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Royal Ascot 2019: Day 4 Preview, Tips

Day 4, Friday, at Royal Ascot offers another six chances for redemption, wagering glory, or simply to watch the finest thoroughbreds in the land do what they do best. That last one is probably not for most readers of this 'ere betting bloggie, as I present the final one of four posts covering Royal Ascot race by race. (Ascot Heath day is a case of 'each to their own', though naturally you may have taken that tack long since!)

Before we start, you might want to check out Andy Newton's Royal Ascot Day 4 Trends.

Friday kicks off with the...

2.30 Albany Stakes (Group 3, 6f, 2yo fillies)

A very big field of unexposed juvenile fillies on ground which should be just the soft side of good. Wes wuns two, having never won this wace before. Wascal wabbit. Sorry, where was I? Yes, Wesley Ward and the Albany: 0 from 8 so far, including beaten fillies at 11/4, 11/2, 6/1, 7/1, and 8/1. Six of them finished ninth or worse.

The reason is probably more about this being a straight six furlongs and his preparation being four-and-a-half around a turn than the fillies' ability; but either way I'm prepared to let Nayibeth and Chili Petin beat me. Both are typically speedy types, both made all in their single runs to date, and both are likely to pull pretty hard without a turn to focus their attentions. Of course, one of them might be smart enough to overcome all of that, but as two of the top three in the market as I write, they're not for me.

The other atop the betting tree is Daahyeh, trained by Roger Varian. This daughter of Bated Breath beat Raffle Prize into second on her debut; that one won the Queen Mary on Wednesday giving the form a rock solid look. It was six furlongs that day so we can be confident she'll see out the trip, and I am surprised she's not outright favourite. In fact, she's 7/1.

Of the rest, who knows? Kemble might be worth a second look: she beat Illusionist five lengths last time and that one ran fifth in the Norfolk on Wednesday having won in between times. By Kodiac out of a Lope De Vega mare, Kemble has an interesting pedigree for this task and is 25/1 in a place.

Charlie Appleby's Silent Wave won well over six on debut, as did Simon Crisford's Last Surprise, and neither would be a shock victor.

Verdict: I'm using the small Wes sample of previous failures to overlook his pair, which might prove daft by 2.40pm. But that leaves a once-raced unbeaten filly whose closest rival that day won at Royal Ascot earlier in the week. And DAAHYEH is 7/1, an each way price. For the windmill tilters, Kemble's form has been franked and her pedigree says six could be better, making 25/1 (or anything north of 16/1) fair each way.

3.05 King Edward VII Stakes (Group 2, 1m4f, 3yo colts & geldings)

A mile and a half for three-year-old colts and geldings. The Ascot Derby, perhaps. And, as has been the case in the Derby itself, battle lines are drawn between Ballydoyle and Clarehaven, the respective yards of Aidan O'Brien and John Gosden.

Here, Derby third Japan is the main hope for the Irish firm while Private Secretary may offer most resistance from the Newmarket handler. Both have less likely second strings engaged.

Japan seems like a horse that Team Coolmore rate: he was given an easy enough race in the Dante, which left plenty of verve for the Blue Riband at Epsom. Just a half length and a nose separated him from becoming the most famous three-year-old colt of the year, which was all the more agonising given that a) his jockey dropped his whip and b) I had backed him (and tipped him in my Saturday email). Sigh.

Nevertheless that was a cracking effort which has been bolstered already this week by Circus Maximus. Japan looks another O'Brien favourite that will be very tough to beat granted normal luck in running.

His main rival could be the Cocked Hat Stakes winner, Private Secretary. Second over inadequate trips twice last term he is unbeaten in three this season, having beaten subsequent London Gold Cup winner, Sinjaari, prior to that Listed Goodwood score. Stamina seems his forte so he'll be hoping they go a good pace. With Pablo Escobarr and Jack Yeats in the field, both habitually prominent, that looks likely.

Four times the price of Private Secretary is his stablemate, Humanitarian, who was a place behind Circus Maximus in the Derby. By Noble Mission out of a Dynaformer mare he was never really going until too late at Epsom; a truly run race on this more conventional track could see him nearly hit the board and at 16/1.

Pondus was impressive at Sandown last time, scoring by five lengths from a pair of subsequent winners and, with just three tries to date, there should be more to come. It's a big elevation from a Class 5 novice to a Group 2 but this son of Sea The Moon has a most ascendant profile.

The Lingfield Derby Trial form got the ultimate franking, as its winner, Anthony Van Dyck, prevailed in the Derby. Second on trials day was Pablo Escobarr, William Haggas's colt making a bit of a habit of it: he filled the same position in a decent handicap at Bath on his 2019 bow. Although quietly progressive, he doesn't look quite good enough even on a literal interpretation of the Derby Trial form.

The thrice-raced Jack Yeats looked to have found his role in life when stepped up to ten furlongs last time at Naas. He saw off a big field that day and this further trip hike looks appropriate for a son of Galileo out of a Dansili mare. Although a 33/1 shot and a pacemaker first and foremost, I'd be surprised if he didn't beat at least a couple of these.

Andrew Balding's Sandown Classic Trial winner, Bangkok, looked a non-stayer in the Derby and, to my eye at least, he also looked to be running on empty at Sandown over a quarter mile shorter. I have my doubts about this twelve furlong range on that basis, and think he might be dropped in trip subsequently. He's not for me this time.

Verdict: The Derby form is already working out well so, given that on another day JAPAN might have won, he looks the most likely winner. He stays well, has been looked after thus far, and I think he'll prove tough to beat. Of the each way prices, Humanitarian is a tempting price at 16/1 to maybe sneak a place.

3.40 Commonwealth Cup (Group 1, 6f, 3yo)

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The fifth running of this excellent new addition, and the smallest field so far with just nine set to face the starter.

They are headed by last year's Middle Park winner, Ten Sovereigns. That half length verdict over Jash (re-opposes) completed an unbeaten juvenile hat-trick and it looked like stamina more than ability that saw him sunk in the 2000 Guineas. There he was four lengths fifth of 19, having led his group at the six furlong range. Back at sprint trips he looks an obvious player, something not lost on the market.

Jash's second in the Middle Park is the sole blemish on a five race record that includes a nine length win in novice company and a Listed triumph last time over seven furlongs. Ability to handle that extra furlong whilst being fully effective at this race distance of six is a good attribute.

Advertise was second in last year's Coventry Stakes before going on to win both the Group 2 July Stakes and the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes. This season started somewhat disappointingly as he was well beaten in the 2000 Guineas. It was one of those 'too bad to be true' runs which, in the Guineas, can also mean 'didn't stay', or 'wasn't fit', or 'hasn't trained on'. Your guess is as good as mine on which particular reason/excuse is applicable, though for what it's worth I'd have a foot in each of the didn't stay and wasn't fit camps. If that's right - or even half right - he should be better equipped to compete this time.

Kevin Ryan's Hello Youmzain won a French Group 2 (soft) last season and was an unequivocal winner of the Group 2 Sandy Lane Stakes last time, beating a heavily odds-on Calyx. A literal reading of that form makes the northern runner the pick of the field; however, if we assume that Calyx wasn't quite right there, as the post-race news of a pastern injury implies, then it may be folly to be too literal. Nevertheless, this chap - who didn't quite see out the Greenham seven - deserves respect.

Khaadem is unbeaten in three since his debut, graduating from a novice through an ungraded conditions event to a Listed win. The well bred son of Dark Angel has shown a liking for good ground and seems to finish his races strongly, hinting at more to come. There will need to be, naturally, given this step up to Group 1 opposition but he deserves to take his chance.

Forever In Dreams cost £430,000 at the Goffs London Sale on Monday, a sum that will take a heck of a lot of recouping. His form is about a stone and a half behind the pick of these and it seems an act of crassness that such a sum was so recklessly 'invested'. Cue facile shock victory...

The rest are probably not good enough.

Verdict: Another very good race for the Commonwealth Cup, though perhaps not as classy as we've come to expect. Ten Sovereigns is an obvious pick at a short price, but this looks a reasonable each way betting heat. In that context, I'll chance Advertise, whose price of 11/1 in places looks generous for a horse with his overall profile.

4.20 Coronation Stakes (Group 1, 1m, 3yo fillies)

A fascinating and high class renewal of the Coronation, for three-year-old fillies over a mile. As with the St James's Palace for the boys, this represents the first opportunity to converge the respective European 1000 Guineas races.

From the English and Irish races we have Hermosa, who so brilliantly doubled up. From France comes the unbeaten Castle Lady, and from Germany via Middleham is Main Edition. Four 1000 Guineas wins between them in this unification scrap.

The only place to start is with Hermosa, who beat the sadly ill-fated Lady Kaya a length at Newmarket and re-opposing Pretty Pollyanna by four lengths at the Curragh. None of her vanquished have a chance to turn the tables on form, though it might be argued that Pretty Pollyanna was caught out wide the whole way in the Irish 1000. The counter to that is that Hermosa did it the hard way, from the front, and still pulled clear at the finish. The winner was the best filly and also the strongest stayer.

Meanwhile, at Newmarket, Just Wonderful and Mot Juste were in the ruck, the former also finishing far back in the Irish equivalent. She does have bits of good form and might be suited by rain, but it's a stretch to see her reversing with an on-form Hermosa.

It is unlike Sir Michael Stoute to pitch his younger horses in at the deep end early in their careers, so that must be a pointer to the regard in which Jubiloso is held. She bucked the Sir Michael trend by winning first time out, and then followed that up with a resounding seven length verdict in a novice stakes (second has won since). It's a metaphorical million miles from there to here but trainer intent suggests she's a very capable filly.

The French have a good record in the Coronation Stakes, winning it three times since 2011, so Castle Lady has to be respected. Owned by Godolphin and trained by Henri-Alex Pantall, the Shamardal filly is unbeaten in three. The margin was a mere nose in the Pouliches (French 1000 Guineas), but she was arguably value for a little more, Barzalona doing a, well, a Barzalona and trying to win snugly.  It would have been an expensive mistake had he got beaten but she brings hitherto invincibility to Ascot in what promises to be a terrific tactical battle.

That battle will quite possibly see Hermosa bid to again make all, and Castle Lady plus others sit handy. Castle Lady stays a mile and can quicken, two tests that many of Hermosa's rivals this season have failed.

Of the rest, Twist'N'Shake is worth of a quick second glance. Ostensibly not good enough in a Listed race at York last time, she was previously seven lengths too good for a field of maidens from which winners have emerged. That was on soft so, if it rained, she might enter place calculations.

But this is probably best left to the top of the market.

Verdict: The only thing likely to beat HERMOSA is a third top class race in seven weeks. True she has to race around a turn here, but with her catch-me-if-you-can style that should enable her to control things all the better. It is tough to envisage beaten rivals from either the English or Irish Guineas trading places, so the main danger - and the best each way play - might be the unbeaten French Guineas winner, Castle Lady. Possessed of a turn of foot and requisite stamina, the general 15/2 (8/1 in a place) at time of writing looks worth taking.

5.00 Sandringham Handicap (Class 2, 1m, 3yo fillies)

In spite of the big field, this fillies' mile handicap normally goes to a fancied runner: just one of the last eleven winners was returned bigger than 11/1, and that was Con Te Partiro in 2017 (tipped in this preview two years ago - whoop!). Moreover, nine of the last fourteen winners were 13/2 or shorter.

Slight favourite is Nonchalance, a John Gosden entry running in the traditional maroon of Sheikh Mohamed but these days associated with his wife. Victorious in her last two of three starts, she has a super pedigree - by Dubawi out of a Street Cry mare with, among others, Nathaniel close up in the family tree - and she is an obvious contender on this handicap bow, 91 potentially significantly understating her ability.

Ed Walker's Hotsy Totsy has won her last two of three also, and some of that form - the Salisbury run notably - is working out really well. She was a facile winner in each of that brace, by five lengths and six lengths, and she'd be two-thirds of her current price if trained by John Gosden I suspect. She's yet to race beyond seven furlongs but is hardly stopping at the end of her races and may improve for the extra eighth.

Ralph 'Raif' Beckett's Desirous has had more tries and took a little while to get the hang of things. She's won her last two, but her overall profile doesn't offer quite the upside of Nonchalance and others.

Invitational, a daughter of Poet's Voice out of a Shamardal mare, has yet to race on the turf in three starts. The last pair were wins, with the second and third from her most recent score both winning twice since. Obviously this is a different type of test, but plenty of all-weather winners have scored on the straight mile at Royal Ascot in recent times.

Her Majesty The Queen has a runner: Magnetic Charm will carry top weight as a result of winning a Listed race at York last time, and we'll know more about that form after second placed Twist'N'Shake has run in the previous race. Three fillies have carried top weight to victory in the Sandringham since 2002 so it won't be that which beats her.

Plenty of other lovely fillies to conjure with, but I'm fancying it'll be the top of the market once more.

Verdict: A few with good form and who might be some way better than their current marks. I'm mostly drawn to the prospects of Nonchalance (7/1) and especially HOTSY TOTSY. Both could easily be Group performers by the end of the season, the former having that 'now' quality after a win less than two weeks ago. The latter has the 'could be anything' tag following two races where she's simply laughed at opposition that has subsequently come out and won races. She's 9/1 generally.

5.35 Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes (Class 2 handicap, 1m4f, 3yo+)

This is another of those weird mile and a half races where high draws have it. Indeed, the last single figure-winning draw was in 2008 when Sugar Ray emerged from trap six. Stalls ten and eleven have won since then, but it does seem to pay to be middle to high with hard luck stories aplenty inside.

None of the 79 horses aged six or older has won, and they have a poor place rate too, so will be ignored. Also overlooking those off the track for more than two months (all bar one of the 21 domestic winners had raced within that time frame) and those bigger than 20/1 leaves a shortlist of just four: Baghdad, Fujaira Prince, Lucius Tiberius and Aquarium.

Baghdad won the three-year-old equivalent race, the King George V Stakes, last year and comes here in very similar form. Last year he ran third on the all weather before winning a mile and a half handicap; and this year he ran third on the all weather before winning a mile and a half handicap. Talk about repeating the dose! Ryan Moore gets the leg up and he has an obvious chance off just a four pound higher mark than his most recent win.

