Today our picks come from Royal Ascot in the UK and from British racing expert Andy Holding.
Race 1 (08:15 EST) - Pick: Alternative Fact (12/1 ML) - Click here to bet with TVG
ALTERNATIVE FACT (best price 12/1) shaped a good deal better than the bare result suggested at Haydock on his seasonal reappearance and if building on that promising effort just 10 days ago, a positive outcome will hopefully be forthcoming.
Held up in the rear at the Merseyside track, Ed Dunlop’s gelding was asked to make his move approaching the three-furlong pole, but it was at that point where he ran into traffic issues. Hemmed in on the rail, the son of Dalakhani couldn’t get out for love nor money and although he came home with a head of steam once eventually saw daylight, the main players had already flown. A creditable ninth from a poor draw in last season’s Cambridgeshire, at least that sound effort gave him some insight into how to handle himself in big-field, strong-run mile contests such as today’s, and based on the evidence of what we witnessed at the Berkshire venue yesterday, his stands side pitch in box 21 will give him a fighting chance of being on the favoured part of the track around the better and fancied horses.
Race 3 (09:25 EST) - Picks: Bright Melody (6/1 ML) & Hukum (14/1 ML) - Click here to bet with TVG
As ever, so many promising and potentially well-treated three-year-old go to post in this competitive middle-distance handicap and of the 18-strong field, BRIGHT MELODY (best price 6/1) and HUKUM (best price 14/1) have the kind of profiles to suggest they could play a big part.
The former had his Kempton third boosted yesterday when runner-up, Plyedriver, landed the King Edward VII Stakes in impressive style, so there’s a fair chance that the son of Dubawi could be well treated on handicap debut. Moreover, Charlie Appleby’s colt didn’t appear to handle the very tight home turn at the Sunbury venue so today’s more galloping track should suit better. Of course, there’s always a chance that inexperience might catch him out, but on what we’ve seen on him so far, he looks one of the most talented in the line-up, so for that reason he’s worth talking a punt he can handle his toughest test to date.
The latter is a similar type in the sense we just don’t know how good he will turn out to be, but he too, showed an amazing amount of quality to get himself out of hole on his second and final start to last season’s campaign at Kempton. Way off the pace as the field turned for home, Owen Burrow’s colt produced a tremendous turn of foot inside the final two furlongs to eventually wear down well-fancied Laser Show, and with the pair well clear and time figure good, it was a performance of some promise. Hailing from a yard who have just starting to kick into gear, the son of Sea The Stars has the capabilities to go well off an opening mark of 90.
Race 5 (10:35 EST) - Picks: Montatham (8/1 ML) & Fox Premier (14/1 ML) - Click here to bet with TVG
A classing-looking renewal of this much-sought-after handicap and it has an almost unusual feel to it in a sense that most of the main players are not your archetypal Ascot straight mile regulars. John Gosden often pulls a rabbit out of the hat in races of this nature – Lord North being a classic case in point in last season’s Cambridgeshire – and it might well be that his Lord Tennyson turns out to be the Group-race performer he threatens to be in time. However, just two career starts and an opening mark of 107 doesn’t automatically suggest he’s a total gimme, so it may pay to look elsewhere for the value.
Two others that could also fall into the ‘pattern-race horse masquerading as a handicapper’ category are MONTATHAM (best price 8/1) and FOX PREMIER (best price 14/1) and they are worth more than a second look.
The former could have probably done with a better draw in an ideal world based on where the main action developed here yesterday, but there looks to be pace all over the track in this contest so he may not turn out to be too inconvenienced. Either way, there’s no denying he is a very talented and progressive performer, underlined by his sparkling return to action at Newmarket and that impressive victory came courtesy of a very useful time figure. Indeed, his closing sectionals worked out slightly better than those posted by Kameko in the 2000 Guineas half an hour earlier and considering at the time he was only rated 89, it puts into some context the strength of his achievements. In the cold light of day, an 8lb rise could have been worse, and with the potential of even more to come from this lightly-raced four-year-old, surely only being in thaw wrong place on the course is the only thing that can stop him from being competitive.
The latter is also an extremely talented individual and other than one poor effort when nothing went right for him here last season, his performances were of a very high standard. Indeed, his final effort of the campaign in an ultra-tough 1m2f contest at Goodwood rates as a stellar piece of three-year-old handicap form and a performance of a similar standard here today would surely see him go close. Potentially nicely positioned towards the nearside rail, hopefully he gets the breaks when required if the main field congregate on the fence and if so, Andrew Balding’s talented son of Frankel can play a major role.
Race 6 (11:10 EST) - Pick: Tactical (6/1 ML) - Click here to bet with TVG
The first of the two-year-old races at the meeting and without the usual body of work to go on, a tricky one for punters to predict which of these juveniles will improve the most from their debuts. The best guide, therefore, is to side with those who have showed up prominently in fast speed figure races and the one who falls into that category is TACTICAL (best price 6/1).
Tactical took part in one the best juvenile races seen so far won by Eye Of Heaven at Newmarket and having not enjoyed the smoothest of passages at HQ, his overall performance deserves to be marked up. A little on heels coming out of the stalls and taking a while to find his stride, Andrew Balding’s colt worked himself into a challenging position heading down into the dip, but in failing to handle that part of track, his winning chance was ruined. That said, it was encouraging to see him finishing his race off strongly once meeting the rising ground and that’s a part of his game which will stand him in good stead today. Drawn towards the nearside away from where the two likely trailblazers, Chief Little Hawk and Get It are housed, it will be interesting to see how jockey James Doyle approaches this race tactically, but either way, the son of Toronado has shown himself to be a useful two-year-old in the making and hopefully he will use today’s platform as a big stepping stone for the future.
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