Royal Ascot 2014 – Day 5

Chesham (2.30) – Having failed to find a gap that would open before late at Naas, Dick Whittington was unlucky to lose on debut to Capella Sansevero, when 2 lengths ahead of Toscani (who also holds a solid chance here), who has since franked the form when second in the Rochestown at Naas, and then floundered in heavy ground at the Curragh when beaten a long odds, but getting ground that suited him at Navan last week, won in the style of a horse well upto group company, and if running to form – as some of the juveniles from this yard have notably failed to this week – he should take the beating.

 

 

Cordero is a fascinating contender for Wesley Ward, whose juveniles have all run well this week, making his debut, and while his are known for speed Cordero is well bred to get the trip and has been supported well at the time of writing. Crown The Kitten ran like a horse that would really relish a step up in trip at Belmont last time and is respected, although in a very open race nothing is dismissed. Via Via may be best of the bigger priced contenders, back to a sound surface and upped in trip, although it would have been just as easy to go for Juventas, Justice Well, Richard Pankhurst, or Loretta Martin.

 

 

Advice: 3 pts win Dick Whittington (5/2 general)

 

 

 

 

Duke of Edinburgh Stakes (3.05) – The temptation to go with Arab Spring is very hard to resist but there are a whole host of interesting types here and the Stoute charge, who may well be a group horse in the making – he has certainty looked it when last seen winning at York – makes an attractive betting market. Hamelin is a fascinating contender on the strength of a good second on his return, continuing the progression that he’d shown last season, but the claims of Elidor are hard to ignore. A winner of the King George Handicap here at this meeting last year, he seemed to struggle with an elevated mark for the rest of the season but signed off in good style when he was third at Haydock and he then returned with an impressive win at Thrisk, when racing clear in the style of a yet again improved horse, and his third to Gatewood and Pether’s Moon is well worthy of a mark of 98 – the former has won again since and the latter is rated 110, having landed a Listed race in fine style at the backend of last season.

 

Groundbreaking and Wadi Al Hattawi give Godolphin a strong hand, the two having destroyed their fields when last seen in a fashion that suggests 14 and 11lbs higher marks would not be a problem. There are a host of horses ready to discover their best form, including Dashing Star, Elhaame and Estihaal, all of whom can have valid cases made for them, while Havana Cooler also holds fine form, albeit having been off for 300 days.

 

 

 

Advice: 1 pt each/way Elidor (12/1 general)

Hardwicke Stakes (3.45) – Today looks to be the day for Telescope, who looks to have been wanting this trip since landing the Great Voltigeur now and also gets his favoured fast ground. Not disgraced by Noble Mission the last twice, that form has been significantly boosted by the winner landing the Tattersalls Gold Cup, and it still looks better than anything the rest of the field has mustered up in a race where many have question marks.

 

 

Hillstar, the stablemate’s main form rival, has had his best 2 form performances (a third in the King George and fourth in the Juddmonte) coming over C&D and is now returned to the ground which suits him best as well – meaning you can forget his poor runs this season – and the two seem to tower over their rivals. Forgotten Voice’s effort when returning was a fine one but signficantly behind the best of the front two, Dandino is yet to run this season, Eye of the Storm would appear to be better over further, and Pether’s Moon’s Jockey Club second was not backed up when beating by Greatwood last time here over C&D – albeit the faster ground should suit. Etikhaam has shown nothing since slipping up for this as favourite last year (and the way that he pulled last time too would be a serious worry), Sharestan saw the Brigader Gerard fall into his hands last time, Camborne would appear to want more cut in the ground, and Joshua Tree, who has been out of form for a long time

 

Paddy Power offer evens on one of the top two in the market winning and that looks potentially outstanding.

 

 

Advice: 6 pts Telescope or Hillstar to win (evens Paddy Power)

 

 

 

Diamond Jubilee (4.25) – Slade Power improved hand over first last year and will take a huge amount of stopping in his bid for a maiden group 1 success. Having long been a group class sprint – he won a listed sprint at Haydock just two years ago – he was seventh in this last year but has since finished third (3 lengths closer to Lethal Force than at Ascot – in the July Cup and then second in the Sprint Cup at Haydock, before landing the 6 furlong contest held over C&D on British Champions Day. Having been tried successfully in the Hong Kong Sprint, he returned in style when pummelling Maarek on his favoured soft ground surface in the Greenlands Stakes, with the second having beaten Astaire at York last time.  All ground comes alike to him, he’s a course and distance winner, the same yard have had two winners this week, and he looks set to make a massive effort.

