Royal Ascot continues on Wednesday with another seven race card as plenty of horses come from far and wide looking to secure one of the coveted prizes that are on offer for winning a prestigious race at the biggest meeting in the world.
The Prince of Wales Stakes is the feature race on the card but with only five going to post that isn’t much of a betting heat. There is plenty to go at in the other six races however and we’ve picked out selections in four of them.
2.30 Royal Ascot: Queen Mary Stakes
A Group 2 sprint over 5 furlongs for 2 year old fillies kicks us off on Day 2 & there’s a field of 21 heading to post. Danny Tudhope, who signed off with a closing double on Day 1, rides the favourite in Karl Burke’s Dramatised who recorded a good time figure when winning by 4 lengths on debut despite running green. Wesley Ward also has one in the field & Love Reigns, who won by over 9 lengths on her only start, is surely going to be quick out of the gate & the one the others have to catch.
I am siding with an English challenger in the form of All The Time, James Doyle taking the ride. She’s only seen the track once & that was 2 weeks ago when winning at Nottingham. That day, she looked professional from the gate, made all the running & despite displaying a bit of greenness mid-race, quickened clear in impressive fashion under hands & heels to win by 5 lengths. In all fairness, she could have won by more had she wished. The fact she got better as the race wore on & looked strong through the line bodes well in a race that will be run at a fast pace on one of the stiffest straight tracks around. She has a good middle draw & will have options as to whether to go high which usually proves advantageous or follow the American horse who is drawn low. She has plenty in her favour & should go close at a big price.
Back All The Time (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 21.00 Paddy Power BOG (⅕ odds 1-6)
3.05 Royal Ascot: Queens Vase
The Queens Vase is a race for the 3 year old stayers. Aiden O’Brien has a good record in this & this year saddles Anchorage who should come on for his seasonal reappearance whilst Charlie Appleby’s Nahanni comes here after staying on well for 7th in the Derby. The market, however, is headed by Eldar Eldarov from the Roger Varian yard who has won 2 from 2 but never higher in grade than novice company. Al Qareem has also been running well in competitive handicaps and, whilst this is a step up, he may also get involved. I’d suggest a watching brief only.
3.40 Royal Ascot: Prince of Wales Stakes
The Group 1 Princes of Wales is an awful race to bet in but a great race to watch. Poor, numbers wise, as just 5 go to post but the quality is definitely there with the progressive Bay Bridge, who has won 5 on the spin, heading them. This is his first run beyond Group 3 level but the manner of his victories suggest he could be up to this. Shahryar is a very interesting Japanese contender who has excellent claims whilst the rest of the field is made up by proven Group 1 performers in England’s Lord North, Ireland’s State of Rest & the French raider Grand Glory. It really is any 1 from 5 so this becomes another race to sit out.
4.20 Royal Ascot: Duke of Cambridge Stakes
A 3rd race on the spin that I won’t be playing in, this Group 2 contest for fillies & mares has attracted another small field, just 8 this time, and I think the front 3 in the market all have very solid chances. Bashkirova is the progressive one in there having landed a Group 3 at Epsom last time out whilst the other 2 market leaders, Saffron Beach & Mother Earth are Group 1 winners.
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5.00 Royal Ascot: Royal Hunt Cup Handicap
From the sublime to the ridiculous as we venture into the big field handicap scenario & it doesn’t get more competitive than this, the 30 runner Royal Hunt Cup over the straight mile. Astro King was second in this last year & likes a big field handicap so is at the forefront of the market alongside Symbolize who has been 2nd on his last 3 runs, 2 of which were in big handicaps here. Dark Shift has a good Ascot record whilst Legend Of Dubai is lightly raced & progressing at a rate that could see him being too good for this lot.
I’m going double handed in this with the first bet being the 4-year old Aratus. Up until this year, he’d raced just 5 times with his only defeat on debut when 2nd at 33/1. He won his maiden by 3 lengths, novice by over 7 lengths & then won a pair of small field handicaps, the most recent where he beat the inexperienced & handy Escobar. On debut this term, he was last of 3 in a Listed race at Leicester where he pulled far too hard & had no chance whilst last time out, his failure to settle early was one of the reasons why he only finished 9th in the 27-runner Victoria Cup over 7 lengths. That day, they went no pace at all and it showed as the selection was very uncomfortable early days from his unfavourable low draw. That said, he stayed on best of all of those racing down the middle of the track & whilst they converged into one group, you could arguably say he was first home of the group racing on his part of the track. Eased 1lb for that, you could easily see him going much closer today back at the same track with a strong pace assured, although he does need to prove his stamina for this trip (breeding suggests he’ll be fine). He has a nice high draw & the ground is perfect; in fact, even firmer would be even better.
