Tag Archives: Ascot

Preview: Royal Ascot Gold Cup 2020

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Three-in-a-row for Stradivarius? The defending champion bids for hat-trick glory in the Gold Cup this afternoon. But he’s facing a stiff test in an intriguing contest that will need him to be at his very best.

In short: Stradivarius looks vulnerable. It’s no rocket science to see why that is. Even though he looked as good as ever at Newmarket a fortnight ago when chasing home  Ghaiyyath in the Coronation Cup, the reality is that this was a much tougher race than John Gosden would have liked.

He was clearly ridden with a bigger day in mind in the closing stages, but that doesn’t distract from the fact that he ran some incredibly strong sectionals in the middle part of the race. Those must have hurt and could easily have left a mark as well.

While it was positive to see Stradivarius ran so well on his seasonal return over a trip possibly a little bit too sharp against top-class rivals, it also increases the opportunity, particularly with the rather short turnaround time, of having done too much that day with too little recovery time since then.

The pace in this renewal of the Gold Cup is another question mark. One can assume there’s a good deal of early speed here with quite a few potential horses keen to keep the pace honest. The excellent Kevin Blake makes some useful points in his assessment of the race on that part.

Stradivarius usually quickens at the end of a staying contest when tracking a moderate pace comfortably throughout. Will he be able to do the same in a strongly run contest over the Gold Cup distance?

With that in mind it’s obvious to me that Stradivarius is poor value at his odds-on price. This brings me to the questions who’s the rival that’s going to deny him the hat-trick victory?

The obvious option is Technician. Martyn Meade’s progressive colt enjoyed a particularly fruitful 2019: a listed-, Group 3- and Group 2 success, ultimately rounded up by the cherry on the cake, the Group 1 Prix Royal-Oak.

He thrives in the mud, hence connections will be delighted with all the rain that has arrived at Ascot. Will it be quite soft enough, though? Possibly. He’s certainly a fair price with the going change in mind.

A former Melbourne Cup winner has to be respected. And to this day Cross Counter‘s Flemington victory rates as one of the most pleasing ones I have ever experiences from a punting experience.

He wasn’t too far beaten in last years Gold Cup and subsequently in the Goodwood Cup, nonetheless was beaten fair and square both times by Stradivarius. A disappointing effort in the Irish St. Leger, followed by a another strong performance in the Melbourne Cup, shows he can be a little bit inconsistent.

Cross Counter was a hot favourite in Riyadh earlier this year, before another bid for the Dubai Gold Cup was on the agenda. It’s hard to know which Cross Counter we get today. He will need to be back to his best to land a blow, though.

Even though able to perform well with cut in the ground, his very best comes on a fast surface. Therefore I feel Nayef Road will struggle today, although his comeback at Newcastle was quite excellent.

Cross Counter stable mate Moonlight Spirit is the one that intrigues me most. Gelded over the winter and surprisingly bullish comments by Charlie Appleby (who’s usually rather reserved in the assessment of his horses) are clearly noteworthy.

But also the form of this generally low mileage 4-year-old points upwards. At the end of last season he won a Group 3 at Longchamp over 1m 7f in taking style before going down to Technician in the Prix Royal-Oak, albeit only in the final 100 yards of the race, after leading for a long time.

Soft ground won’t be a worry today, given those last runs, although the fact it won’t be quite as deep as those times at Longchamp is probably of benefit. The stamina question is out there in the open. We’ll have to find out today. His pedigree offers hope and the fact he clearly stayed long distances with plenty of juice on the ground already, offers even more hope.

At given prices, with potentially more to comer over the longer trips, I feel Moonlight Spirit is a little bit overpriced in an open enough contest.

Selection:
10pts win – Moonlight Spirit @ 11.5/1 SM

Preview: Royal Ascot 2020 – Tuesday

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No crowds, no hats, no queen arriving in her carriage at the scene – it’s gonna be a different Royal Ascot to what we’re accustomed to. But then you could say that about nearly everything these days.

Historically I’ve been burnt badly at the Royal meeting. I can’t remember the last time I left the week with the tiniest of profits. I’ll keep a low profile this week, that’s for sure, and instead enjoy the sport for the most part. I can’t help myself, though, and have two selections for day one:

1.50 – Group 1, Queen Anne Stakes, 1 mile

A rather wide open affair where I can make a case for half a dozen in the field which means some of the bigger prices are certainly attractive. Nonetheless I narrowed it down to less than a handful of prime candidates.

