The opening day of Royal Ascot turned into the Ryan Moore show after he completed a treble on board Washington DC in the Windsor Castle Stakes.
Moore has already had won riding Clondaw Warrior to precision in the 2m4f Handicap before taking victory on 2000 Guineas winner Gleneagles in the St Anne’s Palace Stakes.
From a personal view it was a good enough day. The match bet on Solow to beat Able Friend landed in the Queen Anne. In the Coventry Stakes my two picks Air Force Blue and Eltezam finished 2nd and 3rd respectively at 9/1 and 18/1. Pearl Secret ran on strongly to steal 4th in the King Stand at 22/1 while in the Ascot Stakes Elishpour was sent off a big price at 33/1 and stayed on well for 3rd. In the concluding Windsor Castle Stakes there was more place success with Soapy Aitken running into 4th at 6/1.
More of the same would be good, on what looks like a tricky day with more International stars looking to claim some Royal Ascot history.
14:30 Jersey Stakes
Ivawood sets standard after finishing third in both the English and Irish 2000 Guineas. He is back down in trip to 7f today and Richard Hughes called him his banker of the week. For me, he is already far too short in the betting considering he is giving weight to her rivals. In our 2000 Guineas at Newmarket he beat Bossy Guest by a ½l and with the weights as they are you would think the Mick Channon trained colt is better off here to reverse that form. This drop back to 7f should see Ivawood stay and probably strongly for that extra bit of stamina but how can anyone back him at that price?
There will be lots of pace in this race with the likes of American raider Luck Of The Kitten and Mister Universe in the field. If they go blazing off in front then it is going to be set up nicely for a closer and that would suit Ivawood who will stalk the leaders. Wesley Ward’s runner is the interesting one considering he has made all over a mile on firm ground, so should easily see out this 7f trip from the front and could potentially be overpriced.
Richard Hannon’s ‘second string’ Tupi is one worth considering. His two most recent efforts have been encouraging ones. In a Free Handicap on his first start as a three-year-old he was second to Home Of The Brave, who made all and the Hugo Palmer colt finished a respectable sixth in the Guineas. Tupi broke the track record at headquarters when beating Latharnach in a Listed Race. Yesterday the Godolphin horse finished second to Gleneagles yesterday in the St James’ Palace Stakes. That form has started to take a nice shape to it. From that Listed Race win the third has since ran and beaten by the impressive Adaay. This mark gives him room for improvement and he’ll be able to get more cover here. At the price he is it is a tempter.
Hathal is still an unexposed type having raced only twice. The form of him maiden when finishing second to Consort seems to be working out well and he followed that up with a victory in a Lingfield Maiden on the night Frankie Dettori won the Derby 11 days ago. He is one to watch in the market to see if there is any support but is one to likely take out of the race. The two fillies in the field are interesting contenders and on juvenile form aren’t without chances. Devonshire and Fadhayyil are the pair in question. Will McCreery’s Devonshire was third in the Irish 1000 Guineas and could give Pleascach a form boost. The only concern for her is the fast ground. Fadhayyil was fifth in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket but this could be her trip for now. On her second start last year she beat Black Cherry at Salisbury in a Maiden. That form received a nice boost last week when Black Cherry bolted up in a Handicap at Sandown, winning by 5l. Both are interesting runners to consider.
Toscanini would be my other selection. He is a consistent type and his efforts at this trip have seen some good seconds behind Gleneagles, as a two-year-old the standout. He was also runner up in the Chesham to Richard Pankhurst over this trip, which seems more ideal. The fact he is back to 110 after his third at Naas and his draw puts him on the right side of the track for my liking. There is a lot to like about this individual and you can say he’ll be staying on strongly in the finish. If there was cut in the ground then Fanciful Angel could have tempted at a price. However the firm conditions are likely to go against him. I still find Sir Isaac Newton a bit of an unknown quantity. His debut was behind Zawraq, who was ruled out of the Derby, and then he was second over 1m2f at Chester in a maiden before winning a weak race over this trip at Gowran. He could easily improve but there are doubts from my perspective.