I also cannot let Tempus go unbacked. He’s now a 6 year old but is still lightly raced having won 5 of his 13 career starts. As a 4 year old, he won his first 2 handicaps on straight tracks, including one over course & distance, before finishing a very creditable 6th of 27 in the Cambridgeshire, his only run in a big field handicap. It’s easy to put a line through his final run as that was on heavy ground. He then missed the whole of last year but made his debut for his new yard (moved from Roger Charlton to Archie Watson) when easily accounting for Bless Him & United Front at Newcastle. Subsequent all weather form hasn’t been great but, on turf (where his best form is), he’s twice finished 2nd in Listed races behind the 113-rated Chindit & the 111-rated Modern News. Both of those runs were off level weights too so a mark of 101, in a race set up that should suit, bodes well for a big run at a big price.
Back Aratus (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 26.00 Bet365 BOG (⅕ odds 1-7)
Back Tempus (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 41.00 Bet365 BOG (⅕ odds 1-7)
5.35 Royal Ascot: Windsor Castle Stakes
Another 5 furlong sprint for 2 year olds but this time it’s Listed class. Aiden O’Brien has the favourite in Little Big Bear & after being narrowly edged out on debut, he was impressive in winning last time out. He’s priced around the 2/1 market but thereafter, it’s very open with bookmakers going 8/1 bar. Bolt Action was impressive at Leicester on rain softened ground, Knebworth is 2 from 2 on the sand & around the turns of Lingfield, and Chateau, after finishing 3rd on debut, won the big conditions race at Beverley, edging out Rogue Spirit.
At a bigger price, I fancy the chances of Rocket Rodney. He has an excellent high draw in 21 & should be able to make good use of that with the excellent early speed he has displayed. On debut at Nottingham, he was at the front end in a fast run race from the off & only gave way inside the last to the favourite who sat out the back & was able to pick off his rivals. He made no mistake next time out when accounting for 5 rivals at Goodwood. He travelled smoothly into contention that day & showed he doesn’t have to lead. However, when Daniel Muscutt pushed the button, he quickened up in fine style & put 4 lengths between him & the rest of the field in no time. He did no more than a shake of the reins & did not have to get serious on him. In my opinion, that’s one of the best bits of form on offer here & without further improvement likely, he’s a good each way bet.
Back Rocket Rodney (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 13.00 William Hill BOG (⅕ odds 1-5)
Back it here:
6.10 Royal Ascot: Kensington Palace Stakes Handicap
The final race of the day is the 2nd running of the Kensington Palace for fillies & mares run on the round course. A maximum field of 20 line up so those drawn wide have a battle on their hands to get a good early position so the draw could easily play a part. Haziya has looked a good prospect for Joseph O’Brien this year, winning a 17 runner handicap easily & then backing it up with a 3rd of 27 off the same mark as she races off today. Improvised & White Moonlight are next in the market and both have wide draws.
In an open event, I’m taking a punt on Farhh To Shy. Her draw in 10 is fine and she brings excellent form to the table, winning 3 of her last 5. There are 2 potential negatives to her chances, the first being her ever rising handicap mark although having defied a mark of 80 on handicap debut, she has since been short headed off 85, won off 87 and then won again off 89. She has a mark of 95 to contend with here but she definitely looks like she has more in the locker. The second consideration is the trip having never raced over a mile but being out of Farhh, she should relish the step up & she has been strong at the line in all of her races. In addition, her runs have all been on straight tracks which usually test stamina more so this turning track should help. I like her smooth travelling style & you could say she hasn’t had to get too serious in winning her last 2 so there are also plenty of positives. The firmer the ground, the better for her and quite honestly, in what’s a very open race, she should prove tough to keep out of the frame if she continues her excellent form.
Back Farhh To Shy (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 13.00 Bet365 BOG (⅕ odds 1-6)