Royal Ascot 2017 – Day 2 Preview

A magnificent start to the week, with the 1-2 in the Queen Anne and St James’s Palace for short price bettors and value seekers alike plus a 33/1 place in the Norfolk.

Ribchester kicked off the meeting in great fashion for us, hitting the front early but always being that bit too good for Mutakayyed, who ran a fine race as expected. Deauville outperformed expectations to finish a good third, opening up plenty of options for his summer too especially when the ground is this fast. The winner looks set for the Sussex again, where he will take the beating once again and the runner up could go there too – or the Summer Mile as well given he has no penalty to carry at this moment in time.

Aqbah couldn’t quite get a place in the Coventry for us, where Rajasinghe lowered the course record to just get the better of Headway. Not much separated the first six or seven and it might be best to wait and see if the form stacks up although Prince Of The Dark was an eyecatcher in sixth.

Nothing could be done to stop the sensational Lady Aurelia, who won a hugely competitive King’s Stand Stakes on the bridle, with minimal urging from John Velazques, beating last year’s winner Profitable and Marsha in incredible style. It’s testament to just how impressive she was that the race needs to be watched to fully explain the brilliance and he left behind two Group 1 winners in second and third, both making them look average when they ran fine races. Evens for the Nunthrope would be generous if she turned up there fit and well (or just turned up) whilst Profitable and Marsha should have fine seasons.

Barney Roy’s defeat of Lancaster Bomber was punting dream come true that also confirmed the promise he has shown in a short but fine career so far. Godolphin today got the better of Coolmore in the tactical stakes, with the positioning of the main Godolphin two assisting James Doyle, who was ahead of Ryan Moore all the way through and who also came with a clean run down the outside to take a well-deserved win. Lancaster Bomber ran another fine fast ground race for a deserved second ahead of Thunder Snow and the three have realistic chances of taking Group 1 glory before the season is out. Churchill was disappointing, having tracked the leading four, but he did not pick up as he has in the past when chasing opposition and a post-race debrief ought to tell us a lot. A rematch with the winner looks likely if he recovers from any sort of injury.

The Ascot Stakes was won impressively by Thomas Hobson, who could go onto pattern company having been so impressive today, and the Windsor Castle was a Goolphin 1-2 although had our fancy James Garfield managed to break well and keep straight, he may well have taken it all but we can’t complain.

Wednesday will be tougher, but we go again.

Jersey Stakes (Group 3) (Class 1) (3yo) (2.30): A very high class renewal which will tell us a good deal about the gap between the fillies and the colts too if all run to form. It’s very tough to split the Poulains second Le Brivido and Guineas fifth Dream Castle, but this lightning fast ground and the 7 furlong trip might just turn things in favour of Godolphin once again and perhaps he can just edge the verdict here. Both will be very tough to beat, however, and perhaps a place bet on Dream Castle is the way to go. Daban, who was a fine third in the 1,000 Guineas, had beaten German Guineas winner Unforgettable Filly in the Nell Gwyn before and this step back to 7 furlongs might well be ideal following her Guineas third.

Those three will take a great deal of catching. Whitecliffsofdover didn’t follow up his impressive Newmarket win at Naas next time out and has something to prove here whilst Glastonbury Song ought to enjoy this much faster ground then he’s had so far and could run well above his price; The same could also be said about Escobar, who disappointed in the Autumn Stakes but was a good second on his return at Sandown. Chessman has been beaten twice since an impressive two tear old debut but that connections are willing to forego his mark of 93 is an interesting statement. Taamol improved greatly for his return when he won the King Charles II Stakes and he could take another step forward too here although he will need to as he was getting 5lbs from the runner up that day.

Advice: 1 pt win Dream Castle (4/1 general), 2 pts Dream Castle to finish in first tree (5/4 general)

Queen Mary Stakes (Group 2) (Fillies) (Class 1) (2yo) (5f) (3.05): Tricky to evaluate but Wesley Ward knows what it takes to win this race so the vote of confidence that all have given to Happy Like A Fool is a huge endorsement and she will take any amount of beating here based on here emphatic Keenland debut when she won by four lengths over 4 & ½ furlongs. She is described as her trainer’s best chance of a winner this week (and well before that) whilst Ward is quoted as saying that “from Day One she showed the most talent of any 2-year-old I’ve had”.

