Royal Ascot Day 1 Preview & Tips

Race 1: Queen Anne Stakes:
Over a mile on good ground, Toronado is about as good as it gets, as he showed in his Sussex S. victory over the likes of 2000 Guineas winner Dawn Approach and eventual Breeders' Cup third place finisher (by a nose and a head) Declaration of War. This will be his first start coming off a long layoff, but that typically is not an issue for either him or this yard and to be frank, he doesn't need to be at one-hundred percent to win here. Much has been made of Verrazano's third place showing on debut, but he was in a perfect position to get at least second and I'd have to think Toronado has much too sharp a turn of foot for him to compete, if he's anywhere near his standard. Soft Falling Rain switches back to the turf after a slightly disappointing trip to Dubai, by his lofty standards, he'll grind his way through the last few hundred meters and should find himself in the mix late. All in all, this isn't the best betting race, but Mull of Killough reckons to find himself lost in the betting shuffle despite winning a Group 3 at Newmarket before finishing seventh versus much tougher in Singapore, and although he's not really a win threat, he's an honest enough runner that he could very well find himself in the placings at a price. 
Pick: Mull of Killough to place

Race 2: Coventry Stakes:
Ballydoyle are represented by the favorite in this group of juveniles -- War Envoy, who as you'd expect is by the current "it sire" War Front. He finds himself at the head of the market despite being beaten soundly by Kool Kompany last time out and, to be honest, I much prefer the latter at what will surely be a better price. Speaking of Kool Kompany, the handsome son of Jeremy is undefeated in three starts, the ground should suit him well, and the fields he's beaten appear to have been of good quality. The Wow Signal appeals despite having only run once to date. He ran a bit greenly in that dominating, nine length maiden victory and his two runner-ups have since come back to win easily themselves. Justice Good has won three straight and does get Ryan Moore aboard here, but I wonder if he's better suited to five furlongs. 
Pick: Kool Kompany e/w

Race 3: King's Stand Stakes:
Last year's edition saw Sole Power just nipping rival Shea Shea with Pearl Secret and Jack Dexter in just behind and all four of them return this year. Hot Streak is favored despite having lost to Sole Power last month at Newmarket and while I respect his potential, others appeal to be from a betting standpoint here. Sole Power is as tough as nails and always finds himself in the mix near the finish despite consistently running in top class company and coming off a win at Newmarket, I expect him to run well here -- 4/1 or higher are fair odds imo. Somewhat lost in the betting shuffle is the Godolphin runner Ahtoug, who thrice finished second in Dubai behind the likes of Medicean Man, Shea Shea, and Amber Sky, not to mention he's a course and distance winner who prefers good ground. 
Pick: Sole Power to win (if odds 4/1 or better) & Ahtoug e/w

Race 4: St. James's Palace Stakes:
This one has been penned as round three between 2000 Guineas winner Night of Thunder and his runner-up and subsequent Irish 2000 Guineas winner Kingman. They ran against each other in the Greenham at Newbury with Kingman getting the better of his rival on that occasion. Between those two, I much prefer Night of Thunder who beat Kingman fair and square in the 2000 Guineas.
Pick: Night of Thunder to win (if odds 2/1 or better)

Race 6: Windsor Castle Stakes:
We have a serious American chance in Hootenanny, Wesley Ward's trainee who was impressive on debut at Keeneland before flopping over a sealed muddy track in an off-the-turf affair at Pimlico. As we saw last year with No Nay Never, Ward knows exactly what it takes to win with his juveniles on this side of the pond. Unfortunately, I fully expect him to be hammered in the betting. Merdon Castle, whose sole defeat came at the hands of our Coventry choice Kool Kompany, also looks to have a strong chance. I am, however, a bit surprised at the price overseas for Fuwairt, the Richard Hannon trainee who finished third on debut behind two runners who already had a start under their belt. He then broke his maiden in his second start over slightly further at Chepstow in a race where the second place finisher has already come back to win. 
Pick: Merdon Castle to win (if odds 5/1 or better), Fuwairt e/w

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