Tag: Poets Word

Saturday October 21st Champions Day

Posted Saturday 10.45am

Good morning everyone. I am afraid the ground and the weather and the fact this is the third week of October have raised too may doubts for serious punting! How many horses are tip top, spot on for today? Jockeyship could be key!

Looks like it’s SOFT and we will have to stick to that! Wind may be a bigger issue than the rain.

OFFICIAL GOING Soft (GoingStick: Straight: 6.6, Round: 5.4 on Saturday at 08:15)

Stalls: Straight Course: Centre Round Course: Inside

Weather 3mm rain overnight to 6.30am Saturday. Becoming windy with blustery showers today.

 

No Lucky 15 and just a couple of Star selections but we will have a go at the placepot!

May I remind you that races 2-6 are Group 1, race 1 is Group 2 but Group 1 in all but name and surely it is Group 1 form we should be concentrating on! The handicap is a belter, it’s over the straight mile but the first five furlongs are on the far side “half” of the course then it’s the whole width?

 

Star* Selections

Ascot 3.50           POETS WORD                                    Two star** win @ 7/1 general

Ascot 4.30           QASSEM                                              One star* each way @ 16/1 general 12345 1/5

Ascot 4.30           WITHERNSEA                                    One star* each way @ 33/1 Coral 28/1 general 12345 1/5

Placepot (64 bets @20p = £12.80)

Leg 1-     7 & 13

Leg 2-     4 & 12

Leg 3-     7 & 9

Leg 4-     4 & 12

Leg 5-     4 & 9

Leg 6-     18 & 19

and here is why

 Ascot 3.50       POETS WORD I think that Sir Michael Stoute has been itching to get this horse into Group 1 company but the yards Ulysses success kept it on hold, ran excellently in the Irish version and I think this has been THE target. Flying on the gallops.

Ascot 4.30       QASSEM After his run at York’s Ebor Festival I blogged “Over the winter he was gelded, pretty big shout for a €300K yearling, and this season has been fifth in a York 10½F C2 handicap OR94, won at Chelmsford in C2, OR93, dropped again back to a mile and second to Flaming Spear in the C2 8F Clipper Logistics at the York Ebor Festival off OR98. The last run was terrific as he was in the van throughout, the handicapper has put him up just one pound OR99. Why is this horse screaming Balmoral to me? That is the £150K 8F handicap on Champions Day, Ascot October 21st! Can’t desert him now!

Ascot 4.30       WITHERNSEA 8F on Soft ground in a C2 handicap, Hanagan riding. Ideal conditions, third to Stamp Hill at Ascot over 7F and 4th in the BetFred Mile both with cut in the ground.

Placepot

Leg 1-     Order of St. George, two miles on Soft ground, solid Ascot form and he’s Group 1 proven. Just can’t seem him out of the first three. Stradivarius this seasons 3yo’s have been good sprinters, good stayers and Enable. This is probably the best of the stayers, 3rd in Group 1 St.Leger, won the Queens Vase at Ascot and beat Big Orange in the Goodwood Cup on Soft ground.

Leg 2-     Librisa Breeze Promised myself I would back this horse as soon as I could get double figures in a 6F Group 1, loves Soft ground, Ascot form, he is the ultra hold-up horse so hold on tight! Quiet Reflection a filly who is fresh, loves the ground, has Ascot C&D Group 1 form and Karl Burke could currently win the Eurovision Song Contest such is his form!

Leg 3-     Coronet won the Ribblesdale over C&D, Gosden is a star with his fillies and guaranteed to stay, ground the issue? Hydrangea Group 1 filly and the vibes from Ballydoyle are strong.

Leg 4-     Ribchester simply the best miler in Europe in my opinion. Persuasive real improving filly for the man Gosden again.

Leg 5-     Poets Word (See above)

Cracksman desperately needs to lose his bridesmaid tag in Group 1’s for his stud prospects. Won’t be here but I can’t see how he is out of the frame

Leg 6-     Qassem (See above) & Withernsea (See above)

 

The French couldn’t win in France so why in England? Tactically inexperienced and inept jockeys, Peslier excepted?

