Royal Ascot: Day 5

Sadly today is the fifth and final day of racing at the Royal meeting. One man has dominated proceedings and yesterday Ryan Moore made it nine wins breaking the post war record of Lester Piggott and Pat Eddery.

That came in the last race of the day, a bit of a drought. The stamina doubts about Aloft were allayed when winning the Queen’s Vase seeing off Tommy Docc and Future Emprire.

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Muhaarar was an impressive winner of the inaugural Commonwealth Cup. He travelled well and quickened beautifully to be one of the most eye-catching winners of the week.

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Illuminate stayed on strongly to win the Albany Stakes to give Richard Hughes his first winner of the week. Hughes soon doubled up by riding Arab Dawn to victory in the Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes.

French challenger Ervedya saw off Found and Lucida to take the glory in the Coronation Cup. While, Balios took control of the King Edward VII Stakes. He is one that looks progressive and after sitting towards the rear came to challenge under Jamie Spencer. He picked up well to win.

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14:30 Chesham Stakes

This is a minimum stakes race in all honesty. With it being a race for two-year-olds with varying levels of experience it is hard to gauge how they will handle the occasion.

Tonkinese is going to be the tentative selection. This son of Authorized showed promise on debut when third to Coventry Stakes runner-up Air Force Blue. He followed that run up with a success as an odds-on favourite over this trip at Leopardstown 15 days ago. He was driven out inside the final furlong and took victory by 3l. His experience counted that day and it could well do here. This colt may not get the run of the race from the front like last time but can still make a bold showing on ground that he is proven on. Trainer Mick Halford had the second in this race 12 months ago.

Tonkinese (third in blue) behind Air Force Blue on debut. Image from Sporting Life

Tonkinese (third in blue) behind Air Force Blue on debut. Image from Sporting Life

The current favourite is Ballydoyle, who was fourth on her debut. Obviously she’ll come on for that effort and has a very good pedigree behind her. She is a full sister to Misty For Me, who was a four-time Group 1 winner. The form from that maiden is working out well with the second and third winning on their next starts.

Red Artist and Force are two worth mentioning. Simon Crisford sent his colt Red Artist to Newcastle for his debut two week ago. That maiden problem was the perfect opportunity for him to take victory, which he did driven out. He steps up to 7f here. John Gosden won this race last year and has two runners. Force is the one with experience after finishing third at Goodwood. The maiden is starting to work out, as the second won next time out. Experience and step up in trip are positives. Gosden’s other runner is Cymric, who is making his debut here. That in itself suggests he deserves respect and looking at his pedigree then he could be another two-year-old winner adding to those of his half-brothers.

Advice: Tonkinese (4/1 each-way)

15:05 Wolferton Handicap

Mahsoob has won all three starts so far in his short career. His two wins this season have come in big field handicaps, so he’ll more accustomed to this. At York on his latest start he was dropped out and held up near the back of the field. He seemed in trouble down the home start however he came down the stands side rail staying on strongly to win by a ½l. For that win he has gone up 9lb and in this field is still the one to beat. He holds a number of group entries for later in the season including the Coral-Eclipse and Prince Of Wales’s Stakes. Despite all the positives he is too short in this sort of field, so I’m looking for some value.

Mahsoob looking to make it four from four. Image from Coral

Mahsoob looking to make it four from four. Image from Coral

This is where I would turn to Andrew Balding’s Collaboration, who completed the hat-trick at Chester in an 11-runner handicap. However his three wins have been on good (twice) and that win at Chester was on soft. His overall record on good to firm in three starts is two last places and fifth of eight, therefore there are some major ground worries.

I’m willing to give Sennockian Star another chance. He won a Class 2 Handicap at Chester on ground described as good to firm last Saturday. He did that nicely enough where he tracked the leaders before pouncing late and decisively to win. He has gone up 5lb for that success but that mark is something he can still work off, as he has previously won off 106. It’s good to see that Franny Norton taking the ride because I feel he gets the best out of this five-year-old; from his four starts on this one he has three wins. He was fourth in this race last year off a mark of 102 and was pulled out of the Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes yesterday. A wide draw isn’t a problem, as Arab Dawn showed yesterday and Space age proved on Thursday. If Franny Norton can get him near the pace then he is a big player.

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First Flight was third behind Mahsoob at York. He will be one doing his best work late. My main concern for this one is he is a hold-up horse and is drawn from stall one. He’s quite lightly raced and that York run was his seasonal debut therefore he should strip fitter for that and definitely has claims in this. Educate won the Cambridgeshire in 2013 but hasn’t won since. His mark is now 1lb lower than that success so could be back to something where we see his best. His most recent outing was when 2l behind The Corsican at Goodwood in a Listed race. The Corsican subsequently finished fourth in the Group 1 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes on Wednesday. If he can run somewhere near to that then he could take home some place money.

