coronet looks the one to me. 12f will be ideal for this daughter of Dubawi as will the quick ground and her two runs this season have been in Group 1’s on unsuitable Soft ground and plenty to like about her fifth in the Oaks and I think she can bridge the five lengths she was behind Alluringly with conditions in her favour.

Sir Michael Stoute’s Mori is bred in the absolute purple being by Frankel out of Midday, is progressive having won a Listed race at Goodwood last time but the great trainer has a poor record in the Ribblesdale and this race may just be one too soon for Mori. Pat Smullen does the steering.

Coronet two star** win @ 13/2 with WH 

Thursday 4.20pm Gold Cup 4yo+ 20F

Since Order of St George won the Gold Cup on Soft ground last season he has won just two of his six starts although you can’t take anything away from his excellent third in the Arc de Triomphe! One of those defeats was over Ascots two miles on good ground on Champions Day when fourth behind Sheikhzayedroad, Quest for More and Simple Verse and although Order of St George is a class middle distance performer who stays this extreme trip, on quicker ground many will fancy their chances and top priced even money looks really skinny. Indeed that price is only available on the High Street with Irish bookmakers Paddy Power which I find revealing. Last season Order of St George beat a selection of “Cesarewitch” horses but this year looks like having two G1 St.Leger winners as well as winners at G2 & G3 level in opposition. With fast ground specialist Big Orange in the line-up this race will be run at a relentless gallop and class may not be enough as stamina will need to be copper bottomed.

So I’m after a guaranteed stayer, has won on Good to Firm and has a touch of class, Oh and is a double figure price!

Surely the key race is the Long Distance Cup last October over 16F at Ascot that I mentioned above. Order of St George may have had an excuse in fourth as that race was less than a fortnight after his huge run in the Arc, however I think a case can be made for the first two home. I think Simple Verse just lacks a kick running for the line. QUEST FOR MORE gets the nod over Sheikzayedroad because he’s a 50% bigger price but we are going to have to forgive his dismal last run behind Big Orange in the Henry II, a race I’m surprised he ran in considering what his trainer Roger Charlton, who is having an excellent 2017, said in his ATR stable tour back in April. “He surprises us each year and just kept on improving. A couple of years ago he was struggling to win off a mark of 92 and is now rated 117. I think Dubai just didn’t suit in the Dubai Gold Cup and he didn’t run any sort of race in the ground. The ground was soft and a bit uneasy under his feet and it didn’t suit. He is a fragile horse in that he doesn’t want too many races and races like the Ascot Gold Cup, which he would have run in last year if it had not gone soft, would be obvious targets for him. He is a fun horse and races like Ascot and the Goodwood Cup would be on his radar. He has a Group 1 penalty this year so there is no point in running in a Group 3 at Sandown.” So he will enjoy the quicker ground, he’s a 20F Group 1 winner, does he stay that extra half mile is the issue.

At a general 16/1 Quest for More is a one star* each way 123 1/5 selection, that says he will.

Wednesday 5.00pm 8F Britannia 3yo handicap

This is probably my favourite race of the five days. Full of horses on an upward curve, future winners all over the place and I expect I’ll have re-watched this race over a hundred times by seasons end. I have backed many of these, most successfully this season, but there are four that stand out for me including my NAP of the meeting.

Leaders Legacy for Godolphin has won both his starts this season, seeing it out well at Haydock last time and is clearly on the improve. Gerald Mosse rides but I’d be more concerned about stall 2.

Keyser Soze is the complete unknown as he did me a big favour beating Gymnaste in a C4 handicap on the AW at Kempton. Treat yourself to the race video as Keyser Soze showed an amazing turn of foot and connections have already won at the meeting with Rajasinghe.

Keyser Soze one star* win @

Afaak is definitely a Group horse in the making but is still a work in progress. Raw talent who won late on in a solid Doncaster handicap. Jim Crowley has chances from stall 10.

Afaak one star* win @

City of Joy is the nap of the meeting. Stoute and Moore know the time of day and I think this race IS the plan. City of Joy was talented as a 2yo, last race was a G3, but wayward, gelded over the winter and has won mile handicaps at C3 and C2 level this season. He has a genuine turn of foot but seems to me to be one of those horses that Moore can put where he wants. May not beat some of these later in the season but I believe this is his day and from stall 17 Moore can pick and choose his route.

City of Joy is a three*** star win @

 

Thursday 5.35pm King George V Handicap 12F 3yo

I’ve been looking at this race for a fortnight. Nothing off the notebook and even looking at the final declarations nothing appeals. Stick the second favourite and a Stoute horse in the placepot! I’ll pass and have an early night!

Royal Ascot Day 1 Wednesday June 21st

Tuesday 6.30pm Splendid racing and we got a couple of results. Thrilled for all at Musley Bank, excited for Richard Spencer and Rebel Racing, Lady Aurelia is a tad nippy and hasn’t Willie Mullins just won enough!?! The Boys in Blue are off to a good start with three out of six.

Wednesdays Lucky 15

Quite happy with these four and don’t feel embarrassed playing each way.

Royal Ascot 2.30                    DABAN                                               7/1 WH 13/2 general

Royal Ascot 4.20                    MEKHTAAL                             11/1 Ladbrokes 10/1 general

Royal Ascot 5.00                    FASTNET TEMPEST                10/1 general

Royal Ascot 5.35                    CON TE PARTIRO                   12/1 general

and here’s why

Royal Ascot 2.30                    DABAN                               Probably one of my two top bets at Royal Ascot this week. Primarily she is a John Gosden filly who was third in the Newmarket 1000 Guineas, fading from the furlong pole. Surely 7F is her ideal trip and she’s a Group 1 horse in a Group 3 race. Gosden is happy to pitch her in against the boys so I’m quite happy to back his opinion. Le Brivido the French colt was runner up in their 2000 Guineas and has a similar profile to Daban but as I believe the fillies are stronger than the colts Daban is a confident selection and my nap of the day.

Royal Ascot 4.20                    MEKHTAAL                 I’ve just got my doubts about the top three in the market. The trip for Highland Reel, the ground and the trip for Jack Hobbs and is Ulysses a Group 1 horse? Decorated Knight is a player but an improving 5yo? Hence the selection Mekhtaal who will love the ground, this is his trip and has already won a Group 1 race. (More below)

Royal Ascot 5.00                    FASTNET TEMPEST    Lets keep this simple. I want a horse in form who acts on fast ground, has Ascot on his CV and is at the top of the market. Haggas had three on my shortlist, Afjaan and Victory Bond are still at home and they were desperate to get this one in so he ticks every box and he’ll do for me.