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Review Qatar Goodwood Festival of Racing 2017

Posted Monday 7th August 6.15pm

“…. one of the most challenging race meetings, one which started in bright sunshine on Tuesday, but deteriorated into a mud bath with 50mm of rain on Wednesday, and ground that was soft or near soft for the rest of the week.” The words of an under fire Clerk of the Course.

The first race of the meeting, a 10F handicap set the tone with the order of the first two reversed in the Stewards room. Goodwood is such a difficult place to punt at. Tuesdays form may well hold up but I’m really wary of the following four days after all that rain and then a fresh strip of ground five metres from the far rail available from Thursday onwards.

What I don’t understand concerning the rain is the CoC didn’t seem to expect that much! Tuesday he said 6-10mm and we should get a couple of races run before it starts. Well it started at 10am and they got five times more than expected!

I will come back to Thursday’s fresh strip of ground more than once as it would seem the Weighing Room had decided it was the ONLY place to race, although some trainers were still choosing high in the draw for the Stewards Cup. Baffling. Mind you was the Stands side definitely slower? We won’t ever know as no horse raced there from Thursday onwards, whereas on Wednesday in the monsoon every horse raced Stands Side! Let’s get more positive!

Stars in my eyes

The two 2yo colts Expert Eye and Barraquerro, who met on debut at Newbury finishing first and third, winning the 7F Vintage and the 6F Richmond respectively. Expert Eye’s trainer Sir Michael Stoute very much gives me the impression that the horse is very much a “now 2yo” whereas Brian Meehan sees Barraquerro as a longer term project, even beyond the 2000 Guineas.

Stoute ‘s reputation is more based around his slow burning middle distance horses, often home bred, and that pipeline was highlighted by an excellent win from the 4yo, Poets Word, and likewise the 3yo Crystal Ocean who is clearly progressive. His victory was in the Group 3 Glorious Stakes which in the past has been won by Stoute horses en route to Group 1. Indeed I would expect both winners to have a go at the top level within the next twelve months.

Winter is a splendid 3yo filly seeing the extra two furlongs out well but this was a soft Group 1.

Battaash is beginning to look the real deal as a sprinter. 5F GF at Sandown to 5F Soft at Goodwood, that is some range. Exciting times ahead for Charlie Hill’s 3yo son of Dark Angel.

Whoops!

If they ran the Goodwood Cup and the Sussex Stakes on decent Good ground or better tomorrow I would still expect Big Orange and Ribchester to win. In the stayers event the Orange dwarved Stradivarius but he could be a useful addition to the division with his next target being the St.Leger and supposedly next season will be a Cup horse.

As for Ribchester, a peculiar effort. Firstly Toscanini looks a total waste of time as a pacemaker. Secondly Ribchester did too much too early, lugged out, then ran on!? The 10F Irish Champions Stakes is being mooted as a possible target. One supposes they are working backwards from the 9F Dubai Turf next March!

sportinglife.com “Richard Fahey is not ruling out a crack at Sunday’s Group 1 Prix Jacques le Marois with stable star Ribchester, who despite suffering a shock defeat in treacherous conditions in Wednesday’s Sussex Stakes at Goodwood. “He’s bouncing and has come out of the race well,” said Fahey on Sunday. “I haven’t drawn a line through France yet and I’ll see how he is this week. I’ll make a decision before Thursday.”

Horrible Handicaps

The BetFred Mile was won by Ryan Moore on Master the World for David Elsworth. I say ‘won’ I mean ‘given to’. Going into this race the 6yo was three from thirty eight, often caught in traffic as he made his run. Not here. From the two furlong pole he had a clear run down the inside no less, on that strip of fresh ground. Can’t believe Martin Dwyer hadn’t got leader and Royal Hunt Cup winner, Feng Zhui, glued to the far rail. More on this race in the Looking Forward section.

The 6F Stewards Cup was won by the one horse put down as likely to lead in Saturday mornings Racing Post excellent pace map, Lancelot du Lac. So was this a three furlong dash to THAT five yard strip? After two furlongs those drawn 20+ were six lengths wrong, ignore their form. More on this race in the Looking Forward section.

