After the stupendous opening to day one of Royal Ascot, dear reader, it is only natural that day two should be a slighter lesser class affair. But don't despair, for it is only a relative observation. A Group 1, two Group 2's, and a Group 3 - as well as a Listed contest and the Royal Hunt Cup - is hardly moderate fare, despite not quite matching up to the hat-trick of Group 1's on the first day.
Each race has itself a winner, and we'll be paid if we can sort the golden geese from the lame ducks. So let's have a crack at just that.
Jersey Stakes - My very good mate Gavin is extremely sweet on Godolphin's Shakespearian in this seven furlong affair, and it's not difficult to see why. I was at Epsom on Oaks day when this one cruised home in the Surrey Stakes. But that is not a strong Listed contest, and this Group 3 represents a significant step up in class.
Clearly the best form in the race is Free Judgement's second place in the Irish 2,000 Guineas and, if Canford Cliffs can go off at around 2/1 in the ultra-competitive St James's Palace Stakes, then Jim Bolger's three year old should be odds on here. That he's 4/1 suggests a suspicion that the Curragh run flattered him.
Nevertheless, he won a Group 3 over seven furlongs as a 2yo, and this specialist trip is right up his street. Bolger never brings horses over for a day out, and Free Judgement will take a lot of beating.
Probably the most frustrating horse in the race is Barry Hills' Red Jazz. He was only beaten four lengths in the Newmarket Guineas, but was then turned over at 5/4 in a minor Listed event. He did win the Listed European Free Handicap over 7f on debut this season, but on balance I think he has something to find on the pick of Free Judgement's form, and is also susceptible to improvers like Shakespearian.
John Gosden's Meezaan represents the French Guineas form, and drops back a furlong here after finishing a five length fifth in that race. The way he weakened there at the business end suggests this drop in trip and class will suit, and he should give a decent account too.
Overall though, Free Judgement has the form in the book, looks to be a seven furlong specialist, and 4/1 or thereabouts is a decent price to my eye.
Windsor Forest Stakes - A newish Group 2 for fillies and mares, and not the highest class ladies' contest. Four year olds have won four of the six runnings and are a logical place to start here. Sir Michael Stoute and James Fanshawe have each won this twice, meaning their entries must be taken seriously.
Fanshawe runs last year's winner, Spacious, and also Alsace Lorraine. Both are five year olds and, whilst that doesn't exclude them, I favour the younger brigade here. Stoute has Golden Stream and Strawberrydaiquiri, and the latter must go very close. A winner of the Group 3 Dahlia Stakes last time, over nine furlongs, the drop back in trip shouldn't inconvenience as she has four wins to her name at this range.
One I like is Godolphin's Antara. Bought from Germany since last season, Antara had her first run at Epsom over nine furlongs on Derby day. She looked like she was going to cruise home from some decent opposition there, but then the cambers of the track - and perhaps lack of race fitness - came to bear and she just prevailed from the smart Reggane.
Antara won her last race in Germany - a Group 3 - by eight lengths, and I suspect there is more to come from her.
Sahpresa was a surprise winner of the Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket last backend, where she beat both Spacious and Strawberrydaiquiri, and there was no fluke about that victory. She cruised through the race, and my large punt on Ghanaati that day looked sunk long before Ted Durcan asked Sahpresa to go and win the race.
Although this is her seasonal debut, it's a long way to come if you're not ready to race. And, perhaps supporting that notion, is the fact that she's won first time out in both her previous racing seasons.
A French raider won this two years ago, and I can see a further rendition of La Marseillaise tomorrow. Sahpresa from Antara for me.
Prince Of Wales's Stakes - Spike Milligan's mate (Prince Charles, if you're wondering) will be present to award the trophy for this Group 1 contest for older horses over a mile and a quarter.
There have been two Irish winners and two French winners in the last five years, and the overseas raiders are out in force again here. This however has been a race that the market has generally had right. None of the last ten champions have been sent off at odds of longer then 8/1, so it may be unwise to expect a shock.
The favourite for this is Andre Fabre's Byword. Fabre, known as the Silver Fox, won this back in 2007, and he is as wily as his nickname suggests (and has hair as silver too!). Byword is unlucky not to be unbeaten in three runs this season. Indeed, his only defeat was when a staying on half length second to Goldikova last time.
He comes over in fine form, the trip looks plum and - although a step up in class here - he deserves to take his chance.