Fujaira Prince is favourite in many lists. Roger Varian's five-year-old had completed a hat-trick prior to bumping into First Eleven at York last time. He was in front soon enough there and got picked off in the final 100 yards. Ascot's shorter straight requires greater timing by jockeys but it also ensures horses are generally not in front too long. Andrea Atzeni's mount is four pounds lower than that narrow defeat and he was on Baghdad when that one won at the meeting last year.

Charlie Appleby won this two years ago with a 20/1 shot drawn 19 and this time saddles 20/1 chance Lucius Tiberius, drawn 20. The son of Camelot steps up to a mile and a half for the first time, which could eke out improvement. It will need to as his overall CV is less appealing than others, notwithstanding that he's a bigger price to sweeten the pill.

Aquarium is a horse I backed at Epsom last time. Trained, like Baghdad, by Mark Johnston he could never land a blow on Derby day as the combination of a speed-favouring track, fast ground and exaggerated waiting tactics did for him. Off quicker fractions, on a more testing strip and with a better timed ride, he could outrun odds of 20/1.

Loads more with chances, including hat-trick-seeking Arthurian Fame, drawn low, who will probably be the winning JPOB horse in the week - me having backed all the others - and would be a counter-punch for the single figure boxes.

Verdict: Another big field race where history is a good way to whittle the possibles, but may also remove the winner. Baghdad has an obvious chance, as does Fujaira Prince, with slight preference for the former. At bigger prices, Lucius Tiberius has a similar profile to Charlie Appleby's previous winner of the race, Rare Rhythm, and might be worth a small each way coincidence swipe at 20/1.

Good luck!

Matt

p.s. it is traditional for there to be no Saturday Ascot preview. You may very well be glad of that by 5.45 or so on Friday afternoon! Hopefully these posts have provided some insights and entertainment, if nothing else. Of course, with luck they've assisted in the nailing of a good winner or two as well, but you don't need me to tell you that this is a meeting where it is generally way better to be lucky than good. At least, that's how I've come to view it...

Royal Ascot 2019: Day 3 Preview, Tips

Two down, three to go, and humpback day at Royal Ascot, better known as Ladies' Day, features the main event of the entire week, the Gold Cup. That stayers' Group 1 is ably supported by five other top tier clashes, each of which will have a winner worth finding. So let's try...

If you missed them, here are Andy's Royal Ascot Day 3 Trends.

We kick off in the...

2.30 Norfolk Stakes (Group 2, 5f, 2yo)

Another impossible juvenile race kicks things off on Thursday, the Norfolk being a five furlong charge. The quickest of the British and Irish seems to be Sunday Sovereign at this stage. Paddy Twomey's relatively experienced son of Equiano has won the most recent two of three starts, by three lengths from Coventry winner, Arizona, and then by seven lengths in a weaker affair. He's quick, is drawn in amongst horses and will give his new owners as good a chance of a Royal Ascot winner as they'll have all week. He's won in a big field and deserves to be favourite.

But there are plenty in the field capable of making big strides forward, potentially beyond what Sunday Sovereign has achieved. Matthieu Palussiere won the Albany in 2017 and watched two of his five juveniles run very well last year. He runs Real Appeal which looks his best chance of the week, the Listed winner having changed hands for £265,000 on Monday. All four of his races have been decided by a head or less, three of them in his favour.

Ventura Rebel was the shock winner of the Ascot 2yo Trial, seeing off the 4/11 favourite, Lady Pauline, a Wesley Ward aspirant who misses the gig through injury. Outpaced early, when he found stride he was far too strong and won going away. He may get similarly outpaced here so, with less likelihood of this calibre of field capitulating, it looks a tough ask for the Pastoral Pursuits colt.

The Wes wepwesentative is Maven, half length winner of a maiden special weight at Aqueduct. The standard of such contests at the New York track would be generally higher than at Keeneland where most of the Ward juvies prep, so the shorter winning margin should not be considered a negative necessarily. Still, as with all the transatlantic raiders, it is a) difficult to peg the form and b) difficult for a young horse to handle the travel and the preliminaries and the very different race setup.

There are some whispers about the chance of Air Force Jet, a narrow winner at Navan last time. Collateral form through Lorelei Rock gives him plenty to find with Sunday Sovereign, but word is he's moved forward a lot in the past fortnight.

The once raced maiden A'Ali could run a decent race. He just missed out in a good finish at Ripon on debut but had pulled nine lengths clear of the third. He looks sure to improve for that and might be a touch of value.

Verdict: It's a very difficult race and one in which I'll be trying to get through the multi-leg wagers only. I think SUNDAY SOVEREIGN looks a legitimate favourite, I can't peg the value of the American or French raiders, and I think A'Ali might be worthy of very small each way support.

3.05 Hampton Court Stakes (Group 3, 1m 2f, 3yo)

A ten furlong three-year-old Group 3. They bet 11/2 the field which sheds light on its competitiveness and, really, it's not a race in which I have a strong view. The market does tend to settle on the right horses with 13 of the last 16 (and all of the last seven) winners returning 8/1 or shorter.

I wouldn't generally be one for soundbites but I thought it was interesting that Oisin Murphy, who has a hundred rides this week, pegged Fox Chairman as his best bet on Racing TV, especially as he's not riding it! Unraced as a two-year-old, the Chairman won a Newbury maiden first time out (second and fourth won since) before running third to Circus Maximus in the Dee Stakes on deteriorating ground at Chester. He is supposedly training well and should be able to improve again on just his third lifetime start. That Circus won the St James's Palace Stakes on Tuesday is hardly a negative.

He is vying for favouritism with Cape Of Good Hope, one of two Aidan O'Brien entries. From a favoured cross - Galileo out of a Danehill mare - this lad won the Epsom Derby Trial in April but didn't make the line up for the main event. He did however run a decent fourth in the French Derby, and that level of form gives him a strong chance dropping to Group 3.

Roseman is another lightly raced entry and his form got a boost after his last day vanquisher, King Of Comedy, ran a neck second in the St James's Palace Stakes. He'd previously won a Nottingham novice by five lengths, but his run style - on or close to the lead - can leave him susceptible to a classy horse with a kick. Stall 13 probably doesn't assist his cause either.

The Chester Vase form is brought to the fore once more this week, this time in the shape of King Ottokar. A winner twice on soft ground he was no match for Sir Dragonet - who was? - at Chester; but that race is working out quite well and, if the rain came in any substantial amount, it would enhance his chance.

A place behind Roseman in the Heron Stakes last time was Sangarius, Sir Michael Stoute's Kingman colt not given a hard time when his chance was gone. He was a little awkward on the track there, too, though he'd run fine on quick ground previously. Sir Michael won this in 2009 and 2014 so the symmetrists will consider he's due another one!

Headman, another Kingman colt in the ownership of Prince Khalid Abdullah, took the competitive London Gold Cup handicap on his prior start. That race normally flags Pattern performers and it was there where Headman's trainer, Roger Charlton, saddled Time Test to win before doubling up in this in 2015. We have been duly warned.

Plenty of others with some sort of claim.

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Verdict: I have backed Fox Chairman on the basis of public jockey hearsay. Not big or clever and the price has truncated somewhat, though he's clearly in good form. But the each way play might be 9/1 Headman. Roger Charlton has a blueprint from Time Test and he may be able to execute the same play in the same colours.

3.40 Ribblesdale Stakes (Group 2, 1m4f, 3yo fillies)

The Ascot Oaks, after a fashion, a mile and a half Group 2 for fillies.

Aidan O'Brien has won this three times in the last five years and saddles the fancied Fleeting. Winner of the Group 2 May Hill Stakes over a mile on her final start as a two-year-old, the daughter of Zoffany finished last in the 1000 Guineas on her 2019 bow. Stepped up to this trip in the Oaks, she showed that previous run to be all wrong when a fine third, a level to which the rest of this field must aspire at this stage.

Of course, the nature of Royal Ascot racing is the convergence of the established and the aspirational; so it is perfectly possible that a contender may prevail. Primus inter pares in that regard is Queen Power, a Shamardal filly who ought to be well suited to this trip. Winner of two of her three starts, she was probably beaten by the race distance rather than ability in the middle leg. That mile contest saw her narrowly fail to get by the winner but she made no mistake upped to ten furlongs in a Listed race last time. She could make it a very good day for her trainer, Sir Michael Stoute.

Frankellina is a bit of a conundrum: she looked unlucky when fluffing the start in the Musidora Stakes at York, and she looked to be given too much to do in the Oaks itself, eventually finishing a five length sixth. That gives her three-and-a-half lengths to find with Fleeting, who was also waited with at Epsom, and there is no obvious reason why she should turn the tables. She wears the second cap, with owner Anthony Oppenheimer also cheering Star Catcher. She was third in Queen Power's Listed race, having led most of the way. There's plenty of pace from the likes of Peach Tree and Shambolic so maybe Star Catcher will be ridden more patiently. On strict form, she has little to find with Queen Power, but the extra quarter mile is expected to suit the latter more than the former.

I'm not especially inclined to look too far down the betting list in a race which has been won by a filly priced 10/1 or shorter for the last dozen years.

Verdict: The market seems to have this about right, making it a match between Fleeting, Queen Power and 'the field' as I write. Fleeting has the more established form - third in the Oaks - but QUEEN POWER might be progressing more quickly. And, in any case, she bring a pretty strong level of ability to the table, too.

4.20 Gold Cup (Group 1, 2m4f, 4yo+)

The feature of the day, and indeed of the entire week, is the Gold Cup run over two and a half miles. Stradivarius is the reigning champ, the sort of guy who is probably even better than he looks given that he doesn't tend to win by far. In fact, his last six wins have been achieved by an aggregate of just eight lengths which, in the domain of stayers, is a series of fine margins. That makes his rivals think they have a chance - which of course they do - but when push comes to shove, the old fiddle keeps pulling out a little more.

Stradivarius seems to treat all ground conditions and race distances alike, only just getting going at the end of the mile and three quarters Yorkshire Cup last time. In this race last year, the son of Sea The Stars was three-quarters of a length too good for the classy French horse, Vazirabad; Torcedor was just a head further back in third.

This year, the Gold Cup seems on the face of it to have more depth. Cross Counter has been bashing all-comers around the globe, bagging the extremely valuable Melbourne Cup and then the Dubai Gold Cup in Meydan. Those races are up to two miles, however, and this is an extra half mile on top, stamina for which is not assured for the son of Teofilo.

Dee Ex Bee looks to have found his metier since being stepped up to staying trips: fourth in the St Leger last autumn has been followed by a brace of Group 3 wins at two miles. This is further - and better class - again, and like Cross Counter, he too is not guaranteed to see it out.

It's then double figures the rest. Flag Of Honour has seen the backside of the magical filly, erm, Magical thrice in a row this season. That is a high level at ten furlongs, and is all the more meritorious given he won the Irish St Leger over a mile and three-quarters last backend. I'd be concerned about his stamina at this trip, however; he was running out of gas over two miles in the Long Distance Cup on Champions Day and - at the risk of repeating myself - this is another half a mile of green road.

Magic Circle is interesting: he won the Chester Cup over an extended two and a quarter miles this time (ish) last year, then ran away by six lengths in the Henry II Stakes, and has been upped for the Cups this term. Given that this year's less impressive Henry II winner, Dee Ex Bee, is second favourite, this chap might be over-priced at around 20/1 as he's very likely to improve from his Chester prep.

Capri appeared not to stay when upped to nigh on two miles, and Called To The Bar is another with stamina questions.

Verdict: Most of these have to prove they can see out twenty furlongs, and most of them won't be able to. Guessing as to which will is for braver/smarter people than me, so I'm happy to cheer the champ and punt a rag. I hope STRADIVARIUS wins because he's a bit of a dude: keeps finding more, almost toying with top class agitators. For a wager, I'll take the proven stamina of Magic Circle at 20/1 each way.

5.00 Britannia Stakes (Class 2 handicap, 1m, 3yo)

No no no! 30-odd three-year-olds hurtling up the straight mile is sado-masochistic stuff from a wagering perspective.

Still, remarkably, 6 of the last 9 winners returned at 10/1 or shorter. So that might help. A bit.

Nope, I really don't have any idea. Pass.

5.35 King George V Stakes (Class 2 Handicap, 1m4f, 3yo)

This is a little bit easier; only a little bit, mind.

Although it seems counter-intuitive, higher drawn horses have had the best of this. Check out this graphic of the last five years: 1m4f handicaps at Ascot, good to good/soft, 14+ runners, sorted by actual draw (i.e. removing non-runners).

 

IV3 is the average winning Impact Value of a stall and its next door neighbours and, as you can see, high fares very well. Low and middle draws still win of course but it might be prudent to focus on the bigger numbered berths.

Top weight Constantinople, from that Galileo/Danehill cross, has stall 18. He won a Group 3 last time, proving that he's already a Group horse in a handicap. We have to go back to 2001 and Beekeeper to find the last winning top weight but he might just double the 21st century tally, for all that he's a short price so to do.

Sinjaari, drawn 22, was a fast-finishing second behind Headman in the London Gold Cup when last seen. That form may have been boosted earlier in the afternoon by his narrow conqueror, but either way the step up to a mile and a half looks perfect for this fellow.

Further back in that Newbury race was Majestic Dawn, trained by Paul Cole and ridden by David Probert. He had a rough beginning last time, stumbling out of the stalls and finding himself at the back of the field. But he ran on into a never nearer seventh, beaten six lengths. He'd previously won a Newbury maiden by six lengths so, given a smoother transit, he could outrun his current 33/1 quotes.

Questionare makes his handicap debut in very different conditions from the pair of conditions races in which he's been narrowly defeated. Frankie takes the mount and we'll see what he can do from stall five.

Another low drawn fancied horse is the Andrew Balding-trained Fox Premier. A winner of his last two, both in small fields, he'll need plenty of luck in running with his waited with style.

Aidan O'Brien has three others besides Constantinople, perhaps Eminence being the pick of them. Drawn 19, he was a winner of his only handicap, on soft ground. By Sea The Stars, there's a good chance he'll appreciate this longer trip, Wayne Lordan getting the ride.

Loads more chances, naturally enough.

Verdict: Aidan O'Brien has a strong hand in this, his Constantinople the penalised class of the field. I'll chance the London Gold Cup form, however, in the shape of Sinjaari each way. From that same race, the Hail Mary play is Majestic Dawn at 33/1 or so.

