Monday, 16 December 2013

Day 7 (Monday 16th December) Terms & Conditions:

1.    Competition closes at 9am on Tuesday 17th December 2013.
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Saturday, 13 July 2013

First July Weekend Preview

It is going to be a beautifully hot day at Ascot today, so plenty of sun cream required. The ground is good to firm and has been watered.

Taajub: sprinter back at his favourite summer spot
We kick off at top speed with the Betfred Mobile Sports Handicap, a sprint handicap over 5f worth £62,000 to the winner.

Taajub loves it at Ascot and won once over this trip last year and twice finished second, including in this race. He ran well at Sandown last time after finding trouble in running, is back to a good handicap mark and must surely go close.

He and Barnet Fair, who beat him in this last year and is another running well at present, meet again and the pair of rivals could fight out the finish once more.

Aljamaaheer can claim a first Group race win
The consistent Aljamaaheer ran a fantastic race when second in the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes in June when beaten just three-quarters of a length by Declaration Of War. He meets nothing of that class in our feature, the Group 2 Fred Cowley MBE Memorial Summer Mile (2.30) and can make the most of the opportunity to get a Group race win on his CV.

Mull Of Kinlogh is an improving type and picked up the Group 3 Earl Of Sefton in the spring, unfortunately, he has not really got his ideal conditions here. Guest Of Honour is at the top of his game and has not finished out of the first two in his four starts this season.

Premio Loco ran a huge race in the Royal Hunt Cup here in June and was just beaten by Belgian Bill.  If he comes here in the same sort of form, he must have strong chances.

Look out for Autumn
Debutant winner Autumn Lily was posed a big question in the Chesham Stakes and finished down the field, and she might find the Ruddy Fillies’ Nursery Handicap (3.05) over 7f more her level. Royal Connection and Mimi Luke finished second and third over 7f at Chester on good ground in  June and both hold strong chances, with the former, a Richard Hannon-trained runner having her first run in a nursery, holding obvious chances on that basis alone.

A hat-trick for Jabhaat?
It is a fillies’ day and the three and four-year-old girls take each other on in the mile Norman Court Stud Fillies’ Handicap (3.40) and the hat-trick seeking Jabhaat will be the likely favourite. Her last two wins came over 7f on firm and good to firm ground, the last victory by an easy 6l. An improving type, she can make the most of her three-year-olds’ weight for age allowance here.

A Bold day for the Queen
After The Queen’s wonderful win in the Gold Cup with Estimate at the Royal meeting, it would be fantastic if Bold Sniper, who ran well when third in the King George V Stakes at the same meeting, could give Her Majesty a third success at Ascot this season by taking the Neptune Investment Management Handicap (4.15), a race for three-year-olds only.

But it looks a very competitive race on paper – trainer David Simcock thinks a lot of CafĂ© Society and believes the horse has a big future ahead of him, while London Bridge put in a strong winning performance last time out at Ripon on good to firm.

Go for the Burn 
The 1m2f is a significant step-up in trip for Ogbourne Downs, who has won twice from three starts over a mile, and it might prove too big an ask for the Charlie Hills-trained runner in the Tara & Pippa Handicap (4.50). So preference is with Hughie Morrison’s Burnham, a gelding by Nayef who has form over the trip and on the faster ground.  Don’t ignore Mark Johnston’s Love Maramalade – the trainer specialises in winning middle-distance races with three-year-olds at this time of year.

Labienus can round the day off
Labienus should be suited by a strongly run 7f, which he should get in the last on today’s card, the 7f Mitie Total Security Management Handicap (5.25), while if Benoni, who likes to come late on the scene, gets luck in running he should be a big threat.  At a longer price, Tidentime is one to note in the paddock and at the bookies.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

International Rivalry For The Diamond Jubilee

It’s all about the speedsters today with the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes, Leg 6 of the Global Sprint Challenge, today’s feature race.