The obvious one is Circus Maximus: he has every chance to be an even better four-year-old after a prolific 2019 season. He’s been consistently running well, including when landing the St. James’s Palace Stakes twelve months ago.

He’s clearly the one to beat, although I continue to have a niggling doubt that there are days where h’s finding one or two horses too fast over the mile trip – let’s not forget he was once thought to have a decent shot at the Derby, given his pedigree.

Memories of Terebellum’s impressive Dahlia victory are still fresh. A lightly raced and progressive four-year-old, she should have enough ability to be competitive over a mile, but her price is way too short for me to get involved.

Completely overlooked appears Mustashry, though. Judged on his career-best Lockinge Stakes success from last year he would be the horse they all have to chase home, actually. A topspeed rating of 108 is a standout in this field.

Whether he can run to that sort of level again remains to be seen and his fitness has to be trusted. He ran better than the bare forms suggest in his subsequent defeats last year, before finishing his 2019 campaign on a high note thanks to a fine Group 2 success.

Mustashry is a consistent horse, albeit the oldest in the race, conditions and racing style should be a good fit in this renewal of the Queen Anne. He is certainly overpriced.

Selection:
10pts win – Mustashry  @ 14/1

………

3.00 – Group 2, King Edward VII Stakes, 1m 4f

We will find out if the hype around Mogul is real. Currently as short as 11/2 in the Derby market, he appears to be team Ballydoyle’s prime chance for the Epsom Classic. 

Mogul steps up to the 1m 4f trip for the first time, having raced entirely over a mile as a juvenile. Given his breeding he can be expected to improve significantly for the new distance. On the other hand he has to show significant improvement because he was no more than a fine juvenile, particularly by Aiden O’Brien standards.

He had four runs last year, the highlight a Group 2 success at Newmarket. However, Mogul’s best performance only awarded him a lowly 84 tospeed rating. That doesn’t sound like odds-on favourite to me.

His stable mate Arthur’s Kingdom can’t be underestimated as improvement is likely to come for the new trip as well. Papa Power and Pyledriver have shown good form on the All-Weather and it will be interesting to see how much more there is to come.

Undoubtedly the most intriguing horse in this lineup is Mohican Heights. After a successful debut at Leopardstown in May last year he changed hands for £520k.

Since then he won the Listed Stonehenge Stakes at Salisbury finishing really strongly to win by 2 lengths, when having recent Kempton Classic Trial winner Berlin Tango behind in third (who beat Pyledriver fair and square at Kempton.

Word is Mohican Heights has wintered well, progressed physically – which he had to – and with loads of improvement to be expected from stepping up in trip, given his pedigree – which makes it all the more remarkable that as a late may foal he was able to win on debut a hot Spring maiden over 7 furlongs – he has a prime chance in this race.

Selection:
10pts win – Mohican Heights @ 9/2

…….

What else is there to see on the opening Day of Royal Ascot? No further bets for me, but that doesn’t detract from the interest in some fascinating contests.

The King’s Stand Stakes is the obvious to mention. Battaash looks nearly impossible to beat in this. There is no Blue Point this time. He wasn’t quite his brilliant best when a beaten runner-up by that rival in this very race the last two years.

Truth told: Battaash can only beat himself here. A good Battaash is still well ahead of anyone else in this field. He is so much faster. That’s the question of the day: will he finally taste success at the Royal meeting?

The Ribblesdale Stakes is a slightly underwhelming event. Make no mistake, Frankly Darling is exciting on the back of her performance at Newcastle. But there is not much else here, is there?

Although, intrigue is added by the addition of Miss Yoda, who won a rather poor Lingfield Oaks Trial, and steps down in trip. With a good run here she can enhance her credentials.

The one from Team AOB I’m most interested in is Ennistymon. She won a maiden only a week ago, needed every inch of the ten furlongs and looks set to show much more for the additional distance.

I leave you here with the 2019 Nunthorpe Stakes: wetting the appetite, with what was Battaash’s best performance, awarding him a 123 tospeed rating!

