Curtain comes down on this year’s Royal Ascot this afternoon, with ‘good to firm’ appearing in the going description after a welcome improvement in the previously unseasonable weather.
We’ll deal with the headline horse first, which runs in the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes at 3.40. 8 runners are due to go to the post after the defection of Lah Ti Dar, which at least means that the Mad Italian won’t be winning.
Vying for favouritism at 3-1 are last year’s Derby hero Masar and the consistent Defoe, but, with the former likely to be rusty after a year off and the latter unlikely to appreciate the quickening conditions, we take them both on with an each way smash into Mirage Dancer at 5-1.
Sir Michael‘s 5-y-o is a typical Stoute improver and warmed up for this with a facile win in a Listed race at Goodwood. Already a Group 3 winner from last year, MD has run well in all three runs at this venue, all at 10 furlongs. 12 furlongs on top of the ground is what he needs and also Pat Dobbs, who is unbeaten on him so this rates top value.
There is a Group 1 race on the card at 4.20 with the Diamond Jubilee Stakes over 6f, which has a massive field of 18.
Blue Point goes for a rare double at the meeting, having taken the King’s Stand Stakes on Tuesday and, with the horse’s form at six even better than at 5, we are not about to oppose. Have a win bet at 15-8.
Hot favourite for the opening Chesham Stakes at 2.30 is the Aiden O’Brien trained Lope Y Fernandez at 5-4, after an easy maiden win just 15 days ago but, at those odds, we are of a mind to take it on with the Charlie Appleby trained Pinatubo. Unbeaten in his two races thus far, this Shamardal colt looked crying out for the extra furlong when winning at Epsom last time out and we suggest a win bet at 7-2.
The Jersey Stakes at 3.05 is another 7f affair, this time for 3-y-os and our first port of call is yet another Charlie Appleby inmate, Space Blues, which is going from strength to strength this season and should be well up to taking this Group 3 event under ‘Popeye‘. A win bet at 3-1 is recommended.
Behind Space Blues last time out after a slow start was Angel’s Hideaway, which, to put it mildly, is a touch enigmatic (polite phrase for ‘dodgepot’).
However, on a going day (sunshine, fast ground) she is well up to Group 1 class, so we must have a small each way bet at 14-1.
At 5.00, the nightmare that is know as the Wokingham Stakes takes place, with a field of 26 over 6f.
Worthy favourite at 6-1 is Roger Varian‘s Cape Byron, last seen dotting up in the Victoria Cup on this course last month. The drop to 6f won’t inconvenience this strong traveller so we start with an each way bet at the price.
Our other fancy for this is Tis Marvellous, which was a close fourth in this race last season and has been carefully prepared by Clive Cox to go three places better today. Have an each way bash at 18-1.
Last, and probably least, is the rather odd Queen Alexandra Stakes, run over 2m5.5f and containing the usual mix of hurdlers, chasers, no hopers and proper horses.
Last year’s winner Pallasator tries again, but much as we respect Gordon Elliott, even he will struggle to complete the double with this 10-y-o.
We will try to finish our week in style by recommending a win bet on Cleonte at 4-1 and an each way punt on Younevercall at 11-2.
Mirage Dancer 3.40 Royal Ascot 3pts e/w @ 5-1
Blue Point 4.20 Royal Ascot 2pts win @ 15-8
Pinatubo 2.30 Royal Ascot 2pts win @ 7-2
Space Blues 3.05 Royal Ascot 3pts win @ 3-1
Angel’s Hideaway 3.05 Royal Ascot 1pt e/w @ 14-1 (4 places)
Cape Byron 5.00 Royal Ascot 1.5pts e/w @ 6-1 (6 places)
Tis Marvellous 5.00 Royal Ascot 1pt e/w @ 18-1 (6 places)
Cleonte 5.35 Royal Ascot 2pts win @ 4-1
Younevercall 5.35 Royal Ascot 1pt e/w @ 11-2