**

This feels like the toughest day of the week so far, and Tuesday/Wednesday weren't easy! The last two races are not for me, so here's hoping we get something on the board early doors. Win, lose or draw I'll be back for more tomorrow...

Matt

Royal Ascot 2019: Day 2 Preview, Tips

With 48 hour declarations now well established on the flat, it is possible to preview Day 2 - Wednesday - at Royal Ascot before Tuesday's races have been run. And so, as we look ahead to the Prince Of Wales's Stakes and five other top class clashes, we may have already cleared a sizeable chunk... or dug an equally large hole! More likely is somewhere in between with much still to play for.

Trends for Wednesday's races can be found in Andy Newton's Royal Ascot Day 2 Trends.

We start Royal Ascot Day Two with the juvenile fillies, and specifically the

2.30 Queen Mary Stakes (Group 2, 5f, 2yo Fillies)

The first fillies' juvenile event of the week and, incredibly, a race Aidan O'Brien has never won. It's far from a playable angle, however, as he didn't have a runner between 2003 and 2008, and then only had two runners in the decade between 2008 and last year. More to the point, his form of 633320000842 suggests it's only a matter of time before one falls in.

Tango, a daughter of No Nay Never, was beaten narrowly on her career bow before dancing home at 1/6 on her more recent start. While none has run from her winning race, the form of her debut has worked out well enough. 16/1 seems sure to truncate before post time.

28 - count 'em - go to post with Tango drawn low in 2. Meanwhile, on the other side, Final Song is berthed in stall 23. A five length winner in a small field on soft ground over this course and distance, the turf will be a tad more rapid now. The form has taken a boost, with Star Alexander winning by six lengths at Bath since.

Good Vibes is one of those unfashionable types with plenty of ability and, if trained by either Aidan or a Godolphin handler, would likely be favourite. Beaten into a five length second by a filly forced to miss the meeting, she has since won twice, most recently in the Listed Marygate Stakes at York.

Four fillies have gone from there to win here, including last year's 25/1 scorer, Signora Cabello. Three of them won at York and the other was second. That could make the Knavesmire runner-up, Mighty Spirit, of faint interest. Drawn down the middle she's run two solid seconds to date and 25/1 is rather fat.

Another with more experience is Flippa The Strippa, a scorer by daylight in the Listed National Stakes at Sandown, in spite of hanging across the track. That waywardness would be a concern but, if she hadn't run errantly she'd have won by more like three lengths and be half the price she is. The Strippa might just flash her brilliance and streak home (groan, sorry).

The first of the Wesley Ward wunners this week lines up here in the fleet form of Anna's Fast. She sure was when storming clear by five-and-a-half lengths in a Keeneland maiden special weight. As usual we're left to project from there to here, but it is worth pointing out that Wes won this with Lady Aurelia and Acapulco in 2015 and 2016.

Ward also saddles Kimari, jockey bookings suggesting this might be the preferred of the pair. John Velazquez rides the daughter of Munnings who won by, wait for it, FIFTEEN LENGTHS on her debut over four and a half furlongs! Johnny V has ridden three Royal Ascot winners, all for WW, and this young lady will likely blaze the trail.

Ickworth looks the pick of the Irish on form, winning a Listed race as the second of her unbeaten-in-two runs to date. She clocked a moderate time but it was a clear cut success.

Verdict: Very tricky as the volume of runners and limited form available to analyse suggests. I backed Good Vibes after her York win and I think she's still a tickle of value at 8/1. Kimari should be a fun watch but might be scrambling from the furlong pole; and both Flippa The Strippa (16/1) and Final Song look capable of going close. I'll take Flippa and the Vibes each way against the field.

3.05 Queen's Vase (Group 2, 1m 6f, 3yo)

Firmly established as a pre-eminent St Leger trial and also a favourite of Aidan O'Brien's, the Ballydoyle legend having won it six times since 2007. That sextet is actually one less than Mark Johnston's seven Queen's Vases and, with Sir Michael Stoute (four) and Saeed bin Suroor (two) chipping in with another six between them, there has been little joy for anyone else since 1998.

If SMS and SbS help us out by absenting, Johnston (two) and O'Brien (four) are predictably well-represented amongst the 13-strong field.

Western Australia heads Aidan's quartet, the son of - you're ahead of me here - Australia showing some of his best form when upped to 1m5f in the Listed Yeats Stakes last time. He'd been a close third in the Vertem Futurity (ex Racing Post Trophy) as a two-year-old and seems to be coming into his own over staying distances. Donnacha O'Brien rides and this lad would be just about jolly for the St Leger should he prevail here. Given that he's 20/1 for that gig currently, if you like him for the Vase it's worth lobbing 20% of your stake on the September Classic.

This has been a race for Galileo down the years, the super sire notching five winners since Mahler, his first Royal Ascot score, in 2007. He's fathered three of the last four Queen's Vase winners. First of his four sons to line up may be Norway, a quiet fancy of mine for the Derby frame but who was all over the shop on that peculiar piste. Ryan Moore takes the ride.

Heading a brace of Charlie Appleby runners is the very lightly raced Jalmoud. A winner on the second of two lifetime starts, in a Newmarket novice stakes that has worked out only all right (second beaten twice since, third won and then ran second in a Listed race), he has to find a few pounds with the pick of that. The extra range might help as too will the fact it's only his third lifetime start, so it is not inconceivable, though I feel his 103 rating may be a bit high.

Andrew Balding saddles an interesting outsider, Dashing Willoughby. Only just behind Norway when they were both whacked by Sir Dragonet at Chester, Willoughby has some decent form tie-ins prior to that, including in the aforementioned Vertem Futurity. He, like Nate The Great, is a son of Nathaniel, that one looking for his first Royal Ascot winner as a sire. He almost got it form this fellow last year when he finished second in Arthur Kitt's Chesham.

Verdict: An intriguing heat that is bound to have a bearing on the St Leger market. WESTERN AUSTRALIA is worth backing from the same stake unit (say, 80/20) for both this and the Doncaster Classic, at 7/2 and 20/1 respectively.

 

3.40 Prince Of Wales's Stakes (Group 1, 1m2f, 4yo+)

Arguably the race of the week, the Prince Of Wales's Stakes field is headed by a pair of fillies - Magical and Sea Of Class - that may end up locking horns again in the autumn if not before.

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Magical has the fitness edge on this occasion, having already run - and won - three times this campaign. In beating the same horse, Flag Of Honour, each time it can be argued that the form is hollow. I respect that line, but the thrice runner-up is a Group 1 winner in his own right, taking the Irish St Leger last season, and has a number of top class efforts with which to back that up. For her part, Magical put seven long-looking lengths between herself and the Flag last time.

On a line through Enable (does anyone put lines through other horses any more?), there is little between Magical and Sea Of Class, William Haggas's filly running an unlucky short neck second in the Arc. This is her first run since and she'd be entitled to need it; but the betting has spoken positively of her well-being. Her turn of foot is a noteworthy asset which sets up an interesting tactical script, with Magical (and indeed the as yet unmentioned Crystal Ocean) more likely to be prominent.

Sir Michael Stoute's ability to coax improvement over the course of three, four and even five seasons is rightly famous. In Crystal Ocean we have the second example this week - after Mustashry - of such a project. Second in the St Leger as a three-year-old, he won the Hardwicke at the Royal meeting last year as well as finishing second in both the King George and the Champion Stakes, both on this track. A brace of comfortable Group 3 victories have promised more in 2019, though there is a niggle that he may again have to settle for minor honours in the top grade.

Waldgeist is a high class animal which I've singularly failed to accurately peg across two seasons now. One of my biggest bets of last season was win and place on him in the 2018 Breeders' Cup Turf; having run a mighty fourth in the Arc he sulked, flunked and clunked his way to a never-sighted fifth in the Churchill Downs season finale. It's possible the ground went against him a little there, and it's also possible that he didn't travel (form of 131225111141 in France, 42455 outside France). I just have to let him beat me - and beat me he probably will!

Zabeel Prince has been quietly progressive, claiming the Group 1 Prix d'Ispahan on his most recent start. Now six, he'd competed largely at a mile until this season, the step up in distance seeing him unbeaten in two including that G1 score. A French ten furlong contest however has a very different pace to it than a typical British one. Still, he could compete for the frame under the excellent Andrea Atzeni.

Of the outsiders, the Japanese will probably pile into the new 'World Pool' (a commingled tote pool where money from Hong Kong, Japan and other jurisdictions will be bet alongside UK tote funds, and that is expected to swell the turnover significantly) making 'their' filly Deirdre a curiously lop-sided price. She's 50/1 with our bookies but might go off a single figure price on the tote.

Her fourth in the G1 Dubai Turf (1m1f) is not a mile from what's needed to get involved, but she's not looked quite the force of last year in three 2019 spins.

Verdict: A good cast with two high class fillies bidding to be leading lady. MAGICAL's fitness edge gets her the nod, though Sea Of Class is feared, her turn of foot a powerful asset in a ten furlong Ascot race. It's no match race, however, and the likes of Crystal Ocean and Zabeel Prince - as well as, heaven forbid, Waldgeist - would only register as mild upsets. 2/1 about the selection is short enough, but I am struggling to see past her.

4.20 Duke Of Cambridge Stakes (Group 2, 1m, 4yo+ fillies & mares)

Now this is tough. Seventeen older mares racing on the straight mile for a Group 2 contest.

There have been fifteen renewals of the race formerly known as the Windsor Forest Stakes, and all bar two went to a filly which made the frame last time out. All bar one of the victors had scored over a mile-plus previously, and the same number had at least a Group 3 score to their name.

Those three angles reduce the field to just five, though I want to retain the Group 2-placed pair of Rawdaa and Red Tea for now. The shortlist, then, includes that duo as well as I Can Fly, Anna Nerium, Nyaleti, Threading and Veracious.

Rawdaa, a strict chuck out on trends, is favourite as I write. Lightly raced with just seven starts, she was a close second to Lah Ti Dar in the Group 2 Middleton Stakes at York's Dante meeting last month. While she seems to be improving, this step back in trip, albeit on a taxing straight track, combined with a propensity to bridesmaid duties (four seconds in seven starts) means she'll not be for me, though she may again catch the bouquet.

Joseph O'Brien's Red Tea is an interesting Irish contender. A five length winner in a handicap field of 27 on the Curragh's (nearly) straight mile, she backed that up with a closing third in a much smaller field last time over the same course and distance. This stiff straight mile looks right up her street and she's improved plenty for the change of scenery, having formerly been with Peter Hiatt.

Aidan O'Brien runs I Can Fly, a filly who is very good on her day, as she showed when a neck second to Roaring Lion in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes over course and distance last October. But she throws in plenty of duffers along the way. Second in the race in which Red Tea was third, the latter perhaps ought not to be nearly three times the price.

Sir Michael Stoute trains Veracious for Cheveley Park Stud. Another lightly raced filly, she won the Group 3 Atalanta Stakes at Sandown last term, and has been running over nine furlongs the last twice, slightly disappointing as favourite on both occasions. Clearly thought to have plenty of ability, hence the market confidence, she should be spot on for this third dance of the campaign. Her overall win profile is off-putting, however.

Veracious was sent off the well-backed 5/4 jolly last time but was only third to Anna Nerium in an Epsom Group 3. Richard Hannon's filly was comprehensively outclassed on both attempts at Group 1 prizes and, while this is a rung below, she may not have the requisite improvement.

Threading won the Group 2 Lowther Stakes as a two-year-old and the Listed Michael Seely Stakes at three. She was also an excellent second in the Group 1 Coronation Stakes at last year's Royal Ascot meeting. Now four, she makes her 2019 bow 266 days after she last ran and looks likely to need it even if she was otherwise good enough, which I suspect she possibly is not.

Those without a win at a mile-plus or in Group class include Pretty Baby and Agrotera, both prominent in the market but both with a bit to prove. The former has won at Group 3 level but that was over seven furlongs; this mile feels more like nine furlongs so, while she hasn't yet failed to stay as far, she has to demonstrate stamina at a price which fully assumes she will see it out.

Agrotera is a course and distance winner, in the Class 2 Sandringham Handicap (downgraded last term to avoid, like the Wolferton, having Listed handicaps at the meeting) of 2018. Distance no issue then, but has she the class? Defeats in a pair of Listed contests this term suggest not, for all that she beat a fair field in an all weather Listed fillies' event last time.

Verdict: A big field but plenty who either probably don't stay or are probably not good enough. The 'now' filly seems to be RED TEA, whose Curragh form looks decent and repeatable. She takes a little while to hit top stride but finds plenty thereafter so, with the likes of Pretty Baby and Shenanigans expected to take them along at a fair lick, she's a surprisingly warm fancy. 14/1 each way has been taken.

5.00 Royal Hunt Cup (Class 2, 1m, 3yo+)

Red Tea would have actually had a pretty strong chance in this race had she lined up here rather than the preceding Duke Of Cambridge. As it is, 30-odd capable 'cappers will career down the same straight mile. Abundant ability as well as luck with the draw and in running are prerequisites: it is not a race for the fainthearted!

Let's first try to fathom the draw: New Graduate, the strong favourite, is boxed in one with a prominent run style. All around him are hold up types so he might get something of a solo on the far side. Meanwhile, in the middle, Zhui Feng should carry that group forward from stall 14. And Vale Of Kent is expected to play pied piper for high - stands' side - from trap 29. The likelihood of at least two groups is shorter than even money in my view, and it could be that the balance of the pace is middle to high. Topweight Cardsharp is drawn 33, from where three winners have emerged of the eight to be housed therein since the field was expanded to include reserves.

It's obviously a terribly difficult race in which to find the winner but a couple of trends might help us get to a workable short(er)list.

- All bar one of the last 17 winners had won at the trip previously. Eight of these have not.

- 14 of the last 17 winners were aged four or five. Eight of those remaining are older (and one might still win, of course).

We're still left with 17 potential winners. Last time out winners have only won twice since 2004 which seems a remarkable statistic, especially when you consider that that group includes nine beaten favourites or joint-favourites. I was tempted by the 8/1 New Graduate last week; having missed the boat I am not attracted by the 6/1 now. He was super-impressive at Ripon, form which is working out well, and he's probably a Group horse. But his draw and his price, and the fate of many of his last day victor/jolly peers, is enough to look for what might be a sliver of value elsewhere.

