Royal Ascot 2017
It's All Over:
What a five days, great racing, great times and a profit of +12.98 to level stakes. Happy days and bring on Glorious Goodwood!
Let me start by saying I unashamedly love this week. To this day I am still like a child on Christmas Eve as the Royal Procession begins with the Landaus, each pulled by four Windsor Greys, coming down the Straight Mile. I like the pomp and ceremony, no-one does this sort of thing like the British! Yes I am somewhat cheesed off with the hundreds of fools that wouldn’t know one end of a thoroughbred from the other and constant talks of hats on TV but, and it is a big but, world class horse racing remains at the heart of Royal Ascot.
We enter the final furlong of the meeting +9.6 to level stakes and like Ryan Moore in a tight finish I am chucking everything but the kitchen sink at it again today in the search for winners. Six races to go, hopefully I have found six to nick us a few quid.
The Chesham Stakes (Listed)
Clemmie raced yesterday so wont line-up; that leaves the way clear for September at 5-4. She was simply too god her opposition over this distance in a Leopardstown maiden on debut and looks to have a future ahead of her.
The Wolferton Rated Stakes (Listed)
Won last year by Sir Isaac Newton if he turns up the Sir Michael Stoute trained three time winner Khairaat will likely prove of interest; he has been clear favourite on ante-post lists. Lightly raced, only four starts and was second on debut, looked to still be improving when giving his rivals a running lesson at Chester last time. Put up a huge 14lb for that performance but I think this colt could be contesting better class races than this as the season progresses. At 9-2 he looks a good bet.
The Hardwicke Stakes (Group 2)
Last years winner Dartmouth owned by the Queen has been aimed at this as has Across The Stars who would also be looking for back-to-back victories at Royal Ascot after being given the go-ahead for this as he seeks to follow up his victory in the King Edward VII Stakes at the meeting 12 months ago. They are the two left in the line-up that have been most on my mind in the run-up. I have plumped for 16-1 each-way on Across The Stars.
The Diamond Jubilee Stakes (Group 1)
It’s the older speedsters for the main event on the final day that face the straight six furlongs the race being for 4YO+. Limato has been jolly for this for a while and will be the top-rated horse in the line-up he did though disappoint out in Dubai . The Tin Man won the G.1 British Champions Sprint Stakes here last back end and will relish the fast going; he weakened late-on last time in the soft at York back in May; grab the 6-1. Tasleet is another to consider.
The Wokingham Stakes (Heritage Handicap)
We stay at six furlongs and this will be fast and furious stuff if not perhaps as fast as the Diamond Jubilee. Eastern Impact has done Triple G some favours down the years and at 16-1 each-way I think will do so again today. A Group 3 winner over C&D in 2015 he looked to be heading back to that sort of level when second at Newmarket last month.
The Queen Alexandra Stakes (Conditions)
Britain’s longest flat race over 2 miles, 5 furlongs and 159 yards brings the curtain down on proceedings and as is the case most years finding the winner looks as tricky as herding chickens. US Army Ranger intrigues as Coolmore step last year's Derby second up to a mile further than he's travelled before! If he stays he should have far to much class and has been backed at 11-2.
The Albany Stakes (Group 3)
Jessica Harrington's exciting juvenile Alpha Centauri has been ante-post favourite for this most of the spring. "She has a lovely stride. For a big filly, she is very well balanced" said Alan Cooper racing manager for owners Flaxman Stables talking about the filly recently. She looks the bet at 5-2. Clemmie is naturally feared.
The King Edward VII Stakes (Group 2)
This race is known as the 'Ascot Derby' and one time Derby gamble Crystal Ocean has been heading the market for a while but it is hard to really know how good this colt may be.; after all the hype he was a little disappointing in the G.2 Dante though he was staying on. Step up in trip can only help the Sea The Stars colt and I hae the 5-2.
The Commonwealth Cup (Group 1)
The sprint for 3YO’s over the six furlongs. The first horse to go on the list for Royal Ascot this year was Godolphin owned Charlie Appleby trained Blue Point for this following his victory in the Group Three Merriebelle Stable Pavilion Stakes at Ascot on the 3rd May. He put his rivals to the sword in the six-furlong contest in a course record time taking it up about a furlong out with the result never looking in doubt. At the time Appleby said: "I'm not going to start changing my opinion of him - he's the quickest horse in the yard and always has been. The horse has wintered well in Dubai . A couple of people have said he's not the biggest, but for me he's got a great chest on him and plenty of strength. A lot of credit needs to go to (former jockey) Willie Ryan, who taught the horse how to settle. A lot of horses traveled freely enough today, but this horse has learned how to settle and go through the gears. William (Buick) was delighted with him and we'll go straight for the Commonwealth Cup. We spoke about the Sandy Lane (Haydock, May 27), but there's no need to go there as he's done his job, so we'll head straight to Royal Ascot. I think he deserves to be there and I think he's a very live contender." You can get 6-1 and at that price you could go each-way. Caravaggio comes with a big reputation from Ballydoyle and has top be feared as he is an out and out six furlong horse and won the G.3 Lacken Stakes, his warm-up for this, in style. Wesley Ward rates Bound For Nowhere, regular work partner to Lady Aurelia, and the American colt is also feared.
