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COUNTDOWN ROYAL ASCOT: IT’S GREAT ON QUALITY THIS YEAR: Daqman checks the ratings for two of next Friday’s top-of-the-bill races at Royal Ascot, and comes up with figures that pitch the form to a higher level of quality than in recent years.


3.05 Royal Ascot, Friday (King Edward V11 Stakes) This ‘Ascot Derby’, like the Ribblesdale (‘Ascot Oaks’) on Thursday, has the makings of a quality Classic decider if it can pinch high-profile runners from the Irish Derby entries.

With one exception, recent winners of this have come to the race off 103 or 105 ratings, and twice in the last four years the winner had been a well-beaten 10th in the Epsom Derby.

But four of the front-runners in the market for next Friday’s renewal were placed in the first five at Epsom on June 1 with ratings up to around a stone ahead of those winners.

I’m talking about the Derby winner, Anthony Van Dyke (118), and the third, fourth and fifth, Japan (117), Broome (117) and Sir Dragonet (115), who finished all of a heap.

Telecaster (115), Cape Of Good Hope (110), Norway (107), Private Secretary (106), Constantinople (105) and Bangkok (104) are rated higher or on a par with those recent 103 and 105 rated King Edward winners so, even if the race cuts up a bit, we seem to have a high-standard race.

All depends on Aidan O’Brien (you don’t say). He has seven of those 11 front-runners in the market, four of them still in the Irish Derby, and – for Ballydoyle’s sake! – he will want to do the least possible damage to their reputations as they now stand in these lofty ratings positions.

In this column on June 6, five days after the Derby, I said: The Epsom Derby was a thriller but left us with more questions than it answered.

The King Edward V11 Stakes is usually the poor relation but could have a decent winner this year.

Connections will want to take different routes, so as it build reputations instead of staking them so soon on success or defeat by the same Epsom Derby mob at The Curragh.

3.40 Royal Ascot, Friday (Commonwealth Cup) Middle Park winner Ten Sovereigns didn’t quite get the Guineas trip (fifth at Newmarket to Magna Grecia) and is likely to show that Aidan O’Brien’s original judgment was best:

‘He is a very fast horse, who probably won’t get much further than a mile, if he gets a mile,’ quote unquote September last year.

O’Brien won the Cup with Caravaggio (2017), ‘one of the fastest animals I have ever seen’, when the ‘horse with the Ferrari engine’ won the Commonwealth Cup off 119 rating. Ten Sovereigns goes to post as a 120.

5.00 Royal Ascot, Saturday (Wokingham Stakes) I’ve talked a lot about the draw this week. When you get the stalls allocation for this last big handicap of the meeting, it could be your salvation.

The low half of the stalls have a successful outcome 22% of the time against 77% for high numbers, with winners recently coming out of 15, 16, 22, 27, 28 (twice) and 36


3.45 Sandown today Stalls one to five have won eight out of 10 in the decade, and this may be a way of getting an edge.

I shall put a line through those with a double-figure draw: Badenscoth, Noble Gift, Frontispiece and Mr Scaramanga.

And, as ever, I shall expect the youngsters to outgun Noble Gift, Rotherwick and Secret Art. Four-year-olds are going for a five-timer.

Herculanean (stall 3) has been in the frame (two wins; one on soft) in all four starts, goes well fresh, has been gelded and, big and immature, was allowed to grow into himself over the winter.

Trainer Roger Charlton won this in 2013 with another lightly raced winner after a break who had been gelded! Coincidence, or what..

4.40 York The 5lb-claiming Sean Davis was getting himself a winner-a-day tag earlier in the week (Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday), clearly gaining in confidence.

Society Queen missed the break under him at Chester and playing catch-up is almost certainly doomed on such a fast track.

As a course winner when there was cut in the ground, and a distance winner, too, Society Queen could be best of the three-year-olds, getting up to 22lb from the older sprinters.

Three-year-olds have won this race twice in the last three seasons, one of them apprentice-ridden for Society Queen’s trainer, Richard Fahey.


6.55 Cork (Munster Oaks) Aidan O’Brien has won four of the last five, three of them with three-year-olds, like Chablis and Peach Tree this afternoon.

With rain forecast, the weight concession to the second-season animals could count double, and both have won on a yielding surface.

Peach Tree led into the final quarter mile at Epsom, at which point Ryan Moore on Pink Dogwood struck the front too soon. Or did Peach Tree fade too quickly for him?

In their Blue Wind trial at Naas, over a quarter-mile shorter than today, Peach Tree was about a length behind the runner-up, Who’s Steph, with Chablis a length and a half further back, when both three-year-olds looked as if they’d benefit from the Oaks distance.

But, if you remember that Who’s Steph ran on well when going down half a length in the 1m 4f Noblesse Stakes, it all tightens up again.

What could have a bearing on the result is whether Epsom Derby winning jockey Seamie Heffernan on Peach Tree can get down to the 8st 9lb.

That’s his lowest weight and he’s let it be known that he might put up a pound or two over. Get in that steamer, Seamie! I’ve taken 4.0 about you.


3.45 Sandown (win 10)

4.40 York (win 20)

6.55 Cork (win 20)
BET 6.6pts win (nap) PEACH TREE

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