Royal Ascot 5.35                    CON TE PARTIRO       Wes Ward doesn’t bring many from America to run in a handicap. She’s a hold up horse and Ward has booked Jamie Spencer which seems a perfect match and he has already sat on her, riding work on the course. The first time tongue tie could bring further improvement. I’ve seen her last race and she travels and will stay on but she’s no superstar.

Being a 3yo fillies handicap I wanted to back a Gosden inmate but I just can’t have Gymnaste, beaten in a C4 AW handicap last time, especially at a ludicrous 7/1; Present Tense doesn’t look good enough; Dancing Breeze has disappointed since her winning debut and has questions to answer.

Last Saturdays Lucky 15

Great start just couldn’t top it up, still £34 back for our £15.

Sandown 2.40                        BATTAASH                                        1st 11/1           (9/1 Ladbrokes + WH 8/1 general)

Impressive, tanked through race, then went Whoooosh!

York 3.30                    DANIELSFLYER                                    12th 8/1           (12/1 PP 10/1 WH 8/1 general)

Never went a yard which is basically what SDS told the Stewards!

Sandown 3.50                        TAUREAN STAR                      9th 8/1             (8/1 general)

Just never got involved. Time to move on.

Sandown 5.35                        VUELA                                    4th 15/8F         (7/4 general)

Big gangly creature who wanted more pace to the race and got done for speed over 14F!!

 

Wednesday 2.30pm Jersey Stakes 3yo 7F – DABAN

(See above) Daban is a four star**** selection @ 7/1 WH

Wednesday 3.05 Queen Mary Stakes G2 5F 2yo Fillies – Placepot?

I always think this race is like watching your daughter in the Under 12 fifty metres at her school sports day. The least attractive race of the meeting to me as a punting medium.

Something has to go in the placepot and the tipster competitions. Wesley Ward has a shortie here in Happy like a Fool which I know nothing about, well she is one from one with a dirt pedigree, so obviously I have to take her on!? Mrs Gallagher was quick and gutsy over C&D but Ertihad was the horse I would have taken out of that race and Maybride, trained by #FantasticMrFahey, ran her to half a length on debut so that’s one in the placepot.

Fahey on sportinglife.com “Maybride is a filly we really like. Do I think she’ll win a Queen Mary? I’m just worried she might not be professional enough at this stage of her career but she’s definitely a Black Type filly somewhere down the line.”

The other, Chica La Habana, for Robert Cowell and the Cool Silks partnership (Chairman of Scunthorpe FC and Lady who owns Wilkinson’s on the High Street!) won the Hilary Needler at Beverley on debut in impressive fashion and can only improve, she’ll see the trip out and finish better than most.

Wednesday 3.40pm Duke of Cambridge Stakes G3 10F 4yo+ fillies + mares – SMART CALL

Despite only having had twelve runnings the stats boys say the trends are strong.

POSITIVES The favourite or second-favourite: Princess Elizabeth Stakes runners (beaten fillies especially):

Contested the Dahlia Stakes (the winner especially): Winning course form Placed at Royal Ascot last year:

Trained by Sir Michael Stoute: Owned by Cheveley Park Stud: French-trained fillies

NEGATIVES Yet to win a Group race: Running under a Group 1 penalty:

Some interesting contenders with British trainers but international form. There is a Greta G, G1 winner in Argentina, and Smart Call who won two G1’s in her native South Africa. The French filly Usherette won this race last year but on her favoured Soft ground. Her compatriot Qemah won the G1 3yo Coronation but her defeat at Lingfield raises a couple of doubts. It’s a contest for the girls so Gosden has to be respected and he has Laugh Aloud for Godolphin and James Doyle will need to get his fractions right if he intends making every yard and I think he is more likely to set it up for a finisher and at 3/1 is too short! Gosden also trains Greta G the horse with the Argentinian form. The French pair are the obvious call but I’m worried about this rapid Good to Firm ground.

So I’m going for the ex-South African Group 1 winner Smart Call for Sir Michael Stoute and Ryan Moore who has been in the UK for over a year but run just the once when third at York, outpaced kept on for pressure, and on the basis of that the trip and the ground will be fine and at the price is worth a small investment.

Smart Call one star* ew @ 10/1 with PP 123 1/5 

Wednesday 4.20pm G1 Prince of Wales 10F 4yo+

I believe this race was meant to be a clash between Minding OR122 RPR123, So Mi Dar OR114 RPR118 and Cloth of Stars  OR?? RPR118 but all three are on the sidelines currently and for the powerhose connections of Godolphin, Coolmore and Gosden this is Plan B. The richest race of the five days and looks destined to stay in Europe.

So who are the big hitters for this 10F showpiece:-

Highland Reel Aidan O’Briens top money spinner, who has been supported in the last few days, will adore the fast ground and will no doubt try to make every post a winning post. However he hasn’t won over 10F for a couple of years with all his best form being over two furlongs further including the King George last season over this course. Ryan Moore will have the job of getting the fractions right. OR123 RPR123

Jack Hobbs Another G1 winner who steps back 2F, indeed the only win he has had at this trip was in a handicap in his 3yo days! He is an Irish Derby winner and is supposedly using this as a warm up for the King George back here over 12F. Not only is the trip an issue but the fast ground may be as well? Gosden said: “He will go on anything except firm ground. He travelled out there (Dubai) well and has come back well. We will point him towards Royal Ascot as most of the big middle-distance races are not until June.” OR123 RPR123

Ulysses Lightly raced 4yo but was Stoute’s Derby horse last year but was slow to come to hand and is probably going to show his true colours this season but yet to prove it in G1. Won the 10F G3 Brigadier Gerard at a similar Sandown beating Deauville and, last year’s big price Soft ground winner of this race, My Dream Boat. Trip and ground should be fine. OR116 RPR119