Did that really just happen?

Breton Rock won the 7F Lennox round the outside coming from last a furlong out, finishing two to everything else’s one. Billesdon Brook did something similar in the nursery but involved some weaving amongst horses as well. My good thing Rebel Streak beaten a short head by a 100/1 shot!

 

Looking Forward

UAE PRINCE- Watch replay! Winner without a penalty! Came to win race before the dodgems in front.
SHANGHAI GLORY- Run well to get fifth considering he was almost over the rail two out as they all came across.

EDDYSTONE ROCK- Denied a clear run in the Wolferton, denied a clear run here, not a lot of room in last fifty yards when sixth in John Smiths. Get Fox off, put a proper jockey on, off OR99 and a decent C2 10F could be his!

SOUL SILVER – Barged as she came to make her challenge. Kept on hands and heels. C2 8F fillies handicap. No higher.

SAINTED – Never got the run when she wanted to. 7F Soft Listed tops.

GM HOPKINS-Slow from stalls AGAIN! Flat course, few bends, 8F. Still on my Cambridgeshire list.

SHYMKENT- 3yo never got a run. Hampered, ran on. OR90 12F O’Meara. May need to get his toe in. York Ebor Festival?

Friday August 4th Goodwood

Posted: Thursday August 3rd 6.30pm

 After yesterday’s monsoon I thought the ground held up well although much depends on the jockeys judgement of pace, especially those at the front.

 GOING/TRACK Soft, Heavy in places (Going Stick: 5.8 on Thursday at 09:30)

Stalls: Straight course Stand side Round course Inside

WEATHER 49.2mm rain yesterday. Dry and windy since midnight. A dry windy day with sunny spells.

Going/Weather/Other last updated @Thu 03 Aug 9:42am

STOP PRESS  LATEST GOING REPORT

Blustery conditions made it testing for racegoers and horses, while the ‘soft, heavy in places’ going led to a number of potential runners being withdrawn, but the star acts proved that good horses go on any ground, and some fine racing took place.

Clerk of the Course Seamus Buckley said: “There have been testing conditions and it’s been a testing time – last night I didn’t think we would have such a successful day ahead. The ground rode as described, and certainly on the slower side, and there were some very heavy patches out on the course that I was slightly worried about this morning, but the lads did a great job in forking, lifting and aerating to get some air into the turf, and that got rid of any water that was lying about. It was a great team effort and I cannot say how proud I am of the team. It didn’t stop the good horses winning, and we had a lovely fresh strip of ground on the far side. We brought the top bend in, which we don’t usually do until Saturday for the Qatar Nassau Stakes, but having moved the race we opted to do that in order to provide the best ground possible.

The weather forecast is for tomorrow to be dry, while Saturday may contain a late passing shower, but there’s no band of rain. I won’t change the going tonight, but will look at the ground tomorrow morning – I wouldn’t be surprised if we go to soft and even good to soft in places. I just had a walk down the straight for the final two furlongs and was pleased with what I saw.

Rails on the bottom two furlongs of the lower bend on the mile course are being moved back tonight to provide fresh ground.”

Fridays Lucky 15

Goodwood 1.50                     POETS WORD             3/1 PP 5/2 general

Goodwood 3.25                     BIRCHWOOD              20/1 PP 18/1 WH Coral + Lads 14/1!!

Goodwood 4.10                     GIFT IN TIME               6/1 PP 11/2 general

Goodwood 4.45                     TIMYRIS                      11/1 Coral + Lads 10/1 general

and here is why

Goodwood 1.50                     POETS WORD As all regular readers of this blog will know I fancied the horse for the G2 12F Hardwicke at Royal Ascot and I am not going to desert him now! Why? Every time I see a Newmarket gallops report he’s always ‘best’ or ‘impressive’. He won the 11F handicap at this meeting last year, his last run was a solid second to Deauville at Chester in a G3 over a shorter trip and I think he is a typical Stoute slow burner who is ready to open his Group account. The issue is the ground and from what I saw today I think if he handles it he’ll win.

