Royal Ascot 2015: Day 2 Preview & Tips
One down, four days to go at Royal Ascot 2015. Wednesday’s feature is the Group 1 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes, and it is supported by four more Listed or Group races and the devilish Royal Hunt Cup handicap.
2.30 Jersey Stakes (Group 3, 7f)
With the inaugural Group 1 Commonwealth Cup sprint on Friday, I’d expected this race to suffer in terms of both quality and quantity. But that doesn’t seem the case as 16 go to post, six of them rated 110+.
They’re headed by Ivawood, a crack sprinter last year and placed third in both the English and Irish 2000 Guineas this term. He’s claimed bronze in his last three races and, whilst that recent pair were at a mile, his seasonal reappearance was over today’s trip in the Greenham Stakes.
The facts are that he’s failed to win beyond six furlongs and, while excuses can be made for those defeats – no disgrace in placing in two Guineas, needed the run first time up – it remains the case that he has to prove his stamina. His sire is Zebedee, an influence for pure speed, so at 6/4 I’m looking elsewhere for bet. He makes the market for anything else you fancy.
Bossy Guest, just a half length behind Ivawood at Newmarket, and winner of a valuable sprint prize first time out this season, looks a solid alternative at 10/1. That 2015 bow was over six furlongs, and he was staying on at the mile range in the Guineas, having been stopped in his run; so seven is well within his compass. He might have beaten Ivawood that day and he’s value.
Another four lengths back at Newmarket was Dutch Connection. He had smart form as a juvenile, but has still to prove he’s fully trained on, though seven furlongs might be his optimal trip. 14/1 is no more than fair in my book.
Fillies have a good record in the race in recent years, with Rainfall and Ishvana winning since 2010 (from just six runners, Sentaril second as well), and that might be a pointer to the prospects of Fadhayyil. Barry Hills’ daughter of Tamayyuz was good enough for a seven length fifth in the 1000 Guineas, where she visibly weakened in the last furlong.
Prior to that she had high class juvie form over seven, including when just a length behind 1000 Guineas second, Lucida, in the Group 2 Rockfel. This is a drop in class on those races, and with the fillies’ allowance, she enters calculations. Again, 10/1 is a lot more playable for smaller money than 6/4 Ivawood.
Best of the Irish may be Willie McCreery’s Devonshire, third in the Irish 1000 Guineas, and a filly who ought to be benefit from the drop in trip. On the negative side, the ground might be a bit too quick for a filly whose best has all been shown with some cut.
Jersey Stakes Tips
The race revolves around Ivawood who could easily win. But he’s a mug’s price whatever happens; and we’re no mugs, even if we have to wipe our mouths when he bolts up… :-s
I’d rather have half a point on each of Bossy Guest and Fadhayyil, win only, for the sport of it. Obviously, I’ll be including Ivawood in placepot perms.
Bossy Guest at 10/1 Ladbrokes
Fadhayyil at 10/1 general
3.05 Queen Mary Stakes (Group 2, 5f)
Yikes! 23 juvenile fillies over a flying five. Hold on to your hats!
The trainers’ who’s who for this reads more like a who? who?! with the likes of Eddie Lynam, Tom Dascombe, Clive Brittain, the late Mick Quinlan, and Ger Lyons.
In fairness, they’re all respectable names and a number of them have been specifically associated with either sprinters or juveniles. But the fact that in the last eight years only Messrs Hannon and Gosden from the established names has scored may be telling.
Wesley Ward also snuck in with Jealous Again in 2009, and he’s doubly represented this year, courtesy of Acapulco and Bruised Orange. The former didn’t have the stamina to see out four and a half furlongs on her only start, but she must have improved plenty in the last month to have made the plane.
Bruised Orange, on the other hand, was comfortably the best in her sole start, winning by three lengths over the same Keeneland short track. Bred for a mile, she looks clear pick of the pair on form book evidence.
It is very interesting, then, to note that Acapulco is being heavily supported and may even go off favourite. Without seeing any scintillating work, or hearing of the same, I’ll have to pass her over, especially when there are fillies much closer to home with extremely compelling profiles.
Fillies like Besharah, unbeaten in two, and quickquickquick. She’s a course and distance winner, and both her races have worked out well. Her trainer, Willie Haggas, is in excellent recent form and she’s drawn close to the rail.