Decorated Knight Recently won the G1 10F Tattersalls Gold Cup at THE Curragh and this is one horse who ticks both the ground and trip boxes. Good campaign in Meydan over the winter, winning the Jebel Hatta then undone by the Soft ground in the Dubai Turf. Could still be improving. Connections trainer Roger Charlton and jockey Andrea Atzeni were bullish after that latest victory, “Atzeni said: “It went very smoothly. We had a good draw, we had a good position all the way and he travelled beautifully into the race. Two (furlongs) out, I was very confident it was going take a decent horse to beat him today. He got to the front easily enough. In the last 100 yards he got a bit lonely, but when the second horse came he went again. He’s very brave, he’s got a big heart and he’s going the right way.” Charlton said: “I was very worried when I saw the ground yesterday. I knew the forecast was for heavy showers, but not like an inch or whatever they had. People kept tactfully sending me photographs of flooded car parks and puddles everywhere and I thought it was getting bad. The surface was a bit dead, it’s good to soft, but the course is in fantastic condition. They’ve opened up a new strip. I walked the course and was very pleasantly surprised how good it was. He doesn’t have to have rattling quick ground. In Dubai it affected him quite badly. This horse has improved and improved. The Group One race he won in Meydan wouldn’t have been the strongest race and this is a stronger race. He keeps on improving. If Minding had turned up it would have been a different story, but he won with his ears pricked and was pulling up in front. He has a very classy pedigree. He’s a very close relation to Gleneagles and his dam is a half-sister to Giants Causeway, so he has a stallion career.” The Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot looks Decorated Knight’s likely next port of call. We were looking to go abroad a bit but you would have to run at Ascot. It’s worked for us before so hopefully it will work again,” the trainer added.   OR118 RPR117

Mekhtaal Looks an improver, despite already having won at G1 level, representing Jean-Claude Rouget and Al Shaqab Racing, this son of Sea the Stars seems best at this trip and although this would be the quickest ground he’s encountered he should cope, indeed he may be better on it. OR115 RPR115

Nigel Keeling put his case neatly on geegeez.co.uk “Rouget also has interest in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes, with Mekhtaal fancied by many to go well. The French have enjoyed plenty of success in the recent past, with Manduro, Vision D’Etat and Byword, all winners during a dazzling period from 2007 to 2010. Andre Fabre was responsible for two of those victories, and has a leading contender in Cloth Of Stars (non-runner). Fabre’s colt clashed with Mekhtaal at Chantilly in April, and edged it in a thriller. He had fitness on his side and the pair look closely matched on all known form. Rouget’s fella needs decent ground, and looks sure to get it. In a hugely competitive renewal, both have a realistic chance at a trip that looks ideal.”

More recently connections have said “”Mekhtaal is on course for the Prince of Wales’s,” said Al Shaqab’s Rupert Pritchard-Gordon. “He looks well and fit and has run recently. He runs well fresh so will do only one more very routine piece of work. Everyone is very happy with him and the one thing we’ll be hoping for is that the weather isn’t like last year. We’d want nice fast ground.”

Conclusion – Jack Hobbs and Highland Reel are global performers who have been there, seen it, done it and have more than one T-shirt but I’m not sure Jack Hobbs will even turn up on this ground and Highland Reel could be done for toe. I’m keen on the French challenger and with no Cloth the stars I’m going for Mekhtaal  to find the seven pound improvement necessary. One star* each way Mekhtaal @ 14/1 with WH 123 1/5

Wednesday 5.00pm 8F Royal Hunt Cup handicap

Oh dear, Oh dear, Oh dear! As you can see from my blog below things have gone belly up! Victory Bond is a non-runner and JP Spencer has got off Banksea for El Vip. Still think Hors de Combat could outrun his odds on this ground and I’m hopeful for Another Touch but after a chat with myself Fastnet Tempest is my headline selection.

Fastnet Tempest two star win @ 10/1 general.

For what it’s worth here is what I blogged a week ago.

For me one of the most eagerly awaited races of the Flat season. Run over the straight mile it is a handicap open to three year olds and upwards but is it really a handicap? At most this season there will be only twelve pounds from top to bottom, OR111-OR99, you may even need to have a three figure Official Rating just to get in!

With £175,000 worth of prize money the race is very attractive for those horses just short of Group company. In an ideal world you would like to find a four year old destined for future Group success whose handicap mark just happens to fit in that tight band in mid-June but those that could come into that category are cutting it mighty fine in 2017 and that means the current Ante Post market may have some value in it. Currently six out of the top ten quoted on Oddschecker may not get in. Next Stage (OR100, 12/1), Fastnet Tempest (OR99, 10/1), El Vip (OR99, 20/1), GK Chesterton (OR99, 16/1), George William (OR98, 16/1) and Chelsea Lad (OR98, 16/1) would all have their supporters but will they make the cut? I think Next Stage will but it will be sleepless nights for connections of the other five.

A key player in determining the starting line up in John Gosden as with thirty being the maximum field he trains five that are guaranteed a run. Gm Hopkins will surely run having won this race in 2015. Tashweeq is on his way back from injury having been a classy 2yo but his only run this season was a last of nine and Hamdan al Maktoum has two other horses guaranteed a run. Remarkable was second in the 2016 Balmoral handicap over C&D off just two pounds lower and surely runs. Castle Harbour and Johnny Barnes are both owned by Bermuda Thoroughbreds but for two different syndicates who are both made up of the sort of people who would want a runner at Royal Ascot. None of the five are currently on my shortlist but if Ryan Moore takes the ride on Remarkable I may need to have a second look.

Having checked the weather forecasts and had a good look at the seaweed I can’t see any rain but plenty of sunshine for the next ten days and I’m expecting Good to Firm, Good in places (watering to maintain) to be the going.

sportinglife.com June 13 2017, 10:49  Officials at Ascot have commenced watering ahead of next week’s Royal meeting. The ground is on the quick side of good at the Berkshire circuit and with predominantly dry and warm weather forecast between now and the start of racing next Tuesday, clerk of the course Chris Stickels felt it prudent to turn on the taps. He said: “The track is in great condition at the minute and we are watering today. We’ve got a dry week forecast, certainly until next Tuesday, possibly Wednesday. Even next week might remain dry. There is a risk at the moment of possible showers building up towards the end of next week, but we’re expecting a warm few days this week. Conditions are good, good to firm in places. By the time we’ve finished watering this morning, I expect we’ll be good all over. We’re expecting a hot day tomorrow (Wednesday). We won’t water tomorrow, but we’ll review the forecast and see what we’re going to do later in the week.”

With thirty runners spread across the full width of the Ascot straight I’m ignoring the draw. What you do need is to be with the pace to take you to the final furlong so you can launch a challenge. If they split into two groups you are either in the right group or not, if they come down the middle launching your final attack on either wing is probably best. Having the right man in the saddle is important and as I think Jamie Spencer rides this straight mile better than anyone else he will carry some of my English pounds whatever he is on, Banksea seeming most likely!

