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Windsor Castle Stakes preview

Ending day one is the Windsor Castle Stakes, a Listed race for the juveniles. It mightn't be as classy as the Coventry or the Norfolk, but it still says Royal Ascot winner in the history books and it doesn't make it any easier to win or find the winner!

Stepping up to the challenge is astute racing punter James Moore, @jamesracing1. It's his first appearance on the blog and you can read more of his work on his site.

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Windsor Castle Stakes
Listed, 5f for 2yo
£60k
1735 local (0235 AEST)


1. Aragon Knight - Looks to be running for the 'Owner's Badges', second in an easy ground Salisbury maiden last time out, nothing to encourage support.

2. Archimedes - Flopped on easy ground when short priced favourite for fair Lingfield maiden on second start, bounced back on faster ground to win ordinary Bath maiden in a moderate time. Plenty to find, despite a potentially good draw.

3. Ard San Aer - Has run in two good maidens (winning the second of them), but upped to 6f that day. Unproven on better than good to soft ground, in a race where Irish runners have a poor win record.

4. Areen - Well backed winner of a good York maiden first time out (in receipt of 10lbs from Ravenhoe), but an early bump from a wide draw in the National Stakes seemed to 'light him up' and he over-raced, undoubtedly capable of better, but has it to prove from a potentially tricky draw in three.

5. Halsall - Narrow winner of a poor Redcar maiden on third start, easily overlooked from form and times perspective.

6. Harvard Man - Winner of a good Newbury maiden over 5f in a fast time on first start, but disappointed when favourite for a 6f conditions race next time. This is not historically a race for horses beaten over 6f to bounce back in. Has it to prove now.

7. Hot Stuff - Little obvious promise behind Archimedes last time out for a race like this. Maidens and horses at big prices can 'pop-up' in this race, but this would require a massive leap of faith.

8. It's In The Rain - First runner in the UK for his trainer. Easily off the mark at the fourth attempt (first time blinkers) in a 5 1/2f maiden in the French provinces. Showed a lot of pace and time was good, but hardly a typical winner of this race.

9. Just Glamorous - Comfortably held behind Sahreej in a moderately run Chepstow maiden last time out. I hope the owners enjoy their lunch.....

10. Lathom - Prominent racer who ran a decent second in the 'Brian Yeardly' at Beverley. The Fahey yard have won this race before, but the suspicion is that this stiff 5f might find him wanting in the closing stages.

11. Nelspruit - Showed pace to lead in the 'Woodcote' at Epsom on Derby day when second to Buratino, but was ultimately easily dismissed. Took a long time to master subsequent winner Secret Tale to land odds of 4/11 in a 5f Goodwood maiden. Doesn't look good enough in a race connections have never won. (Was in the auction on Monday, strange if the owners thought it was up to this class)

12. Orvar - Apparent Hannon stable first string, comfortably won his maiden at Salisbury in good time (second well beaten on reappearance on Sunday). Could be anything, but with yard's poor win record in the race, it is likely he will be overbet and and represent little value.

13. Ravenhoe - Sixth run not the normal profile of a winner of this race, but has a potentially beneficial high draw and a 10lb pull with Areen for 1.5L on their York running. One of the more likely outsiders.

14. Roll On Rory - Comfortable winner of poor Carlisle maiden second time up (second and third both well beaten favourites on their next starts) showing signs of temperament. The booking of Dettori would infer better is expected, but can't be selected on form.

15. Sahreej - Off the mark last time out (third attempt) when comfortably accounting for Just Glamorous in a moderate time at Chepstow (third there ran a good second on Sunday at Salisbury), open to improvement, but another with lots to find on both form and the clock.

16. Silver Wings - Should help to force the pace along amongst the low drawn horses and very honest. Has already beaten Archimedes and 3lb better in with Soapy Aitken on Windsor running, but unlikely to reverse that form. This stiff 5f is probably beyond him, but appears one of the better 66/1 chances.

17. Sir Theodore - Second in a moderate Nottingham maiden last time (that is not working out well) and yard without a 2yo winner in the last five years. Potential 'plot' draw in 27 appears the only positive.