Last year’s renewal was won in dramatic fashion by Black Caviar, and while the wonder mare is not here today (she has been retired and has gone to have babies), our international challenge comes from Havelock, trained by Darrin Miller in the US, and the John O’Shea-trained Sea Siren, who has travelled to European from Australia. 

Sea Siren looked in fabulous order at the Ascot press conference at Newmarket last week and connections reported that she had travelled well and is at home in her new surroundings. Her recent form in Australia is looking very strong and she has a great chance of emulating her country mates’ achievements. The prevailing fast ground will suit.

Of the home team, Society Rock also loves fast ground and comes into this off the back of a win at York in May and a Group 1 victory at Haydock last September. He is aiming to become the first horse to reclaim a Diamond Jubilee crown, but, beware, he is never the fastest out of the stalls.  

At a longer price, Krypton Factor is one to bear in mind. He has not run since a good third in the Group 1 Golden Shaheen at Meydan, and he must have quick ground to show his best – his sixth in this last year (just a head behind Society Rock) came on ground too slow.

Suspicions are that it will be too quick for Gordon Lord Byron, and while this race is a big ask for a three-year-old filly, Restiadargent did manage a third last year. Word has it that Roshdu Queen, a talented two-year-old, has been working very well in the run up to this.

Bunker down in the Chesham
The Listed Chesham Stakes over 7f sees a big field of 21 juveniles challenging for Royal Ascot glory.

Bunker, who was bought by Sheikh Joaan after his first time out success over 6f, is current favourite, this race always being the plan en route to Group 1 entries later in the year.

Somewhat has already won over 7f when successful at Musselburgh on June 14 by 7l and is another with an eye on Group 1 entries in the summer.

Ihtimal was second first time out to yesterday’s Albany Stakes winner Kiyoshi, and then to Wedding Ring, fifth in the Albany, and should appreciate this extra furlong here.

Mount Athos can take the Hardwicke Stakes
Ektihaam ran well when winning here in May (beat Thomas Chippendale) and looks as though he will go well over the 1m4f trip in the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes (3.05), but he is one who would have wanted the rain to arrive.  

This is a big step-up in class for Sir John Hawkwood, though he is proven over the distance, so preference is for the consistent Mount Athos, owned by the enthusiastic Dr Marwan Koukash. The son of Montjeu has Group-winning form over this distance on a variety of ground and put in a great performance last autumn when fifth in the Melbourne Cup. 

Dinkum has fair chance in the Wokingham
Sir Michael Stoute fields two fancied runners – Duke Of Firenze and Ladyship, both owed by Cheveley Park Stud – in the 29-strong 6f Wokingham Stakes and both have strong chances .

One at a longer price is Dinkum Diamond. He relishes fast ground and a quick pace, which is almost guaranteed here. He has done most of his running over 5f, but as a five-year-old, and trained by Henry Candy who has previous with good sprinters, looks ready to get the extra furlong now. He is worth an each-way bet.

Castle can be King for the Duke 
The middle-distance 1m4f Duke Of Edinburgh Handicap (5.00) is another race with a big field of 22. 

Highland Castle has always been held in high regard by his trainer David Elsworth, who sees him as a prospect for the Ebor. He loves the quick ground, has to be held up so will need luck in running, but will be seen doing his best work at the finish. He looks well handicapped on his 2012 form.

Go Mad in the finale
The lucky last, the Queen Alexandra Stakes (5.30) over 2m5f, is the longest race on the Royal Ascot card. 

Courtesy Call, a son of Manduro who wants fast ground, represents yesterday’s winning trainer Nicky Henderson, but preference is for Mad Moose, trained by fellow NH trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies. 

The horse has refused to start in three runs over hurdles, but he won over 1m4f at Doncaster in May before finishing second to Mount Athos at Chester. Despite his lack of enthusiasm at the start, he does put his best hoof forward when racing and should go close with William Twiston-Davies on board. 

Friday, 21 June 2013

Who Will Be The Coronation Queen?

Day 4 sees this year’s leading three-year-old fillies take centre stage in the mile Group 1 Coronation Cup.