I’m looking for a horse in form, big field experience, preferably performed well at Ascot before and might just have a few pounds in hand. The Lincoln over the straight mile at Doncaster is often a strong indicator and with this season’s second home, Oh This Is Us stepping up to the G1 Queen Anne the form looks strong. The third, Donncha, ran on well but looks a bridesmaid at best whilst the winner Bravery is just four pounds higher here he may prefer slower ground although has to be on a shortlist.

So far this season there have been two key contests, the Spring Cup at Newbury over their straight mile and the Listed Hambleton handicap over eight furlongs at York but with two bends. Many key players in the Hunt Cup ran in one of these races or indeed both. At Newbury under a masterful Spencer ride Banksea got up to pip Another Touch with Donncha, El Hayem and especially George William flying at the finish. At York Here Comes When had a going day to beat Chelsea Lad, Victory Bond and Another Touch with the likes of Bravery and Donncha well beaten although Soft in the going was probably key to the winner.

Top weight Tabarrak is the class angle and has won both his last two visits to Ascot on Good to firm ground. Yuften, Persuasive, Afjaan and Sea Wolf all ran in last season’s Balmoral but that form doesn’t look strong enough to me. As well as Afjaan and Victory Bond William Haggas has the seasons big improver Fastnet Tempest who beat George William at Ascot over 7F and returns after a remarkable last to first victory at Chester but will that five pound penalty get him in?

So for me it’s three against the field.

VICTORY BOND is a lightly raced colt with a touch of class who travels very strongly in his races and I think he will improve for his recent run and is attractively weighted here. Two star** win @ 16/1 Ladbrokes

ANOTHER TOUCH recently won well at Nottingham to ensure he got a starting place and on decent ground what he wants is a strongly run race with something to aim at in the last hundred yards and that is exactly what he gets here. He’s in excellent form this season and if #FantasticMrFahey chose to put on either Adam MacNamara and claim three pounds or even Connor Murtagh and claim seven pounds I wouldn’t be disappointed although this is one horse that does go well for Tony Hamilton. One star* win @ 33/1 BetFred

After much humming and harring the third choice is BANKSEA mainly because he is most likely to be ridden by young Mr Spencer. One star* win @ 12/1 PP and Ladbrokes.

Wednesday 5.35pm Sandringham Handicap 8F 3yo Fillies

This could be difficult to solve with nothing in the Notebook and nothing leaping off the page. This Listed handicap is for 3yo fillies so the only place to start is at Clarehaven Stables and Team Gosden and they saddle three runners.

Gymnaste is 7/1 favourite and Josephine Gordon has been booked. They will be popular with the shop punter. I am amazed at their market position. Regular readers of my witterings will be familiar with this filly as it was she who was second and beaten favourite in the Kempton C4 7F that Keyser Soze whizzed home in. Is that form really good enough for a handicap of that calibre? Dancing Breeze won well on debut at the Craven meeting but has disappointed twice since looking one paced. Martin Dwyer rides. Present Tense, a daughter of Bated Breath for Juddmonte, won a C5 maiden at Yarmouth but disappointed in a C3 conditions event on softer ground.

Hard to see any of the three winning so what do the stats say is the type of horse which we would be looking for?

POSITIVES Last-time-out winner. Trained by John Gosden, Mark Johnston, Ed Dunlop or Michael Bell.

First six in the market. Maiden at the start of the season. Ran in the Nell Gwyn Stakes. Placed in the Pretty Polly Stakes.

NEGATIVES Yet to win this season Last-time-out maiden winner.

That brings into play. The class act might be Bean Feasa towards the top of the handicap. Owned by Godolphin and trained by Jim Bolger, she won the G3 Leopardstown 1000 Guineas before finishing fifth in the race itself. Kevin Manning will need to be at his shrewdest from Stall 1. Coolmore sends Asking, beaten in G1 the last twice and second to Bean Feasa gets six pounds for just under three lengths. Staying in Ireland the all-conquering Jessica Harrington saddles Drumfad Bay who won on debut but has been beaten in six subsequent runs, four Group and two Listed races, but often by a G1 type or a decent colt.

Richard Kingscote rides Kilmah for Mark Johnston and she won her maiden but couldn’t repeat the feat in nine Group races. However she could be well in of OR96. The in-form improver looks to be Henry Candy’s Queen of Time but her victories were a C5 maiden and a C4 handicap so requires a major leap forward.

Of those mentioned, Bean Feasa and Kilmah interest me but the selection is mainly out of curiosity? Why has Wes Ward got a horse in a handicap? So she’s a speedball? No she’s a hold up filly? Best rider of the straight mile at Ascot especially on a hold up horse? For me Jamie Spencer and yes he has been booked! He rode her in work when going for that controversial spin at Ascot no less. She’s a daughter of Scat Daddy, wears a tongue tie for the first time and her name, Con Te Partiro. One star* each way @ 12/1 with WH 1234 ¼

Royal Ascot Day 1 Tuesday June 20th

Monday 6.00pm 

Summer is here. Eighty degrees, in old money, and Royal Ascot. Competition will be fierce and although internationally the very best may be absent there is good in abundance. With the high temperatures and the massive crowds how your horse handles the heat and the atmosphere may be as important as how they run from gates opening to finishing line. Tuesday has two Group 1’s with odds on favourites in Ribchester and Churchill and finding a bet is not easy and I certainly can’t see a Lucky 15 so we will tackle the card race by race. No apologies for cut and pasting what I’ve already blogged, I’ll just try to bring it up to date. Better get this on line before Hugh Taylor jumps on any more simplesimonsays bandwagons!

Tuesday 2.30pm Queen Anne Stakes 4yo+ 8F – RIBCHESTER

Nothing would give me and I expect Team Godolphin more pleasure than to see Ribchester win and give #FantasticMrFahey another Group 1. Ribchester is currently ranked number three in the world with only Arrogate and Winx rated higher. He won the G1 8F Lockinge in imperious style and although with the benefit of the run and faster ground could see 2016 Queen Anne third, Flaming Spear, get closer Ribchester deserves his place in the market, top priced 4/5. Although Ribchester is no all-conquering champion there is little opposition in Europe aged four or older.

However I’m looking for something at a price, who will act on quick ground and has some G1 form. I’m drawn to AMERICAN PATRIOT from the US trained by the legend Todd Pletcher, won a firm ground 8F G1 on Turf at Keeneland and goes well after a break. Here is an article I found on-line.