 

Saturday Selections: January, 18th 2020

Ascot Grand Stand, by Florian Christoph

12.30 Lingfield: Class 6 Handicap, 1m 4f

Presence Process makes a lot of appeal dropping further and further in his mark, now below 50. His latest effort over course and distance was positive, given there looked a spark there for first time headgear.

He probably got a little bit too much locked up in an early battle for the lead, subsequently was pulled back and then didn’t quite have the kick in the home straight, nonetheless finished well enough to see him winning again.

He loves this CD, has ran multiple times to higher speed ratings than his now lowly 49 rating and must have a prime chance in a poor contest.

The key will be the early parts of the race, though: drawn in 9 is a negative.

Selection:
10pts win – Presence Process @ 8/1 MB

……….

2.25 Ascot: Grade 3 Handicap Hurdle, 2m3½f

It’s probably not the best of signs that he is on the drift with the high street, but I remain quietly hopeful at the very least that Pic D’orhy is a good deal better than his 146 rating and will show it today.

Connections have always said he’s a chaser in the making. Nonetheless, he showed plenty of promise in France over hurdles, in deep ground and I feel the trip and conditions today will suit him.

Granted it is a competitive field. 2m3½f fell the last time at Autil in Grade 1 company a long way from the finish. He made his Nicholls debut at Cheltenham in the Triumph Hurdle where he travelled strongly until a blunder at the second last that ended his chances.

He’s still a young horse, will little millage on the clock and more to come. If he’s a class horse for the future he will need to show something good today against this opposition. At given prices I am inclined to be on his side.

Selection:
10pts win – Pic D’orhy @ 13/2 MB

……….

4.25 Meydan: Handicap, 7 furlongs

One that caught my eye two weeks ago here at Meydan in a competitive mile handicap was Moqarrar. He started well but was soon pulled back and before hitting the turn switched to the widest outside of the field travelling five deep.

As a consequence Moqarrar lost a lot of ground and had to do more than others in order to stay in touch burning vital energy. The gelding fought on gamely though hitting top gear entering the home straight and looked in with a good shout for the placings but faded eventually.

That was a strong performance taking circumstances into considerations. He can race of 2lb lower today, although drops to 7 furlongs, which may not be a big deal as he won over this trip as a juvenile in the UK.

I imagine he’ll jump out of the gate to be much closer to the pace today in hands of Jim Crowley and if getting a clear run should have a strong chance to outrun his price at the very least.

Selection:
10pts win – Moqarrar @ 11/1 WH

Saturday Selections: September, 7th 2019

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5.00 Kempton: Class 4 Handicap, 1m 3f

Very few of these have shown any form to shout about, but the one that seems undervalued in the market is the filly Inclyne – likely undervalued given her slightly more exposed profile.

However she is rather unexposed on the All-Weather, after only one start to date, one she won easily last time out here at Kempton over 12 furlongs.

Granted, that was not an overly strong contest, and the pace was slow as well, but the way she quickened and put matters to bed in the final two furlongs as easy as you like was impressive.

It was a performance that I liked particularly in the context of her Nottingham 3rd place, 3/4 of lengths beaten only in a very hot contest that worked out incredibly strongly in the meantime; proving that was probably true form for her to run to such a level.

Interestingly, despite the fact it was not an overly strong race, Inclyne achieved an 82 topspeed rating last months here at Kempton. That’s pretty decent for this grade as well and no other horse in the field has achieved it yet. Inclyne can run of a 78 handicap mark today, so she may have a bit in hand, actually.

I don’t think the drop in trip is an issue. I can see a well run 11 furlongs to suit. The draw is wider than ideal. But that’s the risk worth to take.

Selection:
10pts win –Inclyne @ 5/1 MB

……….

5.05 Ascot: Class 3 Handicap, 5f

His price continues to drop, and that is not only because of the N/R, I feel: Koditime appears to be incredibly well handicapped having his preferred conditions today, dropping further in the weights as well as in grade.

Only once the 4-year-old raced below class 2 level (apart from maiden company of course) and that was fantastic victory at York over the minimum trip on fast ground last year. Koditime ran to topspeed 93 that day and followed up with another strong runner-up performance at Windsor subsequently, achieving a 95 TS rating.

