We have already taken a look at the prestigious Group races on the Royal Ascot card on Thursday afternoon but there are three valuable handicaps to conclude another excellent day of racing at the Berkshire venue too.
We have had a good scour of the many runners and riders in each of the handicaps and come out with a bet for each of them as we look to kick our meeting into life with a few winners on the middle day of action.
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5.00 Royal Ascot: Britannia Stakes Handicap
A maximum field of 30 is expected for this 3 year old handicap over the straight mile & after Day 2, there has to be a question mark over whether a high or low draw is favoured. The way I see it is that the ability to race against either rail is probably an advantage so anything drawn really low or really high should probably be considered.
Mithras, the Gosden/Dettori horse, is the proverbial Group horse in a handicap after winning a handicap on reappearance before finishing 5th behind Mostahdaf in the Heron Stakes last time out but he has a decision to make having been drawn right in the middle in stall 15. Air To Air is another progressive type for George Boughey & he has Jamie Spencer in the saddle, someone who rides this straight track so well. An 8lb higher mark puts me off. Raadobarg has won his last 3 including his handicap debut last time out on heavy ground but I suspect he might need deep ground to be at his best.
There are a bunch of other similarly progressive types in the race but the one I like is Sir Mark’s horse, Royal Pleasure. He’s got what could be a great draw in 3 & comes here for his first ever start on turf. He’s yet to race over a mile but is bred to stay & his form on the all-weather reads 1-2-1-2. On reappearance, he won a handicap off a mark of 80 & then finished 2nd off 86 when pulling too hard & racing freely. A mark of 90 is unlikely to prove beyond him & this extra furlong & straight track should eke out further improvement. What’s interesting is that this is the trainer’s only Royal Ascot entry of the whole week & his current form is excellent with 8 winners from just 14 runners in the past fortnight. He’s surely been laid out for the race & there’s almost certainly more to come from this strong travelling sort, whilst the switch from the all-weather to Ascot is often a positive as seen with yesterday’s Royal Hunt Cup winner. At 20/1 he’s well worth an each way investment.
Back Royal Pleasure (e/w) for a 0.75/10 stake at 21.00 Boylesports BOG (⅕ odds 1-6)
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5.35 Royal Ascot: King George V Stakes Handicap
Another 3 year old handicap to get involved with, this time over a mile and a half on the round course with another maximum field of 19 going to post. The last 5 winners of this did not finish outside the first 3 on their last 2 starts, with all of them recording at least 1 win in the last 2. The O’Brien/Moore horse is the current favourite in Sir Lamorak who’s won both his starts this year. He was impressive in winning at Leopardstown last time out but is 15lbs higher here & has top weight to carry here.
First Light goes into handicap company for the first time having won a maiden by 12 lengths but his RPR of 88 recorded that day is still lower than today’s handicap mark of 90 whilst Surrey Gold has a 12lb higher mark after winning on soft ground by around 7 lengths. Siskany & Surefire are closely matched on their Windsor running in April with the latter probably just about weighted to turn the tables despite a poor draw.
Tashkhan won in impressive style last time out but he was behind another of today’s rivals the time before & that’s where I head for my selection. Kondo Isami beat Tashkhan on reappearance, prevailing by a head but is now 8lbs better off so should be able to confirm that form easily enough. The pair, along with one other rival, came almost 10 lengths clear of the rest of the field so it’s very solid form. Next time up, the selection was stepped up to a mile and three-quarters but failed by a neck to get the better of Dancing King who was 5 lengths 8th in a Group 2 here on Wednesday despite failing to get a clear run. The step back in trip is fine especially as the mile and a half takes some getting here where the pace will be quick enough. He has stamina in abundance & is one of just 4 with a handicap win over this trip. His yard has a great record in this & he’s handicapped to enhance his trainer’s record given he’s only gone up 2lbs for that narrow defeat last time out. Without doubt, there’s more to come & I fully expect him to run the finish out of most of his rivals here.
Back Kondo Isami (e/w) for a 1.5/10 stake at 13.00 William Hill BOG (⅕ odds 1-6)
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6.10 Royal Ascot: Buckingham Palace Stakes Handicap
The final race of Day 3 & a 3rd handicap of the day sees another maximum field, this time 29 runners, doing battle over the straight 7 furlongs. I’m again going to side with one of the rails but high drawn horses are likely to hold sway this time as all the pace seems to be drawn high. Aldaary is the likely favourite, drawn in 21 for Willie Haggas but he’s a 3 year old now tackling older horses which could be problematic.
Bedouin’s Story is a solid type for Bin Suroor but is drawn away from the pace & has a big weight to carry here. Boardman is running well but his winning run will surely end in this company and Danyah is running well, finishing 2nd in the Spring Cup last time out but has been put up 3lbs. Blue Mist loves Ascot & could get back on trip whilst Bielsa hasn’t quite lived up to his early promise although was unlucky when touched off at Haydock last time out.
From a high draw in 28, Persuasion is the selection. He was highly tried at 2 but that was justified after winning his Goodwood maiden with none other than 116-rated Berkshire Rocco in behind. A pair of Group 3 runs followed including a 2nd place behind 118-rated Wichita. He was then pitched into the 2000 Guineas but was outclassed & evidently didn’t get home over a mile so it’s encouraging he’s back over a trip that clearly suits. In his one run this year, he won a Haydock handicap off 3lbs lower by just over half a length & the 2nd horse that day has since come out & won. Over his ideal trip, from a yard in form, off a mark he’s clearly capable of winning off & with an ideal draw, he’s sure to run his race at a double figure price.
Back Persuasion (e/w) for a 1.5/10 stake at 13.00 Skybet BOG (⅕ odds 1-7)