American Patriot Confirmed for Royal Ascot June 7, 2017 11:52 AM Thoroughbred Racing, International

“WinStar Farm’s homebred American Patriot, winner of the April 14 Maker’s 46 Mile Stakes (G1T) at Keeneland in his previous start, has been confirmed for the £600,000 Queen Anne Stakes (G1) June 20 at Royal Ascot. The 4-year-old son of War Front worked five furlongs around the dogs in 1:00.55 June 3 on the inner turf at Belmont Park. He will travel to England June 13 for trainer Todd Pletcher. “American Patriot breezed exceptionally well Saturday, and came out of the work good,” Pletcher said. “He’s doing really well, so it’s all systems go. It’s an honor to have a horse good enough to compete in one of the biggest races in the world like the Queen Anne, and on a stage like Royal Ascot. We are very much looking forward to it.” Frankie Dettori will have the mount in the one-mile turf event.”

Plenty of plusses especially the War Front angle and Frankie Dettori doing the steering. I have seen the video of American Patriots last victory and Ascot’s stiff finish would seem to suit.

Quite happy to suggest American Patriot one star* each way @ 25/1 ew with WH 123 1/5

Since writing this the horse I left out, Mutakayyef, has been put forward by pundits I respect (Check out the Final Furlong Podcast). Since an excellent third to Postponed in the Juddmonte International William Haggas has sent Hamdan Al Maktoums son of Sea the Stars on his travels. Third to Tepin in the Woodbine International and fifth in the Dubai Turf in Meydan, behind Ribchester, may explain why he slipped off my radar. He’ll love the ground, he’s best at a mile and has course and distance form. I wouldn’t put anyone off backing him at around the 8/1 mark but he just isn’t a Group 1 horse for me.

Richard Fahey commented: “Royal Ascot is a big meeting for us all, trainers, owners and jockeys. Ribchester ran last month and to win a G1 race by over three lengths was a huge performance – we were delighted with him and he now has a rating of 125 and quite a good speed-rating as well. We have a pacemaker, Toscanini, in the race but I am not particularly bothered whether Ribchester goes to the front again or takes a lead. I am quite comfortable with him as he is relaxing at home now. I am very happy with Ribchester ahead of the Queen Anne Stakes – he has done his last bit of work. The ground is different from last time but he has form on fast ground as well.”

Tuesday 3.05 Coventry Stakes G2 6F – RAJASINGHE

POSITIVES Unbeaten (preferably one run). Trained by Aidan O’Brien or Richard Hannon. The favourite.

NEGATIVES Beaten last time out. Outside the front five in the betting. Once-raced.

A week away there is no clear favourite. The top rated (RPR) colt is Jessica Harrington’s Brother Bear, unbeaten in two and heads the market but there is plenty of 11/2 about. Brother Bear has shown plenty of pace and a willing attitude but as he was a drifting 9/1 on debut suggests he wasn’t burning up the home gallops and he isn’t an imposing colt.

So what have Messr’s Hannon and O’Brien got towards the top of the market? Richard Hannon’s top rated colt is the improving De Bruyne Horse but he looks Division Two to me. Denaar won well at Newbury but he lacks size and has a scratchy action, not for me. Aidan O’Brien has two to mention, Murillo, who has a US pedigree as a son of Scat Daddy, was beaten on debut but quickened to win an egg and spoon maiden at Tipperary. He would need strong market support, Firm in the going and Ryan Moore on board to carry my money but I think Ryan Moore will be on the winner and that will be Declarationofpeace. Good sized son of War Front running for Coolmore, ideal Royal Ascot profile, beaten on debut at Navan, despite the dogs barking in the ring, when a tad green was seen to much better effect on the sand at Dundalk. With quicker ground expected at Ascot I’m quite happy to take the 8/1 on offer with William Hill and Declarationofpeace is a two star** win selection. As for a main danger? When reviewing the videos the horse with the size and scope who impressed me most was Richard Spencer’s Rajasinghe for upwardly mobile Rebel Racing who strode away in the final furlong in the style of a classy horse and is another who would look to appreciate the anticipated Good to Firm (watered to maintain?!) ground. Rajasinghe is a one star* selection @ a general 10/1.

Leading ATR tipster has just put up Rajasinghe for the Coventry and this is why “RAJASINGHE produced a really good time figure when making a winning debut at Newcastle last month and if he can reproduce that effort he’ll have a good chance in the Coventry Stakes on the opening day of Royal Ascot (3.05). He was well on top at the line in what was a truly-run event at Newcastle, and the time figure I gave him for that effort was the fastest all-weather figure I’ve given to a 2yo before the end of June in the last five years. Whether he can build on, or even reproduce that effort on turf here is the big question, and it’s true his dam never won again having made a winning debut on the all-weather. However, she did finish fourth in the Queen Mary, and given Rajasinghe’s sire Choisir won twice at Royal Ascot in the space of four days and has sired a number of good Ascot performers, his pedigree isn’t discouraging.This looks an open event, but based on the clock Rajasinghe’s debut effort entitles him to be in the mix here. “

Declarationofpeace is a non-runner here running instead in the Windsor Castle Listed 5F that closes todays card. Happy to stick with Rajasinghe especially as the horse he beat at Newcastle, Indomeneo, battled on to win at Wetherby today. Romanised has had his form franked more than once and with trainer Ken Condon reasonably unknown this side of the Irish Sea is probably overpriced at 16/1 if you can get it.

Tuesday 3.40pm Kings Stand Stakes G1 5F – Ladies First?

Great spectacle, just not my cup of tea as a betting medium. Looks like it good be a well-mannered race with Ladies first. Lady Aurelia was probably my biggest WOW moment of last season when she blitzed the Queen Mary over C&D, she gets all the allowances and they will need to strap Frankie Dettori on tightly but she could be special. Sir Mark Prescott and Clive Cox have fellow fillies, Marsha and Priceless, in fine fettle so how about the three fillies in combination forecasts and tricasts, 12 bets?

Tuesday 4.20pm St. James Palace Stakes 3yo colts 8F – CHURCHILL

Churchill is ranked five in the world just a pound behind Ribchester and their “Duel on the Downs” in the Sussex Stakes at Goodwood this summer is eagerly awaited. Churchill is a dual Guineas winner and seems to be one of those horses that just does enough without setting the pulse racing. At most he will have just ten rivals and Aidan O’Brien trains four of those! The obvious danger is Barney Roy who took a false step in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket just as he was organising his challenge but he and Churchill currently trade at top priced 9/4 and 4/6 and I’m looking for something bigger. This may be a bit repetitive but Royal Ascot, fast ground, son of War Front is a tasty recipe and LANCASTER BOMBER may have been beaten in five of his starts by Churchill but his two best runs have been on fast ground, he was second in the Breeders Cup, and Coolmore seem happy to put him in with Churchill even if only to ensure a solid gallop.