He was found out in higher grade and has gone backward ever since, despite the use of various headgear. He started this season of a mark of 94 and ran pretty damn well when only two lengths beaten on his seasonal reappearance at York. But he hasn’t kicked on from there which has resulted in his dramatic fall in the handicap mark down to 84 now!

Maybe he lost the appetite for racing, but if there is anything left in him, given he hinted to have retained some ability earlier this season, then he has a massive chance to win today.

Selection:
10pts win – Koditime @ 11.5/1 MB

…….

5.25 Thirsk: Class 3 Handicap, 1m 4f

Connections seem to have found a prime opportunity for Aiya to score finally on turf today. This race isn’t all that strong, albeit it is a class 3 Handicap and the gelding remains a turf maiden, so confidence has to be seen in that context.

But the 4-year-old was a little bit unlucky not get his head in front on grass yet, because he got close at Redcar when beaten by a neck. He hasn’t quite followed up, however, as a result has fallen to a sexy handicap mark of 76.

He ran to topspeed 80 in that mentioned Redcar race and clocked 77 on the All-Weather in the past – so with conditions likely to suit it is easy to why money is coming for this lad.

The trip is the question mark. Yes he has won over 1m 4f already, but it certainly stretches him, particularly if he is keen in the early stages of a race which he has shown more than once in the past. So stepping up from 10 furlongs to 12 furlongs that will be the delicate job David Allen in the saddle to figure out how to manage, as he also has to deal with a less than ideal draw.

Regardless, overall at given prices Aiya is an intriguing runner here.

Selection:
10pts win – Aiya @ 10/1 MB

Wednesday Selections: May, 1st 2019

Newmarket Rowley Mile after race

Finished April with a winner and thanks to that with a small profit. Ashazuri (6/1) finished her race really nicely and took advantage of the featherweight she carried. It could have been so much better, but both The British Lion and Chaplin Bay only managed third place.

Well, on to May now…. where the flat kicks properly into gear. The Guineas and Kentucky Derby looming large on the horizon – exciting!

…….

5.00 Ascot: Class 4 Handicap, 5 furlongs

Top weight Tomily drops down to class 4 as well as to a sexy mark – he’s an obvious choice in an open contest, where many could put claim on running well, but few appear truly well handicapped.

Tomily ran well enough on his seasonal reappearance in a hot race at Kempton last month. That’s a positive after his form clearly tailed off in the second half of last year.

However he was competing in much hotter grade than this today of much higher marks. He managed to run to TS ratings of 90+ on three occasions in 2018, albeit on the All-Weather. But he was also less than 3 lengths beaten in a strong class 3 sprint at Ripon in May.

So, if Tomily can regain anything near his best today he’ll be hard to beat in hands of a very capable 5lb claimer in the saddle.

Selection:
10pts win – Tomily @ 15/2 MB

……..

7.25 Brighton: Class 6 Handicap, 7 furlongs

Maazel is frustrating horse to follow, usually having a few issues at the start and then running consistently into trouble, so the last few times on the All-Weather as well as three weeks ago here over course and distance.

He got a few bumps along the way, made up a lot of ground after starting slowly but was squeezed badly inside the final furlong.

He’s down a mark of 55 now. That looks definitely a handy mark, given he ran to higher TS ratings in the past on turf and AW, most recently in March at Lingfield when he ran to a TS rating of 58. So if he can get a clear run in what appears not to be a particularly strong race, he should go close.

Selection:
10pts win – Maazel @ 15/2 MB

Betting Preview: Champion Stakes

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3.30 Ascot: British Champion Stakes, 1m 2f

On paper this is likely a match between odds-on favourite Cracksman and top rated Crystal Ocean. It’s also the duel of the super sires Frankel vs. Sea The Stars.

Cracksman is the one who’s likely to enjoy the soft going the little more. First time blinkers after a surprising defeat at Ascot when last seen is an interesting move by John Gosden. Personally I judge this as a big minus. One couldn’t help but feel, despite his early season wins, that Cracksman isn’t as good – or shall we rather say focused – as he was last season. The Coronation Cup scare already was a revealing hint, I feel.

On prices I probably would favour Crystal Ocean. He’s 4lb higher rated at the moment. Something to take with a pinch of salt, nonetheless it tells a story of a horse who’s at the top of his game.

