We have already previewed the headline races on the Royal Ascot card on Wednesday elsewhere, but you don’t get paid any differently if you have the winner of one of the lower graded races so it is time to look at the three races that fall under that umbrella now.
We have picked out a bet in one of the contests and although we don’t have official tips in two of the races our hunches do form the basis of another crack at the placepot which paid a cool £520.60 on the first day.
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2.30 Royal Ascot: Queen Mary Stakes
The first of two 5 furlong sprints for 2 year olds on the card and it’s an incredibly competitive 27 runner Group 2 race for fillies.
It looks a complete minefield with two-thirds of the field having won last time out and 13 of them being unbeaten.
US trainer Wesley Ward is bidding for his 4th win in this race and relies on 2 who sit in the first 6 in the market. First up is Kimari who won her only start by 15 (yes, that’s FIFTEEN) lengths and Anna’s Fast who only managed a 5 length victory. Both could turn out to be anything.
Interestingly, Godolphin saddle the other 4 that sit in the first half dozen in the betting. Final Song goes for Saeed Bin Suroor and she won her only start at this track by 5 lengths, recording a RPR of 93 in the process, on soft ground. She looks the most likely of the quartet.
The other 3 are headed by McCreery trained Irish challenger Ickworth but her chances are compromised with the recent rain whilst Charlie Appleby saddles a pair of Windsor maiden winners in Divine Spirit and Theory Of Time.
This is a race to watch and not to bet in.
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5.00 Royal Ascot: Royal Hunt Cup
The first of the iconic Royal Ascot handicaps comes in the shape of the Royal Hunt Cup where 30 runners are spread across the straight track for this 1 mile contest.
4 year olds have won 7 of the last 10 runnings whilst 15 of the last 20 winners have finished 1st or 2nd already in the current season. However, I prefer to focus on those with form in big field handicaps here and, this year, I need my selections to be comfortable on the likely soft ground.
New Graduate, from the James Tate yard, is the favourite. He’s a 4 year old whose only been seen 4 times but won last time in a Class 3 handicap beating Kaeso by 5 lengths. Raised 15lbs and now racing at Ascot for the first time, I have my doubts, although he has definite ability and could prove better than a handicapper in due course.
Robin Of Navan brings form from Listed & Group races but holds no secrets from the handicapper whilst last year’s winner Settle For Bay would prefer better ground.
Instead I’m taking 2 of the more fancied runners, drawn at opposite ends of the track. The first is Raising Sand, a real Ascot specialist. He races off a mark of 103 and loves both Ascot and soft ground. In fact, he’s won 3 from 10 at Ascot but perhaps more specifically, his form on good or worse ground reads 1st of 14 off a mark of 89, 1st of 10 off 92, 4th of 17 off 98, 3rd of 18 off 98, 1st of 15 off 97, 6th of 20 off 102 and 4th of 26 off 103. That last run (4th of 26) was in the Victoria Cup on his only start this term. He finished best of all but unfortunately raced on the wrong side of the track that day. With 7 places being paid, he looks a cracking each way bet.
Similar comments apply to our 2nd bet Kynren who continues to pay for his consistency. He’s a 5 year old who won 3 races as a 3 year old but has yet to win since but continues to go agonisingly close in big field handicaps. He’s at his best in big fields on good or easier ground with his form under such conditions reading 3rd of 20 off 93, 2nd of 13 off 93, 5th of 20 off 99, 2nd of 19 off 98 and 2nd of 26 off 98. The last of those was in the Victoria Cup too where he failed by the shortest of short heads. I’m not overly concerned by a 3lb rise in weights as he keeps pulling out more and he’d be one of the most popular winners of the week should he finally get his nose in front. Like Raising Sand, his consistency makes the 7 places on offer very appealing, especially at his current odds.
PLACED – Back Raising Sand (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 8.00 Skybet BOG (⅕ odds 1-7)
PLACED – Back Kynren (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 13.00 Paddy Power BOG (⅕ odds 1-7)
5.35 Royal Ascot: Windsor Castle Stakes
The second of the 2 year old 5 furlong races is no less competitive, being a Listed event where 24 go to war.
Of those, 16 won last time out and 8 remain unbeaten but, being Listed class, those with a defeat last time out shouldn’t be dismissed as they may be stepping down in grade.
The first of those is the 2nd favourite, from the O’Brien yard, in Southern Hills. In fact, he’s winless in 2 starts but still sits near the head of the market having shown promise in both runs, particularly last time when going down narrowly.
The favourite is the 2-time winner Temple Of Heaven from Richard Hannon’s yard. He’s won over 5 and 6 furlongs so the stiff track here should hold no fears.
Wesley Ward saddles Foolish Humor but he doesn’t look the most obvious selection but at a bigger price, I think Mark Johnston’s Iffraaz could go well after winning his only start at the stiff track of Carlisle on very soft ground.
Day 2 Placepot
For a bit of fun, here’s the 64-line suggestion (2 selections per race) for those wanting a go at the placepot:
2.30: Final Song & Kimari
3.05: Norway & Themaxwecan
3.40: Magical & Zabeel Prince
4.20: Pretty Baby & Veracious
5.00: Raising Sand & Kynren
5.35: Southern Hills & Iffraaz