 

Ajamaaheer, dropping down from a mile to sprint trips, should take a good deal of beating if getting away from the stalls better, for all that this is a far tougher race than the Abernant that he found himself with too much to do in last time. A replication of his mile form would be good enough and blinkers could help but he is

 

Due Diligence, who is 3-3 sprinting, won last time in the style of a horse who could easily make this grade. The faster ground should be right up his street, and he is hard to ignore, but Astaire is preferred as the second each/way bet.

 

Kevin Ryan’s sprinter got the better of stablemate Hot Streak in what’s working out to be a decent middle park and patently didn’t stay on his seasonal reappearance behind none other than Kingman and Night of Thunder. His second to Maarek came under a penalty, so he’s better weighted today, and while cut may have helped his chances, he has form on faster ground too and he shouldn’t be underestimated today.

 

 

Gordon Lord Bryon’s back from Globetrotting, and if he’s at this best – as he hasn’t been in three runs here – then he will go close for sure, and there are three interesting ones at bigger prices. Darwin has not seemed as comfortable at a mile as he does at seven or six furlongs, and back on fast ground is capable of a bold showing, while American Devil’s win at Longchamp last time was impressive for all that he’s been less impressive at 6 furlongs, and Medician Man ran a stormer in the King’s Stand on Tuesday. All three could be called value, but the two fancied horses will do for me.

 

Advice: 2 pts win Slade Power (4/1 Ladbrokes), 1 pt each/way Astaire (10/1 general)

 

 

 

Wokingham (5.00) – As is the rule with the handicaps, take nothing for granted, and if you can, back one on each side. This could set up ideally for Professor, a pattern sprinter who has often been coming too late but looks to be on a very fair mark and is going to have his perfect pace scenario with a whole host of pace tracking options for Ryan Moore to his left or right. He can be hard to win with but the brutally fast pace over Ascot’s 6 furlongs is as ideal as it gets for him and he’s in form that’s as good as any.

 

 

For a second bet, Glen Moss appeals most of those low numbered. Two starts ago be beat Louis The Pious, who bounced back from a poor run in the Victoria Cup to land the Buckingham Palace Stakes yesterday, while in the Victoria Cup he himself was seventh in a race that has seen Belgian Bill and Ayaar, who have franked the form in the Hunt Cup on Wednesday when both were unlucky not to finish closer. A strongly run 6 furlongs should be no problem and he can go well today.

 

 

It was particularly hard to leave out Absolutely So, who is on the upgrade for Andrew Balding and Rocky Ground, who was so impressive at Windsor when Professor himself was behind, but those two make the most appeal in a race that has an endless longlist of possibilities.

 

 

Advice: 1 pt each/way Professor (20/1 Bet Victor), 1 pt each/way Glen Moss (16/1 general)

 

 

 

Queen Alexandra (5.35) – It should be hard to stop Tiger Cliff winning. He looked as if he’d get this trip when a staying on second, having possibly been given a lot to do, in last year’s Ascot Stakes (when well ahead of Mubarza, giving 5lbs) and has since won the Ebor and finished a fast closing second in what looked a strong renewal of the Yorkshire Cup. Below his best at Sandown behind Brown Panther, this looks an easier race and he may have been sent out a tad too soon there and few can match upto his form.

 

 

Whiplash Willie was ahead of him that day, having been magnificently trained to not only repeat, but also improve upon, his fine comeback win after 1088 days off, and must be rated a big threat, while the same can be said of Pique Sous who is a very unexposed flat horse.

 

 

This though, as the longest race in the calendar, looks made for El Salvador. Aidan O’Brien’s 5 year old was sixth in the Gold Cup behind Estimate last year, his last run over 2 miles, and since has been hit and miss but never come close to have the conditions which see him thrive best. Only eighth behind Tiger Cliff and Whiplash Willie when the two last met, this extreme distance is a guaranteed plus for him when others may falter and the better ground might be the key to a good showing from him.  Brass Ring is a horse I have a lot of time for, but this trip is a whole new level of unknown for him and he was further behind Gospel Choir than Tiger Cliff. Statutory is interesting, with this trip possibly more his bag than the shorter distances he’s been racing over.

 

 

 

Advice: 1 pt win Tiger Cliff (7/2 general), 1 pt each/way El Salvador (9/1 general)

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