In saying that, Crystal Ocean continues to chase the elusive Group 1 victory. While his runner-up performance behind wonder mare Enable at Kempton showed he remains as good as ever, with ground potentially too soft to be ideal and a trip potentially too short to be ideal, I find myself picking plenty of holes not only in to the odds-on favourite, but also the second fancy in the betting.

Capri? An interrupted season, has to be taken seriously still, after a damn good effort in the Arc. He could try to steel the race from the front, utilizing his superior stamina. He’s a fair price, for sure.

However, I’m drawn to a massive long-shot here. Jim Bolger’s Verbal Dexterity, last year’s National Stakes winner. Things didn’t go plan for him afterwards, clearly. And his latest showing in the Irish Champion Stakes is worrisome, despite a more than fair seasonal reappearance weeks earlier.

On the other hand the ground looks ideal for him, unlike at Leopardstown. Whether he can stretch out to 10f on soft going is an entirely different matter. Either way, I feel this lad has a big race in him. Jim Bolger continues to show faith, otherwise he wouldn’t bring him over.

As the only three-year-old in the race at the bottom of the weights, despite a massive price I can see him outrunning this price tag for at least a place.

Selection:
10pts Each/Way – Verbal Dexterity @ 28/1 PP

Saturday Selections: Irish Champion Stakes Day 2017

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1.50 Haydock: Ascendant Stakes (Listed), 1m

Some interesting contenders here; soft ground winners Dee Ex Bee and Dark Acclaim make plenty of appeal. I, however, think Godolphin’s Dubhe looks one with a massive amount of improvement to come.

He left a fair debut behind when landing a maiden in soft conditions at Sandown. While that was not a true test and he holding the advantage as the sole front-runner, the fact that he won easily going away in the end in a sprint finish, while it looks abundantly clear that he needs further sooner rather than later, was impressive.

He stays over the mile trip, which in heavy conditions with potentially a quicker pace should suit him down to the grounds to play out class and stamina.

Superbly bred, by Dubawi out of Irish Oaks winner Great Heavens, I feel he takes plenty of beating and therefore Dubhe is a tasty price.

Selection:
10pts win – Dubhe @ 5/1 Bet365

…..

5.05 Leopardstown: Group 3 Enterprise Stakes, 1m 4f

Eziyra is a fair favourite given her impressive form this season to make it back to back wins for trainer Dermot Wel. Though, Spanish Step has won a Group 3 earlier this season and has a fair shout here too.

That says stable mate and former Derby runner-up US Army Ranger is the x-factor in the race.

He drops in class and trip, and this combination should see him go very close judged on ratings. Yes, he has been a major disappointment ever since coming close to land the big prize at Epsom, however he still ran to a time speed rating of 94 when last seen, which is still the best in this field.

Selection:
10pts win – US Army Ranger @ 6/1 Bet365

….

5.35 Leopardstown: Group 1 Matron Stakes, 1m

The class act is Winter. If all goes to plan she wins. She has a top draw and the bit of rain that may leave a bit of softness in ground won’t bother her.

In my mind she can only be beaten if the long season has left a mark on her. Then the French raider Qemah comes into the equation. Her wide draw is an issue, nonetheless she remains a big price and has a better chance.

The winner of last years Coronation Stakes had a light campaign up until now, won at Royal Ascot earlier this season and was an unlucky 4th behind Roly Poly in the Prix Rothschild when last seen.

At her best, and if she can overcome the draw disadvantage with the magic man in the saddle, she has a chance to trouble Winter.

Selection:
10pts win – Qemah @ 7/1 Bet365

……

6.45 Leoapardstown: Group 1 Irish Champion Stakes, 1m 2f

Twelve months ago it was the race of the races – something we racing fans hope for but see not enough of: the best take on the best. On the flat the best often try to avoid each other, if possible. The Irish Champion Stakes stood true to its name in 2016, though, and saw the best battle it out with the very best.

This year looked for a while a slightly underwhelming race in prospect. The stars of last year are either under performing or retired. However the week leading up to the big enjoyed a timely boost with the conformation of smart Eminent giving it a go against the almighty Churchill.

