A BELTER of a day on Day Four for my Royal Ascot tips with Permian bolting up at 17-2 and the Caravaggio and Winter double also landing. The SkyBet extra places also paid dividends in the last with Mainstream giving us an eachway return.
I was particularly delighted that I stuck with Permian after the Derby disappointment. I knew that was too bad to be true and he has repaid me in spades with a really brave performance. It's also just reward for guys like Curley the Butcher who I know have been following my tips religiously all week, through the highs and lows of photo finishes, bad draws and every other excuse I come up with. It's nice when winners just win and we can go and collect.
So here we are anyway at the final day of Royal Ascot and there's a ton of cracking racing again.
2.30pm – Chesham Stakes
September is too short here at just better than evens. One run, one win and yes it was impressive but others in the field have also had good victories and there are 16 runners here. I'm treading carefully in this race and the better value option comes from MASAR who only won his first race narrowly but the horse he beat that day, Invincible Army has just hosed up yesterday (Thursday) at Newmarket by 5 lengths suggesting that he is decent and that the form of that first race with Masar is pretty solid. Add to that the fact that Charlie Appleby is in excellent form and William Buick is riding like a demon. There's no shame in taking the each way value on MASAR at 6-1 I don't think and that is how I'm going to play it, taking advantage of the extra places on offer from the bookies.
3.05pm – Wolferton Handicap
I have a feeling that Jim Crowley could well have a good day today riding for Sheik Hamdan Al Maktoum. They have had a quiet week so far but today, whether by accident or design, they seem to have loads of really strong chances. KHAIRAAT is the selection for me in this race He is definitely still improving and although he has gone up a good bit in the handicap there is a reason for that – he's bloody good. As a very lightly raced four year old he still has real potential and although I accept that 4-1 isn't stunning value in a 16 runner handicap we'll all be quite happy when he wins.
3.40pm – Hardwicke Stakes
This is a high-class race with plenty of interesting entries. I think Dartmouth is a pretty short priced favourite and I can't have him at that price. That leads me to look elsewhere for some value and I think WINGS OF DESIRE is the answer. Off the track since August of last year, this lad had some excellent form at this time last year and looks like the only one in the field who could be a cut above. His form prior to a poor run in August is unimpeachable including a close second to Highland Reel in the King George. What price would Highland Reel be if he lined up here? Muntahaa is another one for Jim Crowley that looks like it has a good chance and 16-1 is probably too big. I don't see him having the class that Wings of Desire has but if you ignore his last run (soft ground) his form is quite impressive.
4.20pm – Diamond Jubilee Stakes
Limato's form and wellbeing have major question marks for me so that is the 5-2 favourite discounted as a betting proposition. His last two runs have been poor and Henry Candy isn't in great form. There are a whole swathe of other horses in the race who have vey solid form at this sort of level but the one that is a potential improver is TASLEET for Crowley and William Haggis. The 4 year old has only just been dropped back to 6 furlongs with an excellent outcome. He might even improve again for the better ground. 8-1 is far too big given his potential.
5.00pm – Wokingham Handicap
There are so many old friends in this race but that just makes it even harder to pick out some value. With 28 runners we need to be canny and use the extra places on offer to our advantage. I don't have anything that is screaming out as good value near the top of the market in a field this size but there are two that I like at bigger prices and lower weights. They are also at opposite sides of the draw which will help to split the risk on that front. OUT DO is drawn from stall 1 and has the massive benefit of Daniel Tudhope in the saddle. Out Do has been steadily dropping in the handicap and it's just a matter of time before he pops up to win a race like this. NORMANDY BARRIERE is an improver who could still have much more to give. He is a course and distance winner who loves this type of ground.
5.35pm – Queen Alexandra Stakes
A marathon trip over the same course as the Gold Cup and I think you can discount half the field for just not being good enough. THOMAS HOBSON sets the standard after he sauntered to victory in the Ascot Stakes on Tuesday over a similar distance. He is miles better than his official flat rating of 100. The only two who would would come close to his true rating would be US Army Ranger and Qewy. The former is a complete basket case now having looked top class when finishing second in the Derby last year. The latter, Qewy, has been tried here there and everywhere, over hurdles and on the flat and nothing quite seems to work. Thomas Hobson looked so comfortable on Tuesday that I can't see him losing here.
That's the end of the Royal Ascot races but let's not forget that there is some good quality fare up at Ayr too. My big mate Lefty doesn't own a top hat and tails so he is avoiding Royal Ascot and sticking to what he knows at Ayr. He'll be rewarded with some really good quality stuff. My tip of the day for that meeting is DARK DEFENDER in the lucky last (5.25pm, Ayr) which could come in handy for the big chap when he has lost his shirt in the first six races. Dark Defender is miles better than this level and should be able to see them off if he is in the mood. Keith Dalgleish is in good form just now too with Dark Profit bolting up at Ayr last night and going straight into my notebook. A notable mention should also go to Rainbow Rebel in the 2.55pm who always gives his running and hasn't quite managed to get his head in front this season after winning four on the bounce last season.
Perhaps today will be the day?
Good luck to one and all this weekend, be it Ascot or Ayr…
- 2.30pm – Masar – 2pt each way at 6-1 with Paddy Power and Betfair
- 3.05pm – Khairaat – 2pt win at 4-1 with SkyBet, William Hill and others
- 3.40pm – Wings of Desire – 2pt each way at 17-2 with Paddy Power and Betfair
- 4.20pm – Tasleet – 2pt each way at 8-1 with Ladbrokes and Coral (both paying 4 places)
- 5.00pm – Out Do – 1pt each way at 25-1 with SkyBet (paying 6 places)
- 5.00pm – Normandy Barriere – 1pt each way at 14-1 with Bet365 (paying 5 places)
- 5.35pm – Thomas Hobson – 3pt win at 11-4 with Betfair and Paddy Power
- Ayr – 5.25pm – Dark Defender – 2pt win at 4-1 with Bet365, Paddy Power and others
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