Royal Ascot 2013: Day Four Preview, Trends, Tips
And so to the penultimate day of Royal Ascot 2013 - doesn't time fly when you're having fun? Today's highlight is the Coronation Stakes, a Group 1 for 3yo fillies over a mile. It's a mouth-watering rematch this time between the English and Irish Guineas winners, due off at 3.45. Before and after that, there is - as ever - top class action and devilishly difficult punting puzzles, starting with the...
2.30 ALBANY STAKES (Group 3) (Fillies) (2yo)
A six furlong Group 3 sprint for juvenile fillies, won by some smart, if not necessarily top drawer, young ladies in recent times. There have been a few surprises along the way in this, so brace yourselves for the prospect of an upset once more.
Albany Stakes Trends
Odds: Six winners at 10/1+ in the eleven years this has been run, but also three winning favourites, at 8/11, 7/4 and 4/1
Form: Seven won last time, the other four were third (three) or fourth (one). Seven winners had had just one run, the other four had two runs.
This gives us a shortlist which comprises almost the entire field, and trends are going to be unhelpful in unravelling this race.
Albany Stakes Preview
This is a minefield, mainly because we're probably looking for a filly that is going to improve massively off just one run so far. Those with two runs have less scope to improve; those with three or more runs probably aren't going to win.
What I found interesting is that of the five fillies to come here unbeaten in two runs, four were beaten, but all were in the top six. The one winner, Cuis Ghaire, already had a Group 3 to her name. Margot Did, a subsequent Group 1 winning sprinter, could finish second here off the back of a couple of Class 5 wins. And Rumpelstiltskin, already a Listed winner, could only muster third. The other two, which both finished sixth, included Janina, already a Listed winner.
The message here? Expect the unbeaten-in-two fillies to run well, but be prepared for one or a few lassies to improve past them. That's the reason I'm looking to oppose clear form pick, Sandiva: because there isn't much form, and they're all capable of more than they've illustrated thus far.
In a race where it's impossible to be confident about anything, I'm looking for a once raced winner with a bit of meat in her odds bones. Those parameters bring four fillies onto my radar: Wonderfully, Wedding Ring, Race Hunter, and Rasheeda.
Wedding Ring might be the pick of them. She won a decent looking Newmarket maiden when second market choice of a pair of Godolphin's, and she pulled two lengths clear of the third there. It's too early to tell what the form might amount to, but the time compares well with much of what we know about this brigade. She's sure to come on for that run, and might be up to hitting the board here.
Wonderfully did, well, wonderfully to win on debut, having been badly drawn, green, and lacking in fitness. Despite all of that she cut down a five length deficit in the last furlong to hang on from another fast finisher. It looked like the leader fell in a hole there, and there's no doubt Wonderfully was knackered at the line. But she'll come on a stack for that, and will be assisted here by Ryan Moore.
Race Hunter won a Catterick five furlong maiden, and is bred to appreciate this extra furlong and quicker ground. The time of that race was pretty good, and she'll obviously come on plenty for the experience. David Barron is a master trainer of sprinters, and that man, 'Group One Johnny' Murtagh takes the ride.
Rasheeda won a Doncaster six furlong maiden, where they finished in a bit of a bunch, but she did well to get on top by three-quarters of a length. Again, the time was above average, and she'll have more to offer here.
An obvious member of the once-raced-winners club is Lady Cecil's Joyeuse and, while it seems almost inevitable that the late Sir Henry's fan club (me included) will have something with which to cheer his memory, my clinical punting head feels this one is no value at around 7/2. She did win as she liked on that six furlong debut, and she's a half-sister to a chap called Frankel that you might have heard of, as well as full sister to Morpheus, which bolted up the other day in a maiden.
The sentimental part of me wants her to win, but the clinical part won't be backing her at the price. No, I'll be dutching two or three at double digits.
Albany Stakes Tips
Whilst Sandiva and Joyeuse are respected and, of course, can win, I'm looking for value in an improving type or two.
