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.