Last year's winner Settle For Bay, the classy Robin Of Navan and the potentially well-handicapped and well-suited Raising Sand are all around 12/1, and co-second-choices in the market; the latter pair are also both older horses. So, for all that I quite like the form chance of both, particularly Raising Sand, I'm resisting the urge to back them - for now at least.

It would be an incredibly unbelievably amazing training feat should David Marnane saddle Settle For Bay to back-to-back Royal Hunt Cup wins. Indeed, Wikipedia tells me the last such horse was Master Vote in 1948/49, seventy years ago. Marnane is a peerless target trainer who is riding through relatively hard times at the moment, but he continues to show what he can do when he gets a smart one, and I'd love to see him double up. But I won't be betting on it even though his mile form is very, very hard to crab.

If the bad news is that we've probably indiscriminately lobbed the winner, the good news is we'll have at least 16/1 about our value loser!

And who might that be?

Looking at those drawn middle to high, with form in big fields and ideally with a hold up run style, the quartet of King's Field, Clon Coulis, Petrus and Seniority dodge the pseudo-quasi-arbitrary draw, pace and trends bullets to comprise my shortlist.

Maybe Joseph O'Brien left Red Tea in the Duke Of Cambridge Stakes because he had King's Field for this one. With just nine races to his name he's still improving, he has form in big fields and his pilot, Donnacha O'Brien, will have options regarding which side of the track to race. 25/1 is worth a stab.

Clon Coulis is a dual Listed winner, including on the round mile here, and was running to a high level on the all weather when last seen on Finals Day on Good Friday. I'm not totally convinced about the big field but Jamie Spencer will perfectly complement this mare's natural hold up style and they might cruise into contention down the middle of the pack. 28/1 is the top price currently available.

A dancer of many similar dances is Petrus, winner of Doncaster's Spring Mile on the opening day of the season. He followed up in a valuable race at Bath on Good Friday and has since run with credit once more in a decent Newbury handicap. There is a suspicion the handicapper has caught up with him now; moreover, he was only mid-div in last year's Britannia over the same track and trip, and off a three pounds lower mark.

Seniority would be a Royal winner - well that would be marvellous for most, I'd say. Five pounds higher than when a four length eighth last year doesn't suggest William Haggas's runner is thrown in, nor I'm afraid does his form on straight tracks (780). It'll be a hats off job, but it won't carry my cash.

Verdict: Obviously enormously competitive. No surprise - a little frustration but no surprise - to see any of New Graduate, Raising Sand, Robin Of Navan or Settle For Bay win. But I'm splitting my (smallish, this is bravado betting) stake between King's Field and Clon Coulis. Both seem favoured by conditions, both thrive off a solid pace, and both have quietly ascendant profiles. Importantly, both are around the 25/1 mark.

As usual, get as many extra places as you can. Six should be a minimum and you might find a generous soul paying eight places come the day.

5.35 Windsor Castle Stakes (Listed, 5f, 2yo)

A 24 runner five furlong juvenile event where they bet 8/1 the field. The Hunt Cup is easier!

I won't be betting in this race, and I'll be taking ten of them on the multi-race place bets.

The one I'll mostly be cheering, though, is geegeez.co.uk's sponsored jockey, David Probert, aboard Symbolize. He has plenty to find on the form of his debut win, but that victory took connections by surprise as they were expecting the horse to need more time. He's come on a good bit since then - I assume similar comments apply to pretty much the entire field - and he'd be a cherished moment for the 'geegeez lucky pants' shown in the image atop this post!

Trippy trappy stuff on day two - good luck!

Matt

Royal Ascot 2019: Day 1 Preview, Tips

It's Royal Ascot 2019, the finest week in the flat racing calendar. Thirty conventions of the highest equine order equally divided across five days are set to appeal on levels from pure theatre through social and royal spectacle to ultimate wagering puzzles. As you've come to expect if you've been eyeballing these digipages for a while, we'll be focusing on the last named, and we start on Tuesday with the icing on the cake, three Group 1's interrupted only by a minor dip into Group 2 status.

As well as this post, you may also be interested in Andy's Royal Ascot Day 1 Trends.

2.30 Queen Anne Stakes (Group 1, 1m, 4yo+)

The Royal meeting begins with a bang. Actually, given its G1-G2-G1-G1 opening quartet of races, it begins with a two hour firework display of equine superstars. The tone is set in the very first play, the Queen Anne Stakes, a test of speed, class and stamina up the straight mile course.

The outstanding key trial for this race is the Lockinge Stakes, a race in which eleven of the Queen Anne winners this century have appeared prior to their late June success. If that's the interesting part, the fact that no fewer than eighty Lockinge runners showed up in those 19 renewals means we have to pick between a number of possibles if we elect to go down this well trodden path.

Of the eleven Queen Anne winners to run in the Lockinge this century, only four completed the Newbury-Ascot double and just one more had made the first three in that prior race; those were from 15 and 39 runners respectively, and are unappetising figures overall.

More interesting to value seekers is the subsequent showing of Lockinge also rans: those placed fourth or worse and beaten less than ten lengths won as many Queen Anne's as the top three, but from just 23 runners and for an SP profit of 41.83 points. Clearly last year's 33/1 winner, Accidental Agent, was a large factor in that; but Refuse To Bend at 12/1, No Excuse Needed at 13/2 and Haradasun at 5/1 (as well as 10/3 Paco Boy) all fitted this pattern.

This year, that would point to the chance of Romanised or Le Brivido, fourth and fifth respectively at Newbury. Le Brivido is, somehow, favourite: he won the Jersey Stakes two years ago when trained by Andre Fabre before just one more sighting for the French maestro when down the field in the 2018 Abernant Stakes, a six furlong Group 3. That didn't obviously scream mile Group 1 winner, and nor did a debut third for Aidan O'Brien (whose record in the race is only so-so) in a seven furlong Naas G3. The Newbury effort was certainly eye-catching, but a price of 4/1 is terrible value win, lose or draw.

Romanised, who didn't have a completely smooth transit in the Lockinge, is 40/1, fully ten times the price of the horse he beat by a place in that previous spin. He'd shaped encouraginly in the same Naas race as Le Brivido the time before - the first five covered by just a length and a quarter - and he'd have place prospects again here.

The winner and second from the Lockinge are of obvious interest on form. Mustashry was a ready victor, seeing it out better than Laurens, who might be expected to come on a touch more for the run. The former represents the patience of Sir Michael Stoute and, now six, his record in straight track Group races on good ground or better - I expect it to be genuinely good on the opening day - is 71131. He's 11/2 which is very fair.

Laurens, too, has straight track mile form: she won the Fillies' Mile and Sun Chariot, both Newmarket Group 1's, and has a career string of 12112182 without a turn. She's a hugely talented and consistent filly, 7/1 surely understating her chance a touch even if she has been beaten on both starts against the boys.

Away from the Lockinge form, Barney Roy returns to racing having proved a dud at stud. He showed at least some of the old zeal for this game when romping away in a Listed contest at Longchamp. The merit of that form, and his only other run since the comeback here at Ascot in a trial for this, is middling at best and those getting stuck in - his price has truncated a good bit - are taking plenty on trust. Indeed it's questionable whether a peak Barney Roy has the form to win this; personally I suspect not, but he wouldn't have much to find even if I'm right to have reservations. The price is short and that's a pass from me.

Last year's winner, Accidental Agent, was third in the Lockinge so comes here in good heart. 3rd placed runners from that race are 0 from 11 here, which is a quirky happenstance stat; but this race feels deeper than last year's renewal. He ought to give each way backers at 12/1 a run for their money but I don't quite see him being good enough to repeat, something even the likes of peak Paco Boy and Goldikova failed to do.

Of the rest, Hazapour has to step forward plenty to challenge here, though his trainer Dermot Weld rarely comes over simply to peacock in his morning suit; Lord Glitters was bashed out of sight in the Lockinge and even allowing for that being a seasonal bow and him being second in the race last year, it's a leap too far for me to back him; and Olmedo was the winner of the French 2000 Guineas last term but has been beaten all four runs since.

Dream Castle, who has been doing all his running in Dubai since January last year, wouldn't be the biggest shock: he'd have likely needed it when beaten less than two lengths in the G1 Prix d'Ispahan last time; and he was a Group 1 winner as recently as March in the Jebel Hatta at the Carnival.

I don't really see  the others figuring.

Verdict: It's a field with reasonable quality and quantity whilst lacking a superstar. Mustashry, the only horse with a 120+ rating, looks over-priced at 11/2, as does Romanised at 40's, albeit in a small Hail Mary context (is it too early to be thinking about the getting out stakes?!). Plenty of others are credible: about ten of these would not be a shock to me, though are considered either less likely or poorer value or both.

3.05 Coventry Stakes (Group 2, 6f, 2yo)

The first of the week's juvenile races is one chock full of talking horses, many of whom will go on to walk the talk either here or later in the season. It's almost impossible for someone like me, who doesn't really 'do' ratings to have a handle on the respective merits of this gang, so I'll regurgitate some figures from elsewhere.

Racing Post Ratings have four horses within a pound of each other, headed by Monoski (112) and followed by a trio of 111's in Arizona, Fort Myers and Well Of Wisdom.

Topspeed has two of the talkiest of the talking horses, Guildsman and Threat, at the top of his figures pile; while our own Peter May has Threat and Well Of Wisdom clear of Guildsman and Monoski.

It is, however, a race where most will step forward on what they've achieved thus far and where it is often about trying to project which will improve the most.

Aidan O'Brien has won the Coventry a remarkable eight times since his first, Harbour Master in 1997. He saddles a quartet this time, jockey bookings suggesting that Arizona (Ryan Moore) and Fort Myers (Donnacha O'Brien) are the preferred pair. King Of Athens and Royal Lytham complete the team, only the last named of which is not by a US sire.

None of the above is helping me massively, so let's deploy a couple of statistics/trends:

- All of the last 17 winners also won last time out

- 15 of the last 17 winners returned 8/1 or shorter

That narrows it down to the first three in the market: Arizona, Threat and Guildsman.

Arizona was not given a hard time when runner up to Sunday Sovereign on debut before stepping up notably on that when storming eight lengths clear of the re-opposing King Of Athens. It's interesting that the King is in here too, presumably he's done very well since. Either that or he's a hare, if ever such a pacemaker was needed in a six furlong dash. Regardless, Arizona's performance at the Curragh last time makes him the one to beat for me.

Threat was highly impressive over the minimum at Newmarket on his sole start and is bred to get further than this six in time. His trainer has spoken of him in effusive terms though the substance of his win has yet to be truly franked.

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Guildsman was green enough despite winning by six lengths at Goodwood on his debut. That was on soft ground and, reported jockey Oisin Murphy, "he wasn't doing a tap in front". The perception is that there's more to come and, if he takes the expected quicker turf in his ample stride, he should go well again.

Monoski found only the sidelined Bomb Proof too good on debut at York before hurtling away with a Pontefract conditions event on his only other run. Ponte is around a turn, though, and this looks a challenge of an altogether different type.

One who is backing up quickly is Royal Lytham, of whom the market suggested not too much was expected first time out. That didn't stop him finishing much the best to see off his odds-on stablemate and he looks the type to run on nicely in a frenetic heat such as this.

Well Of Wisdom is better than a finishing position of third in his last run suggests: he got broadsided a furlong out and was beaten a short head and a nose under hands and heels. Second there, and the offender in the barging match, was Fort Myers, but he doesn't look quite up to this.

Verdict: Somewhat out of my depth here, I won't be straying too far from the head of the market. ARIZONA looked impressive on his second try with only a smart one besting him on debut. He's an unimaginative selection but, representing the eight-time-winning Ballydoyle team, he ought to go close at least at around 5/2.

3.40 King's Stand Stakes (Group 1, 5f, 3yo+)

After that brief and fascinating hiatus, we return to Group 1 action, and 'action' is indeed the operative word. A dozen of the most rapid turf racers on the planet lock horns over the five-eighths of a mile, headed by last year's winner, Blue Point.

A year ago, he travelled well through the race before surging past his rivals in the final furlong. In second and third were Battaash and Mabs Cross, both of whom franked the form in G1 or G2 company thereafter. Blue Point himself got a little lost in two further UK runs in 2018 before rediscovering the winning knack in Meydan. There, a hat-trick of odds-on scores culminated in a comfortable victory in the million quid Al Quoz Sprint (G1) on World Cup night.

He makes his 2019 domestic debut in the King's Stand and one must assume he has recovered both from the exertions of three runs in six weeks and from the travel around the world back to Newmarket. The market vibes are strong and it is not impossible he's an improved horse this year. Most of his ratings are around the same mark, however, suggesting he is likely to run to about 120.

The question then is whether any of his rivals can better that peg.

Battaash was impressive in the Temple Stakes, a Group 2 at Haydock which he won last year en route to running up to Blue Point in the King's Stand. His best form gives him the jump on that rival but, when it's come to Group 1 company, he's tended to find one or two too good. A quote of 2/1 leaves no margin for error.

Mabs Cross is an under-rated mare: she's trained and owned by slightly unfashionable connections, but she's mighty fast. As well as taking bronze behind the aforementioned duo in the 2018 King's Stand, she was agonisingly beaten in the Nunthorpe (Blue Point and Battaash behind) and then won the G1 Prix de l'Abbaye (Battaash again behind).

This season she won the Palace House Stakes before running a little flat in the Temple Stakes (3rd behind Battaash), but that overall level of form surely does not make her a 9/1 shot.

Sergei Prokofiev is a horse I've personally found hard to catch right. He was third in the Coventry (six furlongs) last year, but has beaten just one rival in two Group 1 contests in his career to date. A two-and-a-half length fourth to Mabs Cross last time does not obviously give him that one's beating, and yet he's 6/1. Not for me and I'll suck it up if he wins.

The US raider, Imprimis, should not be taken lightly. He's got more dimensions than the typical early speed type we're used to Wesley Ward saddling; this lad, trained by Joseph Orseno, is a late runner. Indeed, he rallied very late last time to prevail in the Grade 2 Shakertown at Keeneland, a performance all the more meritorious considering he bobbled very badly at the gates and nearly came down.

Imprimis is a winning machine, coming first in seven of his nine career starts. This will be the first time the Florida resident has travelled further than Woodbine, Canada (where he failed to give his running), and it will also be the first time he's encountered a straight track. The rising five might be to his advantage actually, as he stays a little further than the minimum, but whether he's quite good enough, I'm not at all sure.

