Royal Ascot Preview – Day 3


I thoroughly enjoyed Day 1 of Royal Ascot, watching top quality horses doing what top quality horses do and we have my thoughts on Day 3 below.



A quick five furlongs to start our Thursday afternoon, and one where I am hoping we see a bold effort from The Antarctic on what looks a fairly weal renewal to me. Trained by Aidan O’Brien, the son of Dark Angel hasn’t exactly been impressive so far despite two wins from two runs, each by less than a length, but I am hoping that is just the sort he is – lazy and inclined to down tools once he feels he has done what is needed. Ryan Moore rides, and although the stable have failed to win this since 2017, they will be hoping to change that statistic by the end of this contest.

The Antarctic


Mile and a half handicaps are never easy, restrict them to three-year-olds and add in the kudos of Royal Ascot and life gets that little bit trickier. Looking back over the last 25 years in the (desperate) hunt for clues, and I note that all bar one of the winners finished in the first three last time out. Only two starts at 20/1 or bigger (perhaps surprisingly), only one carried more than nine stone four, one rated below 82, and only one rated above 95. All bar one had raced in the last 60 days – so if we apply all those “dodgy” facts, where exactly does that leave us?  The honest answer is, with a “shortlist” of seven horses (for those interested, they are: Newfoundland, Post Impressionist, Deauville Legend, Surrey Mist, Balhambar, Savvy Knight, and Vina Sena). Looking to cull those even further (and remember, I can only use the early betting),I note we had one joint-favourite back in 2014, the only one in 10 years, so I will cut out Newfoundland, and work with the other six.  Heart rules head with my final decision and I will be on the Sean Woods trained Savvy Knight each way here. He trained horses for my father many years ago, and will be ridden by James Doyle (anyone want to tell me why he was jocked off 2000 Guineas winner Coroebus yesterday) who is a one of my favourite riders. Unbeaten after three starts in lesser company he has a new mark of 95 today but make no mistake, this is one shrewd stable given the ammunition and I suspect the may be even more to come. 

Savvy Knight Each Way   


This contest has lost a little of its shine with the news that unlucky Oaks second Emily Upjohn will miss the race, but that merely makes this a better opportunity for someone else I suppose. With no Gosden representative (they have won the last three) we are left with just the six runners, and the fact that the 7/4f won a Listed race last time out may well tell its own story about the lack of depth here. Take nothing away from Sea Silk Road, who has done nothing wrong and represents the William Haggas stable, whose horses are in electric form, but there is no guarantee she will stay this far, and I will take a chance on Charlie Appleby’s Life Of Dreams at a bigger price. She woin her masdie at Newbury easily enough and was then beaten six lengths by Emily Upjohn at York in the Musidora Stakes when running on late, and as the winner would have been heavily odds-on here, I think 4/1 or so is excellent value. Likely to improve for just her third start and the step up in trip, she will do for me in a race where she may even need to make the running to ensure a test of stamina.

Life Of Dreams


Two miles for furlongs for the Gold Cup next and I have been nervously watching the weather forecasts with the going highly likely to have a major influence on the result. If it rains then Trueshan enters calculations, but with no sign of that and watering taking place just to take the sting out of the ground, I doubt we even see him in the final line-up. We would all love to cheer Stradivarius home for the fourth time in this race but at the age of eight, and good as he still is, there is every chance the four years younger Kyprios may have the edge. He does try this trip for the first time, but ran away with the Group Three Levmoss Stakes at Leopardstown over a mile and three-quarters, though he may need to be ridden from off the pace here as I expect Earlofthecotswolds to try and make all for Nigel Twiston-Davies.



Although this is a mile handicap I get the feeling those days are gone and we are now looking for a group class performer masquerading as a handicapper for one last time before being stepped up in class. Once again we are talking improving three-year-olds, though history tells us that 24 of the last 25 winners finished in the front five on their last run, none were bigger priced than 40/1, none carried more than nine stone seven, or less than eight stone two, only one was rated as low as 85, and none were rated higher than 104. 24 raced in the last 90 days and none within the last seven (24 have tried). If we apply those stats as “fact” (even though trends are there to be broken), we can get rid of  13 of the 31 declared (including the three reserves. With only one winning favourite in the last 10 years I will reluctantly remove King Of Time as well, so where do we go next? My answer (probably wrong), is the William Haggas trained Yonafis, available as I write at 14/1 and surely a bit of each way value. His stable are in great form here at Ascot, and the son of Golden Horn remains unbeaten after three starts on the all-weather, There is no reason why he cannot keep improving, and the turf ought to see him in an even better light, and with plenty of stamina in his pedigree, a fast run mile will see him pouncing late if Tom Marquand can get him a clear run when needed.

Yonafis Each Way.


I never thought I would be so happy to see a Group Three contest but that is where we head to next, with the Hampton Court Stakes, won by Mohaafeth for the William Haggas yard last season. We haven’t seen a single winner at a double figure price in the last decade suggesting the market is a decent enough guide as a starting point, with Sir Michael Stoute and Aidan O’Brien having two winners each from the last eight runnings, and at 20/1 or thereabouts I am sorely tempted by Howth who cannot be as bad as she looked at Leopardstown. She wears cheekpieces for the first time here and steps up in trip as well and although no good thing, I cannot back an odds-on favourite (Reach For The Moon) even if he is owned by the Queen

Howth to pennies


A seven-furlong handicap to end the day and with the favourite priced at 6/1 (at the time of writing), we are clearly looking at a wide-open contest. The statistics actually tell us very little here so I will have to use my own brain for a change, and the one I like the look of is Tanmawwy who represents the Charlie Hills yard. The booking of James McDonald to ride catches the eye, and a look at his form shows three wins form four starts with the one defeat on his return from a long layoff which is perfectly understandable. He got up late over the six furlongs at Doncaster last time out and has been given another 5lb from the handicapper for his sins, but I am hoping the added furlong here will suit him perfectly, and at a double-figure price I will be backing him each-way.

Tanmawwy Each Way

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