18. Soapy Aitken - Has appeared green, despite winning, in both starts so far (dwelt on second start) which is something of a concern, but has a fabulous, fluent, fast ground action and travels supremely well and looks likely to improve again, especially in a stronger run race. Described as 'special' by his jockey Adam Kirby, he represents the Clive Cox yard who are no strangers to success with 2yos at this meeting. With pace amongst the low drawn horses he looks the one to beat as long as his draw is not an insurmountable hindrance and Sunday's heavy watering of the straight course has not turned the ground against him.

19. Stamp Hill - Well beaten in 2 good quality 6f maidens so far on easy ground (behind Ard San Aer first time). Nothing to recommend here.

20. Steady Pace - Covered up when an impressive course and distance winner in good time on his debut (beating Norfolk Stakes favourite King Of Rooks) he was made 7/4 favourite for the National Stakes at Sandown on his second start, but a mediocre draw in six saw him have to race wide with no cover and he faded tamely to be a well beaten third. He could easily bounce back here if ridden with more restraint in a race where winning form last time out is not essential, with course and distance form a definite plus. Big player.

21. Washington DC - Comes here with the best piece of form in the race with a 2nd place to Coventry favourite Round Two. Forced to race wide that day with almost no cover, he is another that can improve for the bigger field, however, this is not a race that his powerful stable have seemed to target and his appearance here may signify that he is not held in the highest of regard. Another with the potential to be overbet due to connections and with a potentially tricky low draw to overcome, he can win, but appears little value at around the 5/1 mark.

22. Wedge - Made all to land a 5f all weather maiden at Chelmsford last time out, but with the moderate record of the yard's runners in this race he can be easily overlooked.

23. Caledonia Gold - I hope the owners enjoy lunch.......

24. Dream Dreamer - Flopped last time out when turned out quickly after a facile Windsor maiden win in good time, she is clearly better than that. Should help to force the pace amongst the low drawn horses and not a totally forlorn hope at 40/1 for a yard who have won the race before.

25. Opal Tiara - 2nd to expensive Godolphin purchase and Queen Mary second favourite Easton Angel in the 'Hilary Needler' at Beverley last time out in good time with the third well held she has shown herself capable of handling a stiff 5f run at a strong pace. Her yard have won the race 3 times before (2 with fillies) and for all the boys have dominated this race in recent years, we shouldn't forget that fillies won this race five years in a row at the end of the last century. With a potentially advantageous draw in 24 she looks a rock solid each-way play at 20/1 with many bookmakers paying 4 places.

26. Ruby Nation - Represents last year's winning trainer (has won this race twice) Wesley Ward. Winner of a claimer at Churchill Downs (where she could have been claimed for $40k) it is impossible to know how good she might be. It may be significant that the trainer is quoted as saying she is not among his better raiders and that she “will have a decent chance if the race comes up decent. If the race comes up with a lot of really nice two-year-olds then she’s going to have a tough time getting it done.” . At the moment, she looks a likely drifter.

27. Socialite Red - Well held behind Opal Tiara on both starts to date, I can see no particular reason to think she will get any closer this time.

VERDICT

The Windsor Castle is traditionally not one of the better 2yo races at Royal Ascot with winners in recent years ranging from 15/8 favourite to 100/1. Those winners have ranged from Hootenanny who went on last year to take the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf to Elhamri who ended his career rated just 58.... Of late a high draw here has been a distinct advantage, although there is no shortage of pace amongst the low numbers and it would perhaps be wise to see any if any draw advantage emerges from the Kings Stand earlier in the afternoon.

It is almost unfathomable that the Hannon yard has failed to win this race despite firing many bullets at it, their runners are therefore overlooked for win purposes as they will, most likely be overbet in a race where history does not justify this. The poor record of Aidan O'Brien's yard (and Irish runners in general) means that, despite having the best single piece of form in the race, Washington DC is also unlikely to be much value at the price available in a race they just don't seem to target.

For these reasons Clive Cox's Soapy Aitken look the most likely winner if his low draw is no disadvantage, however the percentage call at this time would appear to be to play Opal Tiara each-way 4 places at 20/1 given that she has already recorded a good time over a stiff 5f and seems to have the best of the draw and hails from a yard with an excellent record in the race and Steady Pace (same terms) at around 10/1 in the hope that he is ridden with more restraint and can return to his previous course and distance form.

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