At bigger prices, Soldier's Call is interesting. Notably weak in the betting ahead of his 2019 bow at York, he hung tough for a long way before giving best in a three-way go. If he was expected to come on for the run, he'll arrive here cherry ripe and with trainer Archie Watson in terrific form with his sprinters. He ran some mighty races as a two-year-old, including when a neck third in the Abbaye in receipt of a stone weight for age.

And what about Fairyland, whose pedigree hints at sprints and yet she's been campaigned at a mile? Six might have been better than this five, but she's not without a squeak and ought to find the distance more to her liking than the two 1000 Guineas she's contested hitherto this season.

The Australian sprinter, Houtzen, is a good few pounds behind their best speedsters and, on ratings at least, a few more pounds behind the likes of Blue Point, Battaash and Mabs Cross. Of more interest, from an emotional if not a form perspective, is New Zealand's Enzo's Boy. He was 73/1 when he popped up in the Grade 1 Telegraph in January 2018, and he was 32/1 when he repeated the feat this year!

More than that, though, his trainer Michael Pitman has a desperately sad story: his son, Johnny, took his own life five years ago, aged just 28. Since that hammer blow, Pitman has been diagnosed with and beaten bowel cancer; and he's now a vocal advocate for both of these very personal causes. His horse doesn't look to have much chance in the King's Stand, though connections also plan to run in the Diamond Jubilee over six on Saturday, and you couldn't not be delighted for them if he ran a big one.

Verdict: A competitive and deep King's Stand, and one in which we could easily see last year's 1-2-3 fill the podium again. Battaash is the class of the race but doesn't always bring his A game; likewise Blue Point who is not far behind the favourite on form and was flying when last seen in Dubai. The faster they go the better it will suit Mabs Cross and I think, at the prices, she's the bet each way at 9/1. The likes of Imprimis and Soldier's Call are interesting supporting actors in what is a compelling puzzle.

4.20 St James's Palace Stakes (Group 1, 1m, 3yo)

The highlight of day one, as if that opening trio were not highlights enough, is the one mile Group 1 St James's Palace Stakes. It is the traditional convergence of the 2000 Guineas form lines, this year represented by Phoenix Of Spain, Too Darn Hot and Skardu (Irish); Shaman (French); and Fox Champion (German). Newmarket also-ran Royal Marine looks a token player from that race.

Favoured after his unambiguous Irish success is Phoenix Of Spain, who was all of three lengths too darn good for Too Darn Hot at the Curragh. On that run it is very hard to see the latter reversing form. But... John Gosden, a man who gets little wrong when it comes to training and campaigning his blue bloods, has conceded that he's rather horlicksed TDH's Classic campaign thus far.

Having missed the 2000 Guineas due to an unsatisfactory preparation, last year's champion two-year-old was rushed to the Dante where, ostensibly, he didn't quite stay the ten and a half furlong trip. Whether that's correct or not, he probably had a hard enough race, so travelling to Ireland just nine days later for the Curragh Guineas was somewhere on the brave-foolhardy continuum.

Three and a half weeks have passed and here we are again: no travel involved this time and a little more space since those two draining spins. Too Darn Hot had two verdicts over Phoenix Of Spain as a juvenile and, while it's possible the Irish 2000 Guineas winner has improved while the second there has stood still - regressed, actually, according to official figures - that last bit seems unlikely.

That's a rather verbose way of saying I think there are sound reasons to believe that the tables will be turned here and that Too Darn Hot will come out on top.

Gosden also saddles King Of Comedy, a later bloomer than his stablemate. The son of Kingman has looked impressive and progressive, albeit in less capable company, in a pair of wins this season most recently when strolling away with the Listed Heron Stakes at Sandown. He has that 'could be anything' tag, and Sandown's right-hand oval with an uphill finish wouldn't be a million miles away from the course and distance traversed here. But this lad is a bit of a moody so and so, and could conceivably boil over a touch in the preliminaries. He has an ascendant form profile but I've reservations about his temperament; and that, allied to needing to find maybe ten pounds improvement, is a no.

French raider, Shaman, may be a little over-priced from an each-way perspective at around 12/1. His second in their 2000 Guineas behind Persian King was achieved on heavy, but this Shamardal colt had previously prevailed on the anticipated good ground. He is expected to race prominently and can get first run on better-fancied contenders. Whether he's good enough to fend them off is another question entirely but, given the run of the race, he could make the frame.

Both Circus Maximus and Skardu arrive here after disappointing in Classics - the Derby and Irish 2000 Guineas respectively - and both look a little short of the standard in what is a deep renewal. Like the Queen Anne, what the St. James's Palace maybe lacks in terms of a superstar it makes up for in breadth of quality. And, of course, the real Too Darn Hot may step forward.

Verdict: This looks the moment when TOO DARN HOT shows his true colours. An outstanding juvenile last season, he's had legit excuses the first twice this term. Whilst going to the well a third time in a little over a month is a big ask, I feel he ought to be able to trade places with Phoenix Of Spain, making 5/2 reasonable. Of the bigger prices, Shaman could be well positioned to nick a place and 12/1 is faintly appealing in that context.

5.00 Ascot Stakes (Class 2 handicap, 2m 4f, 4yo+)

Twenty older horses, many of them used to a tweedy parade ring rather than one full of toppers and tails, and the first of the week's near impossible handicap puzzles. A trend may be our friend in the circumstances, so here are three:

14 of the last 17 were won by a predominantly National Hunt stable, including the last nine

The last five winners were all Irish-trained (three by Willie Mullins)

The best win and place strike rates were achieved by horses returning from an absence of 14-60 days

That leaves six, and I'm happy to lob the old boys, Snow Falcon and Arctic Fire. Four on the shortlist then, as follows:

Mengli Khan, Kerosin, Batts Rock and Buildmeupbuttercup.

Let's start with the last named, trained by that man Willie and his only runner in the race this year. Three flat runs for Mick Channon yielded little in the way of joy, a Listed race fourth followed by two last place finishes in Group 3 and Listed company. Those followed a more promising career in bumpers, where the mare won two and was fifth in the Grade 2 mares' bumper at the Grand National meeting last year.

After the third of her flat runs she was transferred to Mullins where she promptly won a maiden hurdle from a huge field before running poorly in four attempts at Graded company. Whilst it is impossible to ignore her trainer's record in the race, and the fact she gets Ryan Moore's encouragement from the saddle, she is a horrible price at around 4/1 given her recent form and the balance of her flat history. Clearly she'd not be a shock winner but I'm still looking for my wager.

Gordon Elliott has come to play, and he saddles both Batts Rock and Mengli Khan. Batts Rock's flat form has been mostly at a mile and a half but his most recent hurdle start was around this trip and he improved for it, albeit in a Downpatrick maiden hurdle! Frankie Dettori is an interesting jockey booking for an experienced horse who won two on the level last summer, including a Curragh handicap.

Mengli Khan was a good flat horse for Hugo Palmer before being sold to Gigginstown and becoming a very good hurdler. The son of Lope De Vega, out of a Danehill mare, is beautifully bred for the flat game and yet has managed to make the frame in Grade 1 company at the last two Cheltenham Festivals. Drawn in two, Rory Cleary will have to be careful not to get boxed up on the rail, but Mengli's prominent run style can help him out of trouble. He should probably be favourite, in my view, so 6/1 is all right.

Kerosin represents the shrewd Denis Hogan yard, who has infamously been asked by the BHA about running style plans for three of his recent UK entries. There should be no such questions here, with Oisin Murphy's mount set to track the pace from a single figure draw. Winner of a Navan two mile handicap last time out, he comes over in form and with a couple of pounds in hand of his peak flat rating. Again, he'd not be a shock winner.

Of the UK contingent, Coeur De Lion was less than five lengths behind the winner last year but is two pounds higher now; Time To Study has dropped a long way in the handicap and this might have been the plan; and Jukebox Jive, formerly trained by Anthony Honeyball, makes his debut for Jamie Osborne, a man who does extremely well with debutants after a yard switch.

Verdict: Impossible as it is supposed to be. Mengli Khan has an obvious chance and 6/1 is not ungenerous. And perhaps one of Time To Study (22/1) or Jukebox Jive (40/1) will offer some excitement for windmill tilters. Get as many extra places as you can!

5.35 Wolferton Stakes (Listed, 1m2f, 4yo+)

The Wolferton is no longer a handicap as of last year, but it remains a challenging puzzle.

The most interesting runner in the field is arguably last year's Irish Derby winner, Latrobe, who was second in both the Irish St Leger and the McKinnon Stakes - Group/Grade 1's the pair - last backend. Rated 113, he is the class of the field and it is a surprise to me that he's not nearly favourite.

Elarqam is favourite after an impressive win in Listed company at Goodwood last month. He's capable of better but needs to be to concede three pounds to Joseph O'Brien's runner.

Magic Wand is a little more playable on her run behind Bricks And Mortar in the Pegasus Turf Invitational. Ten furlongs looks like her trip and I can see her being sent off market leader.

Willie Mullins runs Riven Light, another of the globetrotters in the field. He all but won a class and distance contest at the Curragh last time and has some decent form from his travels. Overall he's a little inconsistent, however, which tempers enthusiasm.

John Gosden won this three times when it was a handicap, most recently in 2015, so his Star Of Bengal, stepping up from handicaps on the all weather, cannot be completely discounted.

A number of others with some sort of a case to be made.

Verdict: There is a horse in here with back class galore, and we don't even have to look that far into the past to find it. Sure, last year's Irish Derby was a weak heat, but LATROBE supplemented that effort with silver in both the Irish Leger and an Australian Group 1 in the autumn. A little slow in coming to hand this spring after travelling around the world late last year, he showed signs of a return to form late in a Group 2 in early May. 9/1 is a very playable each way bet on a horse who should be in the van from stall two.

Good luck!

Matt

Social Discourse – The Royal Ascot One

It’s nearly here. The top hats and tails have been measured. The Pimms has been prepared, the tickets sent out, the badges inscribed.

The Royal Family have had their dresses fitted, the carriages are ready, and an army of racegoers have their best outfits – in their own minds at least – prepared. Yes, Royal Ascot is on its way, and in this edition of Social Discourse we are all about the right Royal Affair, and what you think about it.

So without further ado, let’s begin.

 

  1. Do’s and don’t’s

What rules should you follow and what pitfalls should you avoid?

https://twitter.com/Gem1304/status/1140337030947323906

It is worth saying that some of you were not as enthused about the coming week:

From yours truly:

Do:

  • If you’re headed there for the first time, take comfortable shoes. You’d be surprised at how big Ascot is from end to end
  • If you are trying to get good prices and decent each/way terms, bet the night before or in the morning. Raceday markets shorten massively
  • Think about course form. Ascot rewards repeat performers and other courses can correlate well, especially ones with stiff finishes
  • If you are going and haven’t already yet, buy and take a mobile phone charger. In fact, two if you can carry them
  • Think about where the pace is. It can be crucial in races on the straight mile but every race will be affected by it

Don’t

  • Chase: There are five days of racing here and nearly 30 races. Your week is not over after a bad day, and unless you call it quits when ahead, it’s not over after one winner
  • Go too hard too early. There’s nothing wrong with an early pint, but Royal Ascot days are long ones on course
  • Count out a horse completely because of price or draw. Plenty of big fields, especially over 1m4f, have seen high drawn horses win, and we’ve had big priced winners to boot for a ton of races as readers here know
  • Leave it late, especially if you are heading from London Waterloo – there’s a dispute between South West Railway (SWR) and the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) over train guards. Some are saying that driving by road might be the best way to do it

 

  1. Memory Lane

Now for a trip down memory lane. Let’s just say that one of you has some rather unique memories of Royal Ascot..

And onto the track based ones.....

 

Your first 30 days for just £1

And one from the Gentleman's bookmaker......

 

  1. Crown Jewels

With so many top class races – there are eight Group 1’s alone – it’s sometimes impossible to know where to look. But never fear, Twitter’s here for a crowdsourced guide.

 

The Social Discourse Choice: It was surprising not to see more shouts for the Gold Cup, but the sheer amount of talented two-year-olds we’ve seen means The Coventry has to be my pick.

 

  1. Nap Hands

Here are the naps from the great and good of Twitter:

https://twitter.com/chatman_phil/status/1140309799206305793

And last but never least....

Mine? You’ll have to wait won’t you.

 

  1. Things to look out for….
  • As ever, a bumper international crop, including horses from at least nine countries. This includes sprinters Enzo's Lad (from New Zealand) and Lim's Cruiser (Singapore), along with the Japanese mare Deirdre, who has managed to get the race moved for better viewing times at home
  • Included in this is the team of Wesley Ward, eight strong this year and boasts Diamond Jubilee contender Bound for Nowhere amongst a host of juvenile contenders
  • The final crop of the sadly departed Scat Daddy, which includes Sergei Prokofiev (King’s Stand), Qabala (Coronation Stakes), So Perfect (Commonwealth Cup, Jersey Stakes), and Beatboxer (Britannia)
  • The return of last year’s Derby winner Masar, who reappears in the Hardwicke on the final day

 

  1. Horses you can’t wait to see

And if you need any more reason to make today just fly...

 

Good luck, and let the Festivities begin!

- William Kedjanyi

Monday Musings: Royal Ascot Friends Reunited

It’s here, less than a week away from the longest day of the year, Royal Ascot begins tomorrow with a trio of Friends Reunited races, writes Tony Stafford. I can’t wait to see Battaash, Blue Point and Mabs Cross going at it again in the King’s Stand Stakes, and Phoenix Of Spain and Too Darn Hot dusting off their Irish 2,000 Guineas rivalry in the St James’s Palace Stakes.

But the most intriguing of all for me is the opener, the Queen Anne Stakes, featuring not just the one-two-three from the recent Lockinge Stakes at Newbury, that’s Mustashry, Laurens and Accidental Agent, but also five of the also-rans, in finishing order, Romanised (fourth), Le Brivido (fifth), Sharja Bridge, Beat The Bank, Mythical Magic and Lord Glitters.

It’s as if none of the seven beaten trainers could accept that the Sir Michael Stoute-trained and Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned Mustashry had been a feasible winner. Yet here was a gelded six-year-old who has won eight of his 18 career starts and, since last summer when he beat Spark Plug half a length in a Sandown ten-furlong Listed race, has improved markedly winning twice at Group 2 level before Newbury.

