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Royal Ascot Day One - King Charles III Stakes

ROYAL ASCOT TUESDAY

Ah, a proper festival without any twigs in the way. And possibly, just possibly, the sun will be out. It baffles me why this day isn't always sold out - it's the best card of the week, by a long way. The Group 1 sprint on day one has a new name - the King Charles III Stakes, named after some old bloke who recently got a job promotion apparently.

Expect a blog preview for each of the feature races, with a quick scan of the handicaps. More races to be added later.


KING CHARLES III STAKES
Group 1, Five furlongs, 3yo+
£687,875
1545 local, 0045 Wed AEST


1.Diligent Harry

0/14 on turf but regularly goes close. Note that all-weather winners generally go well at Ascot, more than any other turf course in Britain for some reason. He's had seven (of 14) turf races where he has been beaten no more than 1.5L, including third in the G1 Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan and third in the G2 Clipper Stakes at York. Would be an unlikely winner but can add some spice to the trifecta dividend.

2.Emaraaty Ana

Now an 8yo, has plenty of form around Diligent Harry, nost recently 3L behind him in Dubai. Won the Sprint Cup at Haydock and ran second in the Nunthorpe back in 2021 - that's how far back his best form was and it would take at least that to win here. 

3.Equality

Five furlong specialist who won a decent handicap at Musselburgh off topweight in April, but then faced a better standard of sprinter in the Temple Stakes at Haydock and was beaten 4L into ninth. I don't think this is a particularly strong edition of this race, but it would need to clearly be the worst since it became a G1 for this one to triumph.

4.Kerdos

One of three runners looking to emulate their sire (Kerdos and Mitbaahy by Profitable, Big Evs by Blue Point) in winning this race. Was beaten a neck last year in the 3yo 5f race (Palace of Holyroodhouse Hcp, clear of the rest by >3L) and continued to progress last season, running fifth in the G2 King George Qatar Stakes at Goodwood, winning the Listed Beverley Bullet, before most recently winning the G2 Temple Stakes at Haydock, in a field not so different to this one. That was a significant step forward in his ratings and in fast time for soft going. He was third-up on that occasion, with a fitness advatange over Asfoora and Live In The Dream, who has since disappointed in the Achilles Stakes. Never underestimate Charlie Cox in an Ascot sprint.

5.Regional

Quality sprinter who made big steps forward last season, winning twice over 5f at York & Haydock, followed by a close fifth in the Nunthorpe and topping it off with a win in the G1 Sprint Cup (6f) at Haydock in September. That raised his handicap rating 14lbs after seemingly levelling off as a 4yo. Was first-up and conceding the winner 3lbs when second to Mitbaahy in the Greenlands three weeks ago, will improve for that. This trainer/jockey combination clean up around the country, not so well known at Royal Ascot. Big chance.

6.Rogue Lightning

A recent purchase for Wathnan Racing, this one has really kicked on since he had the big snip a year ago. Post-snip, he went from 94 to 112 in rating, winning over 5f in handicaps at Doncaster and Ascot, a Listed at Doncaster and then stepped into G1 company, running fifth in the Prix de L'Abbaye, all on going with 'good' in it. He resumed last month in the Temple on soft going, settled behind the pace, was left flat-footed when the speed went on then worked home well in the closing stages. He'll be better on a dry track and the new owners have made no secret of the fact they have targetted Royal Ascot for all of their string. In the mix.

7.Twilight Calls

Seems to have been around for years but only a 6yo with 17 runs under his belt. Ran second ot Nature Strip two years ago, and fourth again last season without the best of luck. Didn't finish well in the Nunthorpe thne went to the paddock got six months before resuming in the Palace House at Newmarket, making a lot of late ground, going down by 3/4L to Seven Questions, and might have been in front if the race was 20yds longer. That puts him in the mix here, but it's all about price when you've got a backmarker who needs luck to see daylight at the right time.

