Very excited to be heading along to the final day of the Royal meeting - see the Wokingham preview for the reason why...
R1 14.30 Chesham
Alfred Munnings has been the big Ballydoyle certainty of the week for a while as you can see by the price. It hasn't been the greatest week for the stable, just two winners out of 14 so far (Tues-Thurs) and both of those were favourites (2 winners/4 favs overall).
Can't see him being turned over but Alzahir, Crypto Force or One World might fill the frame.
R2 15.05 Jersey
Good spread of 3yos here over 7f, converging from a wide range of formlines. I like one down the bottom, Star Girls Aalmal for Irish dual code trainer Henry de Bromhead. This filly should have run second in the Irish 1000 Guineas after being chopped off by the dominant winner Homeless Songs, but the pair she finished alongside (and should have been in front of) were Tuesday and Concert Hall, who then finished first and fourth in the Oaks. Before that, she'd won two in a row over 7f, including a dominant win over Brostaigh, a filly whose subsequent form (won a Listed and a G2 this season) could have put her in the Commonwealth Cup on Friday. She hasn't been missed at the price, but should go very close.
Two sons of Kingman, Noble Truth and Samburu, set the standard in the race. The former was impressive at Newmarket resuming this season but has since lost his chance at breeding. That doesn't tend to make much of a difference as a general rule to Kingman stock but he was already up the top of the ratings for this race anyway. Samburu is three from three so far, and the horse he narrowly beat at York last time, Snooze N You Lose, has since gone out and won a Listed race.
Rocchigiani up the top ran second to Maljoom who was robbed, robbed I tell ya, in the St James's Palace on Tuesday. He led and skipped clear that day before the Haggas colt mowed him down. That was his first run on dry ground and he might be good enough to overcome the 3lb penalty for being a G3 winner. Would back him at about 14s.
Alflaila finished only 1.5L behind Noble Style in the Flying Scotsman (Listed) at Doncaster last year, 6L behind Coroebus in the Autumn Stakes and then bolted in when resuming this year in a 0-105 handicap here a month ago. This is one of the few Shadwell runners who have been left with Owen Burrows so they must think plenty of him.
Good race - Star Girls Aalmal from Alflaila and Samburu.
R3 15.40 Hardwicke
Hurricane Lane is comfortably clear on ratings and should win this. He's only been defeated twice, in the Derby (third) and in the Arc on heavy ground (third). He's had a few issues and hasn't run since October but you have to take on faith that he wouldn't be running unless he was ready to go.
The bottom three look the best alternatives for exotics.
R4 16.20 Platinum Jubilee
As much as we'd have loved to see Nature Strip back up, the fact he hasn't means we have a whopping field here, 27 runners, which will piss off the Australian TAB as their antiquated systems can't handle fields over 24 runners for the tote.
Home Affairs sets the standard having beaten the dominant King's Stand winner in the G1 Lightning in February, having won the Australian equivalent of the Commonwealth Cup, the Coolmore Stakes, down the same straight at the end of October. But he does throw in the odd weak one - he was only ninth in the Newmarket (handicap) last time out, conceding weight to seven of the eight ahead of him, and apparently on the wrong side of the track. But post-race he was reported to have a back issue, so that run can probably be excused. The Everest wasn't his day either though you could argue he's only matured into the colt he is now since that race.
So 2/1 in a huge field doesn't look that attractive. If he's on, then he probably wins clearly. But remember he's a Coolmore-owned colt, and part of the training contract will state that stallion prospects must be talked up as the greatest horse ever seen in the stable. That goes for Artorius as well, with major breeding interests in the ownership as well. The China Horse Club & Newgate Stud owned-colt flies home late, and the king of the jockeys for that type of ride is Jamie Spencer. Big danger if he gets the breaks.
I'm going to throw a complete dart here at Vadream. She was a great run in the Champions Sprint last season, running on late to finish a close fifth after being blocked. She'll have Danny Tudhope aboard who can hopefully work his magic and get into the clear at the business end. Take as many places as you can at around 50/1.
Campanelle is probably the main danger to the favourite and then the pace map builds around her, assuming the middle of the track is still the popular place to be.
I'm on Home Affairs & Artorius in doubles with Nature Strip, not so excited about the shorter prices now but backing Vadream EW at a huge price. C'mon the Aussies!
R5 17.00 Wokingham
Full transparency here, I have a share with the Owners Group syndicate in First Folio (pictured above winning at York last summer) and am bloody excited to be in this race with a live chance. It's going to be hard to stay objective here.