Advice: Sennockian Star (14/1 each-way)

15:40 Harwicke Stakes

The Luca Cumani runner Postponed is the pick here. He last raced at the Curragh 27 days ago when third of six in the Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup behind Roger Charlton’s Al Kazeem and Dermot Weld’s Fascinating Rock. In that race, over 1m2f, he led and was only caught late on. Tactically he may have to do the same here, as there is not a natural pace angle in this race with most usually trackers or sitting towards the back. His two efforts over this trip have both been wins; he won the Great Voltigeur at York in August beating Snow Sky, who has since won the Yorkshire Cup. The fact that he is back up to this trip may help to see him progress further and for me looks the one to beat.

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The Sir Michael Stoute runners are off putting. During this meeting he has had 13 runners and no winners. On top of that his best finish is Consort’s third of five, while three of his runners (Capel Path, Stravagante and Yarrow) have been pulled up. In this race he has three of the seven runners with Telescope, Snow Sky and Hillstar set to line up. Telescope is the current favourite and he won this race last year to add to the trainer’s fine record in this race. He followed that up with a second behind Taghrooda here in the King George. His two starts this season have seen him finish second in the Group 2 Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket before winning a Listed race at Newbury. He is problem the one to beat but isn’t one that I get right; that and trainer form are my question marks.

Snow Sky is one that you shouldn’t be scared of backing to run into a place. She won the Yorkshire Cup last time out beating Brown Panther with a strong finish and if a strong pace is set then that should suit her better than most with the extra stamina. She was third in the St Leger in August and beat Windshear in the Group 3 Gordon Stakes. She isn’t out of her depth and could go well at a big price and make a mockery of my concerns about Sir Michael Stoute.

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Eagle Top won the King Edward VII Stakes at this meeting last year in impressive fashion. For that win alone he was give a 16lb hike in the weights and he is just 1lb off the top-rated Telescope in this race. His return was inadequate but it was his first start for ten months plus the trip over 1m2f didn’t suit. Quick ground over this 1m4f is something he’ll relish and is likely to go well for John Gosden and Frankie Dettori.

Advice: Postponed (10/3 win)

 

16:20 Diamond Jubilee Stakes

This race is part of the British Champions Series and Global Sprint Challenge. It sees top Australian sprinter Brazen Beau challenge for Group 1 honours. His record is impressive winning five of his ten starts and last time out won the Group 1 Newmarket Handicap at Flemington by nearly 3l. Chautauqua, who finished second in that race, won a Group 1 next time out suggesting that the winner was a seriously good one. The Newmarket Handicap has previously been by other Australian Royal Ascot winners such as Black Caviar, Takeover Target and Scenic Blast. On paper he is the one to beat. Again if he has travelled and settled well into the country then he can run a big race. He has been training at Newmarket, so should be in good order for this to give the Aussies some cheer ahead of the Ashes.

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Another contender is Wandjina, who won the Australian Guineas. He is saddled by Gai Waterhouse and is likely to be one staying on at the finish. His record suggests he is more of a 7f to a mile type of horse but at this trip with a quick speed then he could be one to relish this test of stamina. In the end this could be set up for him if the leaders go too quick. He does have Group form however he has only race once on good to firm ground; there are showers forecast, which may play into his favour.

For each-way purposes Tropics is one that can fill a place. This is a trappy renewal and Dean Ivory’s seven-year-old is usually a solid enough performer. He bounced back to some form on his first seasonal start when beating Lucky Kristale at Windsor in a Listed race and his mark is constantly the same. He won the Group 3 Bengough Stakes here in 2013 beating Music Master then won the Hopeful Stakes (Listed race) at Newmarket last August. He comes into this with a fairly good record and is another that one would like to see a shower before racing. Dean Ivory told the Racing Post: “He’s in great form – the best ‘I’ve ever had him.” I’m hopeful of a big run. Drawn down the middle in stall eight is another positive, there doesn’t seem any track bias but at least this gives the jockey the opportunity to sit where he feels comfortable and find the better ground.

Tropics can build on Windsor win. Image Sky Sports

Tropics can build on Windsor win. Image Sky Sports

The grey Glass Office caused a surprise win when taking the Duke Of York Stakes on the Knavesmire at odds of 40/1. He did that quite takingly to the eye staying on strongly to deny Mattmu the prize. If he can show similar form here he can easily defy the 7lb rise and pull off a career best. His stablemate Caspar Netscher won a Canadian Group 2 in October but hasn’t shown much back on these shores. His best effort was third behind Glass Office at York, for which he has gone back up 3lb to 111.

Due Diligence was second in this race last year behind Slade Power and will be aiming to go one better. Ryan Moore takes the ride, so he’ll probably attract some support prior to the race. After that run he was diagnosed with a hairline fracture, which ruled him out for the rest of the season. His reappearance saw him finish seventh of 11 at the Curragh in April and he should come on for that run but he is 1lb higher than last year.

Advice: Brazen Beau (7/2 each-way)

            Tropics (12/1 each-way)

17:00 Wokingham Stakes

The penultimate race of the week is a nice easy one to solve with just the 28 runners going to post.

