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Royal Ascot Day One - Wolferton Stakes

The Wolferton Stakes is a race which traditionally earmarks several horses for a one-way trip to Australia. Let's see if any end up pointed at Flemington in early November this year. There are some decent young middle distance/stayers that could clean up in Aus.

Listed, 1m2f, 4yo+
1740 local, 0240 Wed AEST

1. Ancient Rome

Since moving from Ande Fabre to Charlie Hills last season, he has won a Cl2 handicap at Goodwood, the G3 Mint Millions Stakes at Keeneland and then run fourth in a G2 at Longchamp. Has earned his high mark, and will sit and stalk with Spencer aboard. Inside barriers over the longer courses at Ascot have a poor record, but at least he'll be a decent price if prepared to risk that.

2. Bold Discovery

Handy Irish runner but has a Group race winner penalty to deal with after his last run at Leopardstown. Don't really see him in the finish here.

3. Checkandchallenge

A bit of a cliff horse for me, has promised so much since his early days but I can never catch him. Beat Facteur Cheval back in their 3yo days but in 11 runs since, he's only won once, in the Listed Seymour Stakes at Newmarket last November on a heavy track. This time in, he has been well beaten in the Gordon Richards Stakes (G3) and the Prix d'Ispahan at Longchamp. Pass. 

4. Astro King

Had a great run last season, winning a Heritage Handicap at the Ebor meeting, followed by the Cambridgeshire a month later. This season he resumed with a one-length second in the Earl of Sefton, then could only run fourth of six in the Jockey Club Stakes, seemingly caught out by the lack of pace, and/or extra furlong. The speed shouldn't be a problem here in a big field which seems to be his preferred format. Strong chance.

5. Botanical

Highly progressive 4yo, a winner of three and placed in the rest of his six starts. Goes up 10lbs after a strong seasonal winning return at York last month. No obvious reason to oppose, there's likely to be more left in the tank.

6. Cemhaan

Won the Rosebery at Kempton at 25/1 over Easter then ran third in the Aston at Newbury. Still undersestimated in the betting, I'm not sure how much progress is left for this 7yo, but he'll definitely give you a run for your money at a price.

7. Certain Lad

An 8yo but performing as well as ever. Good luck to connections but I think you have to have a bit in hand to win a big-field race at Ascot, he's better off picking off small fields at Listed/G3 level. Drawn the paint as well, big negative.

8. Haunted Dream

Ran second to Ancient Rome at Goodwood last year, in receipt of 7lbs. Wintered in the Gulf states under new ownership (Wathnan) and a new trainer, running ratings similar to his UK runs, then returned to local racing on Oaks Day, running a close fourth after going down on his nose coming out of the gates. He has remained with his new Qatari trainer who the owners obviously rate. Has failed in both runs here, but started 100/1 and 25/1 respectively in those. Has a turf record of 19:1-6-4, make sure you go each-way if tempted!

9. Israr

Another cliff horse of mine. A son of the magnificent Oaks and King George VI & QE Stakes- winning filly Taghrooda, he's very honest but doesn't always get there, winning four from 17 with another 10 placings. In two runs this season, he has run third to Okeechobee in the G3 Gordon Richards Stakes and second to Passenger in the G2 Huxley at Chester, both by no more than a length and a half. Will go close but can't back at the price.

10. Knight

Started his career with a pair of impressive 2yo wins, was pointed towards the Guineas but flopped in the Greenham then was sent for the big snip. And while that has improved his ratings, he hasn't won in five start since, getting close to Epictetus, Angel Bleu and Chindit last season, but tailed off at the end of the season. Resuming this season, he didn't look as if he had matured further, finishing 15L behind Charyn in the Listed Doncaster Mile. The Crisfords will need to have worked some miracles to get him into victory lane here.

11. Mujtaba

Can show bits of brilliance with the odd shocker thrown in. Has run a RPR of over 110 on five occasions, most recently a half-length defeat to Isle of Jura who looks likely to race in the Hardwicke. I don't understand why he's over 20/1 here, should be around half that. Chance.

12. Notre Belle Bete

0-17 on turf, was beaten 11L into 11th in this race last season. Nope.

13. Ouzo

It took Jamie Osbourne 15 runs to get this one to get his head in front, and now he's done it three times in a row, once at Ascot (Spetember), and twice at Meydan over the winter. Surely now he's too high up in the ratings to win a race like this. 

14. Savvy Victory

Three wins, all in fields no larger than five. Ran dead last in this race last year, can't have him for this.

15. Silver Sword

Ran against talented gallopers last season, trailing behind the likes of Royal Rhyme, Chindit and Highland Avenue before resuming this season behind Shartash who is fanced by a few for the Diamond Jubilee on Saturday. Not a million to one, stable had a big-odds winner on debut at Sandown just a few days ago.

16. Torito

Came here with a big reputation last season, starting favourite in the Hampton Court but only finished fourth. His season ended there, 317 days off and then he went to Newmarket on Guineas weekend for a handicap, running third conceding weight all round. He has since been purchased by Wathnan Racing to strike here so he'll be in new colours. Will be near the top of the market but wouldn't be taking a short price, especially drawn two. One to swerve.


Botanical does look very good, Astro King loves a big field and Haunted Dream could deliver his trainer a first win in Britain.

BOTANICAL, Astro King, Haunted Dream, Mujtaba


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