My chosen race for Wednesday is the Windsor Castle, analysing the potential of the once-raced juveniles rather than the more exposed handicappers. A tricky contest with plenty of runners in form, but with all the disruption to training and racing schedules, how do we gauge which stables are peaking here, and which ones have slapped it altogether and hope all the stars are in alignment today?
Windsor Castle Stakes
2yo, Listed, 5f, £40k
1610 Wednesday local time (0110 Sydney, 1110 New York)
Astimegoesby - nice debut at Newmarket, making all the running and fighting on well to record a close third behind two handy Godolphin colts. Represents a handy new trainer who has decent owners behind him.
Chief Little Hawk - word was out that the Air Force Blue progeny looked ready to go, and this one lived up to the hype at Navan, straight to the front and doing his job well. Did require a couple of taps with the whip to suggest there wasn't much left up the sleeve, but should improve for that.
Fast Start - regally bred by super sire Dubawi out of a G1 winning mare, he was beaten 4.5L on debut by one of the leading chances in the Coventry later this week. With a pedigree leaning more toward the Classics next year, he should come on with experience, as he did in the latter stages of his race, knuckling down and sticking to the task after one tap with the whip. Unlikely to be top of the pile at Godolphin.
Fools Rush In - well supported in the opening 2yo race of the season, so will have a few extra days of recovery over several of these. At Newcastle, he missed the start slightly, was urged along, then fought on well late after being outpaced a furlong out. Should prove to be a handy juvenile more than paying his way, but this might be a bit rich.
Get It - made a nice debut at Newmarket, recording a close second to a leading Norfolk Stks contender, after leading until the last furlong. Started 22/1 that day so would assume that came as a bit of a surprise for the stable. Clive Cox has only had two winners from 34 starters after lockdown which isn't encouraging. But if this one can go that close when the yard's not running hot, what will another 13 days to recover do for him? Chance.
Hyde Park Barracks - another of the Coolmore Air Force Blue colts. Played up behind the gates and missed the start slightly before fading late into third place. Stable second pick on jockey bookings but perhaps a change of scenery and the experience of a raceday might settle him down a little. Shouldn't be too far behind Chief Little Hawk in the betting.
Macho Pride - terrible name to have in modern society but it's based on breeding, so be it. Knew his role on debut, jumped well, didn't go too hard in front, fought on when challenged and won. But the figures don't scream Royal Ascot winner, happy to ignore.
Mighty Gurkha - straight to the front and bolted in at Lingfield on debut, like the prototype Archie Watson 2yo. Doubt he beat much, second has since flopped as favourite and this was a very weak option compared to races that weekend at Newmarket. Decent speed figure recorded but not sure they left much in the tank?
Muker - won the first British 2yo race of the season at 20/1, speed figure nothing flash. Think others have more scope for improvement.
Selected - fourth behind Macho Pride on debut, no.
Sheriff Bianco - no vision I can find of his debut at Churchill Downs but Wesley Ward noted he was slow to begin and couldn't sustain the pace against a winner who had everything go perfectly. Expected to improve on turf, Oisin Murphy on top. Watch to see which way the market goes.
Stay Smart - son of Brazen Beau, debut winner at Wolverhampton with cross-referenced formlines with little strength. Sprinted nicely once clear but needs plenty more.
Steadman - ran a nice second behind the highly-promising The Lir Jet at Yarmouth on June 3. That colt has since changed hands for big money and is high in the betting for the Norfolk on Friday. Needs to find a bit more to win this but wasn't fully tested on debut, realising his fate early.
Tactical - third on debut at Newmarket, just behind Get It when checked a couple of times a furlong out. Definite chance here, and wouldn't the media love it if the Queen won a Royal Ascot race without actually being there for the first time since the Boer War?
Tantastic - missed start on debut, soon urged along to sit close to the pace after 2f. Didn't settle at all, kept on running with the choke out to lead before tiring in the last furlong. Obviously has some talent, but that was a relatively minor race with a moderate speed rating and would need to mind his manners to be a hope of being competitive here.
Tenth Century - led, under pressure on the turn and hung on for second on debut at Lingfield. Has a fair bit to find to be in the mix here.
Victory Heights - outpaced early on debut but knuckled down to win, although the last sectional looked dreadfully slow to the naked eye. Has some talent and a big fan of the sire, but think the Newcastle 2yo races in general aren't that strong so far.
Yazaman - won in a reasonable time on debut on a slippery track (hard underneath, wet on top). Took a while to work out what to do but finished nicely in a four-horse field. Precociously bred, one of the earlier foals, not without a chance.
Honeydew - 33/1 on debut at Lingfield when beaten 6.5L. Not here.
Sunshine City - green, slow to get going and ran home strongly on debut - not the comments you expect to see next to a Wesley Ward juvenile, when she won at Gulfstream in late April. Ward said he threw a dart entering that race as he needed a sign to continue toward this trip, despite her dirt works being average at best. Expect a lot better on grass. Quite a late foal, Apr 21, she'll improve from that and has the blinkers on to help her concentrate. Sure to go close.
With the disruption to preparations in the UK and limited recovery time from debut to this race, I'm leaning to the American visitors. Current prices of 9/2 and 8/1 seem decent enough, wouldn't want them to get much shorter though.