It is the final day of the Royal Ascot 2022 meeting on Saturday and after racing which has been as hot as the weather we have one last day of world class racing action to get stuck into at a Berkshire track which will be cooler than the rest of the week.
The Platinum Jubilee Stakes is the feature on the final day of the meeting with the six support cards all of a decent standard. We’re loading up the bet slips in five of the seven races with our selections all in the preview below.
2.30 Royal Ascot: Chesham Stakes
We open the last day with the final 2 year old race of the week, the 7 furlong Chesham which is a fair stamina test for juveniles at this stage of the season. Aiden O’Brien has an excellent record in this race & bids to extend it with favourite Alfred Munnings. He looked a real prospect when winning at Leopardstown on debut but that form has taken a bit of a knock. This is many people’s idea of the final day banker & he could well be that, but at the price, it’s worth looking for some each way value.
That comes in the form of Woodcote winner Legend Of Xanadu. He’s the most exposed of those having raced 5 times but he’s improved from run to run. After 3 races over the minimum trip (which was surely too sharp), he stepped up to 6 furlong & has won both starts at the distance, with Buick now 2 from 2 on the horse. He keeps the ride today. The selection won a novice event at Redcar by over 5 lengths before galloping the finish out of most of his rivals in the Woodcote, putting the race to bed in no time. Despite Self Praise closing at the line, the result was never really in any doubt once Buick pushed the button. Being a son of Sixties Icon, he’s bred to go further so this step up in trip could bring even further improvement. He looks overpriced to me, especially as some of those shorter in the betting (Dark Thirty & Faisal Road in particular) may struggle to last home.
Back Legend Of Xanadu (e/w) for a 0.75/10 stake at 15.00 Betfair Sportsbook BOG (⅕ odds 1-4)
3.05 Royal Ascot: Jersey Stakes
Another race over 7 furlongs on the straight track but this time it’s for 3 year olds, the Group 3 Jersey Stakes. It’s an interesting mix of runners; improvers going up in class & those coming down from the highest company. Star Girls Aalmal, for example, was 4th in the Irish Guineas & all of Dubawi Legend, Hello You & Tacarib Bay contested one of the Guineas at Newmarket. Noble Truth holds favouritism & goes up in grade after winning a Listed event by 6 lengths, whilst the unbeaten pair of Monaadah & Samburu come here from novice & handicap company respectively.
There’s no obvious standout &, bar the favourite, I think there are question marks over all the runners so I’m going to chance one at a bigger price in the form of French raider Toimy Son. The concern is the ground but connections suggest he’ll go well on it & the trainer has already plundered a prize from these shores this year when Bouttemont won the sprint at the All-Weather Championships. As for the selection, he was campaigned over shorter & further at 2, winning 2 of his 6 starts last year. It’s worth noting that he ran French Guineas winner Mangoustine to a length which looks excellent form & ran better than his finishing position suggested in both his Group 1 runs. The latter, when 5th of 6 to Angel Bleu was full of promise, given he was still ahead at the furlong pole but faded inside the last on heavy ground & didn’t look to stay the mile trip. This furlong less should be right up his street, especially given he’s tackled the trip twice, both this year, finishing 2nd on reappearance & winning in Listed company last time out. He’s sure to appreciate the faster pace too & I fancy him to come with a late run, it’s just a question of whether it’s enough to wear down the leaders. At the price, I’ll pay to find out.
Back Toimy Son (e/w) for a 0.75/10 stake at 21.00 Skybet BOG (⅕ odds 1-5)
3.40 Royal Ascot: Hardwicke Stakes
The Group 2 Hardwicke has attracted a field of 8 with Hurricane Lane the odds on favourite. After winning the Irish Derby & St Leger last term, followed by a placed finish in the Arc, he should prove hard to beat although Broome may give him something to think about. With plenty of other betting opportunities today, it’s a race to leave alone.
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4.20 Royal Ascot: Platinum Jubilee Stakes
This could be the race of the week, the Group 1 Platinum Jubilee over 6 furlongs & what a field we have assembled here. Australia have the 1-2 in the market as Home Affairs, who beat the Kings Stand winner Nature Strip 2 starts ago, is the very well fancied favourite, with Artorius at bigger odds. The US are represented by Campanelle & even Japan gets in on the act, with outsider Grenadier Guards in the field. The fact the likes of Kings Lynn, Glen Shiel, Dragon Symbol & Kinross are all available at 40/1 or bigger just sums up quite how competitive this race is. With pace all across the track & some debate over where the best place to be is, I’m taking one from either side.
The first of those is Minzaal who bids to give trainer Owen Burrows just his second ever Group 1 win. The shine was taken off his first, Hukum at Epsom 2 weeks ago, when it was announced post race that he suffered a potential career ending injury so it would be fitting for the selection to win this for his likeable trainer. A lightly raced 4 year old, he has some really good form in the book & I’m certain there’s more to come. After a 2 year old career where he won the Gimcrack & then failed to handle Newmarket in my opinion when 3rd in the Middle Park, he started last year in October after clearly having some training issues. He was 2nd in a Listed race here after an absence of over a year, with soft ground and minimum trip against him, before stepping up significantly on that when 3rd behind Creative Force in the Group 1 Champions Sprint. He was a slightly disappointing 3rd in the Duke Of York on reappearance but the yard has said he would need the run & he’s been targeted with this in mind. First time cheekpieces go on to sharpen him up & provided his draw is ok, I fancy him to be the best of the Brits but whether it’s enough to get the better of the overseas challenge, only time will tell.
