ROYAL ASCOT ~ Day 1
Kev Humphreys ~ @kevhum
1.15 (8:15a ET) – Buckingham Palace
Prediction: 1 – #10 Hey Jonesy (15-1); 2 – #12 Kaeso (8-1); 3 – #20 Keyser Soze (20-1); 4 – #11 Greenside (12-1)
A real puzzler to open proceedings with and something to not get too heavily involved in.
Daarik looks to be a worthy favourite but getting very short in the betting and interesting to note that the one time he was beaten was on the shortest rest he has had between races.
I fancy a few at bigger prices. Firstly Hey Jones who has plenty of back class, probably isn’t as good over 6f now and if things remain good, should be primed to run well at a meeting where he has run some decent races in the past couple of years. He will be a big price.
Second is Kaeso, a real 7f specialist at Ascot who gets the jockey of the moment.
Third is Keyser Soze who has looked good over the wintertime on the All Weather and comes here back on turf off a much reduced mark. Connections are very bullish of a big run and I want him on my side.
Lastly, Greenside is another with good course and distance form to be there in the shake up.
1.50 (8:50a ET)- Queen Anne
Prediction: 1 – #8 Mohaather (10-1); 2 – #4 Duke Of Hazzard (8-1); 3 – #10 Plumatic (20-1); 4 – #13 Space Traveller (15-1)
As per usual, this is a wide open Group One race. The older milers in Europe are not that strong and its trying to figure out who will put their head in front on this occasion.
I would have Mustashry as the best horse in the race but at 7 on his seasonal reappearance, he tends to need a run so will reluctantly sidestep him.
Circus Maximus won at the meeting last year (slow ground) but on faster ground, I don’t think he is a superstar and again the price is short enough and wasn’t convinced that last years 3yo miler crop was excellent so even though the older horses are no great shakes, I am happy to leave him off my ticket.
Terebellum represents top connections but first time up against male G1 opposition over a mile makes me not that keen at all. Happy to avoid and offers up value elsewhere.
Like the last few years, we will keep with the tried and trusted method of a few long shots and urge them home.
First up is Mohaather who is my strong fancy. Very lightly raced but ran well over course and distance at the back end of last year first time up in G1 company and that will put him right ready to face this class again. Trainer and connections are very bullish and the fact that Jim Crowley had the choice between Mohaather and Mustashry and chose the former is very encouraging.
Duke of Hazzard is, like Hey Jonesy, another personal fav of mine, tipped up at a big price for a race at Royal Ascot last year and ran well – he subsequently went on a run of 3 wins after at a mile. It is his first time up this year which is a little worry but I think he is ready for the step up in class.
Plumatic comes over from France and will get somewhat ignored. He has run well in G1 company before, has had the benefit of a prep run, I like the first time tongue tie and has main man Oisin Murphy on board. A big sleeper.
Finally, Space Traveller ran well against the race dynamics in the BC Mile and won at this meeting last year (over 7f). Trainer form is a worry but as a result, the price will compensate.
2.25 (9:25a ET) – Ribblesdale
Prediction: 1 – #11 Trefoil (5-1); 2 – #9 Passion (15-1); 3 – #4 Ennistymon (12-1)
The Gosden horses have been absolutely flying at the minute, particularly his 3 year old fillies and Frankly Darling set Twitter alight when she won her maiden 2 weeks ago. However, it wasn’t a brilliant race and I think the hype is contributing to her very short price. Like Waldikong in Newmarket last week, I’m happy to go against her here.
Trefoil comes from the Beckett yard that excels with this type of filly. She ran really well, against the bias at Newmarket last week and the step up to 12f now is perfect.
Passion comes here off a rather disappointing run over 10f in Navan but she was staying on at the end and looks to be crying out for 12f right now already. She was well supported at bigger prices the last few days.
Ennistymon will be the bigger Aidan Obrien filly in the betting but she won a good maiden last week at Leopardstown and the Coolmore boys like to give Evie Stockwell (mother of John Maginer) a winner at Royal Ascot.
3.00 (10a ET) – King Edward VII
Prediction: 1 – #2 Mogul (4-5); 2 – #1 Arthur’s Kingdom (6-1)
The vibes about Mogul seem very positive and the next best is Arthur’s Kingdom – I might take Frankie to upset Ryan Moore on Mogul as a value play but with 6 runners it is not a big betting heat for me.
3.35 (10:35a ET) – King’s Stand
Prediction: 1 – #2 Equilateral (12-1); 2 – #6 Tis Marvellous (20-1)
Starting point here is Battaash. He is by far the best horse here on ratings and he has won first time up 2016, 17, 18 and 19. So lots of positives but he is very short and his record at Ascot is 0-3 including 2 defeats in this race. I will take two big shots against the fav –
Equilateral at 14-1 from the same stable is excellent fresh so the 117 days from his last race in Dubai should be enough time. His best runs are over 5f and while he was beaten 6L in this race last year, the faster ground will suit and I am quietly confident. He doesn’t always find as much as expected off the bridle so be warned if he is travelling with the utmost of ease 1f out.
Tis Marvellous (33-1) best runs come over 5f at Ascot – he ran a good race last year at Royal Ascot over 6f but he’s better over 5f, loves fast ground and is a tough handicapper – these isn’t too much between the top handicappers and Group sprinters so at a price, he is worth having a go and performing above market expectations.
4.10 (11:10a ET)- Duke of Cambridge
Prediction: 1 – #6 Lavender’s Blue (7-1); 2 – #7 Miss O Connor (4-1)
I have tried to pick the two milers I see with the most amount of upside with a little bit of value.
Lavender’s Blue is my top pick here. A real miler, she improved through the year last year and he run at Newmarket was a career high against very established G1 fillies and mares. She comes here with good trainer vibes and think she is the horse to beat. She did beat Jubiloso comprehensively last time they met.
Miss O Connor goes into the “could be anything” category and one I want to have on my side. She may ultimately want things a little softer but she is an attractive price against a host of similar fillies / mares.
4.40 (11:40a ET) – Ascot Stakes
Prediction: 1 – #12 Land Of Oz (10-1); 2 – #14 Coeur De Lion (15-1); 3 – #4 Dubawi Fifty (12-1)
Playing it rather safe here with horses who I think will savour the 2 and a half mile trip. Land Of Oz won over 2m2f as a 3yo last year and while not running well in the Cesarewitch, he came back and ran a good trial a week ago. He is my top pick.
Coeur De Lion has been 5th in this last year and 6th in 2018. If they go fast and the first time visor eeks out a little bit more improvement, I think he can be placed and if they go too fast, he might outstay them all.
In a similar boat, Dubawi Fifty was second in this on similar ground in 2018, is at the same weight as then and goes well fresh – a lot to like.