Eminent has enhanced his credentials with an impressive front-running performance in a Group 2 over 10 furlongs at Deavuille last month, after three winless efforts at the highest level. Is he quite up to the standard required to beat Churchill? We find out today.

The dual Guineas winner proved satisfactory his stamina when runner-up in the Juddmonte International. So neither ground nor trip hold any fear for the highest rated individual in this field.

He’s got the perfect draw and the help of one or two stable mates likely setting a good pace – I find it hard to look beyond him, to be honest. Yes, Tattersalls Gold Cup winner Decorated Night, or stable mate and Derby second Cliffs Of Moher are fine horses in their own right. But this looks all set for another Group 1 victory for Churchill.

Selection:
10pts win – Churchill @ 11/10 PP

Friday Selections: 8th September 2017

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5.00 Ascot: Class 2 Handicap, 1 mile

I was keen on Big Baz when he ran a blinder in the big Logistics Handicap at York a fortnight ago. He finished an excellent sixth that day in a hot contest suggesting he’s back to somewhere near his best.

The handicapper dropped him 2lb subsequently which should give him a massive chance to outrun his price tag today given conditions will surely suit well with cut in the ground over his preferred trip.

Selction: 
10pts win – Big Baz @ 10/1 Bet365

…..

5.30 Ascot: Class 4 Handicap, 7f

The lightly raced favourite African Friend looks sure to go well, though I prefer the experience of Duke Cosimo who drops to a dangerous mark here.

He hasn’t won for a long time, however showed some spark at Redcar when last seen in a hot race that already works out quite well. Softish ground is no issue for him and a 3lb claimer on board should help too.

Selection: 
10pts win – Duke Cosimo @ 14/1 PP

 

 

Saturday Selections – 24th June 2017

1.35 Redcar: Novice Stakes, 6 furlongs

David O’Meara has generally a healthy record in these type of races. So Gabrial The Devil is interesting. Seemingly in need of the pipe opener at Chester a fortnight ago he should be sharper today dropping into an easier race as well. There is a bit of money arriving this morning, which looks a good sign.

His sire, albeit a small sample size, has a very fine record over this sort of trip and ground with offspring so I do expect improvement from Gabrial The Devil, which could see him go very close in an open contest.

Selection:
10pts win – Gabrial The Devil @ 16/1 bet365

……..

3.20 Newmarket: Class 4 Fillies’ Handicap, 1 mile

Top weight Fleeting Motion makes plenty of appeal in a weakish race. Ignore her last form at Newmarket in softish conditions which never suited and also came possibly too soon. She looked gutsy when landing a fair maiden at Doncaster and followed up with a nice 4th place in a good Conditions race at Ascot.

She came off a break that day and travelled like the winner just to get tired in the final furlong. A repeat of that performance should enough to be very competitive in this race.

Ground and trip will suit and a mark off 84 offers hope as there is potentially still a bit of improvement left in this daughter of Sepoy.

Selection: 
10pts win – Fleeting Motion @ 6/1 Coral

……

3.40 Ascot: Hardwicke Stakes, Group 2 , 1m 4f

Dartmouth over 12f on fast ground? Possible, but not a 5/2 chance in a big and hot field like this. Most intriguing runner is Wings Of Desire for obvious reasons. Runner-up in the King George last year, hasn’t been seen since a subsequent off effort.

The solid horse who surely appreciates conditions and is very likely to be good enough and have trained on is Ballydoyle’s Idaho. This is his second start after a decent comeback run – this seems the ideal opportunity to land a top level prize.

He was 3rd in the Epsom Derby and close runner-up in the Irish Derby, subsequently scored in the Great Voltigeur Stakes last season. All rock solid form and as good as anything in this field.

I have slight concerns whether he’ll be ridden with too much patience but hope they are positive and use his stamina as otherwise he may get rolling too late. That worth a risk to take.

Selection:
10pts win – Idaho @ 9/2 Bet365

……

4.40 Newmarket. Class 2 Handicap, 5 furlongs

Favourite Jumira Bridge could easily have too much on his plate in this race. He landed the odds as expected in a Brighton maiden when dropped to the minimum trip and followed up with a strong win at Sandown in a hot Cl2 Handicap.

Things did not go his way at the start yet he was authoritive eventually. When last seen in a Listed event at York he was clearly not suited by the softish conditions, however fast 5f today will likely see him to his best.