The 2009 Champion Stakes form is brought to the start line here by winner Twice Over and runner up Mawatheeq. I may be wrong, but I don't really rate the form of that race, it being held at the end of the season and at a time when the very best horses are being aimed at Longchamp's Arc meeting.
The two I'm interested in however, despite respecting Byword, are Cavalryman and Wiener Walzer. The former, a Godolphin inmate, was third in the Arc last season behind the magnificent Sea The Stars. Since then, he's had a few hard luck stories and, whilst I tend to overlook 'unlucky' horses, I'm prepared to give Cavalryman one more chance.
He should be cherry ripe (or apple ripe, or any other fruit you care to mention ripe) for this, and a true run ten furlongs is probably optimal for this chap. Jockey Frankie Dettori is a reasonable pilot on this course too... 😉
Wiener Walzer is a dark one. I'm a big fan of top class German middle distance horses and they often go off at far bigger prices than their ability merits. WW is currently a 21/1 chance on Betfair, and I can't see why. Sure, he was well beaten by Goldi and Byword in France last time, but that was over an unsatisfactorily short trip and, although this may still be slightly shorter than ideal, he will be plugging on when many have stopped.
His previous German form, including a win in the German Derby and when short-heading Getaway, gives him a squeak here at a fat price.
But my win money will be Cavalryman.
Royal Hunt Cup - stop betting now! Thirty runners, fifteen pounds between topweight and bottom weight, and one of the most competitive handicaps in the season. Sponsorship is not really allowed at Royal Ascot, but if it was, this would be the race that all bookmakers would be queuing up to sponsor!
If you want my thoughts, I'll have a very small dabble on Manassas and Mull of Killough. Low draws might have an advantage though, so perhaps also chuck in Tiger Reigns.
Good luck if you're playing here!
Queen Mary Stakes - a Group 2 for juveniles over the minimum trip. Three decent priced winners here (16/1, 20/1, 25/1) mean we can loosen our belt a little here, and take a chance on a couple at prices.
G R Oldroyd's (I'm sorry, I don't know his first name!) Ladies Are Forever absolutely sluiced in at Beverley on debut. Whilst she might not have been much (or indeed anything) there, she won by six lengths with a further four lengths back to third. The second and third were favoured by the draw, whilst the winner was not.
Moreover, the runner up had the benefit of a previous run.
Ladies Are Forever has plenty of scope, and anything around or above 16/1 would tempt me each way.
The other one I'll tentatively tickle is Jim Bolger's more exposed filly, Purple Glow. She's had more outings than any other young lady here, and includes a silver medal in a Listed contest in her form locker. She was disappointing last time, but will be ready to run again here. 25/1 is fair value each way.
Sandringham Handicap - a Listed fillies' only handicap to conclude day two at Royal Ascot 2010. Not my idea of a punting proposition, but that's no fun, is it?
Two wins apiece for Michael Bell, and the father and son Dunlops, John and Ed, mean these are trainers to keep an eye on. Only daddy Dunlop has a runner, though, which does make our job somewhat easier. His entry is Mudaaraah, and in truth it is only the trainer angle that recommends her.
In opposition this day are several Classic flops, most notably Henry Cecil's Oaks 4th favourite, Timepiece. It was my view that Timepiece didn't stay the Oaks trip (in fact, she didn't stay the Oaks Trial trip of 1m3f at Lingfield when I was there), and the mile here might be just shy of ideal, but she certainly won't run out of gas this time.
Pollenator and Marie de Medici also ran in Classics earlier in the season, the 1000 Guineas and Oaks respectively, and this is much more appropriate in trip terms for both.
Pollenator, it should be noted, is owned by the Ascot Racing Club, and she will have been primed for this since her Guineas disappointment.
At the top of the market, and the top of the handicap, is a Sir Michael Stoute maiden winner, Safina. She will undoubtedly improve for her length victory in a Chester Class 4, but whether she can give weight pretty much all round here remains to be seen. I'll not be taking a short price about that happening.
Blue Maiden was second in the Group 3 Nell Gwyn Stakes and has since been outpointed comprehensively, albeit in top class. She will likely struggle under topweight.
Not at all a race to bet in, but I'll be hoping for a win for 'Sir' Henry Cecil's Timepiece.
By the way, as ever, you can get all the trends and facts and figures, plus big race tips for every single Royal Ascot 2010 race from Gavin's unparalleled Festival Trends manual.
p.s. There's a new question of the week top right of the blog - I'd love your thoughts!