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 “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.


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