Continuing a look at next week’s quality racing at Royal Ascot and I’m intrigued with the Racing Post and the bookmaking fraternity whipping up a five-fold frenzy with Ribchester and Churchill on the Tuesday, Order of St George on Thursday and Caravaggio and Winter on the Friday. SkyBet are offering that bet at 22/1. As all five are too short for me it’s time to find something at a price that could grab a place.
This may be helpful for us placepot players and also if you are getting involved in the Daily Telegraph Fantasy Racing competition where three times a place will get you more points than ten times the winner!
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
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
Thursday 4.20pm Gold Cup 4yo+ 20F – ORDER OF ST GEORGE
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.
Friday 3.40pm Commonwealth Cup 3yo 6F – CARAVAGGIO
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.
Friday 4.20pm Coronation Stakes 3yo fillies 8F – WINTER
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.
If I had to rank the five big shots in order of best chance of being beaten I would go Order of St George, Caravaggio, Ribchester, Churchill and Winter!
Plenty of others on-line have had a look at these Famous Five, this is what they had to say.
ROYAL ASCOT PREVIEW: FIVE HEAD-TO-HEADS FOR THE WEEK By Jamie Lynch — published 13th June 2017
In the first of his sweeping summaries of the biggest meeting of the Flat season, Jamie Lynch picks out the five head-to-heads that get the blood pumping ahead of Royal Ascot.
Every day at Royal Ascot, before racing, there’s the traditional procession, where the supreme ruler, with accompanying entourage, makes their noble way up the straight, admired, appreciated and applauded; and only when Aidan O’Brien has completed his walk can the Queen climb into her carriage.
There are due to be several equine processions at Royal Ascot, none more so than the aptly-named Coronation Stakes for Winter, a true head of state: a feminine head on a state-of-the-art engine. But two heads – or more – are better than one, as it’s the conflict that makes the tension, and it’s the tension makes the drama, and it’s the drama that makes Royal Ascot. Here are the top five head-to-heads for the week:
CHURCHILL v BARNEY ROY
As far as head-to-heads go, this is about as good as it gets. If there’s one thing better than a rivalry then it’s a rivalry renewed, the Guineas more a comma than a full stop, Newmarket the stage and the lines delivered more like the end of an act, rather than the end of the play, Churchill the winner but reason for Barney Roy celebrating like Labour.
There was a length between them in the Guineas, yet there’s only 1 lb between them on Timeform ratings for the St James’s Palace Stakes, the race, or the ride, that almost beat Frankel. The run of the race, and the ride on Churchill, was what did for Barney Roy at Newmarket, compounded by his immaturity, and it’s a good bet he’ll run to nearer 130 around a turn to help the turnaround. The question is, at odds-on, is Churchill a good bet to cash whatever cheque Barney writes, like a champion high jumper who joins in late to unflappably clear the requisite height.
Ratings say they should be closer in the market, but Churchill isn’t a ratings kinda horse, giving all that’s needed and not all he’s got, his force far more than a figure, and there’s something about the way Ryan Moore speaks of him that reinforces the idea that Churchill is different for the on-boarder than the onlooker.
I’ll be backing Barney Roy, but this has all the hallmarks of a double negative, for the money lost on the bet then the money lost on plasters for the cuts when I’ve spent five minutes kicking myself after Churchill does what Churchill always does.
BRITISH AND IRISH CUBS v WES WARD
The British and Irish Lions look set to be the maulees rather than the maulers in the tests against New Zealand, and the British and Irish Cubs – racing’s two-year-old branch – likewise look at the mercy of one nation, through one man, Wes Ward. The myth may be outgrowing the reality with Ward’s juvenile juggernauts, but the reality is fairly fearsome, with seven Royal Ascot winners in the last eight years.
Without knowing much beyond the videos of various spins around Keeneland, we’ve got a fair idea of their make and shape, always big and usually clever, and the pertinent point this year is the relatively low standard of the youngsters on either side of the Irish Sea. It says something about the colts that a filly is top of the class, Alpha Centauri already at a level (106p) that would have won her every one of the last seven renewals of the Albany, though that’s the target for Ward’s Fairyland, and he has market leaders in the Queen Mary (Happy Like A Fool), Norfolk (McErin) and Windsor Castle (Nookta Sound), as well as a co-favourite in the Coventry (Arawak). Bookmakers are well aware of his speed machines, but there’s a fine line between running fast and running scared.