Heartache’s impressive start to her career at Bath was backed up by the time and a subsequent winner from there and she’s shortlisted although there’s plenty of big prices in this field to look at. With Main Desire now out, Neola’s second in the Marygate is amongst the best form and she is a player on that basis although this will be a much faster surface than her two much improved efforts.

Chica La Habana was pitched in at the deep end but she took the Hilary Needler and Beverley and if improving as much as she promised to that day, she must be respected. Formidable Kitt’s dam took this in 2012 for the same connections and she was backed a si fdefeat was out of the question on her Newmarket debut. The worry is that the form of that event has taken nothing but knocks since and she had little in hand at the end.

Mrs Gallagher got the verdict by a nose over course and distance on debut, but she beat two subsequent winners, one of whom (Out Of The Flame) was deeply impressive when dotting up at Windsor, albeit in weak company. She might be worth chancing here in the hope there’s improvement still. Treasuring’s form took a dent when Declarationofpeace lost a show and couldn’t give his running in the Windsor Castle but she was quite taking when a handy winner at Navan (her first turf start) for a stable which won this in 2007.

Advice: 1 pt each/way Mrs Gallagher (14/1 Paddy Power*)

*4 places

Duke Of Cambridge Stakes (Group 2) (Fillies & Mares) (Class 1) (4yo+) (1m straight) (3.40): Several who would not be unlikely winners of this race and another strong hand for Godolphin. Usherette took this last year and in good style, but the ground was soft then and she didn’t appear to like the very fast ground at Newmarket in the Falmouth Stakes. That is a worry given how quick conditions will be, despite the fact that she’s run very well in two prep races this season, the latter of them the D’Isphan.

Laugh Aloud has been hugely impressive in two wins this season, the first the Conqueror Stakes at Goodwood before then making a procession of the Princess Elizabeth Stakes. The ground is an advantage to her but it will need to be as both those races were weak compared to what she will face here.

Last year’s Coronation Stakes winner Qemah has been the horse on many people’s minds for this race and had a nice prep when second behind Mix and Mingle in the Chartwell at Leicester. Mix And Mingle got an exceptional ride to win that day from Ryan Moore, although she had the advantage of race fitness and a far better trip. A worry for Qemah however is the very fast ground she will be facing today – faster than anything she’s faced so far – which puts doubt in some way over her challenge.

Smart Call made a very encouraging debut when she was a running on third in the Middleton, having been at the rear of a four runner field in a race run at a relative crawl. A winner over a mille in South Africa, she ought to stop a good deal fitter for that and should find a well run big field mile more to her strengths here. Very fast ground is a potential unknown but she catches the eye. It’s fascinating that John Gosden chooses to start Gret G, an impressive winner of the Gran Premio Mil Guineas on her last start in Argentina, here first time out with Greta G. This ground again is a huge change for her but she must be highly rated.

Advice: No bet.

Prince Of Wales’s Stakes (Group 1) (British Champions Series) (Class 1) (4yo+) (1m2f): There will be worries about very fast ground for Jack Hobbs but it didn’t stop him taking the Irish Derby as a three year old and the large majority of his form is the standout in the field. He had everything go his way in the Sheema Classic, so expect Highland Reel to get a lot closer to him, but only Almanzor and Found could beat him in the Champion Stakes here last October. He’s reliant on a strong pace but he ought to get it today with Johannes Vermeer and Scottish presumably pacemakers (and a front running Highland Reel).

Highland Reel was typically classy when he took the Coronation Cup and he had leading form claims here. 10 furlongs is also fine for him especially given that he’s going to be trying to make the running.

Ulyesses is typical of so many from his table – finding a huge amount going from three to four – and his win in the Gordon Richards Stakes has been boosted a great deal by Deauville’s fine runs since. However that improvement must come if he is to match the top two at their best and whilst it well could come, 8lbs improvement is needed on the ratings. Decorated Knight is a dual Group 1 winner and respected, but those were both weak contests that he took and he must step forward a good deal more than Ulysses for example.