Two star** win @ 3/1 PP 5/2 general

On his Coronation Cup second Frontiersman is thrown in but the horse isn’t the full picnic!

Goodwood 3.25                     BIRCHWOOD I hinted at it yesterday and I’m sticking with him.

“Now here is a disappointing 4yo! Won his first two races as a 2yo and David Armstrong sold him to Godolphin. He won the G2 Superlative over 7F at HQ and should have won the G2 Vintage here at Goodwood but William Buick had a nightmare, squeezed, hampered, ran on etc. Then third in the G1 National Stakes at the Curragh and third in the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf! To say he was disappointing as a 3yo would be an understatement. Highly tried but the only race he won was a 7F Listed race at Chester but it was on Soft ground and he had a first time visor! At this Goodwood meeting last year he was seventh of eight in the G2 7F Lennox Stakes at just 8/1! As a 4yo he has been midfield in two Listed races and the 6F Wokingham handicap where he wore first time blinkers. His handicap mark has come down from a heady OR114 to OR102. So is this a Musley Bank plot or the last roll of the dice? Fail here and surely it’s the unkindest cut of all!

However he is drawn in stall 2, which under normal circumstances be fantastic, and Jamie Spencer has been booked!

All season it’s been a case of “working well, we’re happy with him”! On course, dismal.

I’ve played each way at 33/1. Is it class will shine through or has he fallen out of love with racing? In Frank I trust!”

One star* each way @ 20/1 PP 18/1 WH Coral + Lads 14/1!!

Gutted but not surprised that El Vip has been taken out on account of the ground!

Goodwood 4.10                     GIFT IN TIME Who ever does the buying for the Cool Silks Partnership is a shrewd cookie and certainly knows a swift 2yo when he sees one! This son of Society Rock out of a Cadeaux Genereux mare cost a tidy £75K and has had three runs which all suggest this could be his race. Third on debut on Soft ground to the now Black Type filly Darkanna, missed the break in the G2 Norfolk at Ascot and then won at Chester when having given up the outside to no one then “thundering home” to nail Ginbar on the line! Drawn 3 tomorrow, breeding suggests could improve for the ground, Luke Morris in the saddle are all plusses.

Two star** win @ 6/1 PP 11/2 general

Goodwood 4.45                     TIMYRIS Only six lengths off Winter in the G1 Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot having won a Soft ground Listed race at York, she is a talented 3yo filly who gets six pounds off her elders. I’ve no issue with the ground, trip or grade the problem is being drawn widest in sixteen! She’s been held up in her races to date so hopefully Atzeni can drop in then attack down the middle in the final furlong. More of the Breton Rock less of the Uae Prince!

One star* win @ 11/1 Coral + Lads 10/1 general

 

The Goodwood 2.25 is a terrific race with loads of notebook horses in. Beat the Bank, Bless Him, Forest Ranger, Make Time and Zainhom with La Rav a non-runner. Too hard to split them but I will try to profile this race next week as how they run here should determine their targets for the rest of the season.

 

Reaction at the Stewards Cup draw

After the near 50mm deluge of rain that fell on Wednesday, Thursday’s 9.00am reading on the Going Stick gave the ground as 5.8 overall and in the straight 5.5 on the stands’ side, 5.6 in the centre and 6.0 on the far side. Those able to get early selections, and so with all options open, tended to head to the rails on both sides – opinion split as to where the best ground might be come Saturday.

Alex Smith, a director of Highclere Thoroughbred Racing, which also manages the Royal Ascot Racing Club horses, was responsible for choosing the draw for  Raucous (Highclere Thoroughbred Racing – Melbourne Syndicate) and  Projection (Royal Ascot Racing Club), the current 7/1 favourite. He chose high numbers for both – 26 for Raucous and 27 for Projection. Smith said: “I followed the instructions of both William [Haggas – Raucous] and Roger [Charlton – Projection] to go high. I was lucky to get such high numbers because I was quite late in the selection of stalls (16 and 19 respectively) and they are, of course, next to each other. The trainers were both keen to be on the stands’ side. Projection, third in the Wokingham at Royal Ascot, likes to be up there with the pace but is untested on this sort of ground, while Raucous, last year’s third, will be held up and has some soft-ground form. The Melbourne Syndicate is a lucky one, as they have Raucous and Opposition, who have each won three races.”

