ROYAL ASCOT GOES WEST WITH THE RAIN BARRING ARIZONA: Rain soaked away certainty and confidence on the opening day of Royal Ascot yesterday but Daqman still managed to extend his lead over Pricewise when the Racing Post expert failed to score but Daqman landed Arizona (WON 15-8) to win the Coventry Stakes, naming the first three in correct order. His standings are now:
➡️ Daqman 30, Pricewise 16 (140 points clear)
➡️ Naps: 3 winners out of four (105 points up)
➡️ Supernaps: 12 out of 13 (170 points profit)
➡️ Bull’s-eye naps: 3 winners from six (plus 121)
🔹 MOORE-O’BRIEN: TWO TO TANGO
🔹 DASH IN FOR WILLOUGHBY VALUE
🔹 REASONS FOR AN OCEAN PLUNGE
🔹 STOUTE FLIES IN FACE OF RAW DATA
🔹 HANDICAPPER A GROUP GRADUATE
MOORE-O’BRIEN: TWO TO TANGO
FIRST-DAY winners yesterday: trainers Aidan O’Brien (2), Charlie Appleby, William Haggas, David O’Meara, Ian Williams; jockeys Ryan Moore (2), Daniel Tudhope (2), James Doyle, Richard Kingscote. DRAW: 1, 3, 1, 1, 18, 12.
2.30 Royal Ascot (Queen Mary Stakes) Leading trainers (this race) with runners: Mick Channon 3, Wesley Ward 3. Jockeys: Frankie Dettori 2.
Age: 2yo race. Favourites: 25%. Draw: gates 12 to 20 have won the last six, but also see yesterday’s results by stall (above)
We have to narrow this down somehow and my usual procedure would be to delete 14 of them because they have not won or they are drawn in single figures.
Additionally, I’m put off Final Song, Flippa The Strippa, Shadn, Daughter In Law, Emten and Isabeau because their stables don’t have any depth to their two-year-olds team, if results are any guide.
Short list: Kimari, Anna’s Fast, Divine Spirit, Theory of Time, Lambeth Walk, Raffle Prize, Flaming Princess, Kemble.
Kimari seems best of the Ward dragsters, whose speed may be blunted by the rain-soaked surface. Divine Spirit isn’t very big and I prefer Theory Of Time; so, it seems, does James Doyle. I like the winners in Kemble’s pedigree.
But I will have to make Tango a wild card, even though Aidan O’Brien doesn’t usually do well in this. Team Ballydoyle was absolutely flying yesterday all day, and the low draw did best over shorter distances.
Tango is a winner on yielding ground and his sire’s progeny has a huge record on the soft. It takes two to tango and Ryan Moore was back in determined mood yesterday.
VERDICT: 1 Tango, 2 Theory Of Time, 3 Kimari. I took 16.0 on BETDAQ both Tango and Theory of Time.
DASH IN FOR WILLOUGHBY VALUE
3.05 Royal Ascot (Queen’s Vase) Leading trainers: Mark Johnston 7, Aidan O’Brien 6, Sir Michael Stoute 4, John Gosden 2. Jockeys: Ryan Moore 4, Frankie Dettori 2, Joe Fanning 2.
Age: 3yo. Favourites: 50%. Draw: Single-figure stalls 9 out of 10, though rarely big fields.
The Australias improve for a step up in trip, and Western Australia shot forward when stamina was needed on the last day, though was no mean two-year-old, third in the Doncaster Futurity, a length off Magna Grecia, and earlier fourth to both Madhmoon and Persian King.
Ryan Moore seems to prefer Norway, full brother to Derby winner Ruler Of The World. Couldn’t get near Sir Dragonet at Chester and only eighth in the Epsom Derby, after setting the pace. Eased down out of the frame and can do better over this longer trip, if the tactics are played for him this time.
Jalmood doesn’t have the experience usually needed to win this; has to be respected, but the strongest news for the race came for a Fortune Cookie which was laid out for this from the very start of the season, Dashing Willoughby. Bred for the part and worked superbly last week in home preparation.
VERDICT: 1 Dashing Willoughby, 2 Norway, 3 Western Australia. I took BETDAQ offers of 14.0 Dashing Willoughby (total stake 23.75), with Norway staked to cover those losses.
REASONS FOR AN OCEAN PLUNGE
3.40 Royal Ascot (Prince Of Wales’s Stakes) Leading trainer: Aidan O’Brien 3, Sir Michael Stoute 3. Jockey: Frankie Dettori 3, James Doyle 2.
Age (10 years): Four-year-olds 5, five-year-olds 4. Favourites: 33%. Draw: all single figures, but small fields.
Though Crystal Ocean has never been out of the frame in all 14 starts, and is top rated on 125, the market prefers the fillies, Magical and Sea Of Class, who close him right down because of their allowance.
But the ground is such a worry that William Haggas may decide this morning that risking Sea Of Class would take the stuffing out of her for the rest of the season, bearing in mind this is her first run back.
Irish and Yorkshire Oaks winner Sea of Class (form figures in a light season 211112) nearly caused the upset of the season by running Enable to a short-neck in the Arc, and today’s reappearance has been eagerly awaited, as they say.
Frankie Dettori sat on Crystal Ocean on the Al Bahathri gallops last week and a decision was quickly made to switch him to this Group 1 from the Group-2 Hardwicke Stakes, which he won last year.
