This tip has expired. Please check our free horse racing tips section of the website to find the most up to date.
A poor opening day to start Royal Ascot. The ground didn't help a couple of my selections, but that can't be helped. I expected a few millimetres, according to the sources I use, instead we got 10mm+ in the morning.
Highfield Princess ran well, I honestly thought she couldn't lose. They went to the Stewards for an enquiry, but I don't think there was enough to reverse the placings. Law Of The Sea ran well and grabbed a place, getting outstayed by those ahead of him in the final furlong. Chaldean got the lead as I hoped, but was outclassed by the better horse from Aidan O'Brien. Modern Games was poor and Asadna looked to despise the ground, with Boughey before the race saying he'd be worried if the rain came, so he deserves another chance.
Ascot 3:05 – Farhh To Shy 20/1 (0.5pt EW Bet365 6pl)
It's a weird one that Tom Queally has lost the ride on Farhh To Shy but Jamie Spencer is probably the best replacement for this horse, as she needs to be smuggled into the race and delivered very late.
I'm sure there are horses deemed to be better handicapped than my selection, with the Joseph O'Brien favourite being the main one, and one I was close to putting up, but I just think Farhh To Shy is being overlooked in this race, and that will be mainly due to the trainer and the level of opposition she has been up against compared to others. If you watch her race last time out at this track it was very visually impressive. She cruised through the race, and considering that was one of her first times over a mile, you wouldn't have noticed as she cantered all over the field, and though she didn't win by much, I think that's just due to her style and quirkiness. She has to be delivered late on and that's why I think Jamie Spencer is a match made in heaven.
We all know what Jamie is about, but from stall 22, he'd have no other choice but to take a sit and hope the race unfolds in front of him. But, he'll hopefully be able to get her settled and creep her into contention down the outside, which has been a good place for winners in this race in previous years. She did go up a few pounds in the ratings for that recent win, but she's still on a good mark as her highest winning mark to date came off one pounder higher mark than what she races off today and she raced in this race 12 months ago off 95 and was cruising through the race but probably went down the inside which didn't seem best to do with the winner and placed horses running down the outside, so had to settle for middle of the pack.
Ascot 3:40 – Queen Aminatu 9/1 (0.5pt EW)
I'm going to go with a horse I really do love and that is Queen Aminatu.
It's a risk going for a horse who has 0 wins on turf and has 5 wins and 3 placed efforts from 8 runs on the AW, but I don't think she is one-dimensional and is capable of winning on turf, as we've seen her run belters, albeit in lower tier races, but things have rarely gone her way and she's done well in some terrible positions to finish where she has. Ascot does tend to suit the AW horses better than most other turf tracks in the UK and I believe that is something to do with the heavy sand base under the turf, we've seen it a lot over the years, so if there is a track that will suit Queen Aminatu it is this track, and especially the straight track.
She has done winning round bends on the AW, including the Listed win last October, but I don't think it suits her run style at all, so for her to win in the manner she does on those tracks shows that she is a very capable horse. She is often held up in her races, and finds trouble, especially around Lingfield where she has to go widest of all, which is never ideal and then has to hit top gear but it's often too late, like we saw in the Group 3 behind Sacred. With this straight track, it should hopefully allow her to hit top gear, not worry about getting into trouble with other horses and then show the deadly turn of foot she possesses.
I'm not sure what ground she prefers as she has run well on good to soft before, but clearly found the ground at the Curragh too soft for her, so I'd presume that today's ground should be spot on, as it will be in between. There has been a bit of money floating around for her, so 14/1 which I was hoping for has gone, but I still think she is worth a small EW bet. I don't think this race is particularly strong and not one horse has outstanding claims.
Ascot 5:00 – Astro King 17/2 (0.5pt EW PaddyPower 7pl)
To say Astro King was unlucky not to win last time at York is the understatement of the season so far for me. This horse is clearly on a very good handicap mark and will be a big player if everything drops right for him.
This race has been the plan since Daniel & Claire Kubler bought him, so the run at York, although it was painful to watch, it would've been a prep run for this race today, so they'd have been pleased with the great run he put in even though they would've loved the prize money, but 26k compared to 90k for winning this is a very big jump so I doubt they'll be too upset if he delivers the goods. Handicaps like these are often a pain as they split into two groups and more often than not one side of the track will be better ground than the other and half of the field will be goosed and have no chance by halfway. Normally, the earlier races on the card are a very good indicator, but as it's my job to tip the night before I don't get that luxury. However, we know for a fact that Astro King loves this track, so if he's on the right side I expect him to be bang there come the finish.
Horses often turn up to the same race from the year before, but Astro King has been placed in this specific race two years on the bounce. Last year he finished fourth off a mark of 102 and he finished 2nd off 98 in 2021 which is 1lb lower than today's rating, and he was only beaten by Real World who went on to be a Group 1 level performer. Fast ground is what he likes, so he'll be hoping that the ground dries out quickly from now till 5 pm, and no rain forecasted and heat of up to 25 degrees, come 5pm the ground should be on the fast side of good, as Ascot does drain very well.
Ascot 5:35 – Gregory 7/4 (2pt WilliamHill)
I've got to stick with Gregory for this race, I've tipped him up two times in a row and he's not disappointed me one bit.
I think he did very well last time out at Goodwood to win in the manner he did. I don't think the track suited him whatsoever and I thought he'd be a lively contender for the St Leger come the end of the season as he looked an out-and-out stayer over 11f, so to see the Gosden's putting him to 14f doesn't surprise me in the slightest. This is obviously his toughest test to date, but I think he is a class act and will keep progressing and if I think he is a Leger horse, he will need to be winning this race.
It's a short write-up compared to the others I have put, but I don't think it takes a rocket scientist to see his chances of winning. He's short enough in the market at 7/4, but it's big enough to have a play.
I get very similar vibes to Stradivarius with this horse, and he will hopefully be the new staying star for the yard. Strad won this race back in 2017 before going to finish 3rd in the St Leger. He is currently 9/1 ante-post for the Leger, and that will shorten if he wins tomorrow. I'll probably have a few quid on that too, just in case.
Ascot - 3:05 pm
20/1 @ Bet365
Ascot - 3:40 pm
9/1 @ Bet365
Ascot - 5:00 pm
17/2 @ PaddyPower
Ascot - 5:35 pm