Sky Lantern, winner of the 1,000 Guineas, and Just The Judge, winner of the Irish 1,000 Guineas, are the clear picks on form, but neither have been done any favours by the draw.

Many judges are preferring to go with Big Break, who ran on well to finish fourth in the Irish Classic on her first run of the year after herself having a poor draw, while French-based pundits have always thought Siyenca would be their best chance of success this week – and she has a good stalls position in four. She had disastrous run in the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches, and is considered to be a far better filly than that performance showed.

The Irish-trained filly Viztoria is also one to put into the mix as a rapidly improving filly, but Sky Lantern has shown exemplary form so far this year and if Richard Hughes can find some cover, get her settled, her turn of foot in the last furlong should prove decisive.

Sandiva can make it three out of three in the Albany
The juvenile fillies start the day off in the Group 3 Albany Stakes, run over 6f.
Richard Fahey’s filly Sandiva has done nothing wrong so far, winning two out of two, the second being a Listed race at Naas in May, which she won without having to be fully extended.  She is a half-sister to Wentworth, fourth in the mile Britannia Handicap yesterday, and should have both the speed and stamina for this.

Leading challengers include Joyeuse, Wonderfully and Wedding Ring.

Go into Battle in the King Edward
The Group 2 King Edward VII (3.05) over 1m4f is the race for the leading middle-distance three-year-old colts who either did not make it to the Derby or who were not quite good enough on race day.

Battle Of Marengo is one from the latter group, though he still finished a creditable fourth at Epsom. He is easily ahead of this field on official ratings, and as long as the Derby effort has not taken too much out of him, he should show his rivals clean pair of heels here. Contributor could be the one to follow him home.

Get Fatt in the Wolferton
There has been early morning money for Fattsota in the 1m2f Wolferton Handicap (4.25), who was a dual winner over course and distance last year.  He was sent on his holidays over the winter to Dubai where he ran twice, finishing second once. He was then out of his depth in the 1m4f Group 3 John Porter Stakes, but subsequently ran well in a handicap at Epsom, despite not handling the track. He looked then as though further should suit and this stiff 1m2f should be ideal.

A Queen’s Vase for Team Cecil?
The Queen’s Vase is being run in memory of Sir Henry Cecil (a race he won eight times) and Lady Cecil will be represented by Disclaimer, who is bidding for a fifth win in succession. Last time out he beat Contributor (runs in the King Edward VII) with some ease, and although he has never run further than 1m3f, his dam won over 1m6f.

Leading Light won a Group 3 last time and although his pedigree does not appeal on the stamina front, he runs in the style of a true stayer.

The market has these two way ahead of the field – most of which look as though they are in this because they have few other options at Royal Ascot – and it will probably prove wise to stick with either or go with both.

Baccarat, Bertiewhittle and Redvers are options in the last
The last on today’s card, the 7f Buckingham Palace Handicap (7f), is another open-looking handicap, with only Enrol (7-1) priced lower than 10-1.

Baccarat won twice over 7f last season and dead-heated over 6f at Ripon in April on his first start in 2013 having not run since June last year. He is clearly a fragile horse to train, and has been raised 10lb for that last success.

Bertiewhittle finished second over course and distance in May in the Victoria Cup behind Excellent Guest, who was ninth in the Royal Hunt Cup earlier this week.  He gets into this on a handy weight and is worth consideration, as does Redvers, fourth in that Victoria Cup and a winner last time on firm ground at Haydock. He is in form and if gets the run of the race – he needs to be held up – is a strong contender.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

A Day Fit For The Queen

No reigning monarch has ever won the Ascot Gold Cup; can history be made today?

Sir Michael Stoute and his team will be certainly be hoping that The Queen’s Estimate will be the one to change the course of history. The filly will be searching for back-to-back Royal Ascot wins having won the 2m Queen’s Vase last year, and back-to-back Ascot wins having won the 2m Sagaro Stakes at the May meeting.

