ROYAL ASCOT – DAY 2 (WEDNESDAY)
14:30 – Jersey Stakes
We kick off day two with the three year olds taking the stage in The Jersey Stakes with a total of twenty one going to post for this seven furlong contest.
The current market leader is the unbeaten John Gosden runner Castle Harbour who sets the standard after an impressive victory in a decent handicap at York last time out. The three year old Frankie Dettori ride looks a class act with bigger entries than todays Jersey Stakes. With such a lightly raced horse (The lowest runs in the field) with just two runs in its career this horse has a mammoth amount of scope and is why he gets the nod.
Of the remaining runners I fear Gifted Master the most. Despite losing to Quiet Reflection last time out I don’t think that’s too much of a disgrace and returning to a venue where he’s had success at previously and has to be in the reckoning.
The unbeaten Thikriyaat has done nothing wrong in three outings so far especially when winning a listed contest at Newmarket but two wins in five runner races is hard to gage the form of and it may find a few too good today.
One runner that looks quite interesting is the Charlie Hills trained Ibn Malik who may prefer the softer conditions. Just the one run as a three year old on good to soft going was a winning one. The likelihood is the horse will come on for that seasonal reappearance and may do better than some expect.
A rank outsider that is worth noting is The Queens own Light Music. A win on soft ground at Newbury last season as well as a second placed finish on soft ground behind the noted Gosden horse Nathra reads like good form. With soft going likely to aid this horses chances and will be fitter for its recent all-weather spin and at a decent price might be worth an each-way punt.
Castle Harbour (E/W if 9/2+)
Light Music (E/W)
15:05 – Queen Mary Stakes
The ladies line up as two year old fillies face each other over the minimum trip in which American runner Lady Aurelia heads the market at a short price. We saw Tepin look mightily impressive yesterday so we can see that the American horses, that are use to firmer going, can handle the soft conditions however Tepin looks a very classy horse and it’s unlikely this runner is anywhere near that sort of talent at this stage of her career and as such I have to look elsewhere.
France has a lively runner in the unbeaten Al Johrah who is likely to relish the softer going especially after winning on very soft ground last time out. The trainers yard isn’t in great form and despite representing Al Shaqab racing looks to be up against it based on previous form.
The race looks mightily open with both Clem Fandango and Stormy Clouds having lively outside chances but the horse I’m siding with is the only horse in the race that is still a maiden. Madam Dancealot has only had one run and that was a very narrow defeat behind yesterday’s Coventry Stakes second placed finisher Mehmas. That form looks very decent and I’m sure the horse is likely to improve for that effort. The booking of Derby winning jockey Pat Smullen is also interesting and is given the nod in what looks a very open looking contest.
Madam Dancealot (E/W)
15:40 – Duke Of Cambridge Stakes
The third race on the card looks to be the race that a French trained runner has the best chance of winning as Andre Fabre’s Usherette is the current market leader. Three consecutive wins this season puts the four year old in top contention and hailing from such a world renowned yard and representing Godolphin it’s chances are more than lively. My slight concern however in terms of it being a betting prospect is how short it’s current 11/4 price is. It looks the classiest runner in the field but at that price doesn’t represent great value.
The other French runner in the field Maimara looks more interesting as with todays soft conditions it will play into this horses hands and looks to potentially be the “dark horse” of the race. However it’s inability to mix it at the top level is a worry and I feel there’s more classier types in todays race.
The horse that gets the nod isn’t proven on soft going but of a lightly tried career which has seen the horse win four of its five starts to date Always Smile looks a good shout for this. The only time the horse lost was over course and distance but that was by a nose here at the Royal Meeting last year. It lost to top class horse Osaila that day and with a win under its belt on a return to action more is expected with that run under its belt.
Always Smile (E/W)
16:20 – Prince Of Wales Stakes
Todays showpiece Group 1 race represents a slightly disappointing turnout with just the six horses set to go to post however it still holds some top quality horses.
Japanese runners have come to Ascot previously but have never seemed to rise to the top and it looks like A Shin Hikari is their best chance they have ever had.