Laurens, runner-up on that Newbury comeback, was the glamour element to that race having won four Group 1 races last year to add to her Fillies’ Mile win at the same level the previous autumn.

Then there’s Accidental Agent, 33-1 winner of this race a year ago, with all the attendant history of trainer Eve Johnson Houghton’s family. The horse was bred by Eve’s mother and named in honour of her maternal grandfather, John Goldsmith, a trainer either side of World War 2 in France and then after the War in England. He filled in nicely between the two parts of his equine career doing a little spying for MI5 behind enemy lines in Europe as Jamie Reid’s “Blown” so graphically describes.

I trust Jamie will not forget to send me a copy of his impending portrayal of Victor Chandler, whose intervention a decade and a half ago, asking me to go to Moscow and saying “this could change your life” had no idea just how right he was. As Eric Morecambe might have said, “not necessarily for the right reason!”

The Lockinge fifth, Le Brivido, earlier an eye-catcher on his debut for Ballydoyle after Michael Tabor bought a half-share from original owner Prince Faisal bin Khaled, is another interesting participant, given his 2017 Jersey Stakes win for the Andre Fabre stable. It’s a race of countless possibilities, but it’s equally likely that the Newbury form will be upheld as Mustashry did win it emphatically.

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When you have as much success and as many good horses in your stable as John Gosden, you could probably afford to describe your 2019 handling of Too Darn Hot as appalling, or whatever term he actually used.

So far the colt has been second, after a spring setback, in the Dante, trying out for a possible tilt at the Derby, and when that plan was aborted, switched to The Curragh and the Irish 2,000 Guineas. Another second place, creditable enough but maybe a shade embarrassing for the master trainer after the unblemished two-year-old campaign, resulted there, and the second of the big three re-matches, against that surprise winner Phoenix of Spain, comes in the St James’s Palace Stakes.

In fact the pair had some previous ‘previous’. They were one and two, in reverse Curragh order in the Champagne Stakes, with Too Darn Hot a length and threequarters to the good, in the third of his four juvenile wins, rounded out in the Dewhurst.

Between those two runs Phoenix of Spain was runner-up to subsequent Newmarket 2,000 Guineas winner Magna Grecia in the Vertem Futurity at Doncaster and the Irish 2,000 was his comeback run. Magna Grecia, only fifth when attempting the 2,000 Guineas double misses the race and Derby sixth Circus Maximus drops back to a mile as the principal sub for the O’Brien team.

The third re-match which brings at least as much anticipation as the other two is the King’s Stand. Last year Blue Point comfortably beat Battaash and a strong-finishing Mabs Cross. He went on to dominate the major sprints over the winter in Dubai and returns freshened up for his repeat attempt.

Charlie Hills, who did such a good job to win the Irish 2,000 with Phoenix of Spain without a prep run, can be equally proud of the way in which Battaash, often uneasy before his races in the past, seems to have been calmed down as a five-year-old. He took advantage of favourable weight conditions to beat Mabs Cross in the Temple Stakes, but I have a feeling in the recesses of my mind, that the filly will come good, appreciating the slightly deeper test with the ground possibly riding on the soft side after last week’s rain. I think 9-1 about Michael Dods and the Armstrong family’s star is value, but then I thought Justin Rose at 7-4 was a gift last night!

Ryan Moore must have breathed a sigh of relief when the 48-hour acceptors for the Coventry Stakes did not include Visinari, the Mark Johnston colt who made such a superb debut under the former champion on the opening day on the Newmarket July Course.

I joked here last week that he was probably advising Mark (via son Charlie on course) Johnston to give him more time after that exceptional performance – which apparently did not over-excite the Racing Post’s experts – judged on his RPR’s at the entry stage compared with the rest of the Coventry field. Do they still sell Fudge?

Now with Visinari’s non-acceptance, and indeed if he is to appear at all at the Royal meeting it would have to be in Saturday’s Chesham which closes later today, Ryan’s Coventry mount Arizona, a son of No Nay Never who won by eight lengths second time out at The Curragh, heads the market. My advice, if you want to back him, is not to take the 9-4. With a full field, surely those odds will lengthen as the boys on the boards react to the Betfair-led market.

A couple of weeks ago coming back on the coach after the Derby I was talking about the day-to-day betting market with Alan Newman and he was aghast at the way apparent manipulation is an everyday occurrence.

In the old days, in a match race, if one horse was 4-6, by definition the other would be automatically 6-4 but understandably bookmakers need a margin, so maybe 4-6 and 11-10 would be more like a fair return in such instances.

If Alan had been at Doncaster yesterday I guarantee he would have been on the phone to a long-ago partner at the defuct Wembley greyhounds. In the days several decades before Michael Tabor became a vital cog in Coolmore, he was a bookmaker, but I can imagine what he and Alan would have thought of the betting on the third race of the afternoon up there.

Three of the five runners were no-hopers and priced up accordingly. Also there was a guaranteed favourite, Sea of Faith, trained by William Haggas and a 10-1 on shot, who duly beat the second favourite Bullion Boss by nine lengths. No 10-1 against though or anything near it for Bullion Boss. Just before the off, that gelding trained by Michael Dods and ridden by Paul Mulrennan, was shortened up from 4-1 to 7-2! Who says the betting world hasn’t gone mad?

- TS

Stat of the Day, 17th June 2019

Saturday's pick was...

5.20 Bath : Luckys Dream @ 11/4 BOG non-runner (race abandoned)

Monday's pick runs in the...

8.40 Windsor :

Before I post the daily selection, just a quick reminder of how I operate the service. Generally, I'll identify and share the selection in the evening before the following day's race and I then add a detailed write-up later on that night/next morning.

Those happy to take the early price on trust can do so, whilst some might prefer to wait for my reasoning. As I fit the early service in around my family life, I can't give an exact timing on the posts, so I suggest you follow us on Twitter and/or Facebook for instant notifications of a published pick.

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Who?

Oydis @ 11/4 BOG

...in an 11-runner, Class 5 Flat Handicap for 3yo over 1m2f on Soft ground worth £3752 to the winner...

Why?...

This 3 yr old filly is trained by Ralph Beckett, who has his string in fine order right now with 9 winners from 30 (30% SR) in the past fortnight and an excellent 6 from 14 (42.9%) in the last week, which sets him up nicely for a good day at a track where he has done historically well.

His record at Windsor has been very good for a long time, but based on the type of horses I generally look for, I'm just going to assess his record with handicappers priced at 11/1 and shorter, of which Ralph has 22 winners from 90 (24.4% SR) and 27.6pts profit at an ROI of 30.7% and with today's contest in mind, here's how he got those winners...

  • 18 from 67 (26.9%) for 31.3pts (+46.8%) from his 3 yr olds
  • 17/64 (26.6%) for 32.4pts (+50.6%) from those with fewer than 4 previous handicap runs
  • 14/40 (35%) for 23.9pts (59.8%) within 25 days of their last outing
  • 13/34 (38.2%) for 28.9pts (+85.1%) over trips of 8.5 to 10 furlongs
  • 12/40 (30%) for 26.2pts (+65.4%) with female runners
  • 11/42 (26.2%) for 29.1pts (+69.4%) in 3yo only races
  • 8/32 925%) for 12.7pts (+39.7%) at Class 5
  • 5/20 (25%) for 16.6pts (+83%) from those with 1-3 previous runs
  • 4/18 (22.2%) for 7.58pts (+42.1%) on handicap debut
  • and 4/18 (22.2%) for 7.51pts (+41.7%) on ground deemed soft or worse...

...from which 3 yr olds with fewer than 4 previous handicap runs are 8 from 21 (38.1% SR) for 22.8pts (+108.8% ROI) within 3 weeks of their last outing...

...giving us... a 1pt win bet on Oydis @ 11/4 BOG which was widely available at 6.35pm on Sunday. To see what your preferred bookie is quoting...

...click here for the betting on the 8.40 Windsor

Don't forget, we offer a full interactive racecard service every day!

REMINDER: THERE IS NO STAT OF THE DAY ON SUNDAYS

Here is today's racecard

P.S. all P/L returns quoted in the stats above are to Betfair SP, as I NEVER bet to ISP and neither should you. I always use BOG bookies for SotD, wherever possible, but I use BFSP for the stats as it is the nearest approximation I can give, so I actually expect to beat the returns I use to support my picks. If that's unclear, please ask!

SotD Update, 11th to 15th June 2019

A very frustrating week if I'm honest. 2 races lost to the weather and a 7/2 shot nailed pretty much right on the line meant that we instantly lost 50% of our chances over the week. Sadly the other half of my picks just didn't run well enough to even make the frame, leaving us with a 4pt loss on the week.

That said, the month still looks relatively healthy from both a strike rate and an ROI perspective and with 12 more opportunities to come, another three winners should be enough to guarantee profit for the month and I'll be aiming to knock those off as quickly as I can.

Selections & Results : 10/06/19 to 15/06/19

10/05 : Kinks @ 7/2 BOG 8th at 4/1
11/05 : Singing The Blues @ 7/2 BOG 2nd at 15/8
12/05 : Kingston Kurrajong @ 7/2 BOG non-runner
13/05 : Cent Flying @ 9/2 BOG 4th at 7/2
14/05 : Sir Dancealot @ 5/1 BOG 4th at 7/2
15/06 : Luckys Dream @ 11/4 BOG non-runner 

10/06/19 to 15/06/19 :
0 winning bets from 4 = 0.00% SR
P/L: -4.00pts

June 2019 :
3 winners from 11 = 27.27% SR
P/L: +3.50pts
ROI = +31.82%

2019 to date :
35 winners from 129 = 27.13% SR
P/L: +45.35pts
ROI = +35.16%

Overall:
625 winners from 2306 = 27.10% S.R
P/L: +541.75pts
ROI: +23.49%

P.S. The full month by month SotD story can be found right here.
P.P.S The review of SotD's 2012 performance is
here.
Whilst the details for 2013 are now online here.
And the figures for 2014 are
now available here.
Our review of 2015 can be found right here
Whilst 2016's details are right here
And here is the full story from 2017.

2018 was the latest full year for SotD and the yearly review is right here

Stat of the Day is just one component of the excellent package available to all Geegeez Gold Members, so why not take the plunge and get involved right now?

Click here for more details.

Using Query Tool to find Heavy Ground Angles

It's been raining. Rather a lot. Those courses which have dodged the abandonment bullet are largely racing on heavy ground just now, and that presents a challenge for us punters because most horses have little or no form on such a testing surface.

So how do we mitigate for this? Plan A for most is to guess. Not ideal.

Plan A for Gold subscribers should be to do a little digging; and in this shortish video I'll show you a couple of ways - via Instant Expert and the Query Tool - to home in on those sires whose progeny might be worth marking up when the mud is flying.

 

Hope that's useful.

Matt

p.s. It's Royal Ascot next week - whoop! - and if you haven't yet secured your Gold subscription, you can take a £1 trial here (new users only, please). Alternatively you can access a short-term seven-day sub for just £12 by clicking here. Good luck!

Geegeez System Reviews : June 2019 Update

It's fair to say that we've seen a mixed bag of results from our triallists over the last month and five of our reviews have come to an end since my last update : most of them were terminated prematurely!

Of the five that ended over the last month, both Each Way Expert and Place For Profit were pulled by the vendors (Betting Gods & Tipsters Empire respectively) for poor performance, a move that I actually like to see, as it means those vendors aren't just interested in taking your money for sub-standard products : fair play to both of them.

Sadly, the same can't be said for Proofed Tipsters, as we had to take the unusual decision of terminating our review of their APP Lays & Simplicity Racing services. Our reviewers (two separate ones) were independently logging in to get the daily selections, but when they revisited the next day, the homepages were claiming winners that hadn't been available to members logging in. This kind of practice is abhorrent and we cannot have any part in promoting anything from vendors who behave like this.

The message here is that I advise you all strongly against taking any subscriptions with Proofed Tipsters : there's a complete lack of clarity and honesty going on.

Anyway, rant over, I now want to look at the one review that did recently end under its own steam and actually came to a successful conclusion : Jakblak Racing from the previously-mentioned Tipsters Empire portfolio.

We completed a full 90-day review for Jakblak Racing and it surpassed expectations put in place by the vendor's sales page (that doesn't happen often in this business!), a we were advised to expect a strike rate of around 15.3% generating profits at an ROI of 28.4%. Yet in our 90-day review the service actually achieved a strike rate of 19.17% and an ROI of 40.73%, courtesy of hitting 23 winners from 120 selections.

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All Jakblak Racing selections are sent out the night before via text message with a write up about each selection, (my only caution would be not all bookmakers now offer BOG until the morning of racing), so you could lose an extra point or two if the selection was to drift in the market, which did occur a few times.

By clicking on any of the Jakblak Racing links on this page or on Barry Gill's review you will be taken straight to the home page where these sign up offers are still available

28 Day Trial @ £2.99
One month @ £34.99
Three months @ £87.50 = 16.7% discount
Six months @ £157.50 = 25% discount
Twelve months @ £279.99 = 33% discount

All available via this link : Jakblak Racing

And now let's see where this service sits amongst the rest of our current reviews...

System Profit/Loss When? Days Monthly  Review ROI
Quentin Franks Racing £1,294.64 (at day 76) 76 £418.13 Click Here 36.73%
Top Dogs £707.12 (at day 71) 71 £68.56 Click Here 39.07%
Jakblak Racing £488.75 (at day 90) 90 £76.25 Click Here 40.73%
Winning Machine £307.20 (at day 72) 72 £113.35 Click Here 9.77%
Racing Odds £188.16 (at day 84) 84 £176.50 Click Here 17.59%
Anthony Moore £110.18 (at day 71) 71 £4.39 Click Here 16.44%
APP Lays £83.70 (at day 50) 50 -£110.10 Click Here 7.66%
Simplicity Racing -£47.41 (at day 39) 39 -£70.00 Click Here -11.03%
Each Way Expert -£163.48 (at day 46) 46 £9.92 Click Here -14.22%
Phoenix Racing -£185.00 (at day 76) 76 -£235.00 Click Here -7.52%
Place For Profit -£346.38 (at day 88) 88 -£371.54 Click Here -7.52%
Trends Experts -£1,128.37 (at day 70) 70 -£856.50 Click Here -12.79%

As is normally the case, clicking a service's name will direct you to their homepage, where you'll find more info and no doubt be offered the opportunity to take out a subscription.