Fillies like Easton Angel, an angel of the north, trained by Michael Dods and drawn two stalls closer to the rail in trap one. She too is yet to be bested in a brace of runs, the latter the Hilary Needler Trophy at Beverley, and she too commands respect.
And even fillies like Rah Rah, yet another to win both career starts. Her pair of successes have been around turns – at Kempton and Chester – but she’s bred to be quick and precocious.
Nope, Wesley is going to have to beat me if he can, because I love Besharah and I like Easton Angel.
3.40 Duke Of Cambridge Stakes (Group 2, 1m)
A mile on the straight course for older fillies and mares, and we have a strong favourite in Integral. A top price of 6/5 may appear unexciting, until one considers the case for the defence.
Integral is trained by the brilliant Sir Michael Stoute, a man who is a past master at getting one ready for Royal Ascot. She won the race last year off a similar beaten preparatory effort, and she loves fast ground.
On the flip side, she has to lug between two and five pounds more than her rivals, and adjusted ratings would make her only joint-second best with Rizeena behind Euro Charline.
Let’s touch on that pair: Rizeena won the Queen Mary as a juvenile here in 2013, and the Group 1 Coronation Stakes last year, so she’s bidding for a Royal Ascot treble. In that context, odds of 8/1 are appealing. She was well beaten on her seasonal début, but that was no different from last year and it didn’t stop her then.
Fast ground is no issue to her, and if all eight stay in, she looks an each way cert… as much as such a thing exists!
Euro Charline has been racking up the air miles, arriving here as she does via Arlington and Meydan. Good enough to win the Grade 1 Beverley D in the States, she went down fighting to the beast that is Solow in the Dubai Duty Free, coming home fourth of ten.
She was only a length behind Rizeena in the Coronation Stakes last year, and there will again be little between them. I do just fancy that Clive Brittain’s filly will be absolutely tuned to the minute for this rematch, however.
French filly, Cladocera, is not out of it either. Her brace of Meydan Group 2’s show her as progressive and she wasn’t far behind Euro Charline in the Duty Free. Those efforts were all prefaced, incredibly, by running second in a Listed event on the sand at Kempton last November, when she was an unconsidered 20/1 shot (backed, win only, by me).
Duke Of Cambridge Stakes Tips
Integral will probably win this, but I’ll be taking Rizeena each way and in an exacta with the favourite.
Rizeena e/w 8/1 Coral
4.20 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes (Group 1, 1m2f)
As good a race as there is at Royal Ascot this year, and as international as it gets, too. Runners from France, Ireland, America, Australia, and Japan, as well, of course, as good old Blighty, will enter the stalls for what promises to be a brilliant battle of the continents.
Top rated on official figures is The Grey Gatsby, for the home team. Kevin Ryan’s multiple Group 1 winner is at his best over this ten furlong trip, and on fast ground. He also likes pace to run at, which he should get courtesy of Gailo Chop, the French runner expected to make his bid from the front.
The problem for The Grey Gatsby, and for a number of his rivals, is that they could be climbing over each other turning for home to get a run. With Gailo Chop looking like the clear pace maker, and California Chrome, Criterion, Western Hymn and Cannock Chase in the next rank, there could be five horses running home late. Hard luck stories may be a feature of the post mortem…
Free Eagle is favourite, at around 3/1, and this most fragile of horses has looked out of the very top drawer when granted his conditions. Ten furlongs and fast ground look optimal, so we might hope to see the ‘real Freagle’ here. That world beater version of Free Eagle was seen to devastating effect in a Group 3 on Irish Champions Weekend last autumn, when he buried good horses by seven lengths and more.
But they were good horses, and not the very good/excellent horses against which he competes this time; and it remains the case that he’s yet to beat a top class rival: he was six lengths behind Australia in a Leopardstown Group 3 as a juvenile, and he was a length and a half behind Noble Mission and Al Kazeem in the Champion Stakes last season.
His legion fans will point to him not being right in the Australia match, and to the ground being against him in the Champion Stakes. I’d have sympathy with those excuses, but I cannot excuse a horse yet to prove his top class status – despite bundles of potential – in a field full of proven G1 animals. At 3/1, I’ll let him beat me, and if he can do it with style, I’ll applaud and enjoy it as a racing fan. As a punter, no thanks.