This 2m4f trip will be the furthest the filly has eve run, but she acts well here and has every chance. 

One who is guaranteed to stay is Rite Of Passage, winner of this in 2010. The son of Giant’s Causeway does not run much and has not been seen on a racecourse since winning here at the last Champions’ meeting, but that was his only run in 2012 and his talented trainer will have him primed for a big run.

Last year’s winner Colour Vision and third Saddler’s Rock take their chances again, but both would probably prefer a slower surface. One would will enjoy the ground, is stepping up to 2m4f for the first time, but has placed Group 1 form and was second in a Group 2 over 2m at Longchamp last time is Last Train from the Andre Fabre yard.  He has a big chance at a good price.

When Aidan O’Brien openly tells the press which horse is his best two-year-old of the year, it is wise to pay attention – particularly when the trainer has already had already had one impressive two-year-old winner this week.

Coach House is favourite for the Group 1 6f Norfolk Stakes (2.30) and it is probably sensible just to trust the Irishman’s judgement.

However, is worth taking on the current favourite Alive Alive Oh in the Group 2 1m4f Ribblesdale Stakes (3.05) as all her winning form has coming on yielding or soft ground in Ireland. 

Just Pretending is stepping back in class but up in trip after a third in the Irish 1,000 Guineas and has obvious chances on that form, but Winsili could put Prince Khalid Abdullah on the winner’s podium for the first time this week. A beautifully bred filly, she won the Listed 1m2f Swettenham Stud Stakes at Newbury last time when looking a decent filly in the making. 

The Queen has great chances of a quick fire double on the card with Sea Shanty, who is searching a four-timer in the mile Britannia Handicap (4.05). The gelding is on the upgrade and has more improvement to come.

Secret Talent has only run three times, including when second here in May behind the Professor, a subsequent dual Listed winner.  He has already acted well on a fast surface and has always been held in high regard by trainer Hughie Morrison.

The 1m2f Tercentenary Stakes (5.00) could go to the French invader and Aga Khan-owned Shikarpour, who was a good fifth in the Prix du Jockey-Club at the beginning of the month, while our finale, the King George V takes looks an very open race – no horse on the early prices was shorter than 5-1. 

The early favourite is Bold Sniper, another for The Queen (can we believe Her Highness could get a three-timer on the card?), but preference is for the Mark Johnston-trained and Joe Fanning-ridden Royal Skies, who has won his last two with ease despite being hiked up in the weights by the handicapper after the first of those two victories. The son of Dubawi is sure to get the trip in a race won by Johnston and Fanning last year – in fact, Johnston has won this race an incredible four times in the last ten years.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Day Two Preview

After nearly a clean sweep on Day 1 by Irish trainers and Irish connections, the British home team needs to start and make its mark – but it is going to be difficult.
Al Kazeem, the likely favourite for our feature race, the Group 1 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes (3.45) over 1m2f is, is a great chance for Beckhampton trainer Roger Charlton to get on the Group 1 winners’ board.

The son of Dubawi is a lightly raced sort and the improving five-year-old was a staying on last-time-out winner of his first Group 1 from Camelot in the Tattersalls Gold Cup.
That represents top class form and there appears to be no reason for Camelot to turn the tables, however judging by yesterday’s results, the O’Brien team is in superb form and this stiff 1m2f trip might just suit the Irish raider.
Red Cadeaux is a hugely admirable horse, always gives of his best, and at the current prices (20s in places) represents good each-way value.

Gale can blow away rivals

The opening Group 3 7f Jersey Stakes (2.30) for three-year-olds should get the O’Brien team off to a winning start.

Gale Force Ten put in a great effort to just be denied by Magician in the Irish 2000 Guineas and although that winner did not frank the form yesterday, this son of Oasis Dream is a consistent sort who finished second in the Norfolk Stakes last year.
Well Acquainted, trained by Clive Cox, is one to consider at a price.