The Coronation Stakes (Group 1)
The Classic generation of fillies line-up on the old mile for this one. Winter has been odds-on for this for a while and let’s be honest, she is another coming over for the O’Brien team who on all known form off the back of her two Guineas wins at HQ and over in Ireland should win. Odds-on at 1-2 but I wouldn’t want to lay her! La Coronel comes across the pond from the US of A. Trainer Mark Casse sent Tepin over to twin the Queen Anne Stakes in 2016 but this looks harder. She has been winning decent races back home but nothing of this quality and has never gone round a right-hand bend in her life so the odds look stacked against her.
The Queen’s Vase (Group 2)
12-1 the field in the build-up tells you all you need to know about this race – it’s hard to find the winner. Desert Skyline is interesting stepping up to the 1m 6f. Just beaten by Grey Britain at HQ on his seasonal bow he didn’t look at home on the ups and downs at Epsom eventually staying on well for third last time out. At around 7-1 the chestnut gelding is the punt in an open race.
The Duke of Edinburgh Stakes (Handicap)
A mile-and-a-half faces the starters and it is another of those fiendishly tricky handicaps to try and unravel. Appeared will feature on mainly lists as will Mainstream. I am crossing the fingers for a winner for the Queen (gawd bless her) and have the 5-1 about the quirky Sir Michael Stoute trained gelding.
Another two winners on Wednesday to follow the two Tuesday sees Triple G enter day three in profit and it’s Ladies Day, or as I always think of it Gold Cup day. Thus far the kidneys and liver are holding up unlike the dresses of some young ‘ladies’ later no doubt, there is always one or two.
The Norfolk Stakes (Group 2)
Mc Erin is the jolly coming from the stable of a certain Mr Wesley Ward and the colt went well in a spin in the build-up to this with stable mate Arawak. I would expect to see John Velazquez burst out and steal a couple of lengths leaving the stalls and the rest struggle to keep up. I am on at 11-2.
The Hampton Court Stakes (Group 3)
Mirage Dancer is the pick at 9-2. The son of Frankel made a successful start to his career in a Doncaster maiden last October and was far from disgraced on his seasonal reappearance when fourth behind subsequent Derby runner-up Cliffs Of Moher in the Dee Stakes at Chester . Sir Michael Stoute's colt holds an entry in the King Edward VII Stakes next Friday and was as short as 5-1 with some bookmakers for a race known as the 'Ascot Derby'. However, he is set to stick to a mile and a quarter here. Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to owner Khalid Abdullah, said recently: " I would say he's more likely to go for the Hampton Court than the King Edward. We've always said he's very much a work in progress. He caught the eye at Chester and that was only his second lifetime start and his first of the year. We hope he'll improve from that. He's coming on all the time."
The Ribblesdale Stakes (Group 2)
Alluringly has looked the most likely of the O’Brien entries to actually run and she is here. Her form from the Oaks and before that the Cheshire Oaks would make her the clear pick for me at 4-1.
The Gold Cup (Group 1)
Last year’s winner of the 2m4f contest Order Of St George has been a short price for this most of the summer and in fairness rightly so. I though have taken the plunge ante-post on Big Orange for this each-way at 10’s. It would require a career best effort and he has never gone this far but this horse is possibly my favourite in training right now. The dry spell is in his favour as the six-year-old loves faster going so my fingers have been crossed for days that the sun kept shining. You know what he will do, pop out and try to lead every inch of the 4,400 yards! He is as tough as old boots and will take some passing; he will not be beaten for lack of effort and I feel confident at the very least he’ll place-up.
The Britannia Stakes (Heritage Handicap)
It’s the straight mile for this most competitive of handicaps. City Of Joy has won handicaps at Doncaster and Chelmsford this season and the 5 lb rise for the latest success looks fair. At 9-1 he is the one for Triple G in the hope he is still on the upgrade.