Let’s try Lancaster Bomber one star* each way @ 25/1 ew with WH or Coral 123 1/5

Ryan Moore on Betfair on Churchill, “He is one of those horses that just makes it easy for a jockey, and I am hoping it will be the same again here.” I would really like to see someone make Churchill have to knuckle down and let’s see how good he is. I’m not hopeful!

Tuesday 5.00pm Ascot Stakes C2 handicap 20F Who Dares Wins/Suegioo

Why not go the whole hog and put out ten flights of hurdles for this the WeprefercheltenhambutanyecusetogotoRoyalascotonmyownersbadge handicap. Cheltenham doesn’t have a 5F sprint on its running order! Entries from Messrs Mullins, Henderson, Nicholls, King, Pipe and Vaughan.

No idea. The stats say we should look for “Trained by a primarily jumps-based stable. Officially rated between 83 and 93. Trained in Ireland. Start in the first five in the betting. Ran well in the Chester Cup.” Which bar the Irish bit sort of all points towards Who Dares Wins. He was our each way selection in the Chester Cup when we collected on the place side. At 20/1+ Suegioo will love the fast ground and he was 8th last season in the G1 Gold Cup itself on the Soft ground that is unsuitable. Solid second at Haydock last time and slipped down to OR100. #FantasticMrFahey on sportinglife.com “Suegioo bounced back to form and ran a good, solid, race at Haydock last time. He’ll definitely get the trip in the Ascot Stakes which is a big plus and he’s back down to a rating now from which he can be competitive. He’s a funny old horse but on a going day would have a small chance.”

Tuesday 5.35pm Windsor Castle Stakes 5F Listed – DECLARATIONOFPEACE

I think Ryan Moore will be on the winner and that will be Declarationofpeace. Good sized son of War Front running for Coolmore, ideal Royal Ascot profile, beaten on debut at Navan, despite the dogs barking in the ring, when a tad green but was seen to much better effect on the sand at Dundalk. With quicker ground expected at Ascot I’m quite happy to take the 7/2 on offer generally and Declarationofpeace is a two star** win selection.

If I fancied him for the G2 Coventry I have to fancy him here.

Ryan Moore on Betfair on Declarationofpeace “Luck in running, and being drawn in the right place at the right time, is a big factor in this 5f charge. I haven’t ridden him in any of his two starts to date but he looked pretty speedy when winning over 5f by 6 lengths at Dundalk last month. He needs to step up a bit to be winning this but the runner-up there won his maiden well next time out, so that Dundalk form does have some substance. We won this race with Washington DC a couple of years ago.”

Royal Ascot 2017 Sandringham & Britannia Handicaps

Monday June 19th 2.30pm

I will publish this write up now and add the Brittania as an update later today.

Wednesday 5.35pm Sandringham Handicap 8F 3yo Fillies

This could be difficult to solve with nothing in the Notebook and nothing leaping off the page. This Listed handicap is for 3yo fillies so the only place to start is at Clarehaven Stables and Team Gosden and they saddle three runners.

Gymnaste is 7/1 favourite and Josephine Gordon has been booked. They will be popular with the shop punter. I am amazed at their market position. Regular readers of my witterings will be familiar with this filly as it was she who was second and beaten favourite in the Kempton C4 7F that Keyser Soze whizzed home in. Is that form really good enough for a handicap of that calibre? Dancing Breeze won well on debut at the Craven meeting but has disappointed twice since looking one paced. Martin Dwyer rides. Present Tense, a daughter of Bated Breath for Juddmonte, won a C5 maiden at Yarmouth but disappointed in a C3 conditions event on softer ground.

Hard to see any of the three winning so what do the stats say is the type of horse which we would be looking for?

POSITIVES Last-time-out winner. Trained by John Gosden, Mark Johnston, Ed Dunlop or Michael Bell.

First six in the market. Maiden at the start of the season. Ran in the Nell Gwyn Stakes. Placed in the Pretty Polly Stakes.

NEGATIVES Yet to win this season Last-time-out maiden winner.

That brings into play. The class act might be Bean Feasa towards the top of the handicap. Owned by Godolphin and trained by Jim Bolger, she won the G3 Leopardstown 1000 Guineas before finishing fifth in the race itself. Kevin Manning will need to be at his shrewdest from Stall 1. Coolmore sends Asking, beaten in G1 the last twice and second to Bean Feasa gets six pounds for just under three lengths. Staying in Ireland the all-conquering Jessica Harrington saddles Drumfad Bay who won on debut but has been beaten in six subsequent runs, four Group and two Listed races, but often by a G1 type or a decent colt.

Richard Kingscote rides Kilmah for Mark Johnston and she won her maiden but couldn’t repeat the feat in nine Group races. However she could be well in of OR96. The in-form improver looks to be Henry Candy’s Queen of Time but her victories were a C5 maiden and a C4 handicap so requires a major leap forward.

Of those mentioned, Bean Feasa and Kilmah interest me but the selection is mainly out of curiosity? Why has Wes Ward got a horse in a handicap? So she’s a speedball? No she’s a hold up filly? Best rider of the straight mile at Ascot especially on a hold up horse? For me Jamie Spencer and yes he has been booked! He rode her in work when going for that controversial spin at Ascot no less. She’s a daughter of Scat Daddy, wears a tongue tie for the first time and her name, Con Te Partiro. One star* each way @ 12/1 with WH 1234 ¼

Royal Ascot 2017 G1 10F Prince of Wales & G2 12F Hardwicke

Started Friday June 16th finished Monday 19th June

Wednesday 4.20pm G1 Prince of Wales 10F 4yo+

I believe this race was meant to be a clash between Minding OR122 RPR123, So Mi Dar OR114 RPR118 and Cloth of Stars  OR?? RPR118 but all three are on the sidelines currently and for the powerhose connections of Godolphin, Coolmore and Gosden this is Plan B. The richest race of the five days and looks destined to stay in Europe.