Frenchie, Ectot, is second choice. His six race unbeaten streak since debut was undone in the Arc on his final 2014 start, and we haven’t seen him since. A first run over ten furlongs should suit – most of his winning form was at a mile – and he’s a definite contender if fit enough on this first run of the year. (I’d imagine his programme is geared towards the Autumn championships).
Western Hymn and Cannock Chase bring Newmarket to the party, courtesy of Messrs. Gosden and Stoute respectively. Johnny G is in Classic-winning form at the moment, taking both the Derby and the French Oaks in the space of eight days, and Western Hymn has looked quietly progressive in two small field Group 3 wins over the Prince Of Wales’s trip this term.
This is a big step up, however, and the son of High Chaparral (yes, another one) has been well beaten in both G1 starts.
Cannock Chase hasn’t stood much racing, but had looked very good early last season. Injury ended his year in June and he’s been beaten twice this season, albeit it with fitness probably lacking a touch. He’ll be cherry ripe for this, but he too has to step up some way on what he’s shown so far, and I can’t countenance a single figure bet with so much to prove.
No, it’s the raiders that wet my whistle. And specifically, it’s Spielberg who could direct this blockbuster (groan). One of the best in Japan, where most turf connoisseurs believe the best middle distance horses to be, Spielberg is very, very good on his day, as this video illustrates (starts at 0:22).
It’s worth noting that Spielberg had to come very wide to win, and from far back, but also that Japanese superstar, Gentildonna, was very tight for room on the inside rail.
Still, even if Spielberg had been second to Gentildonna, or even third to that one and Isla Bonita, that’s probably better form than the rest in here can demonstrate, so if he’s travelled over fine, he looks a very good price at 12/1. His record at nine and ten furlongs on good or faster ground reads 1231611131.
I would definitely take him in a match with California Chrome, who gets the same quote from most books. Winner of the first two legs of the US Triple Crown last year, his coronet has slipped a touch since then, after defeats in the Breeders Cup Classic, San Antonio, and Dubai World Cup. For all that he was beaten in those races, he wasn’t beaten far, and they were all high class events.
In between times, Chromies got to cheer on a win in the Hollywood Derby, run over nine fast turf furlongs at Del Mar. That was his only career turf run, and it was a decisive victory, but the opposition was middling in relation to this worldly gathering.
[Sadly, shortly after writing this, it emerged that California Chrome sustained a minor injury and will miss the race.]
I’ve yet to properly mention Criterion, the Aussie raider surely needing it softer to show his best; Gailo Chop, who may be back to lay material and has seen some support; and The Corsican, who looks outclassed despite winning four of his last five.
Prince Of Wales’s Stakes Tips
This is just a great race, and it looks like the complexion could change a lot in the last furlong. I can see Gailo Chop leading that far, or close to that far, before the likes of Western Hymn and Cannock Chase try to close him down. But mostly, I can see Ectot, The Grey Gatsby, Free Eagle and Spielberg all charging up the middle of the track in a sprint to the line. Spielberg might just have the strongest kick.
Spielberg e/w at 12/1 general
5.00 Royal Hunt Cup (Handicap, Class 2, 1m)
From the sublime to the ridiculous. The Royal Hunt Cup is one of the impossible cavalry charges of the season. The winner’s average odds in the last seven years have been just shy of 20/1, so if anyone tells you they have a good thing, give them the number of the Samaritans or a good head doctor.
I’m not even going to try to unpick this. Instead, I’ll point you to a few trends that look material, and then pick a couple of pokes with my randomizer dart, for you to eliminate from your own enquiries!
Draw is very important. Since 1997, and excluding 2005 when the race was run at York, splitting the draw into thirds has shown the following:
LOW (1-11) – 34.5% Runners / 29.4% Winners / 25% Placers
MID (12-22) – 34.7% Runners / 11.8% Winners / 23.5% Placers
HIGH (23-33) – 30.8% Runners / 58.8% Winners / 51.5% Placers
See that? The top third has had the least runners, and yet has been responsible for well over half the winners and just over half of all placed horses. That’s pretty massive, even if this year’s Hunt Cup sees stall one beat stalls two, three and four home.
Those runners drawn in the middle have a huge task, but the low draws also have it to do to overcome what looks a monumental high draw bias. And one other real quirk to note. Stall 33 has been used five times only, since the reserve system was introduced, but has accommodated the winner in three of those five years!