He's drawn in the middle which should be the place to be, but expecting both wings to move into the middle and thus gets congested. I don't expect the draw to make much difference apart from the extreme draws finding it harder to get cover. He should settle fairly handy, and try to pounce on the leader with a furlong or so to go. But I imagine 3/4 of the field will try the same tactics. Conditions are perfect, he loves it hard and fast.
Wide open race, so many other chances. Rohaan won this last year on a wet track, has mostly raced in G1s since. Is he just as good on firm going? Trainer says he's 'back in form'. Royal Commando has a couple of great runs in quality straight sprints on dry tracks (4th in Commonwealth Cup 2020, won Cammidge Trophy at Doncaster) and could run a big race. Urban Beat is part-owned by a former boos so good luck to them but I hope we beat them! He won a big Curragh handicap last season. Jumby might be too high in the weights after solid form at the end of last season. Has a nasty habit of being slow from the gates.
Asjad loved the flat straights at Redcar and York but not the undulations at Newmarket. Prince Lancelot has won two in a row in France, hard to line up against handicap company. He's probably raced on ground this quick, the accuracy of French track ratings is a big query. Commanche Falls won the Stewards' Cup at Goodwood last summer on soft but Beasley has switched to the stablemate. David Probert has ridden one winner in his past 51 rides (before Friday). Tabdeed finished just behind FF at Windsor recently and has dropped 2lb in the weights.
Warrior Brave seems high in the weights in Ireland. Summerghand is a monkey of a horse who will do nothing for months then bob up with a win. Batwan is another French sprinter but won't have seen a contest like this. Lampang won first-up after the big snip at Ayr last time, has J-Mac aboard. Mr Wagyu goes up 5lbs for winning by a nose at Epsom, making it very difficult. Quarantine Dreams has an Irish formline, beaten by the flying Brostaigh last start, conceding 14lbs.
Gulliver has a record of 1,5,14,2,4,13,18,3 in his last eight 18+ runner fields, he's not one on my shortlist but he like big field racing. Not sure why Tiger Crusade is here. Bielsa won the Ayr Gold Cup off 98 last year, I find him hard to catch and he likely needs cut in the ground but he gets the services of Jim Crowley who rides the straight well. Ventura Tormenta hasn't raced for 18 months, surely not. Blackrod beat FF at Newmarket in April and has gone up 5lbs. Pick of the rides from stable jockey Connor Beasley. 2,1,3,1 in 16+ horse fields.
Dubai Station, just 1 from 17 on turf, but nine placings. Beat Popmaster and Apollo One last time in a good handicap at Chelmsford. AW form usually transfers well to the sand profile of the Ascot turf, especially up the straight. Fivethousandtoone won't be that price despite never winning on turf (1/11 overall). First run since the snip. Popmaster had better form last season (0.5L behind Blackrod off nearly level weights) but improves last time at Chelmsford. Tom Marquand is flying this week. Fresh is the likely favourite, he ran second in this last year and ran fourth recently in the Victoria Handicap behind Vafortino. Most of his running has been on softer tracks, can he handle the firm?
Apollo One was beaten a neck by Blackrod last July, giving him 13lbs, but by 5.25L resuming at the end of April, giving 5lbs, just behind First Folio and Jumby. The recent third at Chelmsford was his best RPR since that run. In both races he's been prominent and run out of puff. He's fitter now and he gets the services of a very good 5lb apprentice. Silver Samurai is a flashy grey who sits out the back and flies home. The 6lb rise from his last win got him into the field but might be too much to make it three in a row? And Chairmanoftheboard ran a nice third behind Blackrod in April.
Have to put First Folio on top out of blind allegiance, but I see the big dangers as Blackrod, Popmaster, Apollo One and Silver Samurai, but realistically, not many without a chance.
R6 17.35 Golden Gates
I'm hoping to be in the bar after First Folio but more likely I'll be checking out the next race.
Missed The Cut is the boom horse and gets James McDonald on top. This US-bred has bolted in at his last two starts, beating a couple of subsequent winners last time at Sailsbury. He's rising sharply in the handicap but he has earned every pound.
My preference is for the Gosden-trained Honiton, which is some impressive formlines. Last Saturday, he won his maiden by 9L at Sandown. Before that, he'd run third to Eldar Eldarov (won the Queen's Vase on Wednesday) , second to Secret State (won King George V on Thursday) and third behind My Prospero (third in St James's Palace on Tuesday) & Thesis (won the Britannia on Thursday). How's that for strong Royal Ascot form!
Aldous Huxley was heavily supported at Goodwood last time out, narrowly beaten by Lionel on soft ground. Gets the gun 5lb apprentice.
Honiton, Aldous Huxley, Missed The Cut
R6 18.10 Queen Alexandra Stakes
Couldn't care less.
Main Bets for the day - Star Girls Aalmal and Honiton