The King George V Stakes (Handicap)
This 1m4f handicap is a real head scratcher. A Girdys Gee Gees Dirty Dozen member Atty Persse, a son of Frankel out of Dorcas Lane, is the jolly and has to be the one for me at 6-1. Made a winning reappearance in the Esher Cup at Sandown in April and lost little in defeat when runner-up at Haydock last time; first-time cheekpieces are on.
Wednesday was the day of Hermes in Ancient Greece, he was the Greek God of commerce, invention, cunning and theft – let’s hope that bodes well for us punters trying to nick a few bob off the old satchel swingers.
The Jersey Stakes (Group 3)
Andre Fabre has a very select team this year but Le Brivido has been aimed at this ever since his second place in the in the Poule d'Essai des Poulains (French 2,000 Guineas) where he was just headed by subsequent Prix du Jockey Club (French Derby) winner Brametot. The trainer thinks the stiff seven furlongs will suit and so do I! I think he could be one of the bets of the week at around 3-1. An obvious danger is Dream Castle.
The Queen Mary Stakes (Group 2)
Michael Bell's unbeaten filly Main Desire sadly won’t be here and is unlikely to run again this season. Happy Like A Fool heads the market for Wesley Ward and the American knows what it takes to win this; Acapulco winning in 2015 and Lady Aurelia blitzing the field last year. Happy Like A Fool, who was bred and is owned by Ward, won her one race at Keeneland in some style and pleased everybody with her work at the track last week. I am on at 11-10 in the hope it’s three in a row for Ward.
The Duke of Cambridge Stakes (Group 2)
John Gosden trained Godolphin owned Laugh Aloud won a Listed heat at Goodowood before taking the Group Three Princess Elizabeth Stakes on Derby day and arrives here with every chance off the back of that performance – she readily quickened clear in the final furlong. Last year's winner Usherette was supplemented for this last week. Andre Fabre's filly has been without a win since her success 12 months ago but returned to something like her best last time out when beaten less than a length by Mekhtaal in the Prix d'Ispahan. Qemah has come here rather than going for the G.1 Queen Anne on day one. Trained in France by Jean-Claude Rouget for Al Shaqab Racing the Triple G Dirty Dozen member was disappointing on seasonal debut in the Group Three Betfred Chartwell Fillies' Stakes. Last seasons G.1 Coronation Stakes winner has something to prove but this is a level below what she has produced in the past and if you can forgive her seasonal bow effort, not the best ride from Dettori, she has a very big chance on previous form at 2-1.
The Prince of Wales’s Stakes (Group 1)
£750,000 worth of prize money makes this the richest race of the week and it’s run over one mile two furlongs for four-year-olds and older. Regally bred, by Galileo out of an Oaks winner in Light Shift, Ulysses won the Group Three Gordon Richards Stakes on seasonal debut and has been aimed at this. The way he traveled that day really caught the eye and, with further improvement almost certain, he will likely make his mark in Group 1 company sooner rather than later. "It was always the plan to go straight to Ascot . The Brigadier Gerard was looked at, but Sir Michael decided it would be better to keep him fresh." said Alan Cooper, racing manager for owners Flaxman Stables earlier this month. He’ll need to improve again against the likes of Jack Hobbs, Highland Reel and Decorated Knight but I think he can. Grab the 4-1.
The Royal Hunt Cup (Heritage Handicap)
As ever this looks wide open and will gain be a something of cavalry charge with up to 30 horses thundering down the straight mile. Chelsea Lad was on my mind but doesn't line-up. Luca Cumani has a strong hand in Banksea, winner of the Spring Mile at Newbury and El Vip, who got back to winning ways at Newcastle last time. I have the 8-1 about the Pivotal colt.
The Sandringham Stakes (Listed) (Handicap)
The lucky last on day two and this is almost as tricky a puzzle as the Hunt Cup! I had a short list of about six but luckily a few of them won’t line-up. Con Te Partiro for Wesley ward has to enter calculation but I like the look of a Godolphin one. Charlie Appleby has aimed Grecian Light at this saying recently after her run at Saint-Cloud in France , on unsuitable soft where she finished third, that he ‘purposely put her away for the Sandringham .’ This is a very competitive heat but she was only just caught in the G.2 May Hill at Doncaster last season on good ground and a return to that sort of form would see her go close here. At 16-1 best she may be the answer and can be backed each-way.
Day one dawns and so it begins. . . .