CARAVAGGIO v HARRY ANGEL
When Harry met Carry.
If there have been two ‘wow’ moments on the Flat this season, this pair provided them. ‘I knew he was good but I didn’t know he was that good’ was the general reaction in both cases, probably more so with Harry Angel, given his lower-key approach. Caravaggio did what even Wes Ward couldn’t by winning two races in one, in last year’s Coventry, in which he beat those he raced with in the middle group before going over to the far side to gobble up Mehmas.
Royal Ascot was a 7, but his turbo-boosted comeback at Naas had a magnitude of 9 on the Richter scale. But just six days later, in the Sandy Lane, Harry Angel hit 8.9. And that’s the crux of the Commonwealth collision course: Caravaggio is a confirmed heavyweight, but so too is Harry Angel now, all the data around his Haydock performance suggesting he’s every bit as good as he looked, and every bit as good as the one who’s so much shorter than him in the betting.
I’ll be backing Harry Angel, but I refer the honourable gentleman to the answer I gave some moments ago about taking on a Ballydoyle high-roller.
KING’S STAND v DIAMOND JUBILEE
They’re individual races to be won, but there’s also competition between the two premier sprints for top billing, and the dividing line is one of sex and not just speed this time. The Diamond Jubilee consists of the usual suspects, and mostly male, but the fast and fiery fillies are all in the King’s Stand. The head-to-head, ladies and gentlemen, are the ladies and gentlemen.
On the average of the first five in the ratings of the likely runners, the Diamond Jubilee comes out marginally ahead (125.6 plays 125.4), but the sexy ones in this battles of the sexes are all in the King’s Stand, including the UK beauty queen and the US brawn machine, Marsha and Lady Aurelia. Add in another Queen Mary winner in Acapulco and the Temple winner in Priceless, and the King’s Stand is like ladies day brought forward by 48 hours.
The King’s Stand may be the better race, but it’s also the harder race, and the reason the Diamond Jubilee outscores it narrowly on pre-race ratings is all because Limato brings a hefty 129 to the party, and he should be clear favourite for his task, the cold runs excusable since his hotspots of last summer.
GOOD ORDER OF ST GEORGE v BAD ORDER OF ST GEORGE
The grey areas are the goldmines of Royal Ascot, or any major meeting for that matter, but the Gold Cup is a black-and-white matter, with a black-and-white horse: you either trust the Dr Jekyll in Order of St George and think odds-against as a gift, or you only see the dark Mr Hyde and the other opportunities that his short price brings. It’s a trust issue.
The game is the game, and if George brings his A-game then it’s game over, like in this race last year, but he’s been beaten four times since, three of those at odds-on, and that’s understandably once too many for many.
You’d have thought, given the miles on their clocks and the circles in which they mix, that the Orange-Order shootout would have happened before, but George has never faced Big Orange, not until now. The time has come for Big Orange to flex his stamina muscles to the full and tackle the marathon distance of the Gold Cup, and, in theory, he’s the stuff of nightmares for Order of St George, being so aggressive. Single-minded and strong-willed are the very qualities of Big Orange, and the very pressure points of Order of St George. This head-to-head is all in the mind.
Royal Ascot Big Race Bankers: Sky Bet offer 22/1 June 13 2017, 16:32
Sky Bet have priced up the five ‘big bankers’ at Royal Ascot at 22/1 and Ian Ogg and Ben Linfoot ask whether they are bankers or blowouts. Royal Ascot starts with a bang on Tuesday with three Group One races. There are hot favourites for both the Queen Anne Stakes and the St James’s Palace Stakes on that first day and victories for favourites Ribchester and Churchill could put the layers on the back foot. Sky Bet have gone out on a limb in offering an industry best of 22/1 about Ribchester, Churchill, Order Of St George, Caravaggio and Winter all justifying their positions at the top of the market.