Tentative value poke: Wedding Ring
Alternative value poke: Wonderfully
How to play the Albany Stakes
bet365 are paying four places, and they're top price currently on Wedding Ring at 14/1. They'll give you a free bet to the same stake on the next race if you find the winner too.
3.05 KING EDWARD VII STAKES (Group 2) (3yo)
It's the boys' turn next in this mile and a half Group 2 heat. This is a real stepping stone to top class racing with recent winners Monterosso and Nathaniel
King Edward VII Stakes Trends
Odds: All of the last sixteen winners were 9/1 or shorter, with thirteen of them 9/2 or shorter. Nine favourites have won making this the best race for favourites of the week.
Form: Thirteen of the last sixteen winners were placed 1-2-3 last time, with seven LTO winners.
This gives us a shortlist which comprises Hillstar and Contributer.
King Edward VII Stakes Preview
This looks quite straightforward for Battle of Marengo whose form towers above his rivals. All runners in this field are capable of improving, but - according to the official handicapper - they'll have to improve by a stone and more if BoM runs to his current mark. He was fourth in the Derby, and before that had won two Group 2's, a Group 3 and a Listed contest.
The one slight negative is his propensity to be workmanlike: he's not a flashy sort by any means, but he generally gets the job done. Although he's a best priced 4/5, he could still be value at that, against a fairly weak field (21 of the 29 previously placed horses to have had an official rating were rated 102+; only two other horses in this field have recorded such a rating, and they are on 103 and 102).
Battle Of Marengo hit the front plenty early enough in the Derby, and it made him look like a non-stayer, but I'd be pretty sure this son of Galileo gets the trip all right, and I have no other reservations at all.
The opposition are, as I've said, a stone and more inferior on what they've achieved so far and, whilst improvement (perhaps significant improvement) can be taken as read, I just can't see any getting to the level of BoM, let alone surpassing it.
The forecast slot is up for grabs, and Jeremy Noseda's Fantastic Moon is one of a number of contenders. He was ring rusty at Sandown first time up this season, and perhaps done for pace over a ten furlong trip that is likely to prove on the short side for him as his career progresses. The problem he has is that this might well turn out to be tactical with no obvious pacemaker.
Hillstar could go, and it's even possible that Battle Of Marengo will set his own pace. Fantastic Moon was shown to be a bit short of tactical speed in that first run of the year, and perhaps that will be his undoing.
Greatwood was spoken of as a Derby horse, but was whacked in the Dante, a race which - as I've written earlier in the week - has worked out a lot better than it looked at the time. His previous form was reasonable, and around Listed class, so he'd have to step up to be second in a race of this nature.
Contributer is bred for this, and has good form. Forget his last run: he was second of two in a tactical nothingness of a race at Epsom. Before that, he came closest to Magician - subsequent Irish 2000 Guineas winner - in the Dee Stakes. And before that he beat Cruck Realta, a filly who went on to win the Listed Ballymacoll Stakes. He's likely to race close to the pace, and that might be an advantage if they dawdle then quicken.
Hillstar has been beaten at short odds on both of his last starts, both in handicaps, and he has to demonstrate a greater resolution for me. Against that, he will race close to the pace, so might be able to nick a run; and, the fact that he has been sent off such a short price implies he's highly thought of at Sir Michael Stoute's yard.
Tha'ir's run last time may have been slightly under-rated. He and the winner came from off the pace and put seven lengths between themselves and the third placed horse, Jammy Guest (rated 84). There was just a head between Tha'ir and Hoarding at the line there, and he'd be a shorter price here if that verdict had been the other way around. As such, in an open race - for the places at least - he makes some appeal.
In truth, I'm merely verbalising (albeit without speaking, if you see what I mean) the fact that it's a bugger's muddle in behind a clear standout in Battle Of Marengo.
King Edward VII Stakes Tips
I think Battle Of Marengo will win.
Selection: Battle Of Marengo
How to play the King Edward VII Stakes
Battle Of Marengo is 10/11 with Boylesports and totesport. Boyle are BOG, and I'm tempted to put him in doubles with a few of my other fancies. Greedy? Moi?