Trainer Richard Fahey, who has three runners in the Stewards’ Cup, was represented at the draw by SkyBet’s Michael Shinners, the pair selecting low draws for all three runners. For  Growl, a 14/1 chance, Shinners picked stall eight, for  Eastern Impact (20/1) he went with 11, and for  Brian The Snail (20/1) the selection was stall two.

 “Richard’s had a bit of success when drawn low on soft ground previously, and he felt that with the new strip of ground [on the far side] and all the horses coming up the stands’ side yesterday and maybe today, there might still be fresh ground by Saturday on the far side so we went low, but who knows, it could change by then!” said Shinners, adding:  “Looking early at the pace,  Lancelot Du Lac (15) is an obvious pacemaker and  Stake Acclaim in 14 has also shown pace.  We’re in the middle, and obviously of Richard’s three Growl is the shortest priced, but they all go there with claims.”

Rosie Margarson, representing this week’s Group One Qatar Sussex Stakes-winning trainer Andrew Balding, selected draw 20 for  Donjuan Triumphant (16/1), said: “Andrew wanted an even number so the horse can go in the stalls later, and ideally wanted 14, but we were unable to get that. We want to come stands’ side in the hope for better ground, hence the selection of 20.”

Newmarket July Meeting Day 1 Thursday

Posted Wednesday July 12th 3.30pm

Plenty to look forward to on the first day of the July meeting at HQ. Let’s see if we can make a couple of quid?

Newmarket GOING Good

Stalls: Stand Side Course 12f and 13f Centre Remainder Far Side

WEATHER 16.5mm of rain on Tuesday & overnight. Wednesday; Overnight rain clearing to leave a largely dry day. Thursday; Sunny spells and light afternoon/evening showers 22C. Friday; Largely dry 20C. Saturday; Largely dry and warmer 25C. (Going/Weather/Other last updated @Wed 12 Jul 7:11am)

Thursdays Lucky 15

Newmarket 1.50                              RAHEEN HOUSE               @ 4/1 general

Newmarket 3.00                             UNABATED                         @ 12/1 PP + BetFred

Newmarket 3.35                             POETS WORD                    @ 9/2 Coral 4/1 general

Newmarket 5.05                              FOREST RANGER              @ 13/2

Star* Singles

Newmarket 1.50                              RAHEEN HOUSE               Two star** win @ 4/1 general

Newmarket 2.25                             INVINCIBLE ARMY           One star* win @ 7/1 general

Newmarket 2.25                             ENJAZAAT                           One star* win @ 16/1 PP 14/1 general

Newmarket 3.00                             UNABATED                         One star* win @ 12/1 PP + BetFred

Newmarket 3.00                             DANIELSFLYER                   One star* win @ 201 general

Newmarket 3.00                             TOMMY TAYLOR              One star* win @ 25/1 PP (20/1 BF, as low as 14/1!!)

Newmarket 3.35                             POETS WORD                    (NAP) Three star*** win @ 9/2 Coral 4/1 general          

Only High Street bookie to have last two races priced up on-line is Paddy Power. So shop around.

Newmarket 4.35                              ORVAR                                 One star* win @ 12/1 general                  

Newmarket 4.35                              OH SO SASSY                     Half a star each way @  25/1 general

Newmarket 4.35                              MONT KIARA                     Half a star each way @  20/1 general

Newmarket 5.05                              FOREST RANGER              (NB) Two star** win @ 13/2

Newmarket 5.05                              TRICORN                              One star* win @ 9/2

(Total 16 stars)

and here is why

1.50 Bahrain Trophy G3 3yo 13F

One of the serious St.Leger trials and basically brings together most of the middle distance 3yo form from Royal Ascot.

The “Ascot Derby”, the G2 12F Edward VII, was won by Permian with Raheen House a hanging, staying on fourth. That looks the best bit of form on offer to me. Connections felt this colt was good enough to run in the G1 Racing Post Trophy as a 2yo. However Raheen House doesn’t look a straight forward conveyance.

