ROYAL ASCOT Day 4
Kev Humphreys @kevhum
1.15 Palace of Holyroodhouse
Prediction 1 – Keep Busy 2 – Band Practice 3 – Flippa The Strippa 4- Spartan Fighter
Art Power is the very obvious one to start in this 3yo 5f sprint. Proven soft ground form but sometimes a big performance like he had 18 days ago may sometimes take the edge off and he isn’t automatic to back up that run. He is worth taking on.
Keep Busy has been kept busy by John Quinn this season so far but her run last week behind a very progressive time was excellent and she finished clear of the rest. Throw in Fallon’s 3 pound allowance and you have the top pick here. It is maybe a bit contradictory of me dismissing the fav on his second run back with a horse on her 3rd run back but I think this filly does indeed thrive on her racing and her dam ran 15 times as a 2yo and 11 times as a 3yo including multiple times a month.
Charlie Hills has his horses on fire so if he thinks Flippa The Stippa has a good each way shot, I will take his word and keep her on side. She may need better ground but ran some decent races in good company so wouldn’t be one to give up on.
Band Practice and Spartan Fighter are the two classiest horses in the field and both (with same owners, different trainers) making their seasonal reappearances. I will take them both with a preference for Band Practice.
Prediction 1 – Mother Earth 2 – Undertake 3 – Mariance
Flying Aletha looked to be the best of Wesley’s contingent Stateside but the soft ground is a definite negative here.
Mother Earth will run well as many of O’Briens juveniles have and she is the horse to beat off her debut second to a well regarded Ger Lyons horse. The way she finished off and the projected improvement is all in her favour.
Undertake’s trainer Roger Varian can do no wrong at the minute. We have his second choice here but she did nothing wrong on debut and I liked her attitude fighting up the inner to win the race. Her trainer obviously in red hot form but also has a great record in this race.
Finally from the same race as Undertake, Mariance ran with loads of promise and Josephine Gordon wasn’t hard on her at all in the final stages. She can be running on when others have stopped running.
Prediction – 1 – Eye Of Heaven 2 – Imperial Force 3 – Nelson Gay
Eye Of Heaven will be a very tough nut to crack and his win over Get It and Tactical got the ultimate boost on Tuesday. Different test here but I won’t be going against him.
The likes of The Lir Jet and Golden Pal will likely take each other on for the lead so makes sense to try and find a closer and more 6f horse here to fill the minors. I think Imperial Force is him, dropping back from 6f and won’t be as forwardly placed. Balding trained Tactical to win on Wednesday.
The final selection is Nelson Gay – he was favourite for the race that The Lir Jet won but looked like he still had a lot of learning to do but there is talent there. This race dynamic should suit him perfectly.
Prediction 1 – Fanny Logan 2 – Spanish Mission 3 – Eagles By Day
A very good edition of this G2 race. We have last years Derby winner in here Anthony Van Dyck – he is a relatively big price on form but that is because there are big doubts on his efforts on soft ground, most notably in the King George here when he bombed out. He may not even turn up if it stays soft. I was very much against him at 6/4 when the market opened but he’s nearly 3/1 now and that risk is factored into the price. Anyway, I will look elsewhere.
Elarqam comes in with man of the moment Jim Crowley and form of the moment beating Prince of Wales hero Lord North. He steps up to 12f for the first time which on run style looks to suit him but this race pace could be frenetic to stretch his stamina worries.
Morando is a confirmed front runner who loves soft ground but when he comes up against good horses is readily pushed aside.
All this leaves me looking for others but we need a few of the favourites to disappoint here.
Starting with Fanny Logan – Gosden and Frankie doing well, this girl ran OK on comeback, should enjoy the ground conditions (best run was on soft) and improved all of last year. She will be ridden with restraint and could be one to pick up the pieces.
Similar comments apply to Spanish Mission who developed into a smart performer last year and won in Jockey Club Derby in Belmont. He disappointed as favourite in Meydan in February but has a chance to be fleshed up and by Noble Mission who loves it soft, he should go in it.
Eagles By Day is a flyer also but ran well at this meeting behind Japan last year and his dam was talented on all ground so I think he will be fine on it.
3.35 Commonwealth Cup
Prediction 1 – Lope Y Fernandez 2 – Ventura Rebel 3 – Shadn
I haven’t been ever able to figure Lope Y Fernandez out but I think today is the day. Back to 6f on ground that should be fine – he can announce himself as the next top sprinter. Just like Monarch of Egypt for the same connections yesterday who came 2nd in the Jersey, he ran in the Irish 2000 Guineas last week and made a huge middle race move before weakening and finishing 3rd. Back to 7f would certainly have suited but a stiff 6 here will have to do. He is my top pick in an open race.
Ventura Rebel wasn’t great on his reappearance so you have to take it on trust that he has trained on but Richard Faheys horses have been Ok this week and he did well over 5f on soft last year at the meeting. He will be a big price.
Soft ground will bring Shadn into contention – she has a good record over 6 but does stay further which will suit. She should go well for an in form stable.
4.10 Queens Vase
Prediction 1 – Born With Pride (BEST BET) 2 – Al Dabaran 3 – Punctuation
I see this race as relatively straightforward. Born With Pride has form in the book, huge potential and easy to forgive her return run. She goes in as my top pick.
Second selection goes to Al Dabaran who I like the angles of first time blinkers and seasonal reappearance for Charlie Appleby – that is the best time to catch them I find.
I am inclined to forgive Punctuation’s run last time out on fast ground where they went very fast with no hiding space – it was a good race and this slower test over much longer will suit and Silvestre De Sousa knows the horse already – he could surprise.
4.40 Duke of Edinburgh
Prediction 1 – Scarlet Dragon (BEST LONGSHOT) 2 – Protected Guest 3 – Universal Order 4 – Byron Flyer
This race looks absolutely ripe for a massive upset. But in order for that to happen we need this to turn into a slog so someone needs to take West End Charmer on for the lead.
All 4 selections are very susceptible to any big improver but the ratings say this should be close so will shoot for the stars.
Scarlet Dragon is my top pick. He has run OK here before in the past, the trip and ground will suit and Alan King has placed his horses very well this week.
Protected Guest is the last one to try my luck with a jackpot hit. Trainer is very hopeful and this has been the plan which I like. He may be a little better on fast ground but at 50-1+ we take out chances. He also has the dreaded Timeform squiggle which means to treat with caution (ie a bit of a head case!)
Universal Order ran well enough in Dubai and while high enough in the weights, should be able to continue his progression. He also has a win over more fancied El Misk last year.
Byron Flyer has a few steeplechases in his form but he’s a decent horse on his day. The softer the better for him – he was 8th in this race last year, beaten about 5 lengths but the combination of soft ground and 4 pounds less and he has a bit of a squeak. He didn’t run too badly on his reappearance either.