Andrew Hawkins’ Royal Ascot Preview: Day 5

Race 1

The Listed Chesham Stakes over 1400m for two-year-olds is one of my favourite races of the year because it is only open to horses whose sire won beyond 1900m. So looking at the recent G1 J J Atkins down here, for instance, only two of the 13 horses would have been eligible to even line up if it were run under the same conditions. Perhaps a big money race like this for two-year-olds in Australia will encourage some stouter stallions – or maybe that ship sailed decades ago. Anyway, the champion Frankel has the top two horses in the market here and they do look tough to beat. Once again, it’s a battle between Coolmore and Godolphin and the nod has to go to the Irish with BEDTIME STORY. Out of the top sprinter Mecca’s Angel, she should have that tremendous mix of speed and stamina and she looked a nice type when scoring on debut at Leopardstown earlier this month. She’s a big chance. AGE OF GOLD is the main danger, having won over 1200m at Yarmouth on debut. His dam Promised Money was precocious speed personified but Age Of Gold looks likely to enjoy further. PENTLE BAY is perhaps most interesting from an Australian perspective as he was bought by Ciaron Maher earlier this week with intentions of targeting the Caulfield Guineas in the spring (despite being six months younger than his rivals) and the Queensland Derby next year. He needs to take a step forward but whatever he does here, he will be even better once he lands down under. At a huge price, include first starter HOT LIKE ME in all exotics. From the family of the globetrotting Riven Light, who once ran midfield in a Caulfield Stakes, he lines up for renowned trainer of juveniles Richard Spencer. While his horses haven’t got warm this week, this is the type of horse who could run beyond expectations at his debut.

Numbers: 14-1-11-16

Suggested Bet: Bedtime Story WIN

Race 2

The G2 Hardwicke Stakes over 2400m is probably the non-G1 event most known by Australians given its long history of producing horses for our shores. Eventual Cox Plate winner Almaarad took this race in 1988, while Melbourne Cup hero Jeune was successful in 1993. Since 1996, four winners – Oscar Schindler, Sandmason, Sea Moon and Snow Sky – have races in Australia, while since 2008, the race has produced five G1 winners down under, including two Melbourne Cup winners in Dunaden and Fiorente, and a huge number of G1 placegetters such as Red Cadeaux, Dandino and Highland Reel. Last year, West Wind Blows began a streak of five placings that also included the Turnbull Stakes and the Caulfield Cup when he was second here. This year, a horse by the name of ISLE OF JURA is bound for Melbourne. A brother to the recently retired Cascadian, he was a low level handicapper when he left the UK last year for Bahrain. He became something of a star over the winter, winning two of their biggest races by big margins over 2000m and 2400m. Returning to Britain, he won the Listed Festival Stakes over 2000m last month and now returns to 2400m here. Trainer George Scott has already said all roads lead to the Melbourne Cup and so it’s worth keeping close tabs on him here. MIDDLE EARTH is also bound for Australia after a big win fresh at Newbury. Just wondering if he might be a little dour second-up but he still looks to have upside. DESERT HERO was poor in that same Newbury Group 3 but last year’s King George V Stakes winner could create one of the moments of the year should he win for King Charles III and Queen Camilla. He is capable of improving dramatically. Don’t be surprised to see ELEGANT MAN outrun his odds. He has had only one start on turf, finishing 10 lengths behind Wednesday’s G1 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes winner Auguste Rodin, but the faster ground here will see him perform better than that outing.

Numbers: 7-8-4-5

Suggested Bet: Isle Of Jura EACH WAY

Race 3

The final G1 of this year’s Royal Ascot is the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Stakes, a race which usually has some Australian participation but in which we have no runners this year. However, the favourite MILL STREAM is saddled up by Jane Chapple-Hyam, who may be based in the UK but is very much an Australian. The daughter of legendary politician Andrew Peacock has had three Royal Ascot successes before but is yet to take one of the Group 1 features. This is her chance. However, I think it might be worthwhile instead having something on BELIEVING. The filly was tremendous in the G1 King Charles III Stakes on Tuesday behind Asfoora when she was simply exposed too soon. The return to 1200m is a plus and firm ground is in her favour. The Highclere colours won the Sandringham with Soprano on Friday and they can make it two wins for the week here. She goes on top of SHARTASH, who is flying for Archie Watson and returns to arguably his best trip here. A big performance is expected. KINROSS is fresh here and may need the run but the balance of his form is more than good enough to figure. At odds, include JUMBY in all exotics – blinkers first time could bring out his best, although they would need to as he is performing well below par currently. Don’t discount Mill Stream either.

Numbers: 12-8-4-2

Suggested Bet: Believing WIN

Race 4

The G3 Jersey Stakes for three-year-olds over 1400m is always an interesting race. Geldings in particular are normally seen here if they are too highly rated for the handicaps, given they can’t run in either the St James’s Palace Stakes at a mile or the Commonwealth Cup over 1200m. That said, it is one of the colts who could have run in either of those races and been hard in the market who is the best bet of the card. RIVER TIBER was tremendous first-up in the Irish 2000 Guineas, finishing third behind Rosallion and HAATEM who both had runs under their belts. Rosallion was terrific in the St James’s Palace Stakes and there’s no reason to think that River Tiber may not have matched him. However, the return to 1400m is not a bad thing either and he can turn the tables on Haatem here. That said, Haatem is the main danger having run Rosallion to a head in the Irish 2000 Guineas after finishing a length and three quarters behind him in the English equivalent (with Notable Speech a length and a half clear of Rosallion). Not convinced personally that the step back in trip is in his favour but form has him right there. TASK FORCE is fresh from the English 2000 Guineas and his juvenile form suggests that he should be capable in a race like this. He may have finished seventh but sixth (Inisherin, Commonwealth Cup) and ninth (City Of Troy, The Derby) have won G1 races since and this trip might be his sweet spot. Next best is Frankel’s half-brother KIKKULI, another perhaps best suited back to 1400m. Also keep an eye on outsider CHICAGO CRITIC – it’s the first time in almost 20 years that the Smurfit colours carried by Melbourne Cup winners Vintage Crop and Media Puzzle have been seen at Royal Ascot.

Numbers: 14-1-17-8

Suggested Bet: River Tiber WIN

Race 5

The Wokingham Stakes over 1200m is the equivalent of the Newmarