Royal Ascot 2014 Day 4 Preview, Trends, Tips
Three down, two to go, and still lots of time to win (or lose) a fortune!
Friday kicks off with two dozen dizzy wee lassies skipping as quick as they can down the Ascot heath, in the...
2.30 Albany Stakes (Group 3) 6 Furlongs
A new race introduced in 2002, the Albany thus has a dozen years of data through which to ferret. My thanks as always to horseracebase for the major race trends info.
Albany Stakes Trends
Mick Channon has won this three times, Richard Hannon and Jeremy Noseda twice each. Channon runs Malabar, Hannon Osaila, and Noseda has a small problem in his yard and runs nothing at Ascot all week.
Six of the twelve winners were double figure prices
11/12 finished 1-2-3 last time, with eight winning (from 54% of the runners)
All had run within the last 60 days, with eight having last raced between two and four weeks ago
Interestingly, perhaps, four of the twelve Albany winners had yet to win a race. They were highly profitable too.
The above points to a couple of horses with 'interesting' profile in Mick Channon's Malabar and Richard Hannon's Osaila.
Albany Stakes Form Preview
It cannot be often that the favourite for a race at Royal Ascot is trained by David Evans. Indeed, he's had just one runner priced at shorter than 10/1 (Vhujon 8th at 15/2 in 2007) this century. And yet, here he is, with a legitimate favourite, Patience Alexander, winner of her only two starts to date.
A nine length winner of a Wolverhampton maiden - more Evans's staple - on debut, she improved to see off Tiggy Wiggy in a Listed race at York last time. That one ran second on Wednesday in the Queen Mary, beaten a neck by another Alexander, this time Anthem Alexander, giving the form a solid look. The extra furlong here should be well within her compass, and I think she has a great chance. One this is for sure: Evans knows how to train!
The other joint favourite is Wesley Ward's speedstress, Sunset Glow. Ward has a great record at Royal Ascot, but his wins have come exclusively with five furlong runners. His only runner in the Albany finished ninth as the 11/4 favourite. Backing Sunset Glow is a bit of a guessing game. I mean, who knows how good the five furlong maiden special weight she won at Belmont was? She did it well, by two lengths no less, but that was around Belmont's sweeping turn, and this is down Ascot's punishing straight.
She's poor value as it's essentially a total guess.
It's 10/1 bar in this monster field of 24, and I'll pick out a couple. Saeed bin Suroor's Speightstown filly, Elite Gardens, is bred for speed and fast ground/dirt. She ran pretty green on her sole start, resisting the lunge of Aktabantay by a head having been slowly away. She'll be sharper for that experience and the extra furlong should be within her range. In short, at 14/1 in a place, she has an air of value about her.
Channon's fair maiden, Malabar, bids to repeat the same trick as the stable's Samitar in 2011. She was third on her sole prior start, Malabar was second. Both were beaten less than a length, though Malabar's defeat was on soft ground. She found trouble in running a couple of times that day at Haydock, did Malabar, and she'll not have such excuses on the wide open plains of Ascot, even with twenty-something fillies in opposition.
Obviously, on form she has much to find. But connections are respected and know how to work this trick. That's the angle and 33/1 is playable on that basis. Remember that the yard brought twice-raced maiden, Nijoom Dubai, here to win the Albany at 50/1. So don't be afraid to have a poke at a price.
And Richard Hannon, another multiple winner of this new enough race (at least, his dad was), has the maiden Osaila entered. She was almost three lengths behind Blue Aegean on soft ground on that only race so far, and Blue Aegean had 19 in front of her on Wednesday here. It's not inconceivable she could step forward sufficiently, but she's not quite for me.
Lots of other thoroughly unexposed fillies, of course.
Albany Stakes Tips
It's a very open race, and Anthem Alexander has a really decent form chance. Of the 'could be anything' battalion, I'll chance Malabar.
Win selection: Patience Alexander 9/2 PP
Big priced each way possible: Malabar 33/1 Hills, Betfair sportsbook
3.05 Wolferton Handicap (Listed) 1m2f
The Wolferton has been a friend to punters in the main, though it does reserve a sting in its tail, so is not a place for complacency.
Wolferton Handicap Trends
A dozen years to go on, bookended by older horse winners; the ten in between consisted of nine 4yos and a 5yo
Four year olds have won nine of the twelve renewals, from 87 runners, for a profit to level stakes of 23.63 (75% winners from 49% runners)
Only three of the 56 last time out winners or runners up prevailed.
Wolferton Handicap Form Preview
I'll be focusing on the younger unexposed four-year-old group, notwithstanding that it's the lazy man's route into a keenly contested affair. The market is spearheaded by Bold Sniper, third in the King George V Handicap at this meeting last year. He came back to Ascot and won at the July meeting, so he clearly goes well here. After an eye-catching third of nineteen on his first run of the season, Bold Sniper will be ready to attempt the Royal winner job.
With his best form being between ten and twelve furlongs, a fast run ten could be optimal, though a mark of 102 doesn't scream 'thrown in'.
Cafe Society is next in the betting and, publicly at least, is trained by Gai Waterhouse, the crack Aussie trainer (I think). I say 'publicly' because Cafe Society was sold on Monday evening, up to which point he was trained by David Simcock. Gai will have barely had time to check the air pressure in this one's tyres, so the interest factor of a Waterhouse runner at Royal Ascot is a bit fabricated in my view.
In any case, the horse has a claim. He loves rattling quick ground, and this is his trip. He's been bought, presumably, for a tilt at the Melbourne Cup, and is just the sort of late runner that can go well there off steady fractions. Whether he'll be as well suited by the pace here, with his hold up style, remains to be seen. I don't really like hold up horses, even in true run races, so he's a swerve for me, though he'll be hurtling home at the death.
Just The Judge is undoubtedly the class act in the race. Second in last year's 1000 Guineas, she then won the Irish 1000 Guineas, so for her to rock up in a Listed handicap is interesting, to say the least.
After her Irish 1000 win, she ran third in the Coronation Stakes - another Group 1 - on this day last year, before her form tailed off a tad. Two heavy defeats in Group 1 compay signalled that all was not right at the end of last season; and she's only hinted at the same level of ability in a pair of runs this term.
Beaten four lengths in a Group 3 over nine furlongs at Epsom, she followed that up with a good effort when just over a length behind Thistle Bird at the same trip at Epsom. I'm unsure she wants ten furlongs, but I have no doubt about her class, and this drop to Listed grade could see her run very well, even if she does have to give weight all round. She's another late runner, which is less than ideal, but at least she has Mr Late Run, Jamie Spencer, on top. Chance.
Two stables in belting form are those of John Gosden and George Baker, represented respectively by Dick Doughtywylie and Boomshackerlacker. Let's deal with Dick first.
He's been off for a couple of months, since a fruitful all-weather campaign that saw him win a Listed event, then run second to Grandeur in the valuable Easter Classic race, the culmination of the inaugural All Weather Championships. He's run four times on good to firm, however, being well beaten each time, and that's my worry for him. It's enough of a concern for me to look elsewhere.
Boomshackerlacker is a 33/1 shot but that could shorten a fair bit, given the stable form. Eight winners from 26 runners have included a 66/1 shot, so don't be put off by the price. In fact, if you have an angle, never be put off by the price!
So what about the horse's form? Well, he's been running over shorter and on softer pretty much his entire career (nine races) to date, so it's a leap of faith. But he is at least trying something quite different in the hope of a different outcome, and Baker would have had other options for this fellow during the week. He's a dark horse (by Dark Angel!) who could run nowhere, but there are a few reasons to throw a couple of beans in his general direction.
Lots more unmentioned, as ever...
Wolferton Handicap Tips
Each way selection: Just The Judge 10/1 888sport, Coral, Hills [NON-RUNNER]
Much bigger priced each way selection: Boomshackerlacker 40/1 BetVictor, Coral
3.45 King Edward VII Stakes (Group 2) 1m4f
The Ascot Derby, a mile and a half for three year olds.
King Edward VII Stakes Trends
All of the last seventeen winners were priced in single figures. In 1996, eighteen years ago, Clive Brittain won with 66/1 Amfortas!
14/17 were placed 1-2-3 last time
Nine favourites have won in the last 17 years, for a 14.25 unit profit
Only one winner since 1997 had previously won at the distance
King Edward VII Stakes Form Preview
The best race of the meeting for favourite followers, and Adelaide looks likely to carry their hopes this time. With just three runs on the board, two of them wins, one in Group 3 company, that's a deserved monicker.
His two races this year comprised a close second in a good to soft Group 2 in France (Prix Hocquart) and that Group 3 success, a facile three length verdict. He has the joint highest rating and about the most scope to improve. As such, he's a solid market leader.
Snow Sky and Western Hymn are the next pair. The former won the Lingfield Derby Trial but skipped the big Epsom gig, while the latter was a ten length sixth in the Derby.
