Royal Ascot countdown: Five horses to follow in the big handicaps

Sun 18 Jun 2017

Never mind the eight Group One races at Royal Ascot next week - which horses are going to shine in the big handicaps? Harry Allwood gives you his five each-way fancies.

By Harry Allwood


Race: Ascot Stakes (Tuesday)

Best Odds: 12-1 (Bet365)

Sent off a well-backed 5-1 chance for the Chester Cup last month, Who Dares Wins caught the eye by staying on late to finish fourth behind Montaly.

This stiffer test should suit him even better and the likely fast ground will also be in his favour.

His run in the Chester Cup was his first start on the Flat since September 2016, having run over jumps thereafter. He ended his campaign over obstacles by finishing third in the Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival.

Alan King, his trainer, is no stranger to big-race success on the level and gained his first Royal Ascot victory last year when Primitivo won the King George V Stakes.


Race: Royal Hunt Cup (Wednesday)

Best Odds: 14-1 (General)

Having won at Nottingham on his seasonal debut in April, the Richard Hannon-trained four-year-old has looked unlucky not to record another victory in two subsequent runs.

He was denied a clear run at a crucial stage when runner-up to the improving Fastnet Tempest in the Victoria Cup over seven furlongs at Ascot on his latest start and might have won with a clear passage.

It was a similar story when he previously finished fourth in the Spring Cup over a mile at Newbury. Having missed the break, he finished strongly to be beaten less than a length by Banksea.

George William may meet Fastnet Tempest and Banksea again but he should be capable of reversing the form with those rivals if they turn up.

He has a career-high mark of 98 to contend with and but he’s on the upgrade and Hannon has reported him to be thriving in his recent work.


Race: Britannia Stakes (Thursday)

Best Odds: 7-1 (General)

Son Of The Stars looked unlucky to lose his unbeaten record at Newmarket in May when finishing second to the Michael Bell-trained Ronald R.

He raced a little keenly early on and became unbalanced in the Dip only to keep on and be beaten by a head. The  three-year-old son of Delegator showed a willing attitude and can reverse the form with Ronald R, who is also likely to line-up.

Son Of The Stars was purchased privately by Qatar Racing after impressively winning his handicap debut at Chelmsford in April despite running green.

The form of that race was franked when the second-placed filly Prosper went on to win a conditions race at Ascot on her next start.

He’s sure to be suited by Ascot and there should be more to come.


Race: Duke of Edinburgh Stakes (Friday)

Best Odds: 9-1 (General)

Mainstream, owned and bred by The Queen, caught the eye on his seasonal debut when finishing third to Frontiersman at Newmarket last month.

That form has a glow with the winner going on to finish second behind Highland Reel in the Group One Coronation Cup and Top Tug, the runner-up, since winning a competitive handicap at Goodwood. In addition, Big Country (fourth) won at York on Friday.

Mainstream has been creeping up the weights because of his consistency but I have no doubts about his ability to win off a career-high mark of 98.

He’s a quirky individual who tends to race keenly but the likelihood of a big field and a strong pace will help his cause. His trainer, Sir Michael Stoute, has won the Duke of Edinburgh five times in the past and knows a thing or two about winning races at the royal meeting for Her Majesty, with Estimate and Dartmouth being recent examples.

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Race: Wokingham Handicap (Saturday)

Best Odds: 16-1 (Bet 365)

The Roger Charlton-trained four-year-old shaped as though he needed the run when sixth on his seasonal debut at Newmarket last month. He travelled strongly for a long way before fading inside the final furlong.

He had a few minor setbacks last season but still ran three respectable races, most notably when finishing third to the Andrew Balding-trained Summer Chorus in a competitive handicap at headquarters on his final start.

He’s still relatively lightly raced for his age and, being owned by The Royal Ascot Racing Club, this race will have been at the top of his agenda for some time.

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