Today our picks come from Royal Ascot in the UK and from British racing expert Andy Holding.
Race 1 - 08:15 (EST)
PICK: Rayong (33/1 ML) - Click here to bet with TVG
PICK: Dancin Inthestreet (17/2 ML) - Click here to bet with TVG
As the meeting progresses and the rain gets into the ground, the supposed draw bias towards the nearside rail might just level out, and with a good spread of pace all over the track, it could pay not to be too overly dogmatic about one side or the other. Clearly, Art Power is going to be a popular choice having bolted up on his last two starts, one on his penultimate outing on soft ground at York, and while it is extremely tempting to keep things simple and to go with him down the front end of the market, there are one or two others that could be up for a shock and make more appeal at bigger odds.
One that falls neatly into that category is RAYONG (best price 33-1) who arrives here as rather one of the forgotten horses of the race. Impressive on his opening gambit at Carlisle last season, Karl Burke’s colt was well-fancied to run a big race in the Windsor Castle over today’s C&D next time out, but he ended up receiving a nightmare passage throughout and he had to settle for an honourable mid-division finish. From then onward, things didn’t really pan out as well as hoped, but he did manage to finish a creditable runner-up to Mums Tipple in a red-hot sales race on the speed figures at York towards the backend, thus reminding everyone of his talents when on-song. Said to have done well over the winter, the son of Mayson has finally got his favoured soft ground, and nicely positioned to get a good tow into the race drawn next to the likes of Will To Win and Never Dark to name but two, he looks way overpriced at 33-1.
DANCIN INTHESTREET (best price 17-2) is one of the most unexposed members of the party, but she appears to be going the right way and having just sneaked in down the foot of the weights, William Haggas’ filly can take full advantage.
A runner-up on debut over seven-furlongs at Newmarket last season, the daughter of Muhaarar went on to score at the next time of asking at Lingfield when dropped in trip and then it was on to the fast-track qualifier at Wolverhampton to see if she could book her ticket to all-weather finals day back at the Surrey track. Unfortunately, the three-year-old didn’t run up to scratch at the Dunstall Park venue, leaving the impression that she could actually do with dropping back down to the minimum trip. Off the track for a total of 184 days, she made her return to action at Haydock just over a week ago and having travelled like the best horse in the race, she had to settle for a minor berth after meeting all sorts of trouble in running. On the evidence of her display at the Merseyside venue, a well-run five-furlongs appears to be her bag and hailing from a yard who is running at a decent strike rate at present, a big run looks on the cards on ground that will suit.
Race 2 - 08:50 (EST)
PICK: Mahale (14/1 ML) - Click here to bet with TVG
PICK: Setarhe (17/2 ML) - Click here to bet with TVG
The race won by Sacred at Newmarket’s opening fixture of the season has been well documented as the best fillies juvenile contest run so far this term – which is also backed up by the speed figure - and having shaped extremely well to finish a close-up fourth, MAHALE (best price 14-1) makes a good deal more appeal than her positon in the market affords her.
Quietly-fancied in some quarters at HQ, unfortunately for her supporters, Mick Channon’s filly was handed the dreaded coffin box in stall one right out on the wing and having been given time to tack over and find a spot in the pack, she’d already forfeited a good deal of ground to plenty of well-touted newcomers by halfway. It was encouraging, therefore, to see her finish off her race with plenty of gusto from a furlong down and by the line, she was making decent inroads into some of her potentially high-class counterparts. On the evidence of that initial effort, an extra furlong might not go amiss and with connections deciding to opt out of taking on Sacred again in preference to come here, that decision seems well founded. Based on how most of the races played out here yesterday on the straight track, hopefully she will miss the kick and get plenty of early cover towards the rear of the field and providing her energy can be preserved, expect the daughter of Kodiac to come with a well-timed rattle late on.
SETARHE (best price 15-2) seemed another for whom hold-up tactics worked a treat on debut and she’s a must for the shortlist from a stable enjoying a fine week.