Advice: Tupi (20/1 each-way)
Toscanini (16/1 each-way)
15:05 Queen Mary Stakes
Wesley Ward does well with two-year-olds at this meeting and Acapulco is meant to fit that bill. The tongue-tie is added to the blinkers suggesting that there may have been a breathing problem on her debut run when third on the dirt over 4.5f. The fact she is running in this would suggest she’s held in high regard but is one to watch with her being favourite. Besharah is unbeaten in two starts and hasn’t really been forced to break sweat. She won her debut over course and distance showing a good turn of foot to see off Kassia, who won on her next start. She is drawn on the high side, which is another positive and should go well for an in-form stable.
There are a few fillies in this field that I like. Rah Rah and Easton Angel are both in my tracker. Firstly Rah Rah has a nice pedigree, which is quite interesting from an Australian sire in Lonhro and an American dam in Rahiyah. He nearly made all to win at Chester on his second start but was caught before getting up at the line to take the win. There was a lot to like by that performance and despite the different ground conditions she should go well for Mark Johnston in the Sheikh Mohammed colours. The trainer spoke about stepping her up to 6f so the fact she is set to run here is interesting and personally think she can outrun her double figure price. Easton Angel was impressive to the eye when winning the Hilary Needler at Beverley last time out. Opal Tiara was second that day and she ran yesterday, finishing a fast finishing seventh in the Windsor Castle Stakes. There is pace on her side and coming from stall one will likely see her being held-up but a draw down the middle may have been more ideal. However I was looking for a bit more value on her, which the bookies aren’t really giving. She is very much in contention and it would be good for all connections to see her stay on strongly to win here.
Delizia is another Mark Johnston runner and she is unbeaten from her two starts. After her Maiden win at Wolverhampton she stepped up into Listed company and held her own when winning the Marygate Fillies Stakes at York; so far she is the only filly to have won a Listed race this season. Mark Johnston is really keen on her to run here and she sets a good standard on the back of that York success. She is seeing some early morning support in the market. One I think that could be worth chancing is the exciting looking Kurland for Martyn Meade. Her Maiden win at Newmarket was won in very good style, however the depth of it can be questioned with little to come out of it. However to the eye she did that well and this race should suit her well considering how strongly she ran on when the penny dropped to professionally see off her rivals. It is far to say she’ll probably go up in trip in the not too distant future. Her pedigree suggests she could be at her best this year with many relations winning big juvenile races. Her trainer has stated she has improved at home and they are happy enough to come here after only one start. At a similar price to Rah Rah in the market too gives you some good each-way value.
Her Majesty the Queen has a runner in Ring Of Truth however she could want further but cannot be discounted. A strongly ran 5f, like this, could prove to be bring the best out of her. She is a sister to Listed race winner Musical Comedy, also over 6f. She could run a big race at a bigger price. Cry Me A River went straight into a Listed race on debut but was fourth behind Round Two. He didn’t exactly hold the form up yesterday when disappointing in the Coventry Stakes yesterday, but Washington DC did when winning the Windsor Castle Stakes. She is likely to have improved for that run and is one to take a market check with.
Advice: Rah Rah (12/1 each-way)
Kurland (14/1 each-way)
15:40 Duke Of Cambridge Stakes
This Group 2 for Fillies and Mares was won last year by Integral, who is looking to defend her title. Her mark went up for that success 12 months ago and has remained on 117 in her four UK runs and a trip to France. After Royal Ascot success she followed that up with victories in Group 1 company. She won the Falmouth Stakes, at Newmarket where she beat Rizeena by 2l, and the Sun Chariot Stakes reversing the form with Esoterique, who beat her at Deauville; on top of that the Andre Fabre filly finished second to Solow yesterday in the Queen Anne Stakes. Her most recent run was against the males in the Lockinge and it was hugely creditable finishing fourth of 16. She sets a high standard and with Ryan Moore looking to add to his tally of three, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to go in. However she is really short in the market and with the dead eight going to post it is worth trying to find some potential value.
The pick is going to be a boring one really with it being Euro Charline. She is currently second in the market and that is for some good reasons. At this meeting last year she was third in the Coronation Stakes behind Rizeena. She has been improving run after run and built on that to win the Valiant Stakes (Listed Race) here at the track, in which she asserted herself towards the business end of the race. After that she was sent to America and picked up a Grade 1 win when Ryan Moore steered her to the Beverly D Sakes at Arlington Park where she stayed on strongly to beat Stephanie’s Kitten, a useful yardstick for American racing. That win came over 1m1f, so has that extra stamina to call upon in a race of this nature. In March she ran against the males in Meydan. She finished fourth in the Dubai Turf, which was won by Solow with The Grey Gatsby in second and Cladocera was in sixth. The French raider has a bit too find with her and Integral. That form looks impressive and strong. She was keen during that race and if she can be settled she poses a big threat to Integral, in what could be a tactical battle.
