The final day of Royal Ascot takes place on Saturday as five wonderful days of racing draw to a close on what is expected to be another scorching hot day both on and off of the track. Among the seven races on the last day we have two handicaps to get stuck into.
The first of those is the Wokingham, a cavalry charge with runners right across the track and then we conclude from a handicap standpoint with the Golden Gates Stakes where all eyes will be on Frankie Dettori in his final Royal Ascot ride. We’ve got selections in both races.
5.00 Royal Ascot
It’s Wokingham time. A 6 furlong, 28 runner handicap where the runners will be spread right across the track and, given what’s happened over the first 4 days, it’s impossible to know which part of the track the winner will come from. Charlie Hills has come out & said Orazio is one of his best chances of the week which is a bold statement in such a competitive race. His form has a solid feel to it, winning his last 2 starts, but there’s a suspicion he’ll prefer a bit of rain. Probe was beaten by the favourite at Newmarket 3 starts ago, losing out by just over a length but is weighted to reverse the form today on 6lbs better terms whilst the exposed Mums Tipple has been well backed but I put that down to the Frankie factor. There are a host of familiar big handicap names in here such as Bielsa & Summerghand who should both run good races but I’m going with 2 others.
Khanjar – William Haggas does well in these types of races with unexposed types and I feel that the selection could be the proverbial Group horse in a handicap. As a 4 year old, he’s a winner of 3 of his 10 career starts and things haven’t always gone right for him. He’s been given poor rides a few times, not least when 3rd in a big handicap at Newmarket last summer & he did run a bit flat when favourite for the Ayr Gold Cup last term too. That said, his disappointments have seen his mark remain workable & despite only running midfield at York on reappearance when looking in need of the run, he improved markedly last time out when finishing a length 2nd in a handicap at Hamilton where again I felt he delayed his challenge too long. The front 2 came well clear of the 3rd home that day so the fact the handicapper has done nothing to his mark is seen as a massive plus. This ground clearly suits, with handicap form of 3-1-2 with firm somewhere in the going description versus form of 1-0-0 without, and if high numbers prevail, his draw in 24 will be advantageous.
Lethal Levi – A very solid, yet underrated, handicapper, I’m convinced the selection will run a massive race here. His 6 furlong handicap form reads 2-3-2-3-1-4-1-4-2-1-1-9-6-0-2 which improves to 2-3-1-1-1-9-6 when running on good to firm or better, he’s now off a career high mark but I think he can defy it. His form last year saw his mark rise from 79 to 99 with his last win off 92 but he certainly wasn’t disgraced off 99 when a close 6th of 17 in a big handicap at York. On his most recent run, also at York, he was 2nd of 21 behind Bielsa off a mark of 96 (races off 100 today) but he was beaten just a head when racing away from the main action. His yard are in decent enough form with 3 winners elsewhere this week & whilst they’ve had some good chances this week, they’ve just not had the luck albeit there’s been some big performances in defeat. I’m hoping this is the one where they finally get off the mark in the most competitive of handicaps.
Back Khanjar (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 12.00 William Hill BOG (⅕ odds 1-6)
Back Lethal Levi (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 19.00 William Hill BOG (⅕ odds 1-6)
Back them here:
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5.35 Royal Ascot
I’ll refer to this as the last handicap of Royal Ascot but almost everyone else connected to racing is referring to it as Frankie Dettori’s last ever ride at the meeting and, of course, he goes off favourite on Knockbrex. Admittedly, he’s a great jockey but he’s had a good week, a good year in fact, so I’m hoping he doesn’t get to sign off in style. The horse has some good form in the book as he was 2nd behind Queens Vase winner Gregory earlier in the campaign & then 4th behind Chesspiece, who finished 4th in that same Queens Vase, on his most recent run. Canute, the mount of Ryan Moore, looks to be the one that will give him most to do if we believe the betting whilst Gosden’s Ziryab has got in as first reserve & must be respected.
Lion Of War – Drawn wide, I like the chances of Charlie Johnston’s second string here. After winning his first 2 starts as a 2 year old, he failed to fulfil that promise later in the campaign & took a while to warm up this year too although I’m putting that down solely to the ground. Back on fast ground last time out, he ran a stormer to land the Edinburgh Cup handicap at Musselburgh beating one of today’s rivals, Coco Jack, into 2nd. That day, he stumbled out of the stalls and was out the back so the fact he came with a late run on the outside getting up relatively comfortably marked him down as one to follow. He looks to be a relentless galloper who will benefit from this extra yardage on a stiffer track and I just can’t see him out of the money here. Johnston is well capable of improving a handicapper & I think this one is well handicapped given he was only handed a 4lbs higher mark for that Musselburgh win; in my opinion, he was (and is) much better than a mark of 90.
Back Lion Of War (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 7.50 Bet365 BOG (⅕ odds 1-5)