Take your pick of the fillies

Chigun was supplemented for the mile Duke Of Cambridgeshire Stakes (3.05) by Lady Cecil’s team and holds every chance; Duntle has done little wrong in her career to date and holds the strongest form claims, while Thistle Bird looks to be an improving sort now that she has learnt to relax more in her races.
Pop to the paddock and pick out the filly who appeals the most on looks and who seems to be taking the busy race day in her stride.

Dream of a Royal Hunt Cup winner

The huge 30-runner field always creates an amazing spectacle over the straight mile course and finding the winner is never an easy task.
The pace of the race appears to be amongst the high numbers so although Premio Loco looks ready to win, is down to his lowest BHA mark since 2009 and a previous course and distance winner, might be disadvantaged from stall 2.
Excellent Guest was indeed an excellent winner here last time for trainer George Margarson, who loves targeting this big Ascot mile handicaps and he finished second with this horse in this last year. Unfortunately, the handicapper has put the son of Exceed And Excel up to his highest mark yet and may just have weighted him out of it.
One who looks nicely handicapped for this is Jamie Osborne’s Field Of Dream, who is back to 98 and is just a pound higher than when fourth in this race last year. He blew his chance in the stalls then, but went onto win over 7f at Ascot’s July meeting off a mark of 99. He has had to ply his trade off marks of over 100 since, while he has not worn blinkers for his last two runs. They are back on today.

Rizeena: can she make all to win the Queen Mary?

The winning filly needs to have speed to burn in the 5f Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes (5.00) and one who is aptly named is Fast from the Richard Hannon team.
She won her maiden on her first start by 7l on soft ground at Chepstow, a win that immediately had connections considering this race, while Bedale Memory is already a Listed winner and was bought by Qatar Racing after her first start. Tsk note though, hoth fillies have shown their form on softer, early season ground.

Rizeena is well regarded by the Clive Brittain camp and she built on her victory here in May (good to firm ground then) with a Listed success in the National Stakes at Sandown. She has raced prominently in both her successes and got the trip well, so jockey James Doyle, who is riding for the first time, can be confident that he can ride her in a similar way and keep her out of trouble in this large field of juveniles.

Go with the form factor for the Sandringham Stakes

Another fillies’ race rounds today off with the Listed mile Sandringham Handicap (5.35). Woodland Aria gets into this on a handy weight and based on her form – two runs ago in the Group 2 Musidora Stakes she finished third to subsequent Oaks fifth Liber Nauticus – will be the likely favourite.
Mango Diva’s chance is also best judged on subsequent performances by previous opponents. She was second in May’s Heron Stakes behind Montiridge, a Group 2 runner-up last autumn to Trading Leather. That one was third in this spring’s Irish 2000 Guineas, was a Listed winner earlier this month and now has the Irish Derby on his agenda.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Day One Preview

Royal Ascot 2013 has arrived and with it a host of international challengers, a fantastic week’s racing and just maybe the hint of some sunshine.

We have a week’s sport ahead of that the late Sir Henry Cecil would have been proud to be a part of – indeed a number of runners with good chances are due to be fielded over the five days by Lady Cecil from Warren Place, including today’s fancied Tiger Cliff, who runs in the Ascot Stakes

Sir Henry loved Royal Ascot and in honour of his amazing record here we are holding a minute’s silence before racing today.

Will Kingdom rule?
And then we get straight into the top class action with the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes (2.30) in which one of the most-talked about horses of the spring is due to take part – the US-trained Dubai World Cup winner Animal Kingdom, who has been resident in Lambourn since travelling from the Emirates in April.

The Graham Motion team report that their fine-looking horse to be in great fettle, although are cautioning that, as he has never run over a straight mile on turf, maybe it is not the straight forward task that the price seem to suggest.

However, he has achieved far more on the form front than other runner in this race and he should make history today by becoming the first Kentucky Derby winner to achieve success at Royal Ascot.