Looking at the tactics of this race then it is likely that either Euro Charline or outsider Amazing Maria will take the field along; if keen it is likely to be the Botti filly. The fact she has that extra reserve of stamina to call upon and has conditions to suit she does look like an ideal sort to be in the frame to give you a good run for your money.
Clive Brittain’s likeable Rizeena is three from three here at Ascot, winning twice as a juvenile over 5f and then winning the Coronation Cup last year. She is only 1lb higher than when winning at the meeting last year, so is likely to go well. At the end of last season she didn’t run bad races on soft ground at Newmarket and Deauville finishing second behind Integral and fourth behind Kingman. At Leopardstown at the end of the season she was second to Fiesolana, who hasn’t built on that win. However she stayed on well towards the end of the race, which was encouraging. Her reappearance was over 1m1f at Newmarket, which she didn’t see out but that was mainly a pipe opener to get her race fit for this effort. In the end that was won by Bragging and she is another Sir Michael Stoute runner here, but the step back down to a mile shouldn’t inconvenience her.
Overall Euro Charline is the one to take the favourite on with, especially with her Meydan form looking very strong, if she did well here then that is an added bonus to The Grey Gatsby in the next. Rizeena always runs her race and it would be nice to she her place, continuing her good track form.
Advice: Euro Charline (6/1 each-way)
16:20 Prince Of Wales Stakes
This looks a really intriguing renewal of this Group 1 with an international field to match. There are challengers from Ireland, France, Australia and Japan. The only downside is that American hopeful, who took the first two legs of the Triple Crown last year in California Chrome is a non-runner due to foot abscess.
Again I’m not fully convinced by the market and how it is shaping up overnight. Free Eagle heads the market and is the least exposed having only had four runs to his name. He won on debut by over 5l beating Orchestra and he went straight into Group company. His second start saw him take on Australia over a mile; he finished second and he didn’t make an impression staying on one-paced in the closing stages. He wasn’t then seen for just over a year and won on his reappearance in another Group 3 however none of this form looks relatively strong. Yes in his third start he was impressive, winning by 7l but the second hasn’t won since in six starts (only won three in 30 starts), the same can be said about the fourth while the fifth Qewy is now over hurdles and was fifth at the Cheltenham Festival in the Supreme behind Douvan. His latest start was 242 days ago when finishing a respectable third in the Champion Stakes on heavy ground, which didn’t suit. Noble Mission with Al Kazeem won that race second. He beat Western Hymn, Cirrus Des Aigles and Coronation Cup winner Pether’s Moon home. He missed his reappearance last month with a head cold and if fully recovered has claims here. He goes well fresh and the ground will suit however at that price and the looks of his form I’d rather go elsewhere.
The French raider Ectot hasn’t been seen since disappointing in the Arc at the end of last season. He had previously won over 1m4f in the Group 2 Prix Niel but this step down in trip could bring the best out of him with that extra stamina. However looking at the races most of his form comes with cut in the ground. The description of good to firm doesn’t give him that plus there is no water being applied overnight, so conditions may not be ideal. He wins races quite nicely to the eye but on form he needs to show more.
Japanese raider Spielberg does get conditions to suit. He won the Grade 1 Tenno Sho at Tokyo in November on rattling quick ground. He followed that up with a third in the Japan Cup at the same venue beaten by Epiphaneia and Just A Way, neither of that pair has done much since but had some good form racing in Meydan and at Longchamp in the Arc. His reappearance in April in the Sankei Osaka Hai was slightly disappointing finishing fourth, however the soft ground was an inconvenience. If he has handled the travelling then he is a live placing chance.
The Corsican is a horse on the up having won four from his last five starts. He has seen his mark go from 82 up to 111. His most recent start was his seasonal reappearance in the Festival Stakes Listed Race at Goodwood when showing a good turn of foot to see off his five rivals. He is a progressive type whom could still find a improvement for this race however it may come a bit too soon for him and the good to firm ground is also a negative considering his one start on it he finished albeit at an inadequate trip. Looking at his pedigree then he should act on fast ground considering his sire is Galileo. Personally I’m hoping he can outrun his odds but isn’t one I could be confident selecting.