8.Asfoora

The Aussie visitor with a real shot in this. She's no star but very honest and this isn't a golden edition of this race. Australia's elite sprint races are over 6f which seems a touch too far for here, she loves 5-5.5f and preferably round a bend, although Australia only has one straight sprint course these days, so the sample size is small. She did win at Flemington on Derby Day 18 months ago, one of only two starts there. A rare Aussie visitor with a lead-up run, she ran fourth in the Temple Stakes when trainer Henry Dwyer had said she'd need the run. She didn't look out of place there and this time won't have a Group winner penalty, so she gets 3lb off Kerdos plus fitness (Kerdos was third-up, Asfoora first-up for two months on that day). Big upgrade in jockey from Mitch Aitken to Oisin Murphy. 6/1 seems reasonable, I wouldn't be queuing up to back her at say 4/1. Drawn the grandstand fence which should be a plus. 

9.Believing

Achieved a career-best 10 days ago in the Listed Achilles, winning by 2.75L. It wasn't that much of a shock,  having run well against the likes of Mawj, Lezoo and Matilda Picotte as a 2yo, winning two Listed and a G3 race last season and before third behind Regional (SP 66/1) in the Sprint Cup at Haydock. The George Boughey stable are airborne at the moment - winning 37% in the past fortnight from 38 runners and Danny Tudhope has a solid record in the features too.

10.Makarova

Never that far away but rarely first over the line. Won a couple of handicaps as a 3yo then a Listed Fillies race at Ayr last season, but otherwise, she's usually in that pack 2-4L behind the winner in stronger races. Can't have her.

11.Vadream

Generally needs it wet but has disappointed at her last two on soft going. Ran second in the Palace House at Newmarket before second last in the Temple. Too erratic with her form to be considered.

12.Big Evs

The flying colt putting Mick Appleby on the map. Won the Windsor Castle, Molecomb, Flying Childers and Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint last season, then resumed with a comfortable win in the Listed Westow Stakes at York a month ago, when you'd assume he was only 3/4 fit. This has always been the target, he's a 5f specialist, he's won at this meeting before, why do they keep underrating him?

13.Kylian

Once hyped as a genuine rival to Big Evs but that bubble has long burst. Not up to these.

14.Purosangue

Named after the first Ferrari to have four doors, this one promises a lot but hasn't quite converted on the scoresheet. Beaten a neck by Big Evs in the G3 Molecomb at Goodwood last August, he followed up with a second to Inquisitively (who then won again and was sold for a fortune to HK), a second to Beautiful Diamond (started fav in the Palace House and the Temple Stakes, surprised she's not here), then a win in the Rockingham, all Listed contests. This season he has been in the market in the Commonwealth Cup Trial, third beaten 3L, and a disappointing fifth in the Sandy Lane. Drops back a furlong and has been abandoned by Oisin Murphy. David Probert takes the reins, a good jockey but he's only had three winners from his last 51 rides (as at Sunday night). G3 might be his level, not here. 

15.Seven Questions

Another 3yo sprinter who is around the mark without taking that next step. After being placed in all bar one start as a 2yo, he was thrown in the deep end for three runs in Dubai and only managed a third and two distant seventths. That did provide some winter fitness though, and he used that to win the Palace House at 33/1, ahead of a few of these. He also had cheekpieces first time that day to focus him. Next time out in the Temple Stakes, the fitness gap had closed and he finished third behind Kerdos and Live In The Dream. Probably a couple of lengths behind the best of these.

16.Valiant Force

The highest-priced Royal Ascot winner ever last year when winning the Norfolk at 150/1. From there he went onto run fifth in the Prix Morny (going - very soft), then beaten just a half-length at the Breeders Cup by Big Evs. Amo Racing then tried keeping him in the States but that experiment failed with two defeats at short odds. Back to his original trainer with this as a target, don't underestimate him. 

17.Crimson Advocate

A new edition to the Gosden stable, she won the Queen Mary at last year's Royal Meeting for US trainer George Weaver. Wathnan Racing stepped in with the chequebook before the Breeders Cup, 2.5L behind Big Evs, 2L behind Valiant Force. Won a black type (US equivalent of Listed) race at Gulfstream a month ago. Would be a big achievement for the Gosdens to win with such a new arrival but the talent and base fitness is already there. Gets in nicely with the fillies' allowance. 


SUMMARY

I love Big Evs here. With the weight swing he gets over the older horses, and improvement in fitness since his win at York, I think he's a great price. Asfoora will give a very honest performance while Kerdos and Twilight Calls can follow in close behind. 

BIG EVS, Asfoora, Twilight Calls, Kerdos

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