Many are billing the Prince of Wales’s Stakes as a clash between Love and Lord North but I don’t see it that way and would not be surprised if both have to settle for supporting roles.
Given the way that Aidan O’Brien usually builds with his older horses throughout the year, it will be a surprise if dual Classic heroine Love is full tuned up for her first race in ten months. And last year’s winner, Lord North, does not look like getting the strong pace he pounced off 12 months ago.
You could reasonably argue that Armory’s close third behind Magical and Ghaiyyath in the Irish Champion Stakes is the best piece of individual form on offer and he made short work of the useful Sangarius on his return at Chester. Audarya cannot be discounted at big odds, either, given the way she thrived in the second half of the season.
It looks a race to savour, rather than bet on, but I will be playing on the support races.
2.30 Royal Ascot: Desert Dreamer each-way at 10-1 with Sky Bet (who offer seven places)
I’m pretty sure that if Desert Dreamer were housed in one of the big yards (no disrespect to the excellent Stuart Williams) she might be well favourite for this because she’s made a deep impression in winning her first two starts and the form could hardly have worked out better.
Moreover, she’s over-raced in both those wins at Newmarket (over 5f and then 6f) and hinted she will be seen to even better advantage in a race run at an end-to-end gallop as such a scenario can only help her settle a bit better.
Despite racing exuberantly, she showed a terrific turn of speed to win on her debut at Headquarters and then repeated the dose over a furlong further. She had such as Nympadora and Beautiful Sunshine well adrift on the first occasion but that pair are shorter in the betting.
The unknown quantity is American raider Twilight Gleaming, the 3-1 favourite, but the general 14-1 on offer about Desert Dreaming represents a big carrot and the 10-1 that Sky Bet quote is also not to be sniffed at as they are offering seven places.
3.05 Royal Ascot: Kemari each-way 8-1 with Sky Bet (who offer five places)
Aidan O’Brien has won seven renewals of the Queen’s Vase since 2007 and my tracker notes for Wordsworth, his principal candidate this year, include the word “grinder”. That’s a handy attribute in this contest and he seems sure to run well but the betting reflects this as he’s a general 5-2.
The one who looks underestimated in the market is Kemari, who bumped into Movin Time (a Hampton Court Stakes contender) on his belated debut last month before galloping on powerfully when opening his account in emphatic style over an extended 1m3f at Yarmouth 15 days later.
It was a case of the further the better that day and the son of Dubawi is bred to come into his own over a distance of ground as his Group-winning dam, Koora, was not beaten far in the Park Hill and is herself a half-sister to St Leger winner Milan. His grand-dam, Kithanga, was also a pattern performer and was placed in the Irish St Leger plus Park Hill.
Plenty of three-year-olds find the Queen’s Vase trip beyond them but Kemari promises to get the distance standing on his head and I fancy William Buick will make plenty of use for him from a favourable low draw. Sky Bet are a point or two shorter than most firms in offering 8-1 but that is offset by the fact they are offering five places.
3.40 Royal Ascot: Double Or Bubble at a general 12-1
I was a big fan of Lady Bowthorpe even before her gallant defeat at the hands of Palace Pier in the Lockinge and it’s little wonder many regard her as a banker here. However, she did have a pretty hard race at Newbury and before that had not had much to spare over Queen Power (easy winner since) and Lavender’s Blue so it might not be that straightforward.
Double Or Bubble is up in class but she’s done nothing wrong in her four career starts, including at Ascot last year, and could not have been more impressive (watch above) when completing a hat-trick of wins on her return in a 7f Newmarket handicap last month off a mark of 91.
Her new mark of 101 still leaves her with plenty to find according to the handicapper – only Fooraat is rated inferior in the 13-strong field – but, unlike the rest, she’s clearly on the up and I fancy the fast-ground loving filly will relish stepping up to a mile as she’s always been strong at the finish in her races over shorter. Her breeding also points to the trip suiting as her Group Three-winning sister, Mix And Mingle, was effective over a mile and her dam won at up to 1m 4f.
5.00 Royal Ascot: Brunch at 16-1 with Sky Bet (eight places)
As ever, you can make a case for plenty in the Royal Hunt Cup and Finest Sound is the only runner chalked up at single-figure odds.
The two who make most appeal are Brunch and What’s The Story, who finished second and fifth, respectively, in the mile handicap won by Kynren at York’s Dante meeting last month.
Brunch was first home on his part of the track but lost out by a neck, having previously been nabbed late on in the Lincoln by Haqeeqy. He’s been nudged up 3lb but he surely has a big handicap like this in him and I fancy he is drawn on the right side of the track in stall 25 because there looks more pace among the high numbers plus the latest GoingStick reading suggests the ground on the stands’ side is quicker.
At 8am on Tuesday, the GoingStick readings were: Stands side: 8.6; Centre: 8.3; Far side: 8.2. Those drawn low, like the favourite, will start on the far side.
What’s The Story was fourth in the Hunt Cup a couple of years ago and he finished with running left in him at York last time after meeting trouble in the closing stages. The 33-1 on offer is big but, rightly or wrongly, his draw in 10 is enough to put me off him.
6.10 Royal Ascot: Separate each-way at 66-1 with Bet Victor
Punters and bookmakers can often be too guilty of basing a horse’s chance on its latest run. Separate looks a case in point.
She trailed home well beaten in a soft-ground fillies’ handicap dominated by Lights On and Dreamloper, who head the betting for this, over course and distance last month. However, you can easily put a line through that run as she was keen to post and made the running – she’s usually held up – plus was unproven on the ground.
I’m more inclined to focus on her previous run over a mile at Nottingham when, having her first start for Julie Camacho, she kept on willingly from the back of the field to finish under three lengths third to Lights On. The winner was value for no more on the day and yet Separate meets her on 14lb better terms.
At the revised weights, there should not be much between Lights On and Separate on Wednesday. Yet the former is no bigger than 11-2, while the latter, who has slipped to a mark 11lb lower than when running at the meeting last year, is a general 66-1.
Sean Levey, who rode Separate at Nottingham, is reunited with her after missing her latest below-par gig. Expect him to bide his time and try and smuggle her to the front when it matters most.
How To Bet £20 on the second day of Royal Ascot
2.30 Royal Ascot: Desert Dreamer £1 win at 16-1 with Ladbrokes and £1.50 each-way at 10-1 with Sky Bet (who offer seven places)
3.05 Royal Ascot: Kemari £2 win at a 10-1 with Unibet and £1.50 each-way at 8-1 with Sky Bet (who offer five places)
3.40 Royal Ascot: Double Or Bubble £3 win at a general 12-1
5.00 Royal Ascot: Brunch £1 win at a general 18-1 and £1.50 each-way at 16-1 with Sky Bet (eight places)
6.10 Royal Ascot: Separate £2 each-way at 66-1 with BetVictor and William Hill (five places)Start your free one month trial of Racing TV now and enjoy all the action from Britain and Ireland!
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