Royal Ascot Day Three
I’m not quite sure which was the bigger disappointment yesterday, the fact that we couldn’t find a winner, or the absolute anti-climax that was the Japanese superstar A Shin Hikari. After dotting up by any number of lengths in a French Group 1 he was sent off the odds on favourite, and if you’d backed him you would’ve been concerned as soon as he left the stalls. Far too keen, he just didn’t settle and never really looked to be travelling all that well. When the opposition began to turn the screw and put it up to him he simply faded into last place. Despite A Shin Hikari’s lacklustre effort the end to the race was no holds barred thriller. Found, who has to be the gamest filly in the business, looked to have the race in the bag only to be chinned on the line by the outsider of the race, My Dream Boat. Under the ferocious drive of Adam Kirby, the 16/1 shot stuck his nose out the furthest and caused the biggest shock of the royal meeting so far. It was Kirby’s second Group 1 this week after having become a father for the first time. Fatherhood clearly gets the best out of him.
One foreigner that didn’t disappoint yesterday was the American speed demon Lady Aurelia. Typical of a Wesley Ward runner, she was taken to the front and then that was that. She absolutely bolted up by all of 7 lengths and clocked a speed that was slower than the standard by 1.14 seconds. That was achieved on slow ground that she’d never encountered before, meaning that she is more than likely a bit of a worldie. Lady Aurelia was in a different league to the opposition and it’s really exciting to think what damage she could do on better ground.
Onto today and I’m not going to lie. It’s bloody hard. The first port of call for us is the Norfolk Stakes (2:30), which is full of those unexposed 2 year olds that tend create a betting minefield. I however, will be your minesweeper. Global Applause heads the market after his Sandown Listed win last time out. He beat his already old rival Mehmas (who we saw chasing the impressive Caravaggio home in the Coventry Stakes on Tuesday), so the form lines are pretty solid. This is however, the slowest ground that Global Applause has encountered to date so I’m hoping that something will improve past him on the surface. The one I’m putting up is the Aidan O’Brien runner, Peace Envoy. His last race saw him bag a Listed race over 6f at Naas. I’ve watched the race a few times and although it was his third start he still looked awfully green. He lost his footing slightly about 1f out and nearly took himself through the rail, but managed to adjust his feet in time and run out a ready winner. He’s back over the minimum trip today and I certainly don’t see that as a bad thing. He’s proven on soft, and the 5f at Ascot is a stiff one given that it’s uphill all the way to the finish so I think the race will turn into a bit of a stamina test. Well equipped to deal with any slog and in the safe hands of Ryan Moore, I think that Peace Envoy could finally give Aidan O’Brien that 50th Royal Ascot winner.
Back Peace Envoy at 8/1
The Tercentenary Stakes (3:05) is just as wide-open as our opener, but I fancy Godolphin’s hot-streak to continue into today with Prize Money. He’s finished 2nd on his last two outings over today’s 10f trip by 1/2 length on both occasions. I’ve gone over the race replays and he travels through his races like a dream, but just seems to lose concentration coming down to the final furlong. Connections have fitted him with blinkers today, which will hopefully keep him focused more throughout the race, and I’ll be most surprised if he’s not in with a chance come the finish. He won his debut on good to soft but being by Authorized, I don’t foresee today’s soft ground being an issue, add that to the fact Godolphin are on a high after seeing the winners enclosure three times yesterday, and I think we could be picking up some Prize Money of our own.
One more I want to give a quick mention to in this race is Royal Artillery at a big price. The son of War Front cost an absolute bomb at $450,000 and won really well on his debut last year. His only other run this season saw him finish 4th in a Listed race at Sandown behind both Forge (who finished 3rd in the Group 3 Jersey Stakes yesterday), and Zonderland (who was pulled from the Group 1 St. James’s Palace Stakes on Tuesday). With the performances and expectations surrounding those that finished in front of him in that Listed race, it’s a bit puzzling to see why Royal Artillery has been so overlooked. This was a horse that was talked about for the Derby after his debut, and has been entered into numerous Group 1’s in the future. He’s with the brilliant John Gosden who knows how to ready each and everyone of his horses in training and at 14/1 he could well outrun his price. My only concern would be the ground for him, but he’s well worth a little saver.
Back Prize Money at 11/2
Back Royal Artillery at 14/1
Even Song has been backed into favourite for the Ribblesdale Stakes (3:40) ahead of Architecture who has the most solid credentials coming into the race after finishing behind the amazing Minding in the Oaks. Although, I know Aidan O’Brien will know what sort of filly it will take to win this race I just can’t look beyond The Black Princess. Last seen finishing 2nd in a Goodwood Listed race behind Skiffle I think that she has a real chance. She travelled so well at Goodwood, and looked to have the race in the bag only to lose a bit of interest coming to the line. The blinkers have been reached for, and I reckon the extra 2f today will see her in a completely different light. She has a lovely middle-distance pedigree and is related to a 12f winner as well as having loads of tactical pace. If William Buick can get a nice toe into the race today I think she will outrun her price.
Back The Black Princess 16/1
The Ascot Gold Cup (4:20) is the feature race of the day and yet again there’s another O’Brien hotpot heading the market. Order of St. George has pretty flawless form, but I’ll be damned before I take 10/11 about a horse tackling 2m 4f for the first time in Group 1 company. The one I want us to side with is the Willie Mullins trained Max Dynamite. He blew away the opposition in the Lonsdale Cup at York last season (pun absolutely intended), and nearly followed up that win with an explosive performance in the Melbourne Cup (I am indeed here all day). Somewhat disappointing on his seasonal reappearance finishing 3rd of 4 in the Henry II Stakes at Sandown, he had definite excuses. The small field ensured that the race turned into an out and out sprint for home which didn’t suit our boy in the slightest. Willie Mullins takes his time with his horses, and meticulously plots their course for the season, he’s officially rated 141 over hurdles, so a mark of 116 in the flat sphere says to me that he’s more than capable of taking this today. He handles all types of ground and at 8/1 I just can’t leave him alone. Neither should you.
Back Max Dynamite at 8/1
The Britannia Stakes (5:00) is an absolute nightmare, but you’ll all be rolling in it by then so I’ve got two picks for you to blow your winnings on… The first one I want to come to is Monarch. By Galileo and out of a Danehill mare he could be absolutely anything, and is related to countless 7f to 1m winners including the Irish 2000 Guineas winner Roderic O’Connor. He’s 1 from 3 but is arguably unlucky not to be unbeaten only for the fact that he’s a bit of a wanderer in his races. I’m hoping that the big field today will limit that, he’s entered into Group races so is clearly well-regarded and the 33/1 that I’m seeing could look stupendous come the end of the race.
The second pick is another huge price in the guise of Speed Company. He’s been found out a little in Listed company on his previous two starts, but they were over 11f and 10f respectively. Back over a mile today I think that he has a really nice chance. He handles soft ground conditions and has won over further with cut in the ground, so if the race turns into a slog we know that he’s more than capable of running a big race. I’m seeing 50/1 as I type, which I can’t quite believe. Excellent apprentice Ed Greatrex is taking off a handy 5lb and on this type of ground every gram of weight counts so I just can’t not have a little go on Speed Company.
Back Monarch at 33/1
Back Speed Company at 50/1
The last race on today’s card is the King George V Stakes (5:35). Like yesterday, I fancy a horse that adorns the Queen’s racing silks, Guy Fawkes. Last seen being eased down to a 3 length victory on his seasonal reappearance at Redcar, he is a half-brother to the decent stayer Fabricate and I think today’s step up to 12f from 10f will really suit William Haggas’ charge. He’s a big horse that looks to have a lot class, and never broke a sweat throughout his Redcar victory. He won from the front that day and if Pat Smullen can get him to the fore early on in the race then he may be very hard to pass indeed.
Back Guy Fawkes at 9/1
As ever, Best of British and enjoy the racing! X