The above is pretty self explanatory, of course, but if anything's unclear, feel free to ask.

As well as being happy to recommend Jakblak Racing to you, it's highly likely (barring a disaster!) that I'll be recommending both Quentin Franks Racing and Top Dogs next month. If you've seen enough of either of those to be already convinced to get involved, the easiest way to do so is to simply click their name on that table above.

I'll be back on 10th July, but if you've any system/service related queries, simply add them in the comments section below or drop me an email!

Thanks for taking the time to read this today and do get in touch if you've any queries at all,

Chris 

Yes, Sire: The Top Royal Ascot Stallions

Every year during late June, Royal Ascot showcases the very best of British - and, increasingly, global - racing. As well as the heritage, the social aspects and the racing, opportunities abound for colts to advertise their worth as potential stallions when their track careers are over.

Curiously, perhaps, the leading Royal Ascot sire of recent generations never graced the meeting, though he did win the King George and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes at the course a few weeks later, in 2001. I refer, of course, to Galileo, who was between Derby victories at Epsom and the Curragh when the Berkshire jamboree was playing out.

Here's how the sire table stacks up since 2009 (ten renewals of Royal Ascot, and therefore 300 races in total):

Top Royal Ascot sires, 2009+

Top Royal Ascot sires, 2009+

 

Galileo

In the interests of completeness, it should be noted that prior to the start of the study period, Galileo was already on the scoreboard with a Queen's Vase winner - his inaugural Royal Ascot stallion strike - courtesy of Mahler in 2007, and a brace of Jim Bolger-trained fillies, Cuis Ghaire (Albany) and Lush Lashes (Coronation) in 2008.

Just a further Queen's Vase victor followed in the next two years before, in 2011, the racing world was set alight by a couple of colts who had met the year before on their respective racecourse debuts. The winner of that somewhat above average (cough) maiden was a chap called Frankel, and he was no more than a half length too good for a lad named Nathaniel.

Both Frankel (St James's Palace) and Nathaniel (King Edward VII) enhanced their burgeoning reputations with wins at the Royal meeting, the unbeaten-in-fourteen-lifetime former enduring the closest finish of his career (debut aside) when less than efficiently ridden to get the better of Zoffany.

The smart filly Maybe also prevailed in 2011, beating the boys in the Chesham, a juvenile race over seven furlongs.

A year later and Frankel was flying the flag for Galileo once more, this time in the straight mile Queen Anne, one of the most exhilarating performances I've ever had the privilege to witness in the flesh. Just a wow moment, even now.

At a slightly less rarefied altitude, Gatewood doubled Galileo's 2012 score in the Wolferton Stakes.

A blank in 2013 was followed by a single in 2014, Telescope bagging the Hardwicke for Sir Michael Stoute.

And then the floodgates opened. Royal Ascot 2015 witnessed a hat-trick for the pre-eminent stallion, courtesy of Curvy (Ribblesdale), Aloft (Queen's Vase) and, most notably one of this year's freshman sires, Gleneagles (St James's Palace).

In 2016, a nap hand was completed by Churchill (Chesham), Kinema (Duke of Edinburgh), Sir Isaac Newton (Wolferton), Sword Fighter (Queen's Vase) and Order of St George (Gold Cup).

Two years ago, it was another treble thanks to Idaho (Hardwicke), Winter (Coronation), and Highland Reel (Prince of Wales's); before a double last season in the Ribblesdale (Magic Wand) and, for a fifth time no less, the Queen's Vase (Kew Gardens).

Phew!

There are a couple of noteworthy sub-texts to the overall Galileo figaro's (sorry, couldn't resist).

Not many two-year-old Galileos are mature enough to race so early in the season but, from the eleven to do so in the last decade, two won (both in the seven furlong Chesham). [NB As mentioned above, Cuis Ghaire also won the six furlong Albany Stakes in 2008]

Aidan O'Brien has trained 94 of the 184 Royal Ascot Galileo runners since 2009, which is as close to half as doesn't matter. He's bagged 13 of the 20 wins, which is as close to two-thirds as doesn't matter. O'Brien has further backed that up with 37 of the 60 placed horses, again pretty close to two-thirds.

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The bad news for those of us who like to wager is that, no matter how you cut it, there's no profit to be had from this super sire... with one possible exception: Galileo has sired five winners of the Queen's Vase, four at the old two-mile trip and the most recent of the two at the reduced 1m6f range last year. Backing all Galileo progeny in the Queen's Vase would have netted a profit of 30.83 points on 22 bets. Alas, that is all down to a single winner, 33/1 Sword Fighter, and is thus a most unreliable angle for all that a far shorter-priced Galileo may again prevail next week.

 

The three D's

A mate of mine has a saying. In betting, he preaches, all you need is the three D's: discipline, discipline, and discipline. While that is a key factor, there is more to life than discipline, just as there is more to the Royal Ascot stallion roster than Galileo.

Here, the D's are Dubawi, Dansili and Danehill Dancer. Which is actually four D's now I think about it.

Dubawi

In any other era, Dubawi would have lorded it over his progenitor peer group in the way that 'the big G' does. Even in that one's considerable shadow, the Darley flag-bearer wields vast power. His 13 Royal Ascot winners in the past decade is second in the table, yielding a small profit for blind backers (who are these people?).

The battle lines between Coolmore and Darley have been drawn and repeatedly retraced over the past two decades. Evidence exists all over racing's landscape, none more so than in the microcosm of those skirmishes, Royal Ascot.

Dubawi's numerical deficit in terms of winners is mitigated somewhat by a higher winning strike rate. However, just a single Group 1 winner - Al Kazeem in the 2013 Prince Of Wales's Stakes - attests to the gulf in class between these captains of their industry.

 

Backing Dubawi progeny outside of the top grade is a no brainer 'in', and it would have yielded 12 winners from 79 bets for an SP profit of 28.63 points (circa 50 points at exchange prices). That said, last year's 1 from 16 (-10.5 points) would have dented confidence.

As an aside, we can see from the above that dodging Galileo's outside of Pattern class (1 win from 54 starters) looks a very smart strategy, his Royal runners seemingly either very good or, well, not very good.

Dansili

Dansili is perhaps a slightly less fashionable stallion, though clearly one capable of producing smart racehorses: the likes of The Fugue and especially Harbinger were capable of brilliance on their day. From a betting perspective, Dansili has more entries in the handicaps than the aforementioned super sires and that hurts his overall statistics.

Focusing only on Pattern runners, Dansili has eleven winners from 58 runners (+10.23). Again, though, he's 0 from 13 in the last three years, which tempers enthusiasm.

Danehill Dancer

And the D's are concluded by Danehill Dancer, whose strike rate of nearly 16% is impressive. He has very few runners now, having died in 2017 aged 24. Three interesting snippets are that his eleven winners in the past decade include three dual scorers (Qemah, Duntle and Forgotten Voice); seven of the wins were by fillies (Qemah and Duntle two each, plus Osaila, Lillie Langtry and Memory); and eight of the wins were at a mile.

 

More Recently...

Although the top sires have longevity, all around them fashions change almost from season to season. So it is worth homing in on a shorter time window, in this case the last five years, to see if any patterns are emerging.

King of the hill remains Galileo (14 wins), but Dubawi is joined in second place by Scat Daddy (seven wins apiece).

Again we're in double territory as both Lady Aurelia and Caravaggio notched twice for this very high strike rate stallion who sadly died in 2015, aged just 11.

Shamardal, whose team is headed by Blue Point, and Sea The Stars, captained by Stradivarius, are next best on five wins, with Frankel, Mastercraftsman, Zoffany and Invincible Spirit on four.

Those nine stallions were responsible for 54 of the 150 winners at the last five Royal Ascot festivals, from just 414 of the 2409 runners. That's 36% of the winners from 17% of the runners.

Leading Royal Ascot sires, 2014-2018

Leading Royal Ascot sires, 2014-2018

 

The least successful

It is always dangerous making predictions on the basis of small datasets but such is the lot of the punter. A horse has only a few (relatively) runs in its career, a stallion throws only a few Royal Ascot runners, and I've backed only a few Royal Ascot winners!

So, in spite of it making little sense to data philosophers like Taleb, we plough on in search of micro angles which may - just may - have some crumb of legitimacy (or luck, the outcome being the same) about them.

To that end, consider the case of Cape Cross, one of the finest stallions of his generation. Three winners in 2011 seemingly heralded the start of a glittering career at the Royal meeting. Another winner in each of the next two seasons kept the dream alive but, since 2014, it's been an unbroken run of defeats, 37 and counting for the Darley A-lister. In fairness, plenty were at huge prices and a couple did run second, but a place rate of 19% is some way below the level of most of those in the table above.

Other 'name' stallions on zero wins in the last five years include Mount Nelson (23 runners), Rock Of Gibraltar (19), Zebedee and Sir Percy (18 each), Tamayuz, Arcano, Azamour and Medicean (all 17), Lawman (16) and Dandy Man (15).

The quartet of Bahamian Bounty (14), Royal Applause (13), Pastoral Pursuits and Dream Ahead (10 each) have failed to record even a placed runner in the last five years.

Any of that might change next week but, on balance, it's better to be aware of such numbers than not. It might save us a quid or two.

 

The Last Word

Galileo is expected to retain his stranglehold on proceedings next week, though there will likely be little nourishment from a wagering viewpoint. Dubawi, especially outside of G1 class, is worth a look in spite of his clunker last year; and so too may be Mastercraftsman and Zoffany.

To add these to your Query Tool Angles, select:
DATE - Month: June (change 'to' date to 30th June 2029)
RACE - Course: Ascot
RUNNER - Sire: Dubawi, Mastercraftsman, Zoffany (plus any others you like the look of)

Next, click Generate Report. Then go to the ANGLES tab, enter a title (say, Royal Ascot Sires) and click 'Add Angle'. Voila!

As the five day entries come in you'll see potential runners in the Angles tab (when you've selected the appropriate angle); and then from the 48 hour declaration stage, you'll see qualifying runners listed both on your QT Angles report and behind the blue QT Angles numbers on the racecard. See the User Guide for more info.

Good luck!

Matt

Social Discourse – 10th June 2019

Happy Monday, and welcome to another weekly round up of the pick of the news as seen through the tweet machine lens...

There’s only one place to start this week’s Social Discourse, and that is the fire which could have been a tragedy if not for the extremely quick work of those based at Jamie Osborne's Old Malt House Stables in Upper Lambourn. When flames engulfed the yard at 4am in the morning, destroying the tack room, a bungalow and mercifully nothing more, it was thanks not only the quick thinking of Osborne but of all those involved, and the kindness of - amongst others - Stan Moore, who stabled some of the affected horses for a day afterwards. See some of the events below:

 

 

Tweet Of The Week: This says it all. What a man Jamie Osborne has been, and what a team he’s got behind him.

 

  1. All Rise for Sir Winston

This has been a rather dramatic Triple Crown year. It’s only six weeks or so ago that we had the first disqualification in Kentucky Derby history. Then, in the Preakness, the middle leg of the Triple Crown, we saw a riderless horse (having unshipped Johnny Velazquez, no less) stealing America’s heart, perhaps gaining more love than the winner. And in the third and final leg, we had another surprise as Sir Winston nipped up the rail to record an upset in the Belmont Stakes.

 

Making his Classic debut for Mark Casse, who was training a second of the three Triple Crown winners, Sir Winston travelled like he’d been at this level for just as long as any horse in the field. Held up early, he moved into contention smoothly in the run-up to the far turn; thereafter, jockey Joel Rosario had to hold his nerve when he was briefly boxed in, but when the gap came he scooted up the inner for what was a perfectly timed winning run. The Twittersphere had plenty to say about the race, the rides, and the tactics.

https://twitter.com/Calim1701/status/1137499938542182402

 

Any later, and it’s possible that favourite Tacitus, fourth in the Kentucky Derby before skipping the Preakness, might have got there in time, whilst Japanese contender Master Fencer appeared to finish fastest of all (just as he did in the Durby), but the glory went to Sir Winston.

A shout out to Master Fencer's connections, who have taken the Triple Crown in stride, and hopefully they will be back very soon.

 

  1. Judge, Jury and Mr Adjudicator
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Tory leadership contenders talking about taking drugs, taxes and Willie Mullins winning the Prix la Barka. They’re three certainties in life and we’ve had all of them this weekend, with Mullins continuing the Closutton domination of this French Grade 2 hurdle. This time, Mr Adjudicator denied stablemate Bapaume in that one's quest for back-to-back wins.

https://twitter.com/AtTheRaces/status/1137813615791071232

Mullins had won the last three renewals, with Un De Sceaux and Shaneshill scoring prior to Bapaume 12 months ago, and he'd entered over half the field on this occasion.

Elsewhere on the card, the Prix des Drags was a race of contrasting emotions; joy for Isabelle Pacault and dedicated ally Jonathan Plouganou after Jubilatoire's win, and despair for the Mullins brigade after the loss of Irish Grand National runner-up Isleofhopendreams, who was fatally injured at the water jump in front of the stands.

The Prix Questerabad saw Irish interest in the shape of French Made, but she was a blowout when fourth behind L’Autonomie, an impressive winner.

 

  1. Santa Anita-Close Down

Breaking: As I write this newsletter...

The consequences: Obviously massive. California’s premier racetrack – and arguably the premier racetrack in America, if not the most famous one – has been here before, and the first question that comes to mind especially for many readers here, will be what happens to the Breeders’ Cup, which took place at Churchill last year but which was set to return to Arcadia in 2019.

https://twitter.com/ArsenioHall/status/1137969596433162241

This is another reputational disaster for racing – there have already been nationally uncomfortable questions – and once again, questions to which the authorities do not have the answers will be asked, especially PETA, on a national stage (see the New York Times tweet above). Where do we go from here?

  1. Elsewhere at Belmont

Heading back to America, it was a truly top class card at Belmont to entertain on Saturday.

  • Bricks and Mortar, now firmly established as the best turf horse in the US, added to his Pegasus Turf win with a cosy success in the Manhattan Stakes

https://twitter.com/HorseRaceSite/status/1137479973135179779

 

  • Mitole took a thrilling and extremely high-class renewal of the Metropolitan Mile Handicap, holding off the late and unlucky challenge of McKinzie with Thunder Snow a fine third over a trip short of his optimum. The latter will stay in America for a summer campaign, perhaps heading to Saratoga next.