At Ascot Jamie Spencer had him out smart-ish but by halfway he had been shuffled back to last before staying on. The Listed Cocked Hat at Goodwood was a difficult race as Monarchs Glen went twelve lengths clear and Raheen House had to tow the field up and then got done for toe by Khalidi. On seasonal debut he had split the fillies Shutter Speed and Enable and that doesn’t look too shabby. The field looks big enough to find cover and Jamie Spencer should have plenty of room to manoeuvre at HQ, trip and ground look OK and connections seem bullish “Trainer Brian Ellison said: Raheen House is entered in the Bahrain Trophy at Newmarket on Thursday and we will see what the ground is like as we don’t want it too firm. It was fine at Ascot and I am sure it will be fine at the July Course and I hope we can run there. He is a St Leger horse and that is the ideal race for him. He is in great order and in tip-top shape.”

In the C2 12F King George V handicap Atty Persse overcame a wide draw racing in the van throughout and this son of Frankel had enough left to overcome the cavalry in the home straight and now steps up to Group company over a furlong further. Sofia’s Rock was in behind having had a troubled passage throughout and although ten pounds better off with the winner this is his first venture into Group class as well.

Desert Skyline and Face the Facts took part in a messy G2 Queens Vase, this year over 14F, finishing sixth and eighth after both met interference then doing their best work in the final furlong and both looked out and out stayers for whom even this 13F may be too short. Neither has won beyond C4 level. Wisconsin was wayward and has been beaten at the Curragh since but does represent Coolmore/O’Brien/Moore. Tamleek ran behind Benbatl in the G3 10F Hampton Court and steps up a full three furlongs here. He has looked one paced since moving into Group class.

Crowned Eagle hasn’t been seen since disappointing in the Derby itself and Wolf Country was behind Permian in the Dante. Both now have questions to answer. Trip for the former, quick ground for the latter?

2.25 Arqana July Stakes G2 6f Colts & Geldings

Once again it’s Royal Ascot form being tested. Rajasinghe did us proud when winning the G2 6F Coventry stakes at Ascot and gets a three pound penalty here for his troubles. One would struggle to see either US Army Flag or Denaar turning the form around. Bigger dangers may come from the G2 5F Norfolk and the Listed 5F Windsor Castle Stakes. Card Sharp and It Don’t Come Easy were third and fifth in the Norfolk while Sound of Silence was the winner of the Listed race.

The rest are a bunch of Yarmouth/Windsor C4/5 maiden winners, any of which could improve but it’s a fair sized leap. However some of the stats suggest taking a second look. 6/15 – Ran at Royal Ascot in their last race 10/15 – Won their last race 14/15 – Had won over 5 or 6f previously 11/15 – Won by either a Feb or March foal 10/15 – Won their last race

6/15 – Ran at Royal Ascot in their last race. Just 40% of the last fifteen winners had their last race at Royal Ascot!! That brings Enjizaat and Invincible Army into play. The former was professional looking impressive when hacking up on a miserable afternoon. The latter is a real good looker did a quick time when winning over C&D

Rajasinghe is trading at around 13/8 which is skinny for a penalised horse on a different course to Ascot’s carpet and Newcastle’s Tapeta! Don’t really want to oppose him but Enjizaat and Invincible Army may be the way to go.

3.00 Bet365 C2 6F 3yo 0-105 handicap.

Now here is an easy one! Twenty 3yo sprinters. I’ll put up three against the field with the rider that I backed all three last time with varied results.

UNABATED OR104 Just how good is Marco Botti’s Bated Breath colt? As a 2yo he ran in the G2 Gymcrack on his second outing, the third in the G3 Solaria on the AW at Kempton and finally fifth to Harry Angel in the G2 Mill Reef. In March he went to Newcastle on the Tapeta over 6F and beat a bunch of 3yo’s off OR94 then four months later over he repeated the dose against his elders off OR99, “smooth headway, kept on strongly”. Could well be a Group horse. Initially concerned about the ground but he won his maiden on the Soft at Newmarket.

