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It's that time of year when we get the best five days of flat racing action the world has to offer. I'm more of a jumps man, myself, but I love Royal Ascot and you can often get some big priced winners during the week as every horse is there to win than your average cards on a Monday-Thursday where they are often not fully fired in an attempt to get their handicap mark down/get their fitness up. Good luck with your bets across the week and stick to your stake plan, you will have rough days along the five-day period so don't lose your temper and chase losses, there's always tomorrow.
Trainer: Richard Hannon
Jockey: Rossa Ryan
Trainer: Richard Fahey
Jockey: Oisin Orr
The first race doesn't interest me in terms of a betting standpoint as Baeed should win that and win it without coming off the bridle. The second race of the day is the Coventry Stakes Group 2 and is full of unexposed 2yo's who attempt to be the sprinting stars of the future, or potentially stamp their authority for the Guineas next year.
Bradsell is an interesting runner for the Archie Watson stable. He blew the field away when winning by 9L at York on debut. It seemed that kind of performance was expected as he went off as 9/4F. Though he won easy that day and it will have a lot of people purring for him in this race, this is a much tougher race and I think he was quite flattered to win in the manner he did. The Racing Post gave him a whopping 100 RPR which is some effort from a juvenile to do on a racecourse debut, but it looks like an egg and spoon race which he won. The fourth horse has come out and won since and recorded an RPR in the low 80s so it's not exactly terrible form, but this performance seems very similar to Mums Tipple who won a big sales race at York in emphatic fashion, that race was seemingly tougher than Bradsell's race, but that horse didn't exactly progress after that run and has been a pretty big flop. I'm not doubting this horse has potential and ability, but whether he's as good as what his debut run makes him out to be, I'm not sold.
Last year's winning trainer, Andrew Balding sends Holguin into this race on the back of a nice win at Newbury which came in the middle of April. Andrew's winner of this race last year, Berkshire Shadow came from the same race that Holguin ran in, so it's eye-opening that they've attempted the same tactics this year with their contender. The form looks okay with the 2nd and 3rd winning since and looking like decent sprinters. I don't think he'll be good enough to win this as he was convincingly beaten by PERSIAN FORCE who races in this as well.
The American raider in the race, Late September seems a strange runner. He's ran over 4.5f and now tries a stiff 6f track. Colin Keane is booked, which is eye-catching, but he doesn't look like a world-beater, he has a pedigree which suggests this step up in trip could suit & this yard had one runner in the 2021 Royal Ascot meeting which finished 4th in the Queen Mary, so they must feel he has a big chance.
My two plays in the race are Persian Force, who was named before in this piece and ROUSING ENCORE. Persian Force is currently the market favourite, and I can see why he is in that position as he has been ultra-impressive in his two race starts to date. Persian Force won the Brocklesby at Doncaster on the opening day of the flat season, winning by 4L, doing it in the manner of a smart 2yo. He went off EVS that day, so the Hannon stable knew they had something special on their hands as that is a ridiculously short price for a horse on debut, especially the first 2yo race of the year. He then went to Newbury where he beat two rivals in a Conditions Stakes Class 2 event, including Holguin who I mentioned earlier. He won that race under hands and heels for the most part, and only had one tap with the whip from Rossa Ryan, and he cruised home to win by 2.5L. That race hasn't been a good omen for horses running at Royal Ascot over the years, but it's a race which Richard Hannon targets, winning 5 of the 7 renewals. He is only the third horse to reach an RPR of 100+ from that race, with the other two being Mehman & Birchwood who both went on to be quality animals, so I think the bad run of Royal Ascot runners from that race can be put to bed with a big run from Persian Force who looks a lovely horse.
My EW play in the race is Richard Fahey's Rousing Encore who has done nothing but progress through his three runs. His debut run was a big effort when you watch it back. He came out of the stalls awkwardly and still managed to finish 3rd. The form of that race isn't strong, but it was a nice starting point. He then went to Beverley where he didn't have the smoothest of runs, being blocked in on the rail before finding the gap, and when he did find it and hit full stride he motored clear to win by 3.25L. Once again, the form doesn't look strong but the manner in which he did it was visually impressive. It's interesting that the two previous winners of that race have run belters at Royal Ascot, including Richard Fahey's Vintage Clarets who finished 3rd in this race last year at odds of 25/1. The other winner was Boonie who finished 3rd in the Windsor Castle last year as well. His most recent win at Pontefract was a big effort under a penalty, which isn't easy to do for these young horses. He made the running, which probably isn't his forte but he stayed on strongly on a stiff, uphill track and beat the 4/9F and promising horse into 2nd by 2.25L. He clearly handles the quick ground and stays the distance which is both huge positives going into this race. That race at Pontefract has thrown up some nice horses in the past as well, including Angel Bleu who was a Group 1 winner as a juvenile and Yalta who was a Group 3 winner as a 2yo.
