It’s been a bloodbath. Bar Caravaggio, no backable and supported favourite has stepped up to the cards and the bookies will be laughing themselves home tomorrow, no matter how Saturday unfolds. It’s been top sport and a hell of a spectacle, but for punters up and down the country, on and off the track, it’s been mightily frustrating. But hey-ho, there’s still Saturday…
2 30 Chesham Stakes – SEPTEMBER (A O’Brien) 6/5
An uninspiring pick to get us underway. Do I care? No… September takes all the beating. Aidan O’Brien has sent out 25 juveniles so far this term and only this spring chicken has gone in. It was unexpected to make things better and she truly bolted up at Leopardstown.
I scanned the field in hope of finding something to take her on, but on paper there’s nothing. Aidan O’Brien owes me this Ascot and let’s hope September can get us off to a flyer and at least double our money for the rest of the day.
She’s drawn quite awkwardly in six, but you think tactics will be sorted beforehand in true Ballydoyle style and Ryan Moore should send her home to the crowds delight. The quick ground is guesswork, but she gets the 7F easily and she already looks as if she wants further, suggesting a firm pace to aim at from the rear could be ideal.
3 05 Wolferton Handicap – KHAIRAAT (M Stoute) 4/1 & ELBERETH (A Balding) 14/1
It’s far from a strong renewal of this race, but Khairaat looks a force to be reckoned with at the top of the market and a 13lb rise for his Chester romp shouldn’t stop the 4YO. Sir Michael Stoute has been knocking at the door all week and is due a winner, and in doing so becoming the most successful trainer in Royal Ascot history.
The Chester race has been knocked, but he drew well clear of runner up Brorocco, who should have won last time out at Epsom. I still feel the handicapper is behind with this one and he’s a pattern performer in waiting.
Elbereth gets an EW nod and like Stoute, Andrew Balding has gone close at Ascot without finding that winner. Frustratingly I’ve backed a few of these. Elbereth’s last two runs in Group 1 and Group 2 company have been impressive. Form behind Highland Reel and Somehow should go a long way in this race and despite being six it seems there is still more to come. The wide draw is admittedly a negative.
3 40 Hardwicke Stakes – IDAHO (A O’Brien) 6/1 & DAL HARRALID (W Haggas) 11/1
I can’t take Dartmouth at that price and so Idaho and Dal Harralid provide the alternatives. Idaho has streaks of form that should see him home in a heat like this, and hopefully he’ll come on for his below par Coronation Cup run. He prefers quick ground and had the jockey bookings been different and Ryan Moore had the leg up the price comparison would be very different.
Dal Harralid wants further than this but still holds a very strong claim. It’s a stiff 1M4F at Ascot and the stronger the pace out front the better for William Haggas’ improver. Australia has been seriously suggested, and if in the reckoning only a positive showing here will see those plans be put into action.
4 20 Diamond Jubilee Stakes – SUEDOIS (D O’Meara) 18/1 & LIMATO (H Candy) 5/2
I really want to back The Tin Man (and probably will…), but the draw has swayed me. It’s not the side of the track he’s drawn, it’s just there’s no pace drawn around him. Pace has been key on the quick ground all week and nothing has come from out the back to win.
Limato is drawn perfectly and has pace in abundance not just in himself, but in the stalls close by. Comicas, Kachy and Magical Memory are all strong pace angles and that side of the track should be where the action unfolds. Then again, I thought I had this sussed and have been proven wrong for four days. Limato’s class should see him through. After his mile experiment was shut down mid-way through last season, his form has been strong. Put a line through his Middle East exploits, as we all know he needs quick ground and that’s it.
Suedois is consistent and when above average can be a Group One sprinter. He’s versatile on ground and tactics, but his best form has come on quicker surfaces. Drawn in the middle I think he’ll be held up and raced from there, where hopefully a route can be found when it matters. He’s yet to hit his form from last year this campaign, but a first time visor could give him the boost needed.
5 00 Wokingham Handicap – LANCELOT DU LAC (D Ivory) 33/1 & RAUCOUS (W Haggas) 12/1
Not a race to be risking mortgages and car keys on, but in Raucous and Lancelot Du Lac I can offer you two good chances. Raucous is a horse that should win a lot more than he does and must frustrate connections no end. He has form behind The Tin Man and Dancing Star and if on song will go very very close from a favourable draw. New headgear is being tried and no complaint can be made in regards to the ground. 12s represents good value and he should be in the frame.
Lancelot Du Lac, as you can tell by the price, is a slight chancer but represents some serious value if at his best. He’s won two of his last four, albeit in small races on the AW but remains on a plausible mark. He often races on the pace, regularly at 5F, and I believe this will suit at Ascot the way things have panned out. In 2015 he was third in this off a higher mark. It’s a punt, but well worth an EW dart.
5 35 Queen Alexandra – THOMAS HOBSON (W Mullins) 11/4
I can’t see past the favourite in this. Clearly his exertions earlier in the week are a concern, but he genuinely didn’t have much of a race. His mark of a 100 is way out now and on ratings he’d be above many of Saturday’s rivals now. Qewy is a threat if going well fresh and US Army Ranger, if staying, really should win. He won’t though…