Australian runner Criterion has only ran twice on this sort of quick ground. However that was at Sha Tin, Hong Kong, and on both starts he finished third in Group 1 races. He was third behind Designs On Rome in the Hong Kong up in December but he managed to reverse that form finishing a place ahead of it on his most recent start back at the track. However his Group 1 win came in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Randwick on soft ground, beating the charismatic veteran Red Cadeaux. Connections have stated he is a colt with a more ‘European build’ and they are happy with how he has travelled and worked at the track. However I have my reservations about the conditions suiting him. There are similar worries for the other French challenger Gailo Chop but he was a good second to Solow in a Group 1 at Longchamp last time out, which was his first start of the season and most likely a prep race to tune him up for this.
The Grey Gatsby disappointed on his most recent start at the Curragh when failing to pick up under Ryan Moore’s urging. The man of the moment takes the ride on Sir Michael Stoute’s rival Cannock Chase. Many have said the firm ground would be a worry but after winning his first ever start under these conditions plus beating Australia in the Irish Champion Stakes on this sort of ground. Oh and a second in the Juddmonte International Stakes at York behind Australia too. We know what we are going to get from this Kevin Ryan horse and with Jamie Spencer on board the tactics will be to make a late run to challenge close home. It wouldn’t surprise me to see him in the winners’ enclosure but will have to bounce back with first time cheekpieces after his most recent outing.
Cannock Chase, like The Grey Gatsby, is in my tracker and by process of elimination think he could be an each-way play. Like The Corsican he has to improve further but he won the Tercentenary Stakes here last year should relish this quick ground. His seasonal reappearance saw him finish third to Western Hymn but with conditions to suit he can reverse that form here. He followed that up with a second on soft ground at Chester in the Huxley Stakes where the ground was completely against him, so he did well to finish where he did. Ryan Moore will know how to get the best out of him here and could well hit the frame at a price. As mentioned Western Hymn is also in opposition but the ground may be too quick for his liking but he did win on firmer ground last time out. His trainer John Gosden won this race last year with The Fugue.
Advice: Cannock Chase (8/1 each-way)
17:00 Royal Hunt Cup
Get those pins ready! 30-runners over a mile. Crikey, good luck finding the winner. Where do I begin?
Favourites don’t tend to do too well in this race but in this year’s renewal it is hard to look away from the top of the market with some very nice types towards the fore.
My main fancy for the race is Spark Plug. He is a tracker horse, who was running over further last season and the drop down in trip has seen him close to his best. He was a winner last time out at Newbury beating Gm Hopkins. Jimmy Fortune settled him in rear before making his move down the near side and he showed a good turn of foot to go clear before Gm Hopkins got a run and closed towards the line. The John Gosden runner is definitely in contention, as this is a race that closers look likely to go well. On his seasonal reappearance he was second to Ayaar and that was a good effort at a big price first time out considering Brian Meehan runners always come on well for the run. For his win last time out the handicapper has only put him up by 5lb, which could be quite lenient. Drawn in stall 12 he is on the right side of the track and with all factors considered he looks one to go very well.
The Lincoln ran at Doncaster on the opening weekend of the flat season has lots of representatives here, including the winner Gabrial. However I’m more willing to take the second from the race in Mondialiste. He hit the front a little too early at Doncaster and was reeled in by Gabrial. He was put up 5lb for that and then stepped up to run in the Group 3 Sefton Stakes (1m1f) and finished a creditable third a place behind Arod, who has since won the Diomed Stakes at Epsom. That extra bit of stamina could be crucial here to see him make a late challenge, likely to be on the stands side rail, which may not be the most ideal overall. However if running close to that form he’ll go close. He recent run over course and distance in a Listed Race saw him finish third, as the beaten favourite, however that race didn’t give him a stiff enough test because the gallop wasn’t strong unlike what is anticipated in this race with the likes of Lincoln, Lamar and Piri Wango. Back in a handicap and the handicapper has given him 1lb back then he could go well for David O’Meara and William Buick.
