ROYAL ASCOT PREVIEW 2011

There’s lots of excitement in store for racing purists during this year’s Royal Ascot what with the anticipation of seeing “can’t lose” bankers like FRANKEL (St. James Palace Stakes; Tuesday; 3.45 p.m); and SO YOU THINK (Prince of Wales’ Stakes; Wednesday; 3.45) from whom top class performances are expected.

But these are not betting prospects for the working man and the choice of the meeting’s BANKER BET must be CANFORD CLIFFS (BANKER BET OF THE MEETING) who only has the mare Goldikova to beat in the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes (Tuesday, June 14; 1 mile straight; 2.30p.m.).  CANFORD CLIFFS is working like a bomb at home and is still progressing although now a 5yo.  He should prove very, very hard to beat.

QUEEN ANNE STAKES:   CANFORD CLIFFS (BANKER BET OF THE MEETING)

 

TUESDAY

Tuesday’s third Group 1 is the King Stand Stakes over 5f (3.05p.m.) and Australian import Star Witness is all the rage ante post. But he has been below form on both his 2011 starts and may be best with give in the ground so it could pay to side with old faithful KINGSGATE NATIVE who has been well prepared for this event and who has won on his second seasonal start the past two years.

KING STAND SELECTION = KINGSGATE NATIVE

 

Tuesday’s big handicap is the Ascot Stakes (2 ½ miles; 5.00) and John Gosden’s ZIGATO (Tuesday’s nap) is a firm fancy to continue improving and show rivals a clean pair of heels. He’s only been penalized 6 lbs for a most impressive win over 2 miles at Ascot on last and this should not prevent him from repeating.  A really good bet!

ASCOT STAKES SELECTION = ZIGATO (NAP OF THE DAY)

 

 

 

WEDNESDAY

The Jersey Stakes (Group 3; 7f; 2.30) has long been the target for William Haggas’ FURY and, now that he is re-united with regular partner Keiren Fallon, he should oblige.

JERSEY STAKES SELECTION = FURY

 

The Royal Hunt Cup (1 mile straight; 4.25) is the biggest handicap attraction of the meeting and a full field of over 40 will participate in the week’s most popular gambling event.  Luca Cumani’s Start Right and William Haggas’ Green Destiny have been the subject of massive ante-post support especially after Start Right’s awesome effort from an impossible draw at Epsom on last.  This is a different type of track entirely and the short time between Epsom and Royal Ascot tends to militate against running well at both meetings.  So, at relatively short odds, I’ll swerve Start RightGreen Destiny is another kettle of fish entirely and the manner in which he disposed of a competitive field over 9f at Newmarket on last marks him down as a group horse in a handicap and so he has to be feared.  However, he’s stepping back in distance and is not entirely comfortable on fastish ground so, at short odds, he can also be opposed.

I’ve pencilled in this race for two outsiders for some time and I remain convinced that one of Brae Hill or AL MUHEER will win this race at long odds.  Brae Hill looked to be begging for this trip when an impressive 4th of 28 in the Victoria Cup here over 7f on his penultimate start, staying on with a purpose despite being isolated on the wrong side of the track.  He can be forgiven his next run from another impossibly wide draw at Chester over 7f  (again looking to need further now) when 4 1/2l 8th of 11 to Our Jonathan.  He’s generally available at 25/1 and looks nailed on to finish in the frame.

Al MUHEER has been playing hide and seek with punters for 2 years now and has changed trainers twice this year ending up with Ruth Carr (from Dandy Nicholls) whose stable is bang in form.  He has slipped to a mark fully 13 lbs lower than when he last won which was in The International Stakes handicap over 7f at Ascot (July 2009).  On that day, he had none other than Secret Society, Redford and Genki in 2nd, 3rd and 4th.  The blinkers he wore to victory that day have not been fitted in his last 8 starts but he showed a glimpse of his old self on last (2nd run for Ruth Carr; second time in cheek pieces) when 6l 6th of 12 to Boom and Bust over Redcar’s straight mile, not much room 3fo and thereafter keeping on from an unpromising position.

There’s no doubt whatsoever in my mind that AL MUHEER has been laid out for this race by his shrewd trainer and, with 33s still readily available must be my NAP OF THE MEETING. The reverse forecast with Brae Hill could prove mightily profitable

ROYAL HUNT CUP = AL MUHEER (NAP OF THE MEETING)

 

THURSDAY

The meeting’s feature is the Gold Cup (Group 1; 2 ½ miles; 3.45 p.m.).  This year’s renewal has a substandard look about it with many non-stayers and others with question marks against their temperament or class making this a race to avoid.  The favourite Fame and Glory must be opposed in these circumstances as he is far from certain to stay and it is the unexposed HOLBERG that is proposed as the one most likely to succeed

ASCOT GOLD CUP = HOLBERG

Thursday’s two big handicaps are the Brittania (1 mile straight; 4.25) and the King George V (1 ½ miles; 5.25) both restricted to 3 year olds.  With the usual 30 plus starters in each race and with 3 year olds at a stage of sudden improvement, these are punters’ nightmares.

However, readers could do worse than support SAGRAMOR in the Brittania.  His defeat of King of Jazz (re-opposes at 2lbs better off) by 3/4l at Haydock in a valuable handicap reads very well and he is an improving sort who should confirm the form up the stiff Ascot hill.  Catalyze, who will run on fast ground for the first time since defeating SAGRAMOR in a maiden race at Salisbury in August (had the benefit of a prior run) is the biggest danger.

BRITTANIA PICK = SAGRAMOR

 

In the King George, CENSUS (Thursday’s nap) is the confident pick after his most impressive re-appearance win at Newbury.  The handicapper has given him an additional 9lbs but that won’t stop him especially as Seelo, 2 1/2l 2nd that day, slaughtered A Boy Named Suzi by 7l at Pontefract next time out.

KING GEORGE V HANDICAP = CENSUS (THURSDAY’S NAP)

 

FRIDAY

The Group 1 Coronation Stakes (3yo fillies; 1 mile round; 3.45) gives the consistent filly TOGETHER an opportunity to compensate for her narrow losses in the English and Irish 1,000 Guineas.  If Memory’s memory returns and she puts her quirks away, it won’t be a race but she’s just too unreliable.

CORONATION STAKES PICK = TOGETHER

 

SATURDAY

The last big handicap of the meeting is the Wokingham.  This is a cavalry charge to end all cavalry charges over a quick 6f and may the luckiest lottery ticket win.  However, in DEACON BLUES (Saturday’s nap) we have a horse capable of winning this once he gets the required luck and so we’ll make him a confident pick.

WOKINGHAM PICK = DEACON BLUES

WEEK’S TOP 3 = CANFORD CLIFFS (BANKER BET OF THE MEETING)                                                                                                    AL MUHEER (NAP OF THE MEETING)                                                                                                                                                         CENSUS (THURSDAY’S NAP)                                                 

 Good Luck!

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