3.45 CORONATION STAKES(Group 1) (Fillies) (3yo)
Back to the girls, and this time it's the Classic generation milers. Winners of the English and Irish 1000 Guineas lock horns again, after Sky Lantern made race fitness tell at Newmarket.
Coronation Stakes Trends
Odds: All of the last fifteen winners were 16/1 or shorter, with seven favourites obliging.
Form: Thirteen of the last sixteen winners were placed 1-2-3-4-5 last time, with just four LTO winners.
Ratings: Of the eleven winners to have a rating, ten of them were rated 108+
This gives us a shortlist which comprises Sky Lantern, Viztoria, Just The Judge, and Kenhope.
Coronation Stakes Preview
Despite the biggest field for many a year, there don't look to be too many which can win this. Let's start with the two Guineas winners, Sky Lantern (English) and Just The Judge (Irish).
Sky Lantern was well enough beaten in the Nell Gwyn, but proved she needed that by reversing the form with the winner, Hot Snap, and scoring decisively in the 1000 Guineas. That run must have taken a fair bit out of her as she hasn't been seen since, but her overall profile gives her every chance. A fast ground mile is perfect, and Richard Hughes will again ride (which might be good news for BetVictor punters who fancy something else!)
Just The Judge conceded a fitness edge that day, when beaten half a length, but came on for that to prevail in the Irish 1000 by a clear length and a half. That form might be a beat behind Sky Lantern's but the Newmarket run shows there's very little between them. Both now have form of 21 this term, with the 1 in each case being in a 1000 Guineas.
Viztoria has been doing her winning over six and seven furlongs, and on ground softer (generally a lot softer) than good. She's a smart and unexposed filly, and the step up in trip is far less of a worry than the faster ground. She was an intended runner in the Irish 1000 but missed that race because of the good to firm ground. So, there's a good chance she'll either not run or be inconvenienced by the state of the turf if she does run. On that basis, she's a no.
Kenhope completes the quartet of optimally rated fillies, and this French madame's level of form may be a stride behind the pair of Guineas winners, but she's tough and she's a price. That trainer Henri-Alex Pantall brings her over from France says a lot. His twelve British and Irish runners since 1997 have yielded a win (albeit way back in 1997) and three places, and his Royal Ascot record overall reads 845630. Kenhope's best form has been on softer ground though, and overall she'll probably come up short.
Rehn's Nest ostensibly improved a heck of a lot for quicker ground last time, which is somewhat surprising given that it was her eighth race. Anyway, she was second to Just The Judge there, and might again make the frame for the wily Jim Bolger (already a winner this week with Dawn Approach, of course).
Big Break is a well bred lightly raced sort, and looks likely to come on a fair bit for her seasonal debut when fourth in the Irish 1000 Guineas. She ran out of puff close home there, and will be in tip top condition this time. Good ground and a mile seem ideal, and she's the leading contender outside of the front two, despite having to turn the tables with Rehn's Nest.
One that is tough to get a handle on is Sir Michael Stoute's Pavlosk. She has won both her starts easily, beating fair sorts both times. But this is a big step up and, while she must be held in some regard to be invited straight to the Group 1 table, I'm disinterested in her at the prices.
Siyenica is another that was stepped up in grade significantly to Group 1 last time, in her case after a single run - and win - in a Longchamp conditions race. She wasn't beaten far in that G1, the Prix Saint-Alary, and it's possible she might be better on this sounder surface, in which case she might be a place player.
Lovely Pass has won three times and two of those wins were on fast turf, one of them over course and distance. That marks the bare level of her form up a smidgen, as does the form of that track/trip effort, which has worked out quite well. There will be worse 25/1 shots this week - I've backed a couple already - and she could give a run at a fair price.
Overall though, I'd say the Guineas winners might have it, with Sky Lantern underestimated by the market to be almost twice the price of Just The Judge.