The Queen Anne Stakes (Group 1)
We are straight into top notch international stuff with the Group One Queen Anne Stakes over a mile. This race has been won by a who’s who of milers in recent years Frankel (of course), Canford Cliffs, from France we have had Goldikova and Solow and last season the mare Tepin came across the pond from America and won. Favourite Ribchester won the G.3 Jersey Stakes last year the colt has continued to improve and won the G.1 Lockinge at Newbury on the soft as a warm-up to this. He has form on good going, winning a Group One out in France last August and the Godolphin colt is the one for me to hopefully kick-off the meeting with a winner at Evens. The Richard Fahey trained colt will be joined in the line-up by likely pacemaker and stable mate Toscanini.
The Coventry Stakes (Group 2)
De Bruyne Horse arries for the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot following his convincing victory in the Woodcote Stakes at Epsom. The son of Showcasing, owned by Middleham Park Racing, put a disappointing debut behind him to win both his races since then, projecting him towards the top of the two-year-old tree at this stage of the season. "Ryan Moore was very complimentary about him. He said he needed six furlongs and if we wanted to step him up in class, the Coventry would be the logical next step" said Middleham Park director of racing Tim Palin. At 6-1 he is a tentative pick. Arawak went well in a spin with stable mate McErin (favourite for Norfolk Stakes on Thursday) and has to enter calculations coming from the Wesley Ward stable – Ballydoyle connections are the owners. Taking of Ballydoyle Aidan O'Brien has narrowed down his huge army of regally-bred juveniles into a relatively small but select team for the week. He has won the Coventry Stakes eight times already and has Scat Daddy colt Murillo in this after his easy Dundalk win recently, made a hash of things on debut run. The colt may be good and is feared.
The King’s Stand Stakes (Group 1)
For a while this looked likely to be a battle between Wesley Ward inmate Lady Aurelia and ex Ward inmate Acapulcobut the Ballydoyle filly won’t line-up and may go for the Diamond Jubilee Stakes. Lady Aurelia winner of the Queen Mary Stakes in jaw dropping style last year, lines-up after making a successful reappearance at Keeneland in April. The filly delighted trainer Wesley Ward in her final workout in America before heading to Britain where she was put through her paces at Ascot on Wednesday 14th June. The three-year-old galloped alongside two of her stable mates in the hands of Ryan Moore and finished a long way clear of Bound For Nowhere, who has been earmarked for the Commonwealth Cup. She has to be the pick for me at around 7-2. As for the home team Robert Cowell reports Goldream to be in tip-top form ahead of his bid to regain his crown he won in 2015; missed the race 12 months ago. Group One Prix de l'Abbaye heroine Marsha has to enter calculations having won the G.3 Palace House Stakes on her seasonal bow. Muthmir, trained by William Haggas, was third to Goldream in this in 2015 and earned another crack at the race after winning the G.2 Prix du Gros-Chene. Veteran sprinter Medicean Man will be facing the starter for the sixth successive year in the race on what will be his last racecourse appearance. It won’t take long over the straight five furlongs; blink and you’ll miss it!
The St James’s Palace Stakes (Group 1)
We’re over the old mile here this time for three-year-old colts only. Churchill will be odds-on 4-6 for this and lets be honest if you were a Bookie you wouldn’t want to be laying 2-1 would you? On all known form the Ballydoyle colt wins. Even Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor is under no illusions about the task facing his charge Thunder Snow saying recently "Thunder Snow tries hard in his races, but Churchill beat him comfortably at the Curragh, and that colt is again the one to beat,"
The Ascot Stakes (Handicap)
A wide open affair here with plenty in with chances. Cleonte put in some decent performances for Andre Fabre in France last year including winning a 1m7f Listed race at Deauville . The 1m4f of the G.2 Jockey Club stakes at HQ was clearly inadequate and stepping up to 2m4f here could suit. At 22-1 the Balding trained chestnut could easily place up and is the each-way pick.
The Windsor Castle Stakes (Listed)
Wesley Ward trained Nootka Sound and Elizabeth Darcy have been vying for favouritism for some time and both worked well in the build-up to the big week. Nootka Sound is the one for Triple G as her handler believes she'll be a stronger animal on grass. I have 5-1.
Ante-Post - The Gold Cup (Group 1)
Last years winner of the 2m4f contest Order Of St George has been a short price for this most of the summer and in fairness rightly so. I though have taken the plunge ante-post on Big Orange for this each-way at 10’s. It would require a career best effort and he has never gone this far but this horse is possibly my favourite in training right now. The dry spell is in his favour as the six-year-old loves faster going so my fingers are crossed that the sun keeps shining as forecast. You know what he will do, pop out and try to lead every inch of the 4,400 yards! He is as tough as old boots and will take some passing; he will not be beaten for lack of effort and I feel confident at the very least he’ll place-up.