So who are the big hitters for this 10F showpiece:-

Highland Reel Aidan O’Briens top money spinner, who has been supported in the last few days, will adore the fast ground and will no doubt try to make every post a winning post. However he hasn’t won over 10F for a couple of years with all his best form being over two furlongs further including the King George last season over this course. Ryan Moore will have the job of getting the fractions right. OR123 RPR123

Jack Hobbs Another G1 winner who steps back 2F, indeed the only win he has had at this trip was in a handicap in his 3yo days! He is an Irish Derby winner and is supposedly using this as a warm up for the King Gerorge back here over 12F. Not only is the trip an issue but the fast ground may be as well? Gosden said: “He will go on anything except firm ground. He travelled out there (Dubai) well and has come back well. We will point him towards Royal Ascot as most of the big middle-distance races are not until June.” OR123 RPR123

Ulysses Lightly raced 4yo but was Stoute’s Derby horse last year but was slow to come to hand and is probably going to show his true colours this season but yet to prove it in G1. Won the 10F G3 Brigadier Gerard at a similar Sandown beating Deauville and, last year’s big price Soft ground winner of this race, My Dream Boat. Trip and ground should be fine. OR116 RPR119

Decorated Knight Recently won the G1 10F Tattersalls Gold Cup at THE Curragh and this is one horse who ticks both the ground and trip boxes. Good campaign in Meydan over the winter, winning the Jebel Hatta then undone by the Soft ground in the Dubai Turf. Could still be improving. Connections trainer Roger Charlton and jockey Andrea Atzeni were bullish after that latest victory, “Atzeni said: “It went very smoothly. We had a good draw, we had a good position all the way and he travelled beautifully into the race. Two (furlongs) out, I was very confident it was going take a decent horse to beat him today. He got to the front easily enough. In the last 100 yards he got a bit lonely, but when the second horse came he went again. He’s very brave, he’s got a big heart and he’s going the right way.” Charlton said: “I was very worried when I saw the ground yesterday. I knew the forecast was for heavy showers, but not like an inch or whatever they had. People kept tactfully sending me photographs of flooded car parks and puddles everywhere and I thought it was getting bad. The surface was a bit dead, it’s good to soft, but the course is in fantastic condition. They’ve opened up a new strip. I walked the course and was very pleasantly surprised how good it was. He doesn’t have to have rattling quick ground. In Dubai it affected him quite badly. This horse has improved and improved. The Group One race he won in Meydan wouldn’t have been the strongest race and this is a stronger race. He keeps on improving. If Minding had turned up it would have been a different story, but he won with his ears pricked and was pulling up in front. He has a very classy pedigree. He’s a very close relation to Gleneagles and his dam is a half-sister to Giants Causeway, so he has a stallion career.” The Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot looks Decorated Knight’s likely next port of call. We were looking to go abroad a bit but you would have to run at Ascot. It’s worked for us before so hopefully it will work again,” the trainer added.   OR118 RPR117

Mekhtaal Looks an improver, despite already having won at G1 level, representing Jean-Claude Rouget and Al Shaqab Racing, this son of Sea the Stars seems best at this trip and although this would be the quickest ground he’s encountered he should cope, indeed he may be better on it. OR115 RPR115

Nigel Keeling put his case neatly on geegeez.co.uk “Rouget also has interest in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes, with Mekhtaal fancied by many to go well. The French have enjoyed plenty of success in the recent past, with Manduro, Vision D’Etat and Byword, all winners during a dazzling period from 2007 to 2010. Andre Fabre was responsible for two of those victories, and has a leading contender in Cloth Of Stars (non-runner). Fabre’s colt clashed with Mekhtaal at Chantilly in April, and edged it in a thriller. He had fitness on his side and the pair look closely matched on all known form. Rouget’s fella needs decent ground, and looks sure to get it. In a hugely competitive renewal, both have a realistic chance at a trip that looks ideal.”

More recently connections have said “”Mekhtaal is on course for the Prince of Wales’s,” said Al Shaqab’s Rupert Pritchard-Gordon. “He looks well and fit and has run recently. He runs well fresh so will do only one more very routine piece of work. Everyone is very happy with him and the one thing we’ll be hoping for is that the weather isn’t like last year. We’d want nice fast ground.”

Hawkbill Wen the G1 10F Eclipse as a 3yo but surely needs to get his toe in. OR115 RPR114 Godolphin obviously have Jack Hobbs as well as Moonlight Magic, Prize Money and Scottish all entered as well. Last three don’t look good enough.

Conclusion – Jack Hobbs and Highland Reel are global performers who have been there, seen it, done it and have more than one T-shirt but I’m not sure Jack Hobbs will even turn up on this ground and Highland Reel could be done for toe. I’m keen on the French challenger and with no Cloth the stars I’m going for Mekhtaal  to find the seven pound improvement necessary. One star* each way Mekhtaal @ 14/1 with WH 123 1/5

Saturday 3.40pm G2 Hardwicke 12F 4yo+

I believe this is the race that should have seen Highland Reel and Jack Hobbs in as they built up for a clash in the King George. So how much is it going to take to win this?

Dartmouth returns to defend his crown for HM the Queen and you can be sure Sir Michael Stoute will have him trained to the moment. Dartmouth obviously gets the trip, acts on the course, is up to the grade but the question is the ground. So is he “value” currently priced at a general 3/1? Maybe. Probably. Opposition looks thin on the ground with those two big guns missing.

You know this is coming BUT I think there is a 4yo in here who has all the correct conditions to break into the big time. The problem is Sir Michael Stoute trains him as well! Every time I see a Newmarket gallops report he’s always ‘best’ or ‘impressive. The horse is Poets Word. He is going to love this ground, however his second to Deauville in the Huxley Stakes at Chester was his first race out of Maiden or handicap company but this horse has a classic Sir Michael Stoute, brought along steadily profile and Saturday could well be his day.

I can only see two other rivals of note. Frontiersman may well have won the G1 12F Coronation Cup if he hadn’t hung down the camber but to me looked another classic example of Godolphin promoting their horses too quickly, C2 handicap to Epsom G1. He was in my notebook as I thought he could win the Ebor, i.e I think he’s a handicapper who could do with a bit further. Poets Word is already a seven pound better according to the Official Handicapper but twice the price. Journey is more dangerous being a Gosden filly in receipt of three pounds who won the Mares race on Champions Day on quick ground over C&D. Her recent fifth place in the Coronation Cup will have set her up nicely and she is going to be very popular with the stats boys.

Poets Word is a two star** win @ 7/1 general and Journey is a one star* win @ 10/1 with WH.