He looks still capable of better and both speed- and RP ratings back this up. It’s only his seventh run, the fourth over 5f, two of those he won – he’s a good thing today.

Selection:
10pts win – Jumira Bridge @ 13/8 Bet365

……

9.05 Haydock: Class 5 Maiden, 1 mile

Race fit Najashee sets a good standard and will improve from his experience, however Godolphin’s Big Tour makes more appeal to me in a race that shapes as one between the two market leaders.

This expensive purchase is obviously well bred and should be reasonably talented judged on a fine debut run at Kempton last season. It’s fair to assume he is ready to go today with the yard having a strong record in maiden races this year and Bin Suroor enjoying a near 40% strike rate in Haydock maiden races over the years.

The step up to a mile will suit this Dubawi son quite a bit, so should be the decent ground. It’s a bit of a gamble sometimes on these type of Godolphin runners, however at 15/8 I feel there is a bit too much juice in the price.

Selection:
10pts win – Big Tour @ 15/8 Bet365

Royal Ascot Wednesday

Ascot Grand Stand, by Florian Christoph

Royal Ascot is upon us…. and I missed day one. Just returned from a three week long trip around Australia, work was calling on Monday right away and left no room for any form study, neither yesterday. Without a proper study I don’t throw bucks on the nags and rather enjoy the replays of the big races.

None bigger than the curtain raiser on the opening Tuesday which is the prestigious Queen Anne Stakes – somehow in my mind  the World Cup final for milers!

Maybe because I call myself Paco Boy’s Nr. 1 fan. His triumph in 2009 was such a special, memorable, eye-catching and simply beautiful performance – it left a lasting mark on me.

So of course I was keen to see who’d get up in this years renewal. Ribchester the big favourite after landing the Lockinge in superb style. Not quite as impressive this time, but in the end with authority, the Godolphin inmate ran all his rivals down.

Only one of many brilliant performances on the day. Lady Aurelia bolting up in the King’s Stand and Barney Roy got his first Group 1 win under the belt, while Churchill found this possibly one too many a race.

……

2.30 Ascot: Jersey Stakes, Group 3, 7 furlongs

A hot race that will inevitably end up in a split of the field I believe – pace drawn close to both sides of the rails should ensure a fair enough contest…. hopefully.

It’s hard to make a call what site to favour and what eventually happens in this race, but on pure form you have to very keen on French raider Le Brivido, runner-up in the French Guineas. Drawn in ten he will have every opportunity to make a choice but might early on and no doubt with only two starts to his name he looks bound to improve.

However I fancy second favourite Dream Castle a lot. Drawn in 19 could be a problem, but doesn’t have to be. Fact is this son of Frankel is riddled with talent as he showed on debut when winning impressively, followed up by an incredibly eye-catching performance in the Greenham.

He was argubly unlucky in the 2000 Guineas subsequently and clearly is better than the bare results suggests. He pulled in the first half of the race, was then hampered and a clear run denied at a crucial stage, yet finished strongly.

He has had only three career starts, so there is every chance for more to come as the fast ground and the drop to 7f won’t be a problem, in fact a fast race over this sort of trip should be ideal.

Selection:
10pts win – Dream Castle @ 4/1 Bet365

……

4.20 Ascot: Prince Of Wales’s Stakes, Group 1, 1m 2f

Despite the trip possibly short of his optimum, Highland Reel from the front over 10f on fast ground at Ascot could be difficult to peg back, I feel. He a high-class individual and bounced back to his best in the Coronation Cup at Epsom.

I feel his biggest challange won’t come from Jack Hobbs, who got the better of him in Dubai because the drop in trip in combination of quick ground is a much clearer disadvantage for the 2015 derby runner-up in my mind at least.

Most likely to enjoy these conditions is Sir Michael’s classy Galileo colt Ulysses, though. His seasonal reappearance at Sandown was pleasing and the form franked by runner-up Deauville.

He’s yet to score at the highest level however had his fare share of problems which means after eight career starts he might still be able to find a bit of improvement. I’m slightly concerned about him being too far off the pace in this race, on the other hand – but that’s the risk to take.

Selection: 
10pts win – Ulysses @ 4/1 Bet365