STAR PREVIEW: Royal Ascot Wednesday

Royal Ascot 2020, Day 2
Live on Sky Sports Racing HD from 12:30pm and ITV 1 HD from 1:30pm
Opening Show on ITV4 HD from 9:30am

Not our day yesterday, as Terebellum was just caught in the last stride whilst Mohaather – who appears to retain all his ability and more – got no run in the Queen Anne. They and Cliffs Of Capri gave us our best efforts, with Queen Power finding a pair too good, whilst Land Of Oz didn’t stay in the Ascot Stakes and everything that could go wrong did go wrong for Blue Laureate. We look for better luck today.

1.15 – Silver Royal Hunt Cup Handicap (A Consolation Race For The Royal Hunt Cup) (Class 2) (3yo+) (Straight Mile) 1m

The less rain the better for Maydanny, but Mark Johnston’s brilliantly bred four-year-old – a Dubawi colt out of Attraction – was much improved for his gelding over the winter when running out a wide margin winner of a competitive Yarmouth handicap and a 10lbs rise could underestimate him. It’s difficult to know just how much improvement fast ground brought out in him, but if the penny has dropped then he could still be better than this mark and a big field handicap ought to help him race more efficiently at least and he coped with cut when a more immature horse last season on two occasions; that said, the time suggested that the ground was riding pretty quick yesterday. If we saw more improvement in the vein of his Yarmouth performance, then few in the field would have his potential.

There’s very little not to like about Ouzo, who ran a brilliant race on his comeback when just caught close home by Bell Rock. Ryan Moore’s challenge will be to time his bid so that can’t happen again and he’s got a big chance. Presidential would love some rain and showed that he was a well handicapped horse off 84 when travelling strongly before finding plenty to win at Doncaster over the weekend; He ought to enjoy the ease in the ground.

Sir Busker showed a fine attitude to win on his return at Newcastle whilst Alternative Fact didn’t get the run of things at Haydock; Both are seriously respected whilst Brian Epstein may have bumped into a very well handicapped horse in the shape of Cap Francais at Haydock last time.

One to watch at a price might be Zhui Feng, who has run in big field handicaps for year with a serious of creditable efforts, and his Newmarket fourth behind Bell Rock is one of the better pieces of form in this field.

1.50 – Hampton Court Stakes (Group 3) (Class 1) (3yo) 1m2f

A fascinating renewal with more than a few angles, but the immediate impression is that Kenzai Warrior is seriously overpriced. He lost any chance of being involved in the 2,000 Guineas at the start when he jumped in the stalls and them stumbled at the start, so that run can be forgiven, and he may be seen to better effect over this trip anyway.

On debut he got the better of subsequent Zetland Stakes winner Max Vega, and then showed a tenacious attitude to take the Horris Hill at Newbury; The form of the latter race is dreadful for a group contest but he could do more than win and that can’t be said of his Salisbury debut. Despite his Guineas mishap he remains a horse of the highest potential, and 10 furlongs on easy ground should give him his ideal conditions today. He can outrun his price.

Juan Elcarno is the leading form chance, having followed up three fine juvenile efforts with an excellent fifth in the 2,000 Guineas. He’s the biggest danger, although Berlin Tango, an impressive winner of the Bet365 Classic Trial, has to be taken seriously and it would be unwise to dismiss that performance because it came on the all-weather. The form of that contest was given a massive boost when Pyledriver, second that day, took the King Edward yesterday in good style. In a tight race he ought to be seriously respected and the Queen’s colt First Receiver, a seven length winner on his reappearance at Kempton, shouldn’t be far away either.

Russian Emperor looked as if he’d need further than ten furlongs when second in the Derrinstown Stud Stakes eight days ago and is taken on, whilst New World Tapestry ran a creditable race when eighth in the 2,000 Guineas but may be exposed. King Carney ran no sort of race when eighth in the Lingfield Derby Trial and makes far less appeal than Mascat, who was beaten by Palace Pier first time out before winning a small field Newmarket maiden afterwards.

