Preview: Royal Ascot – Thursday Selections

Twilight Son

Wednesday turned out to be a pretty horrible day from a betting point of view. I guess you could say Bossy Guest was an unlucky loser in the first. A better pace and he probably wins it. Can’t fault the horse, finished well enough. The rest of the day…. well, it didn’t get any better, That’s probably fair to say. So let’s look ahead. There is great racing on tomorrow.

>>Comprehensive Preview for the Gold Cup: Read Here <<

Tercentenary Stakes, 1m 2f

Excellent renewal for this Group 3. Favourite Time Best is a very exciting colt. He won a good Handicap at York recently; couldn’t done that in any better fashion. He’s lovely bred and has all the right credentials to win this race. Only slight concern is the fast ground which he never encountered before.

Main dangers should come from Peacock and the only filly in the race, Irish raider Bocca Baciata. The former one is a Paco Boy son and has improved nicely this year from a fine Kempton run on his seasonal debut, over a runner-up effort behind subsequent Derby winner Golden Horn, to an authoritative Listed race success at Newmarket when upped in trip last month. He stays 10f and acts on quick ground. Good chance.

The Irish filly won a really good 10f race at Navan earlier this year, which is extremely strong form. She lacked the speed in the Irish 1.000 Guineas afterwards when dropped in trip, though. But she travelled really well that day and back up in trip must be taken seriously. Although it’s never easy against the boys.

Couple more could feature, like progressive Disegno or even Mustadeem, who may find this race more suitable than when second behind Peacock in a trappy affair.

One shouldn’t forget to mention the Dermot Weld’s runner Don Camillo. Lightly raced and progressive on the All-Weather, he won a Dundalk maiden in great fashion and travelled all over older more experienced rivals in a Handicap off a mid-90 mark the next time. He was outstayed eventually but should have learned plenty.

He was thought to be good enough to warrant an entry for the US Triple Crown series, though he didn’t take it up eventually. Nonetheless quite well bred, by a Breeders Cup Classic winner, Don Camillo is likely to relish the fast conditions at Ascot. With further improvement to come, he’s a very lively outsider in this field.

Don Camillo @ 33/1 Stan James – 5pts Win

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Ribblesdale Stakes, 1m 4f

Irish 1000 Guineas winner Pleascach is a warm favourite for this Fillies’ Group 2. She steps up markedly in trip, though is expected to take to it without a problem. She won over 10f earlier this year and the Guineas was run as a real test of stamina, which suited her. She’ll take plenty of beating if she runs to her official rating.

Second favourite Pamona was a bit unlucky in a Listed event recently. But she doesn’t strike me as a filly who wants much further than 10 furlongs. The same goes for progressive Curvy, who was able to beat a well fancied stable mate the last time.

Aiden O’Brien’s Wedding Vow has been a disappointing favourite in the Lingfield Oaks trial. She didn’t get the run of the race there and seemed to lack focus in the closing stages. Blinkered for the first time she could be much sharper here. But she is still a maiden and her form is far from special.

If you want to take on the top notch Bolger filly – and I am prepared to do that – you better don’t underestimate John Gosden’s charge Gretchen. Only a one time raced maiden winner to date, one should really watch her debut run at Newmarket, where she made a very big impression on me.

She was green – naturally – slowly out of the gates too, but then settled well and made gradually progress. I liked the way she went through the gears travelling on the outside to increase the heat step by step. She was only pushed out, never saw the stick, but won a useful maiden in authoritative style in the end.

This filly looks exceptional from a physical point of view and is equally bred to be a star; she is open to any amount of improvement. John Gosden must think allot of her to throw her in at the deep end here, but if she can overcome inexperience, she must be one who is able to give the favourite something to think about.

Gretchen @ 11/1 Paddy Power – 5pts Win

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Britannia Stakes, 1 mile

As always in these big Handicaps, the race may be decided where the pace is coming from. It’s hard to break it down in this field I’ve to admit – it could go either way.

Two horses stand out from a value perspective in this huge field: Certainly it’s Mr. Halford’s lightly raced Portage. I missed the 14’s but still think 12/1 is rather big – as long as he gets a run; he’ll be hard to beat by any horse here. I come to this rather bold conclusion because I believe this lad is extremely well handicapped.

He earned glowing reports from his trainer after winning a Curragh maiden second time out towards the end of last season. It’s pretty strong form but he was always sure to improve for the step up to 1m. He reappeared at the Curragh over 1m in a hot Handicap in May, taking on some older, experienced and seasoned horses. He travelled really well, made eye-catching progress but never got a run on the inside and was eased eventually.

It’s rare to see in Ireland, but here the Handicapper has been lenient. He dropped Portage by 2lb! Of course I might be wrong but to me this individual looks a good 10 to 15 pounds better and could easily turn out to be a Stakes performer.

Second horse to highlight is another Godolphin charge: Emirates Airline. He absolutely demolished a 1m maiden field at Chelmsford on his seasonal debut and followed up at Newmarket in a good Handicap over 10f with a fine performance. He was very keen early on – that’s why the hood is added this time – and was let lose by his jockey soon after the start. He just got outstayed in the dying strides.

The drop in trip back to 1m will suit him I feel, so should the likely fast pace in this race. It should keep him settled and occupied throughout. I fancy him to outrun his big price tag.

Portage @ 12/1 Coral – 5pts Win
Emirates Airline @ 33/1 Coral – 5pts Win

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King George V Stakes, 1m 4f

Surprisingly many of these 19 runners look vulnerable from a pure stamina point of view. Only four distance winners in the field, which one could rather easily oppose on form, while the rest tries the trip for the first time in most cases and only very few seem actually suited by the 1m 4f distance. That says two individuals stand out for me in terms of the improvement like to come for the new trip.

First one is Dartmouth – he is out of a Group 3 winning Galileo mare, so should be capable of getting 12 furlongs. He finished 4th in the legendary 10f Sandown Handicap which made Jack Hobbs a temporary favourite for the Epsom Derby. He subsequently won a Handicap himself; same place, same trip. Positive tactics worked and he just held on to win in a photo.

He’s far from flashy but looks one who’ll be better with time as well as when stepping up in trip. His revised mark off 83 seems more than fair. In fact it might underestimate his true potential given his sexy breeding.

As an alternative, but equally sure to improve for 12 furlongs, I select Maxwell. He’s not a quick horse by any means, but has been progressive this season, starting with a success on the Wolverhampton playtrack over 9f. He followed up at Salisbury on his Handicap debut when upped to 10f.

Both times he was going away in the final 100 yards or so, clearly indicating his superior stamina reserves. There is indeed enough stamina on his dam side to support the visual impression and I expect him to improve for the new trip. A mark off 86 doesn’t need to be the end for him.

Dartmouth @ 14/1 Paddy Power – 5pts Win
Maxwell @ 20/1  Paddy Power – 5pts Win

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