ROYAL ASCOT Day 2
Kev Humphreys ~ @kevhum
1.15 (8:15a ET) Silver Royal Hunt Cup
Prediction 1 – #4 Brian Epstein (8-1); 2 – #15 Ouzo (5-1); 3 – #20 Ambassadorial (15-1); 4 – #7 Zhui Feng (20-1)
Brian Epstein has the profile of a horse to follow and I was keen to see which race he lined up this week. He bumped into a rejuvenated sort last week and if that has him set for a better run today, he will be in the shake up.
Ouzo is a worthy fav, very short now but one to keep on side.
Ambassadorial – a bit of a globetrotter and has popped up in Dubai, Korea and even ran in the Breeders Cup Dirt Mile in Santa Anita behind Spun To Run. I think the way the race will be run will mean he gets cover for longer and go for one sustained run at the end. Rated much lower on turf than all weather so if he can transfer that talent, he is well in.
Zhui Feng is drawn high and is a front runner – he can bag the rail and lead them a merry dance for a long way – maybe even the whole way.
1.50 (8:50a ET) Hampton Court Stakes
Prediction 1 – #2 Kenzai Warrior (12-1); 2 – #5 King Carney (20-1)
I will take two horses here on retrieval missions and omit the front of the market but a race I will be light on.
I loved Kenzai Warrior for the 2000 Guineas expecting him to be up with the pace and use his stamina. It all went wrong at the start as he jumped as the stalls opened, lost countless lengths and game plan out the window. He was beaten a long way but didn’t have a tough race as a result and I think he is fresher than most and the easier ground than the first day will help.
King Carney is another who was nibbled at in the market for the Lingfield Derby trial but on fast ground, the leaders went way too fast and he folded tamely. Easier ground, drop back to 10f and the astute Danny Tudhope on board and they are all upgrades on last time out.
2.25 (9:25a ET) King George V
Prediction 1 – #15 Arthurian Fable (12-1); 2 – #5 Subjectivist (20-1); 3 – #4 Convict (10-1)
This race I found almost impossible to get a good handle on it with all but a handful of them stepping up markedly in trip.
I can see why Kipps is the favourite but he’s an awfully short price for a horse that I am not sure will love 12f so I am looking elsewhere.
Arthurian Fable is my top pick again based on running style, a horse who I believe will appreciate stepping up to 12f. I also like his trainers confidence and when they are keen on a horse, it is a very good sign.
Convict feels to me like he will certainly love the trip and is related to decent stayers.
Subjectivist was tried at 10f as a 2yo and will surely lovely this trip again well bred to do so. Mark Johnston has a good record in it (but he does run 4 in it)
3.00 (10:00a ET) Prince of Wales
Prediction 1 – #7 Mehdaayih (12-1); 2 – #2 Bangkok (50-1)
Always one of my favourite races of the week but doesn’t look to be a deep betting race.
Japan is a worthy favourite and has the best form in the book, but he is a hostage to fortune in some way with what might be a very tactical race and I am keen to beat him.
There has been sustained support for mudlark Addeybb who will love the recent rain that has fallen. He, though needs proper soft ground and don’t think it will be as bad and his price has collapsed.
If there is a shock in the race, I think it can be with Mehdaayih and Gosden 2nd string. She has some very good form at 10f and I am hoping that Frankie can whip up an enterprising ride and lead from the front. If that is the case, we will know our fate early but she has the talent to win this.
I can also see Silvestre De Sousa doing something unusual on Bangkok who came second to Japan at Royal Ascot last year but career has gone rather flat since. However, he was very very good on his first start on the All Weather in February and his next start got too buzzy and was boxed in at a vital stage so I can forgive him for that. He needs to find something on the ratings but with this race being potentially quite tactical, that gap in ratings becomes less important.
3.35 (10:35a ET) Royal Hunt Cup
Prediction 1 – #9 Indeed (15-1) ~ BEST LONGSHOT; 2 – #7 Fox Champion (20-1); 3 – #11 Afaak (15-1); 4 – #21 Baltic Baron (30-1)
Indeed – my top choice in this puzzle. He is high enough in the weights but I like that he goes well fresh, 8f on easy ground is perfect for him. I am not in love with the draw in 8 but that is factored into the price.
Fox Champion – has a tremendous amount of back class and I can’t ignore that. Beaten just 4L by Circus Maximus in the G1 St James Palace last year. He came last in his reappearance but ultimately not beaten that far and trainer has stated there is a huge amount of improvement in him. I like him a lot.
Afaak – is a staple in this race after winning last year and coming 2nd the year before. He is drawn in 18 which gives him options, he is 3 pounds higher than last year but has crack apprentice Cieren Fallon (Kieren Fallon’s son). A big run is again on the cards.
Baltic Baron is the wildcard. His profile doesn’t look amazing but I like the first time cheekpieces and I like that his trainer has has a few more winners recently and Agincourt ran well yesterday after a similar prep to Baltic Baron.
4.10 (11:10a ET) Windsor Castle
Prediction 1 – #1 Astimegoesby (15-1); 2 – #4 Fools Rush In (20-1); 3 – #14 Tactical (8-1)
The first race for juveniles – my general rule for Wesley Ward horses are if the ground is quick, they are live, if its soft, they may struggle. If we get the rain that is expected, it is likely to be on the soft side of good and so it may pay to look around, particularly in the US.
A ton of these horses showed early speed to win their respective races so there is going to be some battle on for the pace. I will try to find a few that might come from the clouds to get a piece of the action.
Astimegoesby ran a belter over 6f on debut against 2 Godolphin horses. He led that day and only ceded the lead late in the final furlong so I like the move down from 6 to 5f and I think he will be close to the pace but be able to stay on. His trainer is new to the game but has been very astute in his 2yo placing this year.
Fools Rush In is a speculative punt on a horse who has talent, ran an odd race on debut but finished well enough for me to think with a bit more experience and a very fast pace to race against, will be flying at the end.
Of the fancied runners, Tactical would be my choice based on running style and is drawn well to the stands side of the 2 Wesley Ward runners.
4.40 (11:40a ET) Copper Horse
Prediction 1 – #11 Ranch Hand (8-1) ~ BEST BET; 2 – #5 Ernesto (20-1)
Ranch Hand would be my bet of the day today – Trainer in good form, he looks to be a Group horse in the making, won’t mind the ground as it is and 14f is perfect – all roads point to a good run. There has also been steady money for him over the past 36 hours.
Ernesto is a very speculative punt to fill the exacta. He is making his first start for Ian Williams but on the basis of his listed win in Germany first time up last year beating the smart G1 performer Alounak – he would have a chance here.