Strongly-fancied to make a winning start at Newmarket two weeks ago, Roger Varian’s filly found herself in an uncompromising position as the field headed down towards the dip, but once through that tricky part of the course and meeting the rising ground, she showed a tremendous burst of speed to pull off an unlikely victory. Clocking very useful final three-furlong sectionals compared to the colts’ race on the same card, it’s pretty clear this daughter of Footstepsinthesand is well above average and she can have a major say in the outcome if handling today’s much easier conditions.
Race 3 - 09:25 (EST)
PICK: Nelson Gay (20/1 ML) - Click here to bet with TVG
Some serious talent on show here based on the early speed figures produced by several of the market principals, none more so than Eye Of Heaven and The Lir Jet who both clocked the sort of numbers that strongly suggest they are easily up to Group 2 level even in the early stages of their careers. The former posted a wickedly-good time on the Rowley Mile on his debut (best by a juvenile so far) and the way he went about his work that day pointed towards a top-class sprinter in the making. The latter was also just as impressive in lowering the five-furlong track record at Yarmouth on his opening salvo and Michael Bell’s speedball has a lot of fine attributes himself. If there is a slight question mark over the pair, it derives from the fact that they each showed blinding speed on fast ground and with the rain arriving, there’s just a slight suspicion their main weapons will be blunted to a degree – especially if they both try and go hard from the front.
So, with the potential of an upset in the offing, it may pay to look outside the box for some value and that rests at the feet of NELSON GAY (best price 20-1). Sent off 6-4 on his debut at Yarmouth, clearly big things were expected of Richard Hughes’ colt and although he ultimately failed to justify his position in the market, his performance was promising all the same. Missing the beat at the start, the son of Mehmas found himself off the speed in the early stages and with the pace well and truly maintained by The Lir Jet all the way to the line, he simply couldn’t make up the lost leeway. He did, however, keep on nicely to finish just on the heels of the impressive winner without being unduly punished and it looked a performance more about the future if anything. Still managing to clock a decent speed figure in defeat, this sturdily-built colt should have learnt plenty from that initial display and there’s simply no way he should be chalked up at 20-1 given his undoubted talents.
Race 5 - 10:25 (EST)
PICK: Golden Horde (5/1 ML) - Click here to bet with TVG
GOLDEN HORDE (best price 5-1) brings solid Group 1 six-furlong form to the table from his two-year-old career and, having also run well in last year’s Coventry Stakes over today’s C&D, Clive Cox’s colt makes plenty of sense as a strong each-way choice in what looks a wide-open renewal of the feature on Day Four.
Despite being a 33-1 chance here twelve months ago, the son of Lethal Force ran an absolute blinder in the premier colts’ two-year-old race and from then on he went forward to land the Richmond Stakes at Goodwood two months later. Third in the Prix Morny at Deauville on heavy ground was backed up by another solid effort in the Middle Park at Newmarket and on both occasions he toughed it out all the way to the line and punched considerably above his weight. Said to have really pleased connections of late, the three-year-old chestnut bypassed several possible prep races to come here fresh and hopefully that policy will work out for this likeable and admiral sprinter.
Race 6 - 11.40 (EST)
PICK: Indianopolis (12/1 ML) - Click here to bet with TVG
Contrary to how most races on a round track are approached, horses drawn highest of all seem to have an advantage over those housed towards the inside fence here at Ascot for some reason (winners have come from stalls 12, 14, 19, 19, 21, 12, 10, 12, 21 and 11 in last ten years), so with that in mind, INDIANAPOLIS (best price 12-1) would have a better chance than his morning odds suggest.
Fourth in last season’s Old Newton Cup at Haydock, James Given’s entire went on to gain quick compensation with a victory over today’s C&D on Shergar Cup Day and from that moment on, connections have probably had this race in mind. Looking in need of run on his return to action at Newmarket two weeks ago, that effort at least served the purpose of putting him cherry-ripe for today’s assignment and with the rain coming at just the right time for this confirmed mud lark, all the pieces of the jigsaw are gradually being put into place. Providing Ben Curtis can get him into a reasonable position coming out of Swinley Bottom, the son of Galileo will hopefully be within striking distance of the leaders turning for home and hailing from a yard who have just hit form in the last few days, he has the stamina to see the trip out and keep the good run going in the right direction.
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