Last week, Value Bet columnist Ben Linfoot and Ian Ogg assessed gave their view on whether the big five were bankers or blowouts and this is what they had to say:
Ribchester – Queen Anne Stakes, 4/5 (Non Runner No Bet)
Ian Ogg: Top class three-year-old who won the Group One Jacques Le Marois as well as placing in the Guineas, Sussex Stakes and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. Slightly disappointing when only third at the Dubai World Cup over nine furlongs but impressive back over a mile in the Lockinge at Newbury. A winner of the Jersey Stakes at last year’s Royal meeting and hard to see what’s going to beat him in the curtain raiser. BANKER.
Ben Linfoot: Ribchester’s superb win in the Lockinge was a clear hint that he’s ready to win more Group One races in the Godolphin blue this summer and he could well do so in a Queen Anne Stakes that is lacking star quality beyond himself. Perhaps Lightning Spear could reverse the Newbury form on faster ground, but he has been beaten on four occasions by Ribchester now, while Qemah might be better going around a bend. BANKER.
Churchill – St James’s Palace Stakes, 8/13 – (NRNB)
Ian Ogg: Undefeated in seven races since finishing third on debut, adding the Irish 2,000 Guineas to his victory at Newmarket in the English version this season while last year’s run included victory at this meeting in the Chesham Stakes. The horses that chased him home in both Classics are likely to re-oppose and although Thunder Snow looks to have something to find, connections of Barney Roy will be more than hopeful that they can bridge the gap. BLOWOUT.
Ben Linfoot: It took me a while to believe in Churchill but it seems to me he’s one of those top-class Ballydoyle horses that just gets the job done without doing anything spectacularly. His last win in the Irish 2,000 Guineas was a career-best and the way he finished off his race powerfully suggests those that followed him home off a slow pace in the Guineas might have just as tough a task if the gallop is stronger at Ascot. He’s versatile when it comes to ground, he has the course form from the Chesham. I’m a believer, now. BANKER.
Order Of St George – Ascot Gold Cup, Evens (NRNB)
Ian Ogg: Sent off at 10/11 when winning last year’s renewal, the seventh time that Aidan O’Brien has saddled the winner in 11 years with Yeats making the race his own between 2004-09. Order Of St George was beaten on British Champions Day but that came just two weeks after he had finished a fine third in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. He lost again on his reappearance but obliged at cramped odds last time and he’s a fair price to better old rivals that he has the beating of. BANKER.
Ben Linfoot: A resolute stayer going for his second consecutive win in this contest, Order Of St George will be a banker for many but there is word of caution for those having a go at skinny prices. He sweated up markedly before two of his four consecutive defeats at the end of 2016 and the start of the current season, while he proved vulnerable off a steady gallop in the Long Distance Cup at Ascot on Champions Day when only fourth. Vazirabad would be a very interesting rival should the ground (wouldn’t want it fast) be deemed okay for him to take his chance, too. BLOWOUT
Caravaggio – Commonwealth Cup, Evens (NRNB)
Ian Ogg: Brilliantly fast juvenile who steered an unusual path to victory in the Coventry Stakes last year. Suitably impressive in winning two starts since and could be a sprinter out of the very top drawer. Has a couple of likely looking sorts in Harry Angel and Blue Point snapping at his heels but that does mean that his price has held up and it’s one worth taking advantage of. BANKER.
Ben Linfoot: This is a really tough one. I’m very much a big fan of Caravaggio but I really like Harry Angel as well and Blue Point shouldn’t be dismissed, either. This is shaping up to be the race of the week and I just hope the big three all get there fit and healthy as this could define the sprinting division for the rest of the year. You fancy the winner of this could easily go and beat his elders in the July Cup. On balance, I tend to agree with Ian that the depth of the race is holding up Caravaggio’s price quite nicely, so, for that reason… BANKER.
Winter – Coronation Stakes, 4/6 (NRNB)
Ian Ogg: Like stablemate Churchill, Winter completed the Newmarket / Curragh Guineas double and it’s hard to see why those behind her on either occasion should reverse the form. However, French handler Jean-Claude Rouget has saddled the last two winners and the runners from the Poulains could pose the main threat. Winner Precieuse could be supplemented (she also has the Prix de Diane as an option) while runner-up Sea Of Grace is in the mix along as is Fred Darling Stakes winner Dabyah who was Group One-placed last season. B…, just hold your horses until the opposition is clear!