You might think I’m crazy but the 2nd bet is the ridiculously priced Vadream. She was a distant 6th in that Duke Of York race but I can easily forgive that for 3 reasons; she needed the run as it was her seasonal reappearance, she was noted as being very keen in the prelims with jockey Danny Tudhope saying her race was run before she entered the stalls & finally, it was away from her favourite track, Ascot. Putting that aside, she has solid credentials; last term, her form over this trip reads 2nd, 4th, 1st, all at Group 3 level, & then an excellent 5th of 20 in the Group 1 Champions Sprint. She was just a length behind Minzaal that day & finished in front of the likes of Highland Princess, Kinross, Happy Romance & Dragon Symbol who all reoppose here at shorter prices. At this track, apart from that 5th in a Group 1, she won a Group 3 beating Kings Lynn, and was 3rd behind Creative Force in another Group 3, this time over 7 furlongs. Danny Tudhope has had an excellent Royal Ascot & gets the leg up, and with 6 places on offer, she cannot be left out at her current price.
Back Minzaal (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 13.00 Bet365 BOG (⅕ odds 1-6)
Back Vadream (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 81.00 Paddy Power BOG (⅕ odds 1-6)
5.00 Royal Ascot: Wokingham Stakes Handicap
A maximum field for probably the hardest race of the week to work out, the Wokingham, but I can’t resist a challenge, or a bet, so I’ll be attacking in the usual fashion. Last year’s 1-2, Rohaan & Fresh are both in the field, with the latter currently heading the market. One that has been well backed in the Marco Botti trained Silver Samurai & whilst he has a chance, this is very different to anything he’s contested before. This is another race where I’m taking two against the field.
The first is Blackrod who won a very hot handicap at the Guineas meeting back in May. He’s a winner of 4 of his 8 turf starts & I fully expect him to be contesting pattern races before the end of the year. After finishing 7th on reappearance last year, his record in handicaps thereafter reads 2nd off a mark of 83, won off 87, won off 91, 3rd of 91 & won off 95. There were 3 heritage handicaps in there & the 3rd was the Ayr Silver Cup. Also worth noting is that it was big fields all the way, with field sizes of 17, 17, 12, 24 & 19. On reappearance at Newmarket, he travelled towards the head of the field before hitting the front inside the final furlong. He never looked like stopping & was very strong through the line suggesting this stiff 6 furlongs should be right up his street. Admittedly he has a 5lb higher mark here but I think that underestimates him & granted a trouble free passage, I strongly fancy him to be involved in the finish.
Behind Blackrod in that Newmarket handicap was First Folio & he’s our second selection. He was chalked up as the early favourite in that race but drifted badly close to the off, starting at 9/1 but still running very well to finish 5th despite racing on an unfavourable part of the track. He also didn’t appear to enjoy the track & got unbalanced twice at the 2 furlong pole which certainly didn’t help his chances. Since then, he went to Windsor in a Listed race & finished a very good 2nd with two 100+ rated horses in behind off level weights. The fast ground today will suit & his 6 furlong form, like that of the first selection, has been eyecatching. In fact, he won a 17 runner handicap at York last year with Blackrod in second so the pair are closely matched. His only real disappointment was in the Stewards Cup consolation race when the ground went against him. The trainer & jockey are due a bit of luck with the trainer having run just one this week in Deauville Legend who finished a head 2nd whilst jockey, Danny Muscutt, has had 5 rides with 2 of those being beaten by a head into 2nd, the other being Rocket Rodney. At a much bigger price than the first selection, he cannot be left out of the final equation.
Back Blackrod (e/w) for a 1.5/10 stake at 8.50 Bet365 BOG (⅕ odds 1-7)
Back First Folio (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 17.00 Bet365 BOG (⅕ odds 1-7)
5.35 Royal Ascot: Golden Gate Stakes Handicap
The final handicap of the meeting is the newly formed Golden Gates, having only it’s third running. This is a race for 3 year olds held over a mile and a quarter, the market headed by George Boughey’s Missed The Cut. He won his last 2 in maiden / novice company by wide margins but he needs to show he can do it in a bigger & more competitive field, now switched to handicap company.
In a race full of progressive types, I’m siding with the O’Brien / Moore combo & backing Sun King. He went off a well backed favourite in a hot Navan handicap over this trip last time out but only finished 6th. That, however, doesn’t tell the whole story as there was a stop start gallop (which won’t be the case today) & he never ever settled so the fact he was still travelling ok at the 2 furlong pole & faded around a furlong out, suggested he could do a lot better. He’s been dropped 3lbs for that which I think is quite generous. Previous to that this year, he’s run in a pair of maidens over a mile, winning the most recent one in taking fashion & finishing 2nd on reappearance. That reappearance run was noteworthy as the winner was Wexford Native who has since finished 2nd behind Buckaroo in the Tetrarch, 4th in the Irish 2000 Guineas & is now rated 110, The selection here has a mark of 89. Headgear goes on too, with a tongue tie being applied, & hopefully this is the race that Moore wins to secure top jockey for the week.
Back Sun King (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 13.00 William Hill BOG (⅕ odds 1-5)
Back it here:
6.10 Royal Ascot: Queen Alexandra Stakes
The longest race of the week & a conditions race at that, it’s just not for me. After a long week, I’ll be giving this a watching brief only with a nice cool beer in hand. Good luck all!