Plenty of use can be made of Crystal Ocean, the 2017 St Leger runner-up, who ran up to superstars Enable and Cracksman last season and is unbeaten (2-2) this year.
A third runner-up to Enable, Magical, threeparts of a length down to her in the Breeders Cup Turf, took the Champion Fillies and Mares here at Ascot last autumn, and has posted an unbeaten three in a row this term. What a race if only conditions allow them all to perform to their ability!
VERDICT: Sea of Class’s long absence is a worry, so is the groiund, and her target will again be the Arc, while Magical has spent the year so far beating the Irish St Leger winner three times over shorter distances, as well she should. I’ll go for yet another improver of Sir Michael Stoute’s, Crystal Ocean at 5.3 on BETDAQ this morning.
STOUTE FLIES IN FACE OF RAW DATA
4.20 Royal Ascot (Duke Of Cambridge Stakes) Leading trainers: Sir Michael Stoute 4, James Fanshawe 2; jockeys Ryan Moore 2.
Age: four-year-olds 9 out of 10. Favourites: 30%. Draw: No winners higher than stall 10.
Course form does well in this but last year’s Sandringham winner, Agrotera, has the outside stall 14.
I Can Fly was second to Roaring Lion on the course in the British Champions Mile when the ground was soft in the autumn. Did not impress before that and even less so since.
But, with the last three winners scoring off 112, 114 and 117, it looks a weaker contest this year and I Can Fly has been prepared for this since that championship near-miss.
He is on 110, and the Sir Michael Stoute pair Rawdaa and Veracious (badly drawn in 12) off 109 and 208.
VERDICT: Rawdaa won a handicap last October, when I Can Fly was only just missing out on a championship mile but, yet again, Rawdaa’s trainer has improved her out of all recognition (21lb in fact), and she was beaten only a neck at today’s Group-2 level on the last day. With her 20-point Fortune Cookie bet, the obvious thing is a stakes saver on I Can Fly.
HANDICAPPER A GROUP GRADUATE
5.00 Royal Ascot (Royal Hunt Cup) Leading trainers: John Gosden 2; jockeys Frankie Dettori 2, James Doyle 2
Age: Four-year-olds 9 of the last 12. Weight: nine carried between 9st and 9st 5lb. Favourites: 10%. Draw: 22 to 33 six; 4 to 11 four.
New Graduate (Frankie Dettori) was expected to go into the Pattern after his runaway Ripon win but the decision was made to go for this £109,000 hit as very much the Group horse in a handicap.
One word of warning: his success has been on good ground – two wins out of four – and his defeats, second both times, were on the soft.
Jamie Osborne has won this before with a seven-year-old and Raising Sand was fourth in the Victoria Cup, giving 16lb to Kaeso and 5lb to the runner-up, Kynren.
Kaeso it was, in receipt of 8lb, who was slammed five lengths (‘no chance with winner’) by New Graduate at Ripon!
Working from this collateral form, I found myself agreeing with the handicapper on the revised weights, except that he was unable to add anything for the ease of New Graduate’s defeat of Kaeso, which has him 4lb-5lb clear of the benchmark Kynren.
Nor could he add anything for the ground from Raising Sand’s Ascot Challenge Cup win on the soft which put my original fancy, Rip Orff, out of this race.
But he will be enjoying the dilemma of New Graduate’s coming out of the one stall and Raising Sand due to exit the exact opposite stall, 32, on the other side of the track completely!
Robin Of Navan likes a soft surface and has been unlucky lately but he hasn’t won a race for two years.
Settle For Bay won last year’s Hunt Cup (this column was on at bigger than the 16-1 SP) but is 6lb worse off with runner-up Afaak, 10lb with the third, Circus Couture, and 4lb with recent York handicapper winner, What’s The Story (fifth)
Afaak returns after a long break today and Circus Couture required a visor to get back to winning form in a small race last time.
Soft ground is a worry for Beringer, Chief Ironside, Key Victory, Seniority, Stylehunter but Clon Coulis won’t mind it as she tries to step up to the big-handicap scene, with Jamie Spencer booked. She was third in a Group 3 last autumn and is a winner on soft.
VERDICT: 1 New Graduate, 2 Clon Coulis 3 Raising Sand. I took 7.6 New Graduate and I thought Clan Coulis was big at 21.0 on BETDAQ.
2.30 Royal Ascot (win 50 bull’s-eye bets)
BET 3.25pts win TANGO
BET 3.25pts win THEORY OF TIME
3.05 Royal Ascot (win 50 bull’s-eye bet, win 20)
BET 3.75pts win (nap) DASHING WILLOUGHBY
BET 6pts win NORWAY
3.40 Royal Ascot (win 30)
BET 7pts win CRYSTAL OCEAN
4.20 Royal Ascot (win 20)
BET 5pts win I CAN FLY
5.00 Royal Ascot (win 50 bull’s-eye bets)
BET 7.5pts win NEW GRADUATE
BET 6.5pts win RAISING SAND
BET 2.5pts win and place CLAN COULIS
5.35 Royal Ascot (win 30)
BET 2pts win IFFRAAZ
BET 1.5pts win RAYONG
Stake 20 points each
DASHING WILLOUGHBY 3.05 Royal Ascot
RAWDAA 4.20 Royal Ascot
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