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 “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 “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. 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


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