Coronation Stakes Tips
Sky Lantern looks a fair price on what she's done. Conditions will suit, and she oughtn't to be much bigger (if at all) than Just The Judge in the betting. The Weld horse, Big Break, could improve enough to win, having needed her highly promising run in the Irish 1000 Guineas.
Selection: Sky Lantern
Alternative: Big Break (Just The Judge also a threat)
How to play the Coronation Stakes
Hughesie's on Sky Lantern, so if you like anything else, you've a chance of getting losing stakes back as a free bet if that one's placed. But do check the prices. Victor tend to be competitive on the morning of racing, but a bit tight where Hughes is on a 'live' one, the night before.
4.25 WOLFERTON HANDICAP (Listed Race) (4yo+ 0-110)
A ten furlong Listed handicap and one which has been a friend to punters in recent times, with two of the last three favourites obliging. It wasn't always that way, however...
Wolferton Handicap Trends
Odds: Two 25/1 winners in the eleven year history of this event, and just two winning favourites, both in the last three years
Form: Only one of the eleven winners also won last time out, with ten of the eleven finishing in the first seven (four were third, quirkily)
Age: Nine of the eleven winners (82%) were four-year-olds from 50% of the runners
Ratings: The winners have spanned the ratings band, and there's nothing of note to report on the weights front either
Exposure: Nine of the eleven winners had between three and five runs in the last year, and ten of them last ran between 16 and 60 days ago.
Trainers: John Gosden has won the last two, and Sir Michael Stoute has also won two
This gives us a shortlist which comprises Rewarded, Albasharah, Mobaco, and Bana Wu.
Wolferton Handicap Preview
An interesting race, and one in which I feel the trends might be material. If I'm right about that, then we're looking for an unexposed four-year-old, that ran all right but not necessarily brilliantly last time, and has a decent 'back class' run upon which to reference.
Rewarded is a fine starting point. He was third here last year in the Group 3 Tercentenary Stakes over this trip. That run would give him every chance here, but there are two concerns with him: firstly, his best form is all on softer, and secondly, he's an inconsistent sort. A price of 14/1 is playable on the second point but I doubt he can be as effective on firm going.
Albasharah deserves to be a fairly short price. He's won all of his three starts, progressing markedly from run to run, and his win on the Kempton polytrack gives hope he'll act on the quick grass (turf wins have been on softer). There have been winners from all his races and, if the going actually elicits a hint of improvement - as well as the fact he's entitled to get better after just a trio of races - then he's a certain player.
Mobaco is a dark'un. Good enough to win seven of his fourteen runs to date, including two Listed races and a Group 3 at Marseille (however good that might be), he is now trained by 'Filthy' Luca Cumani. He was outgunned on soft by Rewarded et al last time when trying to make all, before fitness (and possibly ability differential) told and he gave way.
If he comes on for that, and if the French Group form can be relied on, he must be a possible in a Listed contest off a mark of 105. If... 16/1 gives some latitude to play at the 'if' here, especially with his 50% win strike rate, albeit in weaker (probably) competition in the main.
Bana Wu sneaks in right at the bottom of the handicap, and this Andrew Balding-trained filly has a chance on the pick of her form. She was a staying on fourth in the Group 3 Dahlia Stakes, and her sole win to date came in a Newbury maiden over ten furlongs on decent ground. She's been well beaten twice lately over a mile and a half, and this quarter mile shorter is likely her optimal distance.
At the head of the market, Sheikzayedroad won so well over a longer trip last time that it's hard to see this step back being the right move now; Chapter Seven surely wants it softer; and Dick Doughtywylie has something to prove this year after two unimpressive runs.
Wolferton Handicap Tips
Albasharah looks a worthy favourite, and 5/1 is a fair price to chance that he'll progress again and win with something in hand. There aren't many others in the field about which you could say that. Of the others, Mobaco and Bana Wu could be worth risking at double figure prices.
Alternative: Bana Wu, Mobaco
How to play the Wolferton Handicap
Back Albasharah at 5/1 with BetVictor and if Bana Wu is placed and Albasharah isn't, you'll get stakes back as a free bet. Alternatively, back Albasharah with bet365 at 4/1 or bigger and get a free bet on the next race to the same value if he wins.