 

  • Thanks to a meltdown early pace, Hog Creek Hustle sprung an upset in the Woody Stephens, beating fellow outsider Nitrous, and an objection from the stewards as they debated whether the winner caused Mind Control to lose any chance in the lane when he shifted in his stretch run.

https://twitter.com/WHR/status/1137455811322683392

  • Guarana showed herself to be a horse of immense promise when graduating straight from maidens into Grade 1 company, breaking the track record as she slammed Kentucky Oaks winner Serengeti Empress by six lengths in the Acorn Stakes.

https://twitter.com/WorldRacing_/status/1137442373288505344

  • World Of Trouble had no trouble in taking the Jaipur Invitational Stakes.

  • Midnight Bisou got the better of Come Dancing in impressive style when landing the Odgen Phipps Stakes.

  • Rushing Fall started what would be a Grade 1 treble for Chad Brown when landing the Just A Game Stakes.

 

  1. A Right Royal Treat, Part 1

With just over a week to go, some of the best racing days of the year are on their way, and there’s so much to look forward to. 

On the Tuesday:

  • The Queen Anne will see a host of names which fought out the Lockinge Stakes meet again, with Mustashry favourite to beat Laurens, Accidental Agent and Le Brivido amongst others
  • Last year’s 1-2-3 will meet again in the King’s Stand, with Blue Point, Battaash and Mabs Cross re-opposing
  • In the St James’s Palace, there’s the chance we might get to see Magna Grecia – if he can recover from the pulled muscle which saw him disappoint at the Curragh – take on Phoenix of Spain, bringing together the English and Irish Guineas winners
  • There are more Coventry contenders than one can count, in what looks set to be one of the most open races of the week

 

Wednesday:

  • Sea of Class and Waldgeist could be joined by last year’s Derby winner Masar and Crystal Ocean in what looks a potentially belting Prince of Wales’s Stakes

Thursday

  • The Gold Cup sees last year’s Champion, Stradivarius, take on Melbourne Cup winner, Cross Counter, and 2018 Derby fourth and improver since stretching out, Dee Ex Bee

https://twitter.com/Punters/status/1137947074752786432

 

Friday

  • Dual 1,000 Guineas winner Hermosa is now likely to take on the wide margin Newbury winner Jubiloso in the Coronation Stakes

  • In the Commonwealth Cup, Ten Sovereigns heads a field packed with speed and potential, including Jash, with whom he clashed in last year's Middle Park

 

Saturday

  • Invincible Army, a very impressive winner of the Duke of York Stakes, takes on Godolphin's French raider Inns Of Court, who was different class in the Prix du-Gros Chene, as we conclude the week’s Group 1’s in The Diamond Jubilee

Tip top stuff, of which more next week.

Meanwhile, this is WK signing off...

- William Kedjanyi

Monday Musings: A Visinari Visionary

Peter Ashmore and I stood hanging over the rail at the top end of the paddock adjacent to the saddling boxes before the opening race of Newmarket’s July Course season on Saturday, writes Tony Stafford. A big grey colt came by and we agreed: “It’s a giant! Surely he’s come in early before the following handicap!”

Further inspection revealed it was Visinari, a tall, leggy son of Dark Angel trained by Mark Johnston and ridden by an unusually-available Ryan Moore, taking some non-Coolmore mounts on home turf while Seamie and Donnacha shared a juvenile winner apiece at Navan.

A year before, Calyx – earlier in the week reported to have suffered an injury when losing for the first time at Doncaster which will put him out of Ascot’s Commonwealth Cup – won his debut in the corresponding six-furlong race by five lengths and six.

Thirty minutes later Gunmetal, rated 93, won the handicap in 1min 10.76sec, 1.80 sec faster than Calyx’s recording of 1min 12.56 sec on good to firm going. Gunmetal now has an official mark of 104. With the weight-for-age scale decreeing that in the first week of June, two-year-olds should receive 38lb from their elders, for Calyx to run within 1.80 sec (nine lengths) of a five-year-old was meritorious.

So how can one begin to explain what Visinari was about to show us after those few languid spins around the paddock? He was bought at Arqana as a yearling for €55,000, apparently breaking the mantra of Johnston buys requiring dams to be rated at least 90; but Visinada, a daughter of Derby winner Sinndar, has already produced two winning progeny exceeding that level.

It is so easy to forget. Sinndar dominated racing in 2000, winning all but one of his eight career races including the Derby, Irish Derby and Arc for his owner-breeder the Aga Khan. He brings to Visinari’s pedigree an obvious stamina influence, but his winning siblings both showed decent speed on the track.

Anyway, on debut and faced with a well-touted Godolphin colt with previous experience, the clearly well-schooled Visinari went off in front. Moore needed to push him out when Ottoman Court, a son of Shamardal tried to join him on the outside at around the two-furlong pole, and he responded to the tune of an always-extending three and a half lengths.

There were echoes of Calyx in the result as it was another ten back to the rest. Just to confirm what the eyes told us, half an hour later the four-year-old Flavius Titus, rated 95, won the all-aged handicap in a time 0.14 sec SLOWER than Visinari’s 1 min 10.41sec. Add the 32lb (four-year-olds get 6lb from their elders in the scale at this stage of the season) and Visinari has run to somewhere near 127! One can only surmise that with the official going both this year and last “good to firm” and a disparity of only 0.21 sec in the times of the two all-age handicaps, Visinari must be something special to be two seconds faster than Calyx.

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Maybe it’s a freak result but looking at Visinari before and listening to what Charlie Johnston was saying afterwards: “He’s all legs and because he’s so big we kept delaying running him until after one more impressive gallop” or words to that effect. The clock doesn’t lie as I could hear Phil Bull saying and those days of yore were imprinted again on my mind in the middle of the night as I prepared to begin this epistle.

George Hill, who one must remember is younger than me, sent me four pages from different editions of the Racehorse from 1965 when he would have been 18 and I had only just left school, almost a decade before I edited the same weekly.

He wrote a couple of columns talking in one about trainer Earl Jones – someone he got to know very well 50 and more years ago – and his horse Honey End, who later finished an unlucky second as the favourite in Foinavon’s notorious Grand National.

Thanks for that Georgie, when will you start coming racing again?

But I digress. So what now for the grey giant? You can imagine Ryan saying in the de-brief: “Well really, he’s so big I’d give Royal Ascot a miss, give him time to mature and bring him back here for the July meeting.” Maybe they will, but you’d have to be thinking Coventry and a clash with the best of Ballydoyle.

Whether that would mean the winning Navan debutant Royal Lytham, a son of first-season sire Gleneagles, who among others had an odds-on stable-companion (by War Front) well beaten in fourth when causing a mild surprise at 10-1 on Saturday.

Thus he became the third winner by Gleneagles and first in Ireland for the dual Guineas-winning son of Galileo. It was always the hope that the king of Coolmore would produce top milers to go with the middle-distance and staying champions, and Gleneagles is the first in a plentiful pipeline hoped to bring precocity to the breed.

Gleneagles has won with three of nine runners so far, and the non-winners include Daily Times, a John Gosden-trained half-sister to the 2018 juvenile champion Newspaperofrecord who incidentally suffered a second defeat of the year at odds of 3-20 (1.15 in Betfair parlance) at Belmont Park on Thursday. Daily Times, the 9-2 second favourite, was fourth behind Visinari, just edged out for third after being prominent for most of the race.

Charlie Johnston spoke about the yard’s Royal Ascot team “taking shape” and referred to a number about to run with the possibility of aiming at the Chesham. That seven-furlong race is not until Saturday week, opening up the fifth day and requires sire or dam to have won at ten furlongs or above.

That qualification lets in Romsey, a daughter of the Coral-Eclipse winner Mukhadram, who opened her account with a smooth success second time out at Chelmsford on Saturday. Unlike the top-end home-breds and sales buys, Romsey started her public life in unprepossessing fashion.

Entered in Tattersalls Book 3 last October from Lavington Stud, she didn’t attract a bid and was recorded as “Vendor 800gns”, the minimum. She ended up with Hughie Morrison. After a promising debut third over six furlongs at Windsor, she went on to Chelmsford and upped to seven, won by four and a half lengths.

When I asked Hughie about the sales debacle, he said. “I went to see her at the stud during Goodwood last year with a bloodstock agent and we both told Al <Alasdair Macdonald-Buchanan> that she’d struggle at the sale as she was so weak.

“I must say, though, I don’t think I’ve ever had a two-year-old improve so much so quickly. Even allowing for her weakness, you must have expected some interest as she’s half-sister to two two-year-winners including Indian Viceroy who won twice for us last year.

“The Chesham might be an option. The alternative, carrying a 7lb penalty running for three grand against horses from top stables, is most unattractive.”

Hughie cheered up the Raymond Tooth team when bringing out Say Nothing for a much-improved run under 9st10lb at Haydock last week and she might turn out again at Sandown on Friday. Stable-companion Sod’s Law will definitely run there, stepping up to a mile and a quarter with P J McDonald’s endorsement after his running-on fourth over a mile on the firm at Leicester. Wish us luck. We need it.

But I can’t stop thinking about Visinari!

- TS

Stat of the Day, 10th June 2019

Saturday's pick was...

4.20 Beverley : Archie Perkins @ 4/1 BOG WON at 4/1 (Mid-division, headway on inside over 2f out, not clear run over 1f out, soon switched left to challenge, led just inside final furlong, hung right closing stages, ran on to win comfortably by 4 lengths)

Monday's pick runs in the...

7.05 Pontefract :

Before I post the daily selection, just a quick reminder of how I operate the service. Generally, I'll identify and share the selection in the evening before the following day's race and I then add a detailed write-up later on that night/next morning.

Those happy to take the early price on trust can do so, whilst some might prefer to wait for my reasoning. As I fit the early service in around my family life, I can't give an exact timing on the posts, so I suggest you follow us on Twitter and/or Facebook for instant notifications of a published pick.

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Who?

Kinks @ 7/2 BOG

...in a 10-runner, Class 3, Flat Handicap for 3yo over 6f on Good ground worth £9238 to the winner... 

Why?...

This 3 yr old gelding hasn't quite scaled the heights expected of him so far, having been entered into races at Gr 2 & Listed class last season, but does at least come here off the back of a decent run LTO in a big field (14 ran) Class 2 handicap at Newmarket 23 days ago when he was third, beaten by just a neck and a short head under jockey Nicola Currie.

I've nothing bad to say about Nicola, I think she's very talented, but the booking of Silvestre de Sousa, in her place, on a track where he has been very successful in the past is a positive move for me, as is the drop in class. In fact Silvestre comes here in decent touch having ridden 13 winners from his last 68 rides over the previous fortnight and boasts a record of better than 2 in 9 at this venue since 2010 over trips up to 1m2f, winning 55 of 246 (22.4% SR) for 87.3pts (+35.5% ROI) profit.

Trainer Mick Channon also does pretty well here too, independently of the jockey's successes and over the last five seasons, Mick's runners here are 13 from 52 (25% SR) for 75.6pts (+145.4% ROI), including of relevance today...

  • at 6-60 days since last run : 13/41 (31.7%) for 88.6pts (+211.2%)
  • at odds of 7/4 to 5/1 : 8/20 (40%) for 12.22pts (+61.1%)
  • in handicaps : 8/28 (28.6%) for 65.6pts (+234.2%)
  • those finishing 2nd/3rd LTO are 7/15 946.7%) for 49.9pts (+332.5%)
  • over this 6f course and distance : 7/16 (43.8%) for 34.4pts (+214.9%)
  • 3 yr olds are 6/21 (28.6%) for 26.5pts (+126.2%)
  • males are 6/23 (26.1%) for 37.3pts (+162.3%)
  • and class droppers are 5 from 12 (41.7%) for 29.2pts (+243.5%)...

...giving us... a 1pt win bet on Kinks @ 7/2 BOG which was quite widely available at 5.30pm on Sunday. To see what your preferred bookie is quoting...

...click here for the betting on the 7.05 Pontefract

Don't forget, we offer a full interactive racecard service every day!

REMINDER: THERE IS NO STAT OF THE DAY ON SUNDAYS

Here is today's racecard

P.S. all P/L returns quoted in the stats above are to Betfair SP, as I NEVER bet to ISP and neither should you. I always use BOG bookies for SotD, wherever possible, but I use BFSP for the stats as it is the nearest approximation I can give, so I actually expect to beat the returns I use to support my picks. If that's unclear, please ask!

SotD Update, 3rd to 8th June 2019

I did suggest last week that if you follow anybody else's selections other than your own, that you needed to be prepared to go on a rollercoaster ride. Good runs will always be preceded and followed by bad ones and vice versa, that's the nature of the "game".

That said, I couldn't haven't predicted such a change in fortune like we've just had : 3 winners and a placer from 6 runners this week puts June into a good position after just over a week and now the challenge/task is to crack on!

Selections & Results : 03/06/19 to 08/06/19

03/05 : Ingleby Hollow @ 5/1 BOG (9/2 after R4) WON at 5/2
04/05 : Steel Wave @ 3/1 BOG WON at 3/1
05/05 : Knight Crusader @ 5/1 BOG 7th at 11/4
06/05 : Everkyllachy @ 9/2 BOG 4th at 4/1
07/05 : Tricky Dicky @ 4/1 BOG 3rd at 5/2
08/06 : Archie Perkins @ 4/1 BOG WON at 4/1

03/06/19 to 08/06/19 :
3 winning bets from 6 = 50.00% SR
P/L: +8.50pts

June 2019 :
3 winners from 7 = 42.86% SR
P/L: +7.50pts
ROI = +107.14%

2019 to date :
35 winners from 125 = 28.00% SR
P/L: +49.35pts
ROI = +39.48%

Overall:
625 winners from 2302 = 27.15% S.R
P/L: +545.75pts
ROI: +23.71%

P.S. The full month by month SotD story can be found right here.
P.P.S The review of SotD's 2012 performance is
here.
Whilst the details for 2013 are now online here.
And the figures for 2014 are
now available here.
Our review of 2015 can be found right here
Whilst 2016's details are right here
And here is the full story from 2017.

2018 was the latest full year for SotD and the yearly review is right here

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