Frankly Darling’s runaway success in the Ribblesdale was the opening day highlight of day 1 of Royal Ascot although it was also great to see Battash make it third time lucky in the King’s Stand Stakes. I thought the ground was as described – good to soft – by the end of racing and there is the distinct possibility of further heavy showers on Wednesday and Thursday.
Day 2 of Royal Ascot begins with the inaugural running of the Silver Hunt Cup a consolation race for horses balloted out of the Hunt Cup which is the fifth race on today’s seven-race card.
Richard Hannon saddles two in the opener and Ouzo was headed in the shadows of the post at Newmarket last week and can run from the same mark today. Zhui Feng looks sure to take them along near the stands’ rail and Ouzo must have every chance drawn in stall 24. He is a general 6/1 shot and must run a big race but at double those odds I feel top-weight Sir Busker (1.15) will be tough to keep out of the frame.
The ew selection – 12/1 with bet365 at the time of writing – has been penalised 4lbs for scoring at Newcastle earlier in the month and that success made it two out of three over a mile for William Knight’s four-year-old who is another drawn high in stall 18. Champion jockey Oisin Murphy takes over in the saddle and I expect him to be finishing strongly even over this stiff mile.
Berlin Tango and Kenzai Warrior are penalised in the Gp 3 Hampton Court Stakes and I am convinced there is more to come from both Russian Emperor (1.50) and First Receiver with preference for the Irish raider who really ought to have won the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown last week when his stablemate Cormorant got first run on this son of Galileo.
This will be the selection’s third run of the season given he broke his maiden tag on soft ground on the opening day of the season back in March. Trained by Aidan O’Brien the selection is 7/2 with Boylesports.
First Receiver will appreciate the step up to 10f on breeding and ran out a fluent winner of a moderate Kempton maiden over a mile on his seasonal reappearance. The New Approach colt runs in the colours of Her Majesty the Queen and he shaped with considerable promise on his sole turf start as a juvenile. Note First Receiver was backed into favouritism with most firms on Monday and Sir Michael Stoute has saddled the winner of this corresponding race twice in the last six years – including 12 months ago courtesy of Sangarius.
Kipps can race from the same mark as when beaten a nose over 10f at Haydock last weekend and is, arguably, a winner without a penalty in the 12f 3-y-old handicap. The way he travelled through his race suggested he was well ahead of his current mark, although the same sentiment could be said of a number of today’s unexposed rivals. He is not guaranteed on breeding to appreciate today’s additional couple of furlongs, however, although I am convinced, he is capable of a much higher rating than his current mark of 84. The prospect of soft ground is a concern and all the fancy prices have gone. At a best-priced 4/1 he is reluctantly overlooked.
Win O’Clock, who did us a favour at Haydock last week, is much respected but To Nathanial (2.25) gets the each way vote at 10/1 with Boylesports who are paying five places on the race. The selection carries a 4lbs penalty for scoring at Kempton five days ago but, as a son of Nathanial, should appreciate this stiffer test on rain-softened ground for his turf debut. Rab Havlin takes the ride in a cracking race. A lower draw would have been ideal for this strong galloper who won’t want the race to develop into a sprint.
Had Lord North not been drawn out widest of all in stall seven I would have been quite keen on his chances in the Gp 1 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes, but this is the race of the meeting and a case can be made for all seven runners especially if the showers materialise which would certainly bring Addeybb into the equation. Without that information I feel it is a race to watch and savour.
My two against the field in the Hunt Cup are Lord Tennyson – drawn in stall fourteen – and Fox Premier (3.35) with marginal preference for the latter who makes his seasonal reappearance back at a mile having been campaigned over further as a three-year-old. The selection will want an end-to-end gallop at this trip, but he is drawn next to the stands’ rail and I hope the gaps appear for Silvestre De Sousa. The selection is 14/1 across the board at the time of writing.
In the concluding Copper Horse Handicap, I was disappointed to see Fujaira Prince get a poor draw in stall 16 for this 1m 6f contest which is new to the Royal Ascot calendar. The first right-hand bend comes soon after the start over this trip and he is likely to have to travel very wide or use a lot of energy of he wants to get into a good early position.
I am convinced there is a big race in Alright Sunshine although he has been raised 4lbs for finishing fourth in a good listed contest at Newcastle earlier in the month. He is often held up right out the back, however, and he will need luck in running and a decent pace for him to pick up the pieces.
Collide (4.40) travelled powerfully and quickly put his race to bed over today’s trip at Chelmsford last time and I hope Ryan Moore can get Hugo Palmer’s top-weight into the box seat from stall two. The selection must give weight to all his 15 rivals, but he is unexposed at this trip and at 11/2 five places with William Hill I would be disappointed if he did not run a big race.
There is a listed race at Limerick this evening and Pondus (7.05) has his first start for Joseph O’Brien having been previously trained in Britain by James Fanshawe. I felt there was plenty more to come from the four-year-old this term and I think he may have too much stamina for Simsir who steps up to 12f for the first time having won a competitive handicap out in Dubai during their carnival earlier in the year. Trainer Mick Halford had his first winner of the campaign earlier in the week, but I hope to see Pondus make a winning start for his new stable.
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