5.00 QUEEN´S VASE (Group 3) (3yo)
Won last year by this year's Gold Cup winner, Estimate, the Queen's Vase will be run in memory of Sir Henry Cecil this time around.
Queen's Vase Trends
Odds: All of the last sixteen winners were 11/1 or shorter; fourteen were 7/1 or shorter; thirteen came from the first three in the betting
Form: Fourteen of the last sixteen winners were placed 1-2-3 last time, with seven LTO winners.
Ratings: Fourteen of the last sixteen winners were rated 96+ or unrated
Draw: Curiously, although this is a two miler, all bar one of the last sixteen winners were drawn eight or lower
Trainers: Mark Johnston has won SIX of the last sixteen renewals, while Sir Michael Stoute has won four
This gives us a shortlist which comprises Leading Light, Disclaimer, and Nichols Canyon.
Queen's Vase Preview
The leading light on form to date is, erm, Leading Light. He's eight pounds clear on official ratings, and it's interesting to note that twelve of the last sixteen winners were either top rated or within eight pounds of the top rated. Given that nothing in this field is within eight pounds of him, he may have a sound chance. Aiden O'Brien has run three such horses, all in the last three years, and they've finished first (Mikhail Glinka, 2/1, 2010), fourth (Regent Street, 9/2, 2011), and second (Athens, 11/2, 2012).
On paper then, Leading Light has a leading claim, stepping up fully three quarters of a mile. He's bred for middle distances at least, and we'll all be wiser as to his stamina ceiling after the event.
The possible disclaimer is, erm, Disclaimer (yes, I know these are getting really laboured, but I'm 17,000 words into the week and struggling for inspiration!), Lady Cecil's runner. This son of Dansili has won over a furlong further than Leading Light and done it in the fashion of a horse that could improve the further he goes, within reason.
He's out of a stout mare too, which gives further hope that the trip won't be an issue, and I like him. Sir Henry himself won this race eight times, so it would be fitting that the old boy's memory should be served by his widow lifting the prize. And, doubtless, not a dry eye in the house.
Nichols Canyon has also been running as though needing a step up from the ten and eleven furlong races he's been contesting, and he again has stamina in his pedigree. He's just been beaten a few too many times for my tastes, albeit at trips which were likely short of ideal.
It may or may not be noteworthy that the two standout trainers in this contest in recent years, Sir Michael Stoute and Mark Johnston, have unexposed types at big prices entered.
Sir Michael runs Baihas who, in his two starts to date, has already won over a mile and three quarters. That's one question mark out of the way. It was only a Yarmouth maiden, but connections are massively respected, and it's implied by his very presence in the field that he's expected to be a quantum leap ahead of that Yarmouth effort. Against that is that he does have to make that big step up, and also that Ryan Moore is riding another horse for another yard, and not even the first choice for that yard. (Note, that might actually be because Sheikh Hamdan has his own retained jockeys, Paul Hanagan and Dane O'Neill).
Johnston, as is his wont in this race, has multiple entries. The pick on what they've done so far is possibly Royal Skies (a non-runner yesterday), despite Mister Impatience being rated seven pounds superior. The form would be interesting if taking in this engagement, as he's been winning very easily and looks good to race beyond a mile and a half now.
But I'm again drawn to the most lightly raced from this six-time-winning trainer, Federal Blue. A doubtful stayer, it's also doubtful that he's good enough. So why, after two runs, is he pitching up here? As a pacemaker? Perhaps. But you don't really need to book Johnny Murtagh to set the pace, do you? Well, in truth, it does require a conspiracy theory to make a sound case for Federal Blue but I've backed him at 28's each way, in any case! Small beer only.
Some promise is added to the premise with the knowledge that four of the last sixteen winners, and a further five places horses, had raced just twice previously, from a group of thirty who tried. (Supporters of once raced Nearly Caught on the other hand should note that only one of the nine such inexperienced horses even managed a place.