Speculative Bid won the Victoria cup here last month over 7f and looked like he would stay the mile trip. Lincoln was in second hand has a change of tactics. He has to be respected despite a 10lb rise in by the handicapper. He is in the form of his life winning four of his last five runs and this race is likely to suit. Jamie Spencer is a jockey that has a good record on the straight mile here at Ascot and he will restrain his mount early on before running on late, if and when the gaps appear. Drawn in stall 14 is another positive, as it should give him track position down the middle or far side, which is where the winners were yesterday. It wouldn’t surprise me to notch up another winner on this David Elsworth four-year-old.
One to be weary of is Fort Bastion, who has been known to blow his chances at the start. Many of his Racing Post comments include ‘dwelt’, ‘slowly into stride’ and ‘awkward start.’ However David O’Meara brings the best out of horses and he won on his last start but needs to improve. Sam James has shown he is a useful pilot. Baraweez has been mentioned in previous posts as a selection. Brian Ellison has probably prepared him for this race and can’t be discounted easily. Field Of Dream won this last year coming off a break and does the same here. He is 6lb higher but things will likely fall into place and see him contend late in a finish. Jamie Osborne has a good record in this race and again could improve it further with this challenger. Temptress could be open to further improvement after winning a Fillies Handicap here 39 days ago. She is lightly raced and has won three of her six starts. She could run a big race from her mark. One to watch if strong in the market would be Munaaser, who races here off bottom weight.
Advice: Spark Plug (12/1 each-way)
Mondialiste (25/1 each-way)
Speculative Bid (11/1 each-way)
17:35 Sandringham Handicap
A Fillies race for three-year-olds over the straight mile completes the racing on day two ahead of Ladies Day tomorrow. It is really hard to look past Always Smile, who won a Handicap at Doncaster on her most recent start. From that race the second and third have won quite nicely since suggesting they are all good types. Her 11lb rise seems fair based on that and she does look like she could progress too much better starting here. She is likely to go off favourite and already takes up over a quarter of the market. Three favourites have taken the glory in this race over the last six years and she can add to that tally.
You have to be a forgiving type to trust Jellicle Ball. She could prove me wrong back at this level for a top yard however she needs to re-build upon her early promise after a disappointing run over this trip in the 1000 Guineas. She was upped to 1m2f on her latest appearance and was third at Goodwood in an Oaks trial to Lady Of Dubai, who finished third in the Classic. She could re-show her potential but not one I’m willing to chance. Similar can be said about Osaila, who Frankie Dettori thinks is his best chance to get to 50 Royal Ascot winners. She is carrying top weight, which is the worry here but if she can show her best she’ll go close considering she won the Group 3 Nell Gwyn Stakes. Her last start was in the 1000 Guineas and she was a well-beaten seventh of 13. Dropped back into this Handicap she could be dangerous however there are some lesser-exposed types.
Two runners in this race for Her Majesty the Queen and Touchline seems to be the better of the pair, with Pack Together, the other. Touchline was second over course and distance in April beaten by Sperry, who improved further to win at York next time out quite nicely. If she can build on that form then she’ll go close to troubling the judge. Her trainer Michael Bell told the Racing Post: “She has been trained with this in mind. The form of her conditions race has worked out very well. I’m happy with her form going into the race.” Michael Bell and Jamie Spencer teamed up to win this race in 2006 and 2009, so it could prove to be a useful pairing to follow.
Tazffin was second over 1m2f at York on her last start. The form at the moment is hard to read with nothing running from it since. Back down to a trip she won from previously she still has something to find but Roger Varian says she is a progressive type, so could outrun her odds. She has first time blinkers on, which have replaced the hood she has won on her last two appearances suggesting she is a quirky type. The occasion may end getting the better of her, as she has previously resisted entering the stalls.
One I’m willing to take a chance on is Kodiva. She is yet to win but has shown plenty of promise. Her debut was a good enough effort behind Shagah, that was followed up by a disappointing effort in a weaker maiden at Ayr but the ground may have been against her. She hasn’t been seen since November when finishing third at a big price to Irish Rookie and Lady Of Dubai in a Listed race. Irish Rookie finished second in the French 1000 Guineas while Lady Of Dubai was third in the Oaks. That form is working out and if running to a level of that then she should go close. Trainer Charlie Hills believes she is one to catch when fresh after saying she was slow to come to hand this year. She could be one to spring a surprise with things in her favour.
Advice: Always Smile (5/2 each-way)
Kodiva (20/1 each-way)