You can't ignore the Aidan O'Brien runners in this, but I don't think they're as strong as he would like. Out of the two, Frankie's ride looks the better for me, as he'll stay and the manner in which he won looks better to my eye than Ryan's.
Selections: Persian Force & Rousing Encore (Each-Way)
Trainer: Robert Cowell
Jockey: Marco Ghiani
The market for this race is dominated by foreign horses, with the Australian and American pair being a fair bit shorter than the English and Irish contingency, as well as the one Czech runner. For me, I don't know enough about the Australian runner to get a grip on how good he is, but from what I can see is that he does a lot of his winning on slower going. That's not to say he doesn't handle the faster ground, as I'm sure he does, but at the odds, I think he is too short to get involved in.
Us UK punters know a lot more about Wesley Ward's horse, Golden Pal, as he brought him over to the England in 2020 and 2021. We know what he's all about, and that's speed, like most of Wesley's horses. Wesley keeps going on about how he's the best horse he's ever trained, which might be true, but he is known to waffle some rubbish in his time of bringing horses over. Having a lot of pace is great, but keeping the gallop up on a stiff track like Ascot is another matter, as well as being taken on for the pace by a fair amount of runners who like to run from the front. I'm sure he'll be bang there approaching the final furlong, but I get the idea he might fold and get caught by the closers who have the better stamina. These American horses are much better around bends, which is why they do so well at the Breeders' Cup meeting as they are suited for more nimble and quick horses like Golden Pal who can lead round the bend and be tough to peg back.
I don't think this is a race to get too involved in from a betting standpoint but if the pace is to collapse I'll take my chance on an outsider to outrun their odds and maybe squeak into a place.
EXISTENT is still a relatively unexposed sprinter over 5f, having been campaigned over longer for most of his career. He ran a career-best earlier this season at Newmarket where he finished 2nd to Khaadem. The winner set a good pace that day but wasn't pestered for the lead and that was enough for him to see out the stiff 5f as he only had to go the pace he wanted. Existent was positioned towards the mid/rear and ran on strongly. That was a belting run and it looked clear to me that he needs a real strong gallop over a stiff 5f to see the best out of him. There is an obvious chance that he is going to be very outclassed in this field, but as we've seen on times before in this race, big outsiders can get into the places and horses who have been given no chance whatsoever, run very well. I think you can excuse his latest run where he ran far too keen and didn't see the race out, in what was a decent gallop, but at the odds I think he is worth a small EW play. He is drawn in Stall 18, so is going to need luck in running if they decide to come to the Stand's rail.
Trainer: Gordon Elliott
Jockey: Jamie Spencer
It might seem to be one of the boring picks of the race and people might think not much thought has gone into it as I've got for an Irish raider, but I just think there is more to give from PIED PIPER on the flat now he's over a staying trip.
We all know how good of juvenile hurdler Pied Piper was over the last 10 or so months when finishing 3rd in a Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham and then being relegated to 2nd in the Aintree Juvenile Hurdle, which should've been a dead-heat but the stewards' went on a mad one and put him in 2nd. But, the one performance which makes me think he could be swinging on the bridle with a couple of furlongs to go is the Cheltenham performance on trials day in January. He didn't end up beating much that day, but the manner in which he travelled all over the field was special to watch and oozed a classy horse. He has done a lot of his winning and best performances on a slow surface but he put the doubts to bed on a quicker surface when he hosed up in the Grade 2 on good ground. I just have a sneaky feeling a mark of 96 could be low for this lad over these kind of staying trips, which clearly brought out improvement for him when he went hurdling.
Gordon Elliott is no mug, as well all know, so the fact he's sending him over for this race suggests the confidence they have in him. Jamie Spencer is a noticeable jockey booking, and that booking could result in this going one of two ways. We all know Jamie is a hold-up merchant, and that works for a lot of the horses he rides, and I think it might suit in this race as he will have the pace and cruising speed to get into a good spot when turning for home, but we've seen horses held up in this race in the past where they've not quite got enough track to peg back the leader, which is why slight worry.
Either way, I think he has a clear chance in this and could repay his owners who paid 225,000 GNS for him in October by landing this £51,540 pot.