2.25 – King George V Stakes (Handicap) (Class 2) (3yo 0-105) 1m4f

Bright Melody hasn’t raced on turf beforehand but if he takes to it then he makes a huge amount of appeal. All green at the beginning of his debut (Chelmsford, 10 furlongs) he was all green early, requiring rousting to keep with the field in the early stages before he travelled well into the race, giving first run to the runner up Arabian Moon. He looked useful then – an impression which was confirmed when To Nathaniel (also runs here) and Papa Power both won twice since – before being thrown into deeper waters in the Classic Trial, when he was once again green and slow early before finding himself outpaced when the pace lifted, and then coming home with a steady late run to take third.

The winner and second (Pyledriver, who was a fine winner of the King Edward yesterday) were at least Listed horses beforehand, whilst he had the highly rated Hypothetical and Zetland Stakes winner Max Vega behind, and he was striding out in the style of a horse who would absolutely adore a step up in trip.

Kipps, who was backed like a good horse and then travelled like one when just nosed into second on his reappearance, is a horse of real promise who’s got has to be respected stepping up in trip, although at just 4/1 significant improvement is taken for granted by the market. Win O’Clock, an impressive winner at Haydock when he scythed through the field from last to first. The booking of Hollie Doyle is a real coup for connections.

The way Bodyline finished on his return at Yarmouth (reopposing Group One Power fourth) when second to a nice horse in Celestran (thought highly enough to run in the Cocked Hat Stakes at the weekend) suggested that he’d absolutely adore a step up in trip here and that Yarmouth contest, his first try over a mile, brought plenty of previous winners into the mix. He ought to benefit from yet another strong gallop and is of interest.

Much of the future form for Convict’s impressive Nursery success (reopposing King’s Caper, since fifth in Derby Trial) has been a let-down but the well beaten fourth Walkonby interestingly nosed Kipps out of success on his seasonal reappearance and Convict, and impressive winner of that contest, will relish this step up in trip trip and any rain. He’s got to be respected for connections that often have success with similar horses of this type (see this horse’s half-brother Hamish, Melrose winner last year).

Mark Johnston has a wonderful record in this so none of Trumpet Man, Subjectivist, King’s Caper and Glenties can be discounted, although none made as much immediate appeal as the selection.

Top weight Wyclif will be very much improved by this trip and was a game second in the Silver Tankard Stakes so is another one in a fiercely competitive renewal.

3.00 – Prince Of Wales’s Stakes (Group 1) (British Champions Series) (Class 1) (4yo+)

Considering its place in the season, and the fact the Ganay was run on Sunday, this looks a fair enough turnout. Japan will be the idea of the winner for many, and he is certainly one of the most exciting four year olds in Europe, but he took time to improve with his racing last season and might not get a great amount of pace to run at here, which would be ideal for him.

Headman made giant strides last year, winning the London Gold Cup in brilliant style and then confirming himself a group performer with impressive showings in the Prix Eugene Adam and the Prix Guillaume d’Ornano, making up an impressive amount of ground to just get the better of Prix du Jockey Club fifth Roman Candle on that occasion off a slow pace, before running a creditable race when fifth in the Irish Champion Stakes. He is a very exciting prospect for this season no matter what happens here – he may also be in need of a decent gallop to show his very best.

Addeybb, an impressive winner of the Wolferton Stakes here last season, made hay in soft ground, ending with a three quarter length second in the Champions Stakes before smart placing saw him take the Ranvet Stakes and the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes in Australia, both times on a surface with cut. The ground rode good here yesterday, but there was no jar in it and he ought to be fitter than most with those efforts under his belt and he has to be a major player.

Barney Roy – a winner of the St James’s Palace here in 2017 when he was a colt who had a fine classic season – was a disappointment in the 2019 Queen Anne Stakes when last seen here, on his first Group 1 start since being gelded and moved to Charlie Appleby. He was an easy winner of the Al Rashidiya at Meydan and was then impressive when mowing down two of his stablemates to take the Jebel Hatta. That performance was taking, but it doesn’t confirm if he’s the horse of old and it needs improvement to see him win here.

It’s very hard not to be interested in Lord North. The rapidly improving ex-handicapper turned the Cambridgeshire into a procession before nearly following up in the Balmoral and then taking the James Seymour Stakes in excellent style.