It has been the case in recent years that horses have come over to congregate against the near (stands) rail. In fact, when in 2013 a group stayed far side, the first four home all came from that (much smaller) group!
Ayaar, ante post favourite, looks to have a shocker in stall one. In fact, the top four in the betting are all drawn 14 or lower. Tricky stuff.
Let’s start with Infantry. Andrew Balding’s very lightly raced son of Rail Link started his career in France for Criquette Head, and I saw him work earlier in the season. He did it very easily that day, and looked a really nice colt. He’s owned by an Australian who hopes to race him there in the autumn.
In his only run this term, he was a decent fourth in a Listed event over course and distance, and that could be considered a sighter for this. Drawn in 29, he’s got a plum berth, and I was surprised to see he’s available at 33/1. That was until I noticed his biggest issue is getting a run, as he’s If he gets a run, he’s a definite runner!
The plum draw in 33 has gone to the old boy (eight) Bancnuanaheireann (Bancnu hereafter!), and this fellow has excellent big field form. In five runs in fields of 16+, he’s finished 24010. Clearly, travelling off a strong pace is no problem to him. He stays further, as he showed when winning the Silver Cambridgeshire in 2013 and, though he shouldn’t be quite good enough, he does have a fair bit in his favour. He too is 33/1.
Chil The Kite has been laid out for this (seriously, which of them haven’t been laid out for it?!), and he’d have won last year with a clear run, instead having to settle for second place. Although trap 10 is a big worry, he’s 22/1 in a place at time of writing and that’s tempting off a pound lower mark.
Mondialiste, another former French racer, now with David O’Meara, looks interesting from stall 23. He was just in front of Infantry in that Listed race over course and distance, and was also a neck second in the Lincoln on his first run this term. In between times, he was a close third in the Earl Of Sefton Stakes over nine furlongs (at 100/1), and he could go close at a big price again. 25/1 is the top offer currently.
[Update: 22:13 Tuesday night – I’ve just found another I like the look of. American Hope is a 25/1 shot, five places, with a couple of firms, and he was a close 6th in the Britannia Handicap over course and distance last year. But he was 1st of 10 in his group there, the field having split. Since then he’s been second, beaten a neck, also over course and distance; and then campaigned at trips lower than a mile, presumably to protect his mark.
In here off 101, he’s reasonably drawn in 20, and has the highest speed rating in the field. Mike Murphy and Shane W Kelly may not be household names but they can both get it done, and I’ve really warmed to this lad’s chance.]
There are about 25 more with chances, so good luck whatever you fancy. I’m waiting for low draws to dominate as there’s nothing I like more than a nice bit of egg on my face…
5.35 Sandringham Handicap (Listed, 1m)
If you’re still rolling on the placepot, don’t be congratulating yourself just yet, because there’s the small matter of the 17 runner Sandringham Handicap. Between time of writing and post time, there are sure to be two non-runners meaning just three places to go at, so we’d better take dead aim.
As far as I can tell, there are just the THIRTEEN handicap débutantes in here, so what could possibly go wrong?!
What I can say is that it has generally been a race for the top of the market, with just one winner this century returning at bigger than 12/1.
The jolly is likely to be the unbeaten Godolphin filly, Always Smile. She’s three from three, including a comfortable win on her handicap debut last time out. There’s sure to be more to come but she’s shown more to the ‘capper than most.
Touchline is one of two for runners for the Queen, and she looks sure to be popular (Touchline, though I’m sure HM will be too). She does have stamina on the dam side but most of her form so far has been at shorter trips.
At the start of the year, Jellicle Ball was on all sorts of professionals’ lists of fillies for the Oaks, so seeing her turn up over a mile in Listed handicap company definitely catches the eye. That she’s trained by the white hot John Gosden is another feather in her fascinator. She comes here off the back of a heavy defeat in the 1000 Guineas and a fair third to subsequent Oaks third, Lady Of Dubai.
If she’s as good as those judges think she is, she’ll have every chance.
Frankie rides the Group 3 winner, Osaila, but this small filly has plenty of weight as a consequence and I’d expect her to struggle in such a big field with such a big impost.
One lurker at the low end of the weights is Kodiva, a filly yet to run this year. She concluded a trio of juvenile races with a good third over a mile in Listed class and, off a mark of 91, she could run well if hard fit first time out.
No bet for me, just hope to still be in the placepot…