Snow Sky is trained by Sir Michael Stoute, and after another brilliant week here at Ascot that commands respect. He's looked steadily progressive this season, and may be able to reverse the placings with Western Hymn, who beat him on their respective seasonal debuts. It's important to add that John Gosden's team were flying at that time, whereas Sir Michael Stoute brings his squad along more steadily.
The other join highest rated is the unbeaten Italian Derby winner, Dylan Mouth. He's five from five so far, and won last time strolling away from a field of fifteen. It was an all domestic affair, however, and the form is hard to pin down. Nevertheless, trainer Stefano Botti's Final Score ran a gallant fifth in the Ribblesdale on Thursday, beaten less than two lengths, and I'd expect this ragazzo to be better. 16/1 is tempting.
Miner's Lamp is more exposed than many, but his five runs have yielded three wins, including at this trip in a Class 3 handicap last time. That gives him plenty to find on form and with the percentages suggesting he's got less scope, I'm against him.
Eagle Top also runs for Johnny G but, having won a maiden and then been well enough beaten in a Class 3 handicap, he'd have enough of a leap forward to make. It's possible, as that was a bit of a 'kid gloves' effort last time, but still not for me.
Odeon and Bunker were fourth and fifth in the Dante, a race which has assumed greater lustre as a result of its winner, The Grey Gatsby, bagging the French Derby subsequently. But the other pair to run from that race, Arod and True Story, were beaten eight and ten lengths in the Derby, and that's probably not quite good enough form to claim this.
The other pair ought not to be good enough.
King Edward VII Stakes Tips
The favourite has a great chance, and I think the Italian runner can make the frame.
Win selection: Adelaide 11/4 SkyBet
Best each way: Dylan Mouth 16/1 Coral
4.25 Coronation Stakes (Group 1) 1 Mile
A convergence of the various Guineas' form, and a very nice race for three-year-old fillies.
Coronation Stakes Trends
Since 2001, the French have won this twice, the Irish three times, and the English eight times
No winner since 1999 was bigger than 12/1
Eight favourites and three second favourites have won since 1997, for a LSP of 16.57
Nine winners since 1997 were first or second last time out
Of the eleven to have a rating since 2000, all were rated 108+
Nine of the seventeen winners had already won over a mile, from just 54 starters, a 17% strike rate
Coronation Stakes Form Preview
The top of the market, and the smart fillies, are where the winning action has been in recent years, and after finishing second in both the English and Irish 1000 Guineas, Lightning Thunder 'deserves' a change of luck. Of course, no horse wins a race because it deserves to; rather it wins because it is good enough, and the fact Lightning Thunder has been beaten twice, by different fillies in Miss France and Marvellous, implies she's susceptible.
Still, she has the best and most consistent three year old form, and she would certainly not have enjoyed ground conditions on the Curragh last time out. She looks a solid if unspectacular favourite and, in a year where there are a lot of ifs and buts about her rivals, that might be enough.
Her main market rival is My Titania, a daughter of Sea The Stars, and in the same ownership as that one. So far, she's won both her starts since a maiden second, the latter of which was a Group 3 success over seven furlongs. On breeding, she'll appreciate the step up in trip and the magnificent Sea The Stars continues to perform excellently as a stallion since hanging up his racing shoes.
Indeed, his three year old progeny have been winning at a 20% clip and, in Pattern class (Listed and above), are four from fourteen in UK and Ireland, including the Group 1 Oaks win of Taghrooda.
John Oxx is a judge, and if he's starting My Titania in this race, it's because he thinks she can win it. I do too.
The rest of the field have question marks about whether they've trained on, and/or whether they're good enough. Foreign raiders Rosalind (from USA) and Lesstalk In Paris both come here off below par runs and, though their making the journey demands a second look.
Rosalind was good enough to win a Keeneland Grade 1, and her trainer feels she'll be better on turf. If that's the case she might outrun her 20/1 odds. Lesstalk In Paris was second in the Prix Marcel Boussac at the Arc meeting last backend, but hasn't yet matched that level this term despite winning a Group 3. She was thumped in the French 1000 Guineas, and has a bit to prove for me.
Rizeena won the Queen Mary over six here last year, and went on to be second in the Fillies' Mile, so we know she stays all right. She was only seventh in the 1000 Guineas though, beaten almost five lengths. That run didn't conclusively prove anything, and Clive Brittain has an impeccable record at Royal Ascot for one so frequently lampooned for tilting at windmills, including winning this race in 2004 with Crimplene.
I wouldn't be sure any of the rest are good enough.
Coronation Stakes Tips
This looks between Lightning Thunder and My Titania, with preference for the latter. Rosalind is a filly I'm looking forward to watching without being compelled to bet her.
Selection: My Titania 4/1 general
5.00 Queen's Vase (Listed) 2 Miles
One of the weaker events at the meeting ostensibly, though it has received a huge fillip in recent years, with the last two Vase winners - Estimate and Leading Light - going on to win the Gold Cup the following year.
Queen's Vase Trends
All of the last seventeen winners were 11/1 or shorter, so it looks punter friendly
Curiously - and not necessarily relevantly - only one of the 75 horses drawn higher than eight has won since 1997
15/17 since 1997 finished 1-2-3 last time out
11 of the 12 with an official rating since 2001 were rated 96+ coming into this. The exception was Estimate, rated just 86.
That gives a short looking shortlist of Hartnell and Marzocco.
Queen's Vase Form Preview
I was looking at the breeding for this, and one horse stood out. Montaly is by Yeats, the four time Gold Cup winner, and should be imbued with plenty of stamina off the back of that. Although he had the speed to win a mile maiden as a juvenile, the story of his Classic season far can be summarised thus: "kept on well".
He's raced only up to a mile and a half, and sure he'll love this extra 33% of racing time. Granted, the bare level of his form leaves him a lot to find with the likes of Hartnell and Marzocco, but he could take a big step forward as a result of, well, taking a big step forward.
Marzocco has been a well backed favourite, and he too has been staying on at even shorter trips than Montaly. My worry is that he's by Kitten's Joy, the top US turf sire, but not one known for getting stayers. Indeed, while most of the sire's progeny race in the States - at a mile and a half and shorter, it should be said - he has not had a flat turf winner in UK or Ireland beyond a mile and a half either.
It's a small sample size, but at the price I can't entertain Marzocco as certain to stay.
Hartnell probably will stay, and has the best form in the book, second in the Group 3 Lingfield Derby Trial, and third in a Saint-Cloud Group 1 as a two year old last term. That he had the stamina for ten furlongs as a juvenile points to him seeing this out well enough and, with form in the book, he looks the safest bet notwithstanding susceptibility to one of the improvers.
The improvers are, well, essentially the rest of the field. Given that the market has been a strong guide to this race in the past, Min Alemarat needs a look. He bolted up in a mile and a half soft ground maiden at Haydock last time, form that has worked out all right already. As a son of Galileo, he might appreciate the quicker turf he encounters here and, if so, he looks a player.
Queen's Vase Tips
I'm happy to oppose the strongly fancied favourite, and regret it later if needed. He looks a stamina doubt to me, and Hartnell - who is more likely to stay - has better form so far anyway. Montaly has to be the each way on breeding alone.
Selection: Hartnell 9/2 Lads
Each way play: Montaly 14/1 BetVictor, Hills
5.35 Buckingham Palace Stakes (Class 2) 7 Furlongs
We close with a 29 runner handicap in which your guess is quite likely better than mine. This will be a short preview!
Buckingham Palace Stakes Trends
A new race in 2002, there are twelve years worth of data.
Only one of the 45 last time out winners was able to follow up in this
The shortest priced winner has been 8/1 (!)
Age seems immaterial in terms of winners to runners
Three winners carried 9-08 or more (class horses), the rest had nine stone or less
Ten of the twelve winners had run in the last 30 days
Buckingham Palace Stakes Form Preview
Sorry, you're on your own here.
Buckingham Palace Stakes Tips
There will be no Saturday Ascot preview, I'm afraid. I've been rather ill the last two days, and plan on having a little rest. Sorry about that.
Don't forget you can STILL enter the tipping competition even if you've not played yet.
It's open to all registered members of geegeez. Registration is free and can be done here.
As well as a cash prize of £100, I'm also throwing in a runner up prize which consists of the Day 1 programme (featuring Toronado and Kingman), the Royal Ascot magazine, and the Royal Ascot media guide.
To enter, just add your tips via the racecards (click the tip icon next to the horse you fancy), select your stake; win or each way; and click 'Tip'. Easy as pie.
You must enter at least ten tips across the five days of Royal Ascot. That could be two a day, five each on Tuesday and Saturday, ten on Saturday, or... well, you get the idea. But at least ten tips.
Higher scorer wins £100 cash. Nice!