Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Royal Ascot Day 3 Preview and Tips

Race 1: Norfolk Stakes:
This race was where No Nay Never made his mark at this meet last year and Wesley Ward returns in an attempt to make it two in a row with To Be Determined, an Elusive Quality filly who was a well beaten third over the dirt at Churchill Downs on debut. That was against the boys and she did get a weight allowance there, but she didn't have much of an excuse and Ward juveniles are typically cranked and ready to go first time out. Surely, she should improve over the turf, but Churchill Downs typically plays kindly to horses who prefer the grass, so even the surface isn't a strong enough excuse for her sound defeat on debut. Well regarded War Front colt and May Horse to Watch, The Great War, is the market leader here and while he's won his two starts fairly easily, he hasn't beaten all that much and I couldn't possibly take him at what will assuredly be a ridiculously short price for a juvenile stakes. Mukhmal is also undefeated in two starts and his most recent win at Chester was impressive, both in the result and how he traveled throughout. The form of his races hasn't been the strongest either, but his price will be much better than The Great War and O'Brien's runners haven't exactly been in top form here, so I certainly prefer him over the betting favorite. While Mukhmal is the most likely winner in my eyes, I can't pass on an e/w play on Snap Shots who has only run once, but he won that one and the third place finisher has already come back to win. He certainly looked to be a horse who's still learning his job there, but he was very game when challenged and he'll assuredly improve off that effort. 
Pick: Snap Shots e/w 

Race 2: Tercentenary Stakes:
In my eyes, Cannock Chase looks to be a good thing for Sir Michael Stoute. Windshear is a horse who I've followed quite closely this year and one I'm a big fan of, but Cannock Chase beat him handily over similar ground and distance as to what you'd expect he'll see here. Although he did carry less weight than Windshear there, the manner with which he won was eyecatching to say the least. Being by Lemon Drop Kid, ten furlongs over fast ground is right up his alley, as well. His full brother Pisco Sour won this race back in 2011 and he looks to be a tough customer in what will be his group company debut. As for the others, Cloudscape had a very strong to start the year and although he lost when last seen, he finished second despite giving a lot of weight away to the winner. It's his run before that which was perplexing in that he just didn't show up at all, but his win at Newmarket over a strong field at this distance was too strong for me to just jump off him that quickly and being by Dansili, one would expect him to relish faster ground. 
Pick: Cannock Chase to win (if odds 2/1 or better), Cannock Chase / Cloudscape exacta 

 Race 3: Ribblesdale Stakes:
This is, in my opinion, one of the nicer races of the day as far as quality and competitiveness is concerned. Ultimately, I've sided with Wonderstruck, who I was pretty taken by in her maiden victory over this distance at Newmarket. She did hang out a bit while under pressure coming home there, but she prevailed and clearly wanted every bit of that distance. While this is certainly a step up in class, her pedigree is quite nice being by Sea the Stars and a half to the dearly departed 2000 Guineas winner back in 2006: George Washington. Wonderstruck doesn't have the sharpest turn of foot, but she's a grinder and I fully expect her to improve over better ground. 
Pick: Wonderstruck e/w (if odds 15/2 or better, only to win if odds worse)

Race 4: Gold Cup:
The stayers take the stage in this 20f contest, which has drawn a solid field led by the Queen's mare and defending champion Estimate, who should relish this ground, and the ever-classy St. Leger winner Leading Light, who has only lost twice in eight career starts. This will be the season debut for Estimate, who ran a bit flat late in her final race last year at Ascot, albeit over soft ground, on which she doesn't do her best running. She does typically run well fresh, however, and is undoubtedly well meant in this spot although I can't help but think she had everything go her way when winning this last year. There's little doubt Leading Light is the class of this field, but he's never run this far and I couldn't have him at a short price despite easily winning his season debut at Navan last month. The two who interest me here are Brown Panther and Altano, both of whom are as honest as they come at this distance. Brown Panther appears to be as good as ever in spite of his age. He defeated one of the more consistent horses last year in Ahzeemah before running relatively well to finish eighth in the Melbourne Cup considering the draw likely dictated he run a bit closer to the pace than he would've liked in a field of that size and his prep going into it certainly wasn't ideal. Add to that he did win at this meeting back in 2011,he's two-for-two in 2014, not to mention, he looked very good in his most recent win at Sandown and he definitely appears the most likely winner in my eyes. Altano was one I remember clearly from this race last year when he was seen  flying home late to finish fifth after being well held in what was a fairly slowly run race early. He's very dependent on the pace due to his running style, but there's no doubt he'll stay the distance and he figures to get a bit lost among the bigger names in the betting. 
Picks: Brown Panther e/w (if odds 15/2 or better, only to win if odds worse), Altano e/w

Race 6: King George V Stakes:
If you follow me on Twitter or have happened to see the few English tips I've given in my weekly pieces, it should be no surprise that I'm going with Windshear here. Not only do I clearly think highly of Cannock Chase, who he most recently finished second to, but the Windshear-Cloudscape form has turned up strong and has been quite good to me so far this year. He may not really want this quick of ground, but he's shown me too much promise to let go in a race that lacks a clear favorite. 
Picks: Windshear e/w (if odds 15/2 or better, only to win if odds worse)


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