Ben Linfoot: With Rhododendron likely to go the 10-furlong route in the Pretty Polly and the Nassau the door has been left open for Winter take this before perhaps taking on the colts in the Sussex Stakes or QEII, or both. Highly impressive on fast ground in the Guineas and yielding conditions in the Irish version at the Curragh, she can light up Ascot in the Coronation Stakes just as her dam, Laddies Poker Two, did when landing a huge gamble in the 2010 Wokingham. BANKER.
Big-race banker or short-priced shirker: who can you trust? Maddy Playle 12:36PM, JUN 14 2017
Royal Ascot is often either the punter’s playground or a downright disaster. Eight favourites triumphed at last year’s meeting, including four of the names listed below, and here we profile six of the stars set to grace the turf, ranking them down from shaky favourites to bona fide certainties.
Order Of St George Gold Cup, Thursday (Best price: Evens)
Pros: There are few things Aidan O’Brien can do better than ready horses for the Ascot Gold Cup and Order Of St George has already proved he is up to the task after defying a troubled passage to score last year. He is a very classy animal on his day, as he proved when winning the 2015 Irish St Leger by 11 lengths and finishing third in last year’s Arc over a trip shorter than ideal.
Cons: Doesn’t always deliver on the big stage and there were no excuses when Wicklow Brave beat him in last year’s Irish St Leger or indeed when he flopped as favourite for the Long Distance Cup at the track on his final start last season.
Conclusion: Has least to prove of all the runners but there may not be much value left in his price. Simple Verse, who looks to have more to offer at this trip, could give him a run for his money.
Ribchester Queen Anne Stakes, Tuesday (Best price: 10-11)
Pros: Has improved no end since winning the Jersey Stakes at this meeting last year, including when claiming the Jacques le Marois last August. He proved he was more versatile than ever when storming to victory from the front in a tactical running of the Lockinge Stakes on his return.
Cons: Hasn’t always been the most straightforward. He can pull hard and the pace-making tactics with Toscanini – whether intentional or unintentional – didn’t work out last time.
Conclusion: The older milers don’t look an outstanding bunch this year and Ribchester looks as if he can capitalise once again, but it may not be a walk in the park for him as many suspect, with American Patriot a credible contender if arriving in peak form.
Churchill St James’s Palace Stakes, Tuesday (Best price: 4-6)
Pros: Outstanding dual Guineas-winning miler who has been beaten only once in an eight-race career. A redoubtable, versatile performer who won the Chesham Stakes at this meeting last year, Churchill will be prepared to perfection by connections.
Cons: Doesn’t always win by very far, which gives the impression he is potentially vulnerable. Had the perfect trip in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket, where Barney Roy met all kinds of trouble, and he didn’t beat a strong field in the Irish equivalent.
Conclusion: This may well be his biggest challenge to date but he is beautifully straightforward and his professionalism can help him record a fifth Group 1 success.
Caravaggio Commonwealth Cup, Friday (Best price: Evens)
Pros: Has looked nigh-on unbeatable in his five starts to date, including when overcoming a bad draw and unsuitable ground in the Coventry Stakes last year. Aidan O’Brien has said they have “never seen one quicker at home” following his faultless return in the Lacken Stakes.
Cons: Harry Angel was equally as impressive in the Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock last time and he arguably beat better opposition than Caravaggio did at Naas. Blue Point also looks a cracking sprinter and Wesley Ward is keen on the chances of his Bound For Nowhere.
Conclusion: Caravaggio is one of the most naturally gifted horses in training and the suspicion is may well emulate Muhaarar and make up into this year’s champion sprinter. For all the Commonwealth Cup could be the race of the meeting, his position at the helm of the market is thoroughly deserved.
Winter Coronation Stakes, Friday (Best price: 4-6)
Pros: Contemptuous in the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket, Winter improved to give her rivals a stunning four and three-quarter length beating in the Irish equivalent. She is only the third filly to complete that illustrious double and looks a class apart from her contemporaries.
Cons: The likes of Dabyah and Talaayeb are still unexposed and may well have come forward since their last runs. Precieuse also brings Classic form to the table and is speedy enough to pose a threat in a race in which French fillies have a great record.
Conclusion: Hard to oppose. She brings the best form to the table – the three-year-old fillies look just as good if not better than the colts this year – and has given the impression she is a superstar. The prospect of further improvement is enough to get anyone excited.