Rene Mathis has been racing over 7f on his last four starts and drops back to this 6f trip for this. He is one of the more likely leaders in this field and could potentially use that extra bit of stamina to fend off any closers. However the concern is the quick ground in his case. French horse Robert Le Diable can also lead but is one that has tried a variety of trips. He has finished second in two Group 3 races, one over 7f and the other over 5f, when behind Mecca’s Angel. Again the ground may be against him.

Huntsmans Close is one that is progressing slowly and can run a big race here. He won the Ayr Silver Cup in September and despite being keen early on was able to find the gaps to stay on strongly to win. He made his reappearance on 1000 Guineas day when just being beaten by Eastern Impact. He ran on strongly again and only lost by a shoulder. Those two mentioned races saw fields of 26 and 22 respectively so there is no issue with him being in this. The form from the Newmarket Handicap may not be the strongest but he is the type you need in this sort of race.

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Another winner at York was Algar Lad. He is one of four runners for trainer David O’Meara, who has already had a winner this week. This five-year-old gelding was a winner at York last time out and for that has been risen 6lb by the handicapper. However he had shown good progress and form over 5f last year and won a Handicap here in September where he stayed on strongly. He has arguably improved for the step-up to 6f and despite this being tougher than York he can outrun his odds and again prove his trainer has the magic touch. Drawn in stall 23 isn’t probably the most ideal but he is one that has shown improvement and worth a crack at this.

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Tatlisu was fourth behind Algar Lad at York and remains off the same mark. Ryan Moore asked to take this ride for Richard Fahey suggesting he felt he could get a similar tune out of it. He is one that may prefer the forecasted showers. In first time blinkers but previous headgear hasn’t seen any improvement. Drawn in stall 26 isn’t really ideal. Polybius is getting some morning attention in the market. This four-year-old has progressed well for David Lanigan and on his reappearance at York was staying on but only managed to finish 14 of 17. He will be fitter and sharper for that run. This is a new type of race for him but could have the potential to go well of his current mark.

Zarwaan was fifth in the Britannia Stakes last year over the mile and that has been his predominant trip. He was sixth in the Lincoln at Doncaster over the same distance before taking his chance in the Victoria Cup, finishing seventh. He could easily improve for those efforts and returning to 6f could bring the best out of him using his stamina to record a second winner for trainer Ed Dunlop at this meeting.

Advice: Huntsmans Close (12/1 each-way)

            Algar Lad (25/1 each-way)

17:35 Queen Alexandra Stakes

The final race of the Royal meeting is a test of stamina with a 2m5f event. Willie Mullins and Ryan Moore team up with the favourite Wicklow Brave and easily won both starts on the flat. Those two tests have been over 1m6f and 2m, plus they were on heavy ground, which leaves a question mark about him going on this quicker ground. He is a very good hurdler and won the County Hurdle at Cheltenham, so has proven class there. He is likely to stay and comes from a yard that won this race last year with Pique Sous and back in 2012 with Simenon. However I’m not sure I could back him at his current price.

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I’d prefer to chance the Mark Johnston runner Oriental Fox. He’s raced in some very high quality events including the Gold Cup at this meeting last year when finishing fifth – after the disqualification of Estimate. That would suggest he is a stayer and will get this trip. That Gold Cup was ran on good to firm ground, as was his last start 357 days ago at Newcastle when staying on strongly to finish sixth in the Northumberland Plate. Despite that absence of nearly a year, it shouldn’t be one to worry too much. He has shown some form after a break, so it’s not too much of a concern. I’m a little surprised he remains off the mark of 105 but then again he has shown form in Group races on the flat.

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Marzocco won over 2m on the all-weather at Chelmsford in March before going to Meydan and finishing ninth in the Dubai Gold Cup, won by Brown Panther. He comes back and runs off a 2lb lower mark, which is somewhat surprising and gives him a good chance to go close here. He was also fifth in last year’s St Leger, so this drop in class makes him warrant some respect. The blinkers are on today replacing the visor. Another positive is that he was third in last year’s Queen’s Vase where he was hampered in the closing stages or he may have got closer to the winner.

You would need to take a leap of faith if backing Rawaki. His most recent efforts have been over 1m4f but he has won over 1m6f previously. However this will be a stiffer test of his stamina, something his pedigree doesn’t scream. He has solid form claims finishing second behind Ayrad in a Goodwood Listed race last time and was previously fourth here to the highly progressive Agent Murphy. His trainer Andrew Balding admitted stamina doubts but said: “You never know until you try.”

Times Up was third in the Group 2 Lonsdale Cup at York last year and is one that is more than likely to see out this trip. His trainer Ed Dunlop won the Gold Cup with Trip To Paris and believes his gelding is likely to stay this trip here. The stiffer tests seem to suit him better and he is one that could outrun his odds.

Advice: Oriental Fox (8/1 each-way)

Good Luck!

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