Queen's Vase Tips
Leading Light is too short to bet, but has a decent chance if staying this much longer trip. Disclaimer is better value, and is obviously the story horse. At (much) bigger prices, it could prove to be fun siding with either Baihas or Federal Blue. Or it could not...
Big Priced Each Way Alternative: Baihas
How to play the Queen's Vase
Back Disclaimer, or your fancy, at 9/2 with William Hill and if it's second you'll get a free bet to the same stake.
5.35 BUCKINGHAM PALACE STAKES (Handicap) (CLASS 2) (3yo+ 0-105)
Good Lord. A 29 runner seven furlong handicap to finish, and the winner has never been shorter than 8/1. It's every man for himself here, I fear.
Buckingham Palace Stakes Trends
Odds: Eleven runnings, and all winners were in the 8/1 to 33/1 range. No favourite has obliged yet, though four have been placed.
Form: Only one last time out winner, but eight of the eleven winners were in the top five last time. Eight of the eleven winners also ran over seven furlongs last time.
Ratings: There is little of note on either weight or ratings.
Age: Four to six year olds have won eight of the eleven runnings.
This gives us a shortlist which comprises Redvers, Highland Colori, Bertiewhittle, and Dream Tune.
Buckingham Palace Stakes Preview
I'm not going through the form here. I'm just not. It's a race in which I will be having little more than a token play, and praying I've still got a placepot to go down on this leg. Although a number of the trends are only 73%ers (8/11), they make sense in the context of the race.
Specifically, seven furlong form is a must, and winning form at that; a top five finish last time; and ideally aged four to six.
Bertiewhittle is the ultimate box-ticker. He keeps running blinders, and has been placed third in the 27-runner International and 2nd in the 26-runner Victoria Cup over course and distance, the latter last time out. He acts on all ground, and should get a tow into the race from the likes of Highland Colori, Powerful Presence and Baccarat. He has an obvious chance and looks sure to run his race at around 14/1. Almost placepot banker material 😉
Highland Colori himself is a specialist at this sort of game, and has been fifth and sixth in the aforementioned races behind Bertie. His style of racing - prominently - means he wears his heart on his sleeve and, as such, is always susceptible to a more circumspect, covered up type. I expect him to run well again but would imagine a few will finish in front of him again. Definitely not a forlorn hope though, if you like him.
Redvers has a great chance too. Winner over track and trip in a 24 runner lady rider event last term, he's also finished close up twice more on the same piste and over the same seven furlongs. He carries his form well and won a firm ground seven-eighths handicap last time. The penalty for that is not ideal, but nor is it the death knell. May not be the best handicapped but there are few more certain to run their races.
Dream Tune range a strange sort of race last time, ploughing the proverbial lone furrow before joining the main group and running out of steam to be fifth of 26. Conditions conspire in his favour, and he's respected as a more lightly raced type than many.
And finally Lightning Cloud has featured prominently in many of the races mentioned already, including when second of twenty and third of 26, so he should run well once more.
Buckingham Palace Stakes Tips
Big field seven furlong handicap may be key, and those with the pick of it are Bertiewhittle, Redvers, and Lightning Cloud. Highland Colori and Dream Tune could be in the thick of it too.
Three off the tee: Bertiewhittle, Redvers, and Lightning Cloud
Alternatives: Highland Colori and Dream Tune
How to play the Buckingham Palace Stakes
Back Highland Colori each way with Paddy to get six places. Check Paddy's odds (click the link below) and back any of the others mentioned if/when they're top or joint-top priced. bet365, Boyle and BetVictor paying five places, the last named giving losing stakes back as a free bet if Richard Hughes (rides Democretes) is placed.
In the tipping league, Jimbob is hanging on in there with a short lead from Jedi Knight, with Ron Combo making a bold bid on the rails. You can view the league table by clicking the Tipping League option in the main menu, then 'League', then 'Royal Ascot'.
Finally, you've read what I think today. But what do you think? What's your best bet of the day? And how are you getting on so far? Leave a comment and let us know. Feel free to gloat / cry in public. 😉