Lucky 15 Saturday June 17th

Friday 5.15pm Just can’t beat racing on the Knavesmire in the summer. Must get up there in July. Royal Ascot is steaming towards us and for once I’m quite hopeful as home work has gone well and feel up to speed on many form lines. As always I’m quite prepared to be totally wrong but I think the key to a profitable Royal Ascot 2017 can be summed up in three words. John Gosdens Fillies. So I’ve backed big Johnny G (Thanks M.Chapman) at 6/1 to be top trainer. Sorry Aidan who? Daban wins the Jersey, Coronet wins the Ribblesdale (G1 horse in a G2), Dabayah gives Winter a fright, with no Icespire it’s Gymnaste for the Sandringham (and if she does you’d better check out Keyser Soze in the Britannia!) and of course after the Duke of Cambridge we should all be able to Laugh Aloud!

More articles on the way.

Saturdays Lucky 15

Prayer mats at the ready!

Sandown 2.40                        BATTAASH                                        9/1 Ladbrokes + WH 8/1 general

York 3.30                    DANIELSFLYER                                    12/1 PP 10/1 WH 8/1 general

Sandown 3.50                        TAUREAN STAR                      8/1 general

Sandown 5.35                        VUELA                                    7/4 general

and here’s why

Sandown 2.40                        BATTAASH                        Not my type of race normally, a 3yo Listed event over Sandown’s awkward 5F, but let’s do something different! This will be the selections first run of the season and the form book says he was third to the rapid Mrs Danvers in the G3 Cornwallis Stakes at HQ the last time we saw the gelding last October. That reads well in this Listed event. However it is the fact that ten days ago Charlie Hills said in his Weekender column that Battaash “had done a scintillating bit of work”. Now if one trainer knows his sprinters it is young Charles, Supposedly has the worst draw but I’m not convinced the rail is where you want to be unless you’re leading! It’s 4/1 the field and at double that Battaash may offer some value.

York 3.30                    DANIELSFLYER                        Comfortable winner of a strong C2 3yo sprint at Newmarket on his only run this season he looked just the type for this valuable race. Solid 2yo form, second in the Listed Woodcote Stakes at Epsom, he’s an improver (forget his run over C&D he was drawn 18!), ground, trip and grade are fine, the booking of SDS for Brian Ellison is a definite plus and I’m more than happy with stall 8. Dangers all around but the winner will be in a single figure draw.

Sandown 3.50                        TAUREAN STAR             This is the horse I was all over for the Victoria Cup over Ascots straight 7F when this hold up horse had no luck as to my amazement and I’m sure jockey Jamie Spencer’s, the whole field, all 23 of them, crossed to the Stands rail! No chance from 3F out but he kept on. Normally runs in a straight line but came round Lingfields bends OK and Spencer will need to box clever from stall 5. Drop him in, not drop him out, then find a seam to come home strongly in the final furlong. The grade and the ground are fine as should be the trip unless he gets lit up. This doesn’t look a strong C2 to me.

Sandown 5.35                        VUELA                                 If you only saw the form lines you would have known it was trained by Luca Cumani! He is so patient with these home bred staying types. This daughter of Duke of Marmalade out of a Wildenstein mare was always going to need a trip and I expect further improvement as she steps up to 14F in the hands of the always patient Jamie Spencer. This could well be her last handicap as she will probably go in search of Black type next and I wouldn’t be surprised if something like the Park hill Stakes at York in September is on the radar. The trainer won it in 2014 with Silk Sari.

 

Fridays Lucky 15

Fingers crossed!

York 2.20                    BURGUILLOS                                                    2nd 4/1                 (11/2 PP 9/2 general)

Beaten a neck. Not the smoothest passage through but beaten on merit.

York 3.30                    GOD WILLING                                     13th 14/1         (20/1 general)

Nibbled at. Close up, weakened final furlong.

York 4.40                    MONJENI                                            3rd 10/3JF        (11/2 general)

Goodwood 7.40         WAR AT SEA                                      8/1 PP 7/1 general

 

Royal Ascot 2017

Charlie Appleby picks out 5-star Royal Ascot team Friday 16 June 2017 At The Races

Blessed this year with a with a team of smart two-year-olds and talented older horses, Appleby exclusively reveals five Royal Ascot horses to follow to Press Association Sport:

AQABAH (Coventry Stakes) “He won his maiden at Ascot then went to the Curragh and finished fourth on soft ground there. On his American pedigree that didn’t suit him, but he gained good experience there. He will be suited to a quicker surface and his work has been good since that race. He will now head towards the Coventry.”

FRONTIERSMAN (Hardwicke Stakes) ” He put up a great performance in the Coronation Cup. He has come out of that race very well. All the signs have been good since Epsom with him and the plan is to head to the Hardwicke. His run at Epsom didn’t surprise me as his home-work had been so good. It was a big jump, stepping up from handicap company to Group One company, but his home-work had been good and we went there confident of a good run. That’s why we supplemented him for that race.”

GRECIAN LIGHT (Sandringham Handicap) “She danced every dance last year at the top table and she was always very competitive. I was pleased with her first start of the season in France. She finished third on soft ground which would probably not have been ideal. I purposely put her away for the Sandringham. Her work has been nice and I feel that she is off a competitive mark.”

SECRET ADVISOR (King George V Stakes) “The King George V Handicap is a race I like and we tend to have three or four runners in there. The one for this year could be Secret Advisor. He is stepping up in trip and I think that will suit him. I don’t think he has met his optimum trip yet. He was a winner over a mile in his maiden. He then stepped up to a mile and a quarter at Windsor, where he met a nice horse on the day. We then dropped him back at Goodwood and again he ran a creditable race, but crying out that stepping up was only going to suit him. I feel he is a horse that going up to a mile and a half, he will find more improvement.”

SOUND AND SILENCE (Norfolk Stakes or Windsor Castle Stakes) “He is a horse that broke his maiden on his debut at Newmarket then he finished fourth in the National Stakes at Sandown. He has come out of the race well. He did scope a bit dirty after the race, but that has cleared up well and his work has been good. I feel that he will potentially head towards the Norfolk Stakes at this stage.”

 

June 16 2017, 10:22 Mirage Dancer is set to contest the Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot next week. The son of Frankel made a successful start to his career in a Doncaster maiden last October and was far from disgraced on his seasonal reappearance when fourth behind subsequent Derby runner-up Cliffs Of Moher in the Dee Stakes at Chester.

Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to owner Khalid Abdullah, said: “I would say he’s more likely to go for the Hampton Court than the King Edward. We’ve always said he’s very much a work in progress. He caught the eye at Chester and that was only his second lifetime start and his first of the year. We hope he’ll improve from that. He’s coming on all the time.”