DANIELSFLYER OR101 Another course winner and over the trip as well, he was put up eight pounds for his May success when he showed a tidy turn of foot out of The Dip. Well backed for the valuable Charity Sprint at York he ran flatter than the proverbial pancake, indeed his two career poor runs have been on the Knavesmire. So in forgiving mood I’ll give Brian Ellisons smart Dandy Man colt another chance with Adam Kirby taking over from SDS.

TOMMY TAYLOR OR95 Went into my Craven report “Looks a surefire sprint winner for Kevin Ryan as he tanked through the C2 6F 3yo handicap on the Craven Thursday. Now dropped 2lb to OR95 I could see him turning up at York for the valuable 3yo 6F Charity Sprint.” The yards health problems and temporary closure scuppered that plan and I’ve no idea how or if he was affected or how fit he is but he looked a talented handicap sprinter, the type Ryan has always done well with. The same owner has had the likes of Brando and Bogart.

3.35 Prince of Wales Stakes G2 12F

Frontiersman v Poets Word. Is the ground soft enough for Hawkbill?

As regular readers know I fancied Poets Word for the Hardwicke but Dartmouth got Sir Michaels nod whilst Godolphin put forward Prize Money. Both were well behind a resurgent Idaho as were Wings of Desire (fifth) and Western Hymn (seventh) who both run here. Here’s my Hardwicke blog as I still stand by it! “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. 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 and 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.”

Add to that Ryan Moore is in the saddle and this is my nap of the day.

4.05 Maiden Fillies 2yo 6F Put the kettle on and get the notebook ready. Obviously I hope Moore on Maybride for Cheveley Park and #FantasticMrFahey can win the race but they will be hideously overbet! Quite interested in the two Hannon Jnr entries, Lamya and Toomer.

4.35 John Deere handicap 5F C2 0-100 Not my favourite betting medium these older sprint handicaps over the minimum trip. Let’s see if we can find whose turn it is here? Three against the field.

ORVAR OR92 Minimum trip is synonymous with Robert Cowell. Highly tried as a 2yo running in the G2 July Stakes and running Raucous to a neck off level weights over C&D. Has since left Richard Hannon and his mark has slipped from OR101 to OR92. In reasonable current form, placed in last two races, and wears cheek-pieces for the first time.

OH SO SASSY OR88 Chris Wall’s 7yo mare could probably run this track on her own as four of her last eight races have been over C&D and she is never far away, getting within a half-length of winning behind El Astronaute earlier this season. Has form on all sorts of ground and Fran Berry should have the far rail to help being drawn 1.

MONT KIARA OR84 His form at HQ is 25194 and he handles the ups and downs well and enjoys the stiff finish. One of Kevin Ryan’s that has had a run since his all clear from quarantine and hopefully has put him spot on for this contest. Tom Eaves rides and like Oh So Sassy will be up against that far rail and if he is to be played it is likely to be late.

5.05 Robinsons Mercedes-Benz Sir Henry Cecil Stakes 8F Listed Race 3yo Two I really like in this Listed race.

FOREST RANGER Hugely impressive when he cruised past a decent field in an 8F C2 Conditions contest on the Tapeta at Newcastle back in April and to say he’s been highly tried since is an under-statement! Sixth to Permian in the G2 10F Dante when he clearly didn’t stay and then an eight length fifth to Barney Roy in the G1 8F St. James Palace Stakes. This is a big class drop and I put in my Royal Ascot preview “Forest Ranger (Richard Fahey) struck me as up in trip, 8-10F, down in grade, G3?, could see him back to winning ways.”  Same trip and softer ground should be fine at this stage of his career. Tony Hamilton keeps the ride.

TRICORN Another to make my Royal Ascot notebook “Just doesn’t know how to run a bad race. In his six races his Racing Post Rating has gone 72-76-90-100-101-107 suggesting he could improve further and make into a Group horse. Now rated OR105 on Turf only OR99 on the AW so is there a handicap at Chelmsford? (John Gosden)” So Gosden “rolls the big dice” and has a shot at a Listed contest with James Doyle once again in the saddle.

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.