A win after over a six month absence in France was almightily impressive and made everyone in Europe sit up and take notice. The heavy going that day means the horse will love todays conditions and this horse looks likely to make history for Japanese runners here at Ascot.
The biggest threat to the favourite is Ballydoyle’s Found who has an impressive victory over Golden Horn last season. The current soft going added to Found’s “come from behind” race tactics is going to mean its a tall order for the four year old filly. The Ballydoyle team are in great order but I fear there’s too much going against their entry here.
The Grey Gatsby finished second in this race last season but makes its seasonal debut here. With fitness concerns and without a win in its last six runs you have to think the best it can hope for is a minor role once more.
The favourite has only raced the once this season and that should improve its fitness. Although the odds on price is far from great value I just can’t see past number on on the race card.
A Shin Hakari (WIN)
17:00 – Royal Hunt Cup
The penultimate race of the day sees an almighty cavalry charge in this years renewal of the Royal Hunt Cup. With so many runners (30 in total) the betting starts at 11/1 onwards with joint favourites in the form of Convey and Portage.
Convey was the antepost favourite for this race for a long time and after a second placed finish in a Group 3 last time out it has a lively chance but to back a favourite that hasn’t won since its maiden victory is an almighty risk and one I’m not prepared to take.
The other favourite looks a more encouraging betting prospect with the course and distance winner Portage. Mark Halford’s charge has put in some great efforts in big runner handicaps and a course and distance victory on soft going shows the horse will handle todays conditions and a decent each-way bet may be worthwhile.
Last years winner GM Hopkins looks to retain its crown and this ultra consistent performer shouldn’t be far away but having to saddle top weight may be too much of a burden.
With so many runners entered I’m going to plump for a trio of runners and two of the three that seem worth backing are Master The World and Glory Awaits.
Both horses probably aren’t at in their best career form but both have great chances off lower handicap marks.
Master The World raced over the course and distance on soft going back in October 2015 and finished third of twenty off the same handicap mark as today. A couple of relatively decent runs this season will help the horse gain fitness and hopefully back at a venue it’s run well at before the David Elsworth runner could go close.
It is easy to forget that Glory Awaits has won both listed and Group 2 races and also finished second in the 2013 2000 Guineas. Although perhaps not the horse of old it put in a great effort when finishing fourth of nineteen at York back in May. A previous win on very soft going shows todays underfoot conditions won’t be a negative and sitting at a very low weight could spring a surprise.
Master The World (E/W)
Glory Awaits (E/W)
17:35 – Sandringham Handicap
This three year old mile race sees an unbeaten runner in the form of Persuasive head the betting at around 6/1. The horse clearly knows what its doing and a handicap mark of 95 may be generous however I couldn’t be overly positive the horse will handle the looser ground and although it has to be respected with so many runners entered theres certainly more value to be found elsewhere.
One of a handful of Godolphin owned runners Anamba looks to be a lively danger with a win on soft going as a maiden should indicate no issues with todays surface but a high weight in a much more competitive race may be too much of a stumbling block for the Mark Halford trained runner.
A horse that could go well at a very big price heads over here from Ireland who only shook of its maiden tag last time out. The lesser known yard of Andrew Slattery sends Planchart over to Ascot on the back of an eye catching run on soft going in its native Ireland. Although the horse doesn’t represent big time connections or a big time trainer its low weight could help its chances when others with a greater burden struggle to get through the tacky going.
All this being said however the two runners that I’m plumping for come in the form of Dolce Strega and Czabo.
Mick Channon’s yard has been in fine fettle recently and their stable is represented by the Silvestre De Sousa ridden Czabo. A horse that was successful in winning a listed event at Deauville on very soft going last time out. With quality race course experience, a liking of soft conditions and a very consistent racing nature it has to be likely to hit the frame.
Dolce Strega has won both of its starts this season including a Group 3 win at The Curragh on soft going last time out. A previous maiden success also on soft going shows a preference for softer conditions and todays course is likely to suit. The horses weight based on its achievements may seem a bit harsh but if the horse is primed and ready to go today it’s worth an each way bet.
Dolce Strega (E/W)
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