Meetings:

YESTERDAY went very well with Raffle Prize (20-1) and Move Swiftly (12-1) both doing the business on a day when none of the favourites won as I had expected.

Royal Ascot is so competitive that it really doesn’t pay to follow the favourites, particularly in the 2 year old and 3 year old races where the young horses are so open to improvement and the form is still taking shape. Having said that I do pick one of the 3 year old favourites today but I think we’re getting a fair price on him.

I also have a few selections at big prices the first of which is DUBAI STATION at 33-1 in the opening race at 2.30pm. He won nicely at Haydock on soft ground last time despite meeting a bit of trouble in running and I think he looks a huge price in a race where the soft ground is sure to be unsuitable for a few of his competitors. Take the 4 places on offer from quite a few bookies.

Its the favourite that I go for in the second race at 3.05pm in the shape of FOX CHAIRMAN ridden by Silvestre De Sousa. SDS think this is the best of his rides this season which is saying something given the quality of horses that he is now involved with. He would probably have beaten Circus Maximus at Chester last time with a bit more luck during the race and that form has been boosted heavily this week with Circus Maximus winning. Also, both of his races have come on good to soft ground which gives me some comfort for today’s conditions. I think he is a very worthy favourite and should go off a bit shorter.

In the 3.40pm I think the favourite Fleeting should win but the price is too short for me at this point so I’m giving that race a body swerve.

The Ascot Gold Cup at 4.20pm is possibly the race of the week and it looks like it will be a fascinating contest. I had a small antepost bet on DEE EX BEE after his seasonal reappearance and he is still my pick today now that the race has arrived. Clearly Stradivarius is the class act and is rightly the favourite but I think Dee Ex Bee will give him a right good run for his money today: he is a sturdy big horse has been crying out for this marathon trip for ages and I think he will relish it. The price is just about big enough to justify an each way bet which I think is the sensible way to play it. Cross Counter is obviously another one to consider but his lack of a prep race puts me off. In the same race, given the soft ground and his proven stamina, the 9 year old THOMAS HOBSON could be worth a small each way bet in case the leaders go too fast in the soft ground and it turns into a real slog.

In the 5.00pm it really is a hugely competitive handicap run over the straight mile but I think I have found a bit of value with DARK VISION. He was favourite for the 2,000 Guineas at one point last season after he absolutely bolted up at Goodwood and things really haven’t gone to plan from there on. He is still a classy horse but is priced up almost like a no hoper today and I think with Jamie Spencer in the plate (arguably the best jockey over the straight mile at Ascot) he has a really good chance of finishing in the top 6 now that he drops into handicap company and top 6 is all we need for a nice return from some of the bookies paying extra places.

The last race of the day is the 5.35pm is the hardest race of the day on paper with so many unknown factors. My tentative selection is GOOD BIRTHDAY who ticks a lot of boxes and my only reservation is whether he will enjoy the extra two furlongs at today’s distance. A small each bet is the order of the day.

Good of luck and hopefully we get another couple of winners today.

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