If the dead eight stay then Mekhtaal has a fair chance at making it into the first three. Sixth in the Prix Du Jockey Club, he has improved steadily since and Jean-Claude Rouget appears to have found his niche now of decent ground and 10 furlongs, and whilst it might not have been the strongest D’Isphan seen in recent times, he had a little more in hand than the neck winning margin suggested and in the Hocquart he was only beaten by Cloth Of Stars, who went onto take the Ganay afterwards. He appears to have been ignored by bookmakers.

Queen’s Trust took the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf and was consistently excellent last year, although she has to improve on anything she’s done so far to be involved here. This proper galloping test with a strong pace will be of far more use to her than a farcical Middleton though.

Advice: 1 pt win Jack Hobbs (10/2 Paddy Power), 1 pt each/way Mekthaal (12/1 general)

(Str) Royal Hunt Cup (Heritage Handicap) (Class 2) (3yo+) (5.00): Everybody knows how hard the Royal Hunt Cup is so I’m going to get straight into it. Newbury’s Spring Cup is by far the strongest piece of handicap form this season and that Banksea has gone up only 4lbs for winning it on his return looks pretty incredible. Second Another Touch was fourth in the Hambleton and has since won a valuable Nottingham Handicap; Third Fastnet Tempest beat fourth George William in the Victoria Cup before winning again and fifth Bossy Guest got no run but was still seventh in the Victoria Cup.

A repeat of that performance would give him deadly serious claims here and he can’t go unbacked. Fastnet Tempest is fancied by many but he has shaped as if dropped down to 6 would be better than going back upto a mile again and others may finish this Calvary charge.

George William may well be one of them. He gave weight and a beaten to GK Chesterton on his return this season in April before fluffing his lines when at the start when fourth in the Spring Cup. He found 7f just a bit quick for him in the Victoria when it was tough to make up ground from behind but with plenty of pace to aim at from stall 1 this could be rather different today and if he gets the breaks he can go close.

EL Vip should be able to settle of this likely pace and if so, is a worthy favourite for the way he cut through the field on his last start at Newmarket. Abe Lincoln is the subject of many positive reports from all involved with his preparation and the form of the Britannia of last year doesn’t look at all bad through fourth Arcanda, who beat Banksea at York last August. He’s entitled to huge respect.

Several have plenty of each/way appeal at very big prices including Another Touch, so be open minded when looking.

Advice: 1 pt each/way Banksea (12/1 Paddy Power), 1 pt each/way George William (12/1 general)

Sandringham Handicap (Listed Race) (Fillies) (Class 1) (3yo 0-110) (5.35): Almost more difficult than the Hunt Cup as less jumps out to the eye here. Rain Goddess might be top weight but she’s not exposed by any means and her two runs in the Fred Darling and Poluches give her huge credit here. Having needed the run badly on her return, she made good late headway into fourth at Newbury and then built on that when fifth in the Pouliches on ground that she does not like by all accounts (and evidence) behind horses that revelled in the very soft conditions. It’s not impossible that these are her ideal conditions.

On Her Toes and Sibilance returned with excellent efforts in a York Listed race and both are amongst a number who should be able to go well.

Cont Te Partiro is a fascinating runner for Wesley Ward, but stamina must be the issue here for all she has respectable form. Dumfrad Bay is an interesting contender who could enjoy this first crack at a mile whilst Really Special would have a big chance on the direct form of her Meydan Listed third. Grecian Light must find more off this mark after a fair return and a good two year old campaign.

Bean Feasa is also interesting. She’s been busy this season already but the one time she got onto good to firm ground, she was an impressive winner of a 1,000 Guineas trial when well clear of Asking, and she had all chance stolen from her when she was baulked in the real thing on ground far too soft for her. If she gets a clear run she could be worth chancing.

Gymnaste has to be respected on the basis of her handicap debut when she did not get a clear run twice down the straight although that effort still demands improvement here – the winner would likely have been too good anyway.

Advice: 1 pt each/way Rain Goddess (10/1 general), 1 pt each/way Bean Feasa (18/1 general) 

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