He reappeared in the rescheduled Brigadier Gerard at Haydock, when he travelled superbly – being just about the last off the bridle before making what ended up being the race winning move to hold off Elarqam by a head. The form of that contest is excellent – Elarqam is a rock solid yardstick, even if maybe just short of the highest level, Telecaster is a horse of major potential based on his Dante win, and Sangarius was left well behind – and he promises to improve for that effort here. He wouldn’t mind a slow gallop either, which adds another string to his bow, and at 8/1 he is worth chancing to cause what should be seen as a minor upset.

Mehdaayih had a fine summer of it last season before a couple of late season disappointments – notably in the Prix L’Opera although she didn’t run terribly in the Champion Stakes here – but ought to come back to her best with a winter’s break. The form of her Nassau Stakes second to Deidre reads very well in this context and if she’s ready, she’ll run much better than her price suggests.

Bangkok did well last season and has been busy, but is perhaps exposed now as being below the top level.

3.35 – Royal Hunt Cup (Heritage Handicap) (Class 2) (3yo+) (Straight Mile)

As always, hugely competitive so we’ll focus on the horses we like whilst counting nothing out.

It is a surprise to see Vale Of Kent at such a big price. He was seventh in this last season on his reappearance, a hugely creditable run on his seasonal comeback, but he barely ran a bad race in handicap company since (excluding his midfield effort in the Challenge Cup handicap here last July). A winner of the Bunbury Cup, he was second in the Golden Mile and Clipper Logistics Handicap before ending his season with a fine fourth in the Chelmsford City Cup.

On his return in the Paradise Stakes, he did well to get third in a race where Marie’s Diamond (third in the Queen Anne) led all the way on what was a front runner’s course, suggesting that he’s still got possibilities off a mark of 108, and 22/1 feels very big about his chances.

It was tempting to follow up with Lord Tennyson – second in the Paradise Stakes on only his second start – and it’s desperately difficult to leave Montatham and Bell Rock on the side – but the second choice against the field is Afaak. He won this last season when making his reappearance under a power packed ride from Jim Crowley, and whilst he didn’t match that form afterwards, he has valid excuses for not doing so. Now just 3lbs higher than he was when taking this last year, he has the 3lbs of Cieren Fallon to bring him back to what’s effectively the same mark and a bold bid would be no surprise.

4.10 – Windsor Castle Stakes (Listed Race) (Class 1) (2yo)

The first juvenile race of the week and a contest I can’t wait to see, but there’s no real appetite to get seriously involved given the unique nature of proceedings. For any analysis of the contenders, simply read previous entries of #JuvenileWatch.

4.40 – Copper Horse Handicap (Class 2) (4yo+ 0-105)

A fascinating handicap to end the day. A chance is taken on Fujaira Prince being ready to rock for his debut, on the strength of his form when second in the Jorvik handicap and also when third behind Baghdad in the Duke of Edinburgh Stakes last season. The worry is his absence, but he has won first time out for the last two seasons and if he arrives in top form then he has a major shout. The significant money for Ranch Hand, a four-year-old who has a incredibly attractive handicap profile, is to be noted whilst Collide will obviously have his chance. Floating Artist appealed most of those outside the top three.

RECOMMENDED BETS (scale of 1-100 points)
BACK Maydanny 1 pt each/way in 1.15 Ascot (Silver Royal Hunt Cup) at 7/1 with
BACK Kenzai Warrior 1 pt each/way in 1.50 Ascot (Hampton Court Stakes) at 12/1 with
BACK Bright Melody 1 pt each/way in 2.25 Ascot (King George V Stakes) at 13/2 with
BACK Lord North 1 pt each/way in 3.00 Ascot (Prince Of Wales’s Stakes) at 8/1 with
BACK Vale Of Kent 1 pt each/way in 3.35 Ascot (Royal Hunt Cup) at 22/1 with
BACK Afaak 1 pt each/way in 3.35 Ascot (Royal Hunt Cup) at 12/1 with
BACK Fujaira Prince 1 pt win in 4.40 Ascot (Copper Horse Handicap) 1 pt at 9/2with

PROFIT/LOSS SINCE JAN 1 2017: PROFIT 264.15 points
(Excluding Cheltenham 2021 antepost, Premier League ante-post, Six Nations Outright, Six Nations Specials, Cameron Brown Football Bets, Derby bet)