The bet is for a place and although this is a first 2013 start for Elusive Kate, she is a talented genuine Group 1 filly who finished third to Excelebration over course and distance at the Champions’ meeting in October.  Don’t be put off by lack of action so far this year – in 2012 she finished second to Giofra in the Group 1 Falmouth Stakes first time out.

A first winner for South Africa?
The 5f King’s Stand Stakes also sees an international challenge to the fore, this time from South Africa with Shea Shea a 2-1 chance and out to become the first-ever South African-trained winner at Royal Ascot.

Another here off the back of a last-time-out success in Dubai, the lightning fast Shea Shea broke his own the track record at Meydan in the Al Quoz Sprint beating the good yardstick Joy And Fun, with Sole Power back in fourth.

If Shea Shea has travelled over well, he should have too much raw speed for the Clive Cox-trained three-year-old Reckless Abandon, a good third in the Temple Stakes (G3) in May, and fellow traveller Shamexpress, who stepped up to Group 1-winning form last time at Flemington, Australia.

Again if looking for an each-way bet, it might be worth looking further down the list of fancied runners and with a dry day ahead of us, Sole Power, who was third in this last year on unsuitable soft ground, has to have a chance if he the race goes right for him (has to have cover until late), while Kingsgate Native looks to be right back to his best, though he has never threatened in this race previously.

A new Dawn?
The St James’s Palace Stakes (3.45) was a late decider for the 2000 Guineas winner Dawn Approach, who fluffed his lines so completely in the Derby. The colt must have come out of the Epsom Classic in good form for trainer Jim Bolger to be considering this as an option and, if he returns to his best, he will be difficult to beat.

It looks as though it will be a battle of the Guineas winners with Magician, successful in the Irish 2000, the current second favourite. He looks an improving three-year-old and this uphill course should suit him as he has already won over 1m2f.

Sir John to arise
Aidan O’Brien has three of the top four in the betting for the 6f Group 2 Coventry Stakes (3.45), headed by Stubbs and Sir John Hawkins, with Championship from the Richard Hannon team – a regular-winning trainer of this race – and Riverboat Springs from the Mick Channon yard splitting the Irish trio.

The unbeaten Thunder Strike, also from the Hannon team, showed plenty of speed to win the Listed Woodcote Stakes at Epsom (Riverboat Springs second), but the market and stable jockey prefers the Julie Woods-owned stablemate.

This race is often a pointer to the future 2000 Guineas winner  (it was won last year by Dawn Approach) and Sir John Hawkins, winner of his sole start so far, appeals as a horse with a future.

Cliff for Cecil?
We go from a sprint trip for juveniles to one of the longest races of the Royal Ascot week, the Ascot Stakes (5.00) over 2m4f, and run over the same course as Thursday’s Gold Cup.

Current favourite is Lady Cecil’s Tiger Cliff, a race earmarked for the son of Tiger Hill by the late great trainer who told owner Henry Ponsonby that he was sure the gelding would stay the trip. It would be fitting if Cecil’s predictions could come true.

Nearer the bottom of the handicap and running off 9st3lb, Homeric was a last time out Ascot winner over 2m, his first try over an extended trip.  He raced a little keen initially then, but should settle better now and has the added benefit of the services of Frankie Dettori.

Mysterious Man has not run over such a trip, but he is bred to appreciate it being out of a half-sister to former Ascot Gold Cup winner Enzeli.

It’s all down to Anticipation 
The Listed Windsor Castle Stakes for two-year-olds rounds the day off with the well-named Anticipated (by Whipper and out of Foreplay) current favourite having been unbeaten in two starts to date, including over course and distance in May.

He is another Hannon graduate so take note of his earlier juvenile runners in the Coventry.

Ogermeister is here from the US, representing the Wesley Ward team previously successful in this in 2009. He broke fast to win his first start in the US, and if he can do so again, yet without burning himself out, then he will have every chance.

Fountain Of Youth from the O’Brien yard is out of Attraction, a former Queen Mary winner, and won at Tipperary in a fast time, while the John Gosden-trained Ben Hall probably would prefer faster ground.

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