It’s the second day of Royal Ascot 2018 and Will has a preview plus tips.
2.30 – Queen Mary Stakes (Group 2) (Fillies) (Class 1) (2yo): Wesley Ward has won this three times, with Jealous Again, Acapulco and Lady Aurelia turning this into a procession on three occasions. The lightning quick Chelsea Cloisters is sure to go close, but Clive Cox managed to beat Happy Like A Fool (went off 10/11) with Heartache and he has a similar contender in the shape of Shape of Hearts here.
Immature and noisy in the paddock before she ran here on debut, she failed to settle through the early parts of the race and then didn’t get a run until he final furlong, where she put the race to bed with a hand ride. Second Queen Of Bermuda has since won twice, once when beating colts in a novice stakes, whilst reopposing third Come On Leicester has since won impressively at Windsor. She will surely get a real gallop to run at her which should allow her to settle and on that form it’s unlikely anything will finish better here.
Aidan O’Brien’s So Perfect was an extremely taking winner on debut when she made a slow start and then came with a withering run to win a Navan maiden in April on yielding ground, but she didn’t build on that when a disappointing favourite in the Fillies’ Sprint Stakes when a failure to get a run did not cost her victory and she was well beaten behind Servalan.
One of the leading highlights of Jessica Harrington’s strong juvenile crop, she improved hand over fist to take eventually win with a deal of comfort her stablemate Chichas Amigas had a next time out winner behind when winning on debut. Severalan was beaten on debut but only behind Andre Amar, who found only Sergei Prokofiev too good on his next start. The five furlongs around this course will hopefully be fine with a strong pace.
Matthieu Palussiere and Antoine Hamelin teamed upto take the Albany with Different League last year so Forever In Dreams, an impressive winner of the Prix Du Medoc and Prix Pirette in her two starts, needs respect. So too does Kurious, who represents last year’s winning connections after winning a Sandown maiden when the runner up was in the same ownership.
Advice: 1 pt each/way Shades Of Blue (11/2 general), 1 pt each/way Servalan (10/1 general)
1m6f Queen’s Vase (Group 2) (3yo): John Gosden managed to frustrate the Aidan O’Brien battalions yesterday and he might do the same again with Stream Of Stars. He didn’t beat a whole lot here over 1m4f but it was a big step forward from his Newmarket second and he will thrive going at this distance and further in the future.
Aidan O’Brien has a fond history with this race and all of Kew Gardens, Nelson and Southern France need respect. Nelson makes the most appeal out of these, with his defeat of Kew Gardens at Leopardstown and subsequent second to Roaring Lion the best form on offer. However, his blowout in the Derrinstown is a discouraging preparation for this.
Southern France got the better of Drapers Guild (trained by Joseph O’Brien) in taking style at Navan and whilst he must improve on that, he’s far from the finished article and surely will enjoy this extra furlong today. He can confirm that form today. King’s Proctor was third in the Chester Vase and then had to five too much weight in a handicap at Newbury last time. His trainer’s record in this is so good he has to be respected and a new trip could help an awful lot.
Last but not least, don’t forget the Taghroooda half-brother Almoghared, a game winner at Chepstow a month ago who needs this trip as well. Lynwood Gold could improve a good deal for fast ground and also needs respect.
Advice: 1 pt win Stream Of Stars (7/2 general)
1m (Str) Duke Of Cambridge Stakes (Group 2) (Fillies & Mares) (Class 1) (4yo+): Hydrangea is the clear form choice if back to her best, and her reappearance wasn’t too disappointing given that this would likely have been the target. She will be hard to beat but even if too good there are three places to aim for and Wilamina might be the obvious place chance. She was a clear best of the rest when behind Whueida on her return in the Dhalia and whilst that race might not have that much depth to it, she had the 1,000 Guineas seventh and Free Handicap winner Anna Nerium beaten there in what was another good effort. That she stays slightly further is a help to her chances here and if she’s over a hard race at Epsom then she should go well.
Tomyris was a taking winner of the Chartwell and has a low mileage whilst Urban Fox gave 7lbs and still managed to beat Tribute Act in a C&D handicap here and she could be finding a new lease of life for William Haggas who has just had her for the first time.
Promising Run has a 3lbs penalty which doesn’t help but a repeat of her Meydan form would give her a serious shot.
A really interesting contender is Arabian Hope, who was third in the Falmouth Stakes last season and then bombed out twice behind that same horse in other Group 1 races. If she’s back and ready to run to her best she could go very close, and it’s interesting that the target is the Falmouth again according to reports.
Advice: 1 pt each/way Wilhamina (8/1 general)
4.20 – 1m2f Prince Of Wales’s Stakes (Group 1) (British Champions Series) (Class 1) (4yo+): If Cracksman is recovered from his slog to win the Coronation Cup then the Arc favourite and Champion Stakes winner ought to take apart this field, but he’s had just 19 days to do so. Before that close shave he’d taken apart the Ganay field in a matter of minutes and he put seven lengths between himself and Poet’s Word in last season’s Champion Stakes.
Poet’s Word has continued to improve and whilst he was well beaten behind Hawkbill in the Sheema Classic, he improved from that to take the Brigader Gerard with something in hand at Sandown in what was a fine warmup for this. He can go well once again. Cliffs Of Moher bat Cracksman in last year’s Derby and his win in the Mooresbirdge Stakes will have done him a power of good, but a Group 1 success has eluded him so far and it’s quite possible we’ve seen the best of him.
The most interesting of these horses in a race that might not be blessed with pace is Eminent, who has some very smart form last term that included a third in the Irish Champion Stakes. He was desperately disappointed on his comeback in the Huxley Stakes, for with Martyn Meade has found no excuse, but if he’s back to his best then it’s not impossible to see Oisin Murphy getting a good tactical posse which could enhance his chances.
Hawkbill’s latest run in the Coronation was a really dire performance so it has to be taken on trust that he’s back to his best here, but should that be the case then Charlie Appleby’s charge would be very interesting and he brought Blue Point back to his best as well.
Desert Encounter has been held in races won by Cracksman, Hawkbill and Poet’s Word since his Group 3 win at Newbury last September and Royal Julius looked outclassed.
Advice: 1 pt each/way Eminent (12/1 general)
5.00 – 1m (Str) Royal Hunt Cup (Heritage Handicap) (Class 2) (3yo+): As difficult a renewal as one can remember, with every one of the 32 having a realistic chance. The draw – which rewarded the near side in the Coventry in no uncertain manner – will also play a part although there’s pace drawn across the track with front runners drawn low, middle and high. Look for the best place terms in the odds – Betway and Skybet are going one fifth the odds for seven places whilst Coral, Ladbrokes and Paddy Power are giving six. Bet365 only have five placed but they do have ¼ for place terms.
Salstonstall has given two career best efforts since being turned to handicaps by Michael Halford and so impressive was the manner of his win at the Curragh last time that a 5lbs penalty if anything, looks lenient and with fast ground perhaps bringing out more improvement he has enough promise to make the shortlist. Second in the Irish Lincolinshire on his return, the winner has since won a Listed contest at the Curragh which suggests he can handle a mark of 103. The same connections also won this with Portage two years ago.
The last time Raising Sand ran over course and distance he was an impressive winner of the Shergar Cup Mile and since then he has run two big races in valaiuble 7 furlong handicaps, the first when he gave away the race at the start here in September and the second when third in the Challenge Cup in October. That day he was beaten by Accidental Agent and Lord Glitters off a mark of 98, form which looks red hot when you rewatch the Queen Anne in which they finished first and second today. That form might be flattering but Lord Glitters then won the Balmoral and was second in the Lincoln to a group winner whilst Accidental Agent was Listed placed before his big win today.
He made some encouraging late progress in the Victoria Cup but it was a hell of an ask on his return and he will surely strip fitter with that under his belt and a draw of 9 gives Jamie Spencer tactical options to boot.
Escobar was also making his seasonal reappearance in that race and has since found winning form for David O’Meara. He came so close to making the shortlist but Settle For Bay is the second Irish bow to our challenge.
David Marnane’s charge had a four timer at Dundalk through the winner after being upped to a mile but probably gave a career best effort so far for him when making rapid late progress to take a decent fourth at Leopardstown. Only the winner got clear of him and he has since won a Listed contest whilst the sixth has won another handicap so the form looks strong and the straight mile of Ascot and lots more pace will give him a better chance of showing his best once again.
Advice: 1 pt each/way Strensall (12/1 general), 1 pt each/way Settle For Bay (14/1 general), 1 pt each/way Raising Sand (20/1 general)
5.35 – 7f Jersey Stakes (Group 3) (Class 1) (3yo): Could It Be Love was only overhauled in the final furlong of the Irish 1,000 Guineas and dropping back to 7 furlongs that should suit, she will take the beating. The money has come for her though and this looks a very deep renewal of the Jersey.
James Garfield has a penalty for his success in the Greenham Stakes but it was merely one of many impressive efforts from George Scott’s charge and his juvenile and three year old form reads very well. He didn’t get home in the Guineas but was once again ahead of Expert Eye and that form doesn’t read too badly here. He was dropped in trip for the Sandy Lane Stakes, but found the 6 furlongs at Haydock too quick, which was no shame given that the first two home were previous 6f Group winners who are now amongst the lead contenders for the Commonwealth Cup. 7 furlongs here ought to suit him down to the ground and he looks big on his best form.
Headway, second in the Coventry Stakes last year, is also worth giving another chance to. He bombed out in the Guineas but previously posted an incredible performance to come from behind and take he Spring Cup. That saw him run two final furlongs of 10.8 and 11.0 seconds, even more impressive when you consider that the early pace was not strong there, and previously he’d also finished third in the Gimcrack.
Expert Eye needs to settle better if he’s to return to the form of his Vintage Stakes win and Society Power and Emaraaty, first and second in a valuable Goodwood Handicap last time, make more appeal. Symbolizations’ Irish Guineas fifth took a beating and Pursuer, a game winner of the King Charles II Stakes, is preferred whilst it’s a huge indicator that St Patrick’s Day make his Ballydoyle debut here. Glorious Journey could also run a big race now he gets a strong pace to aim at – the Prix La Rochette winner was fourth in what was a very strong Craven before his third in the Prix du Guiche.
Advice: 1 pt each/way James Garfield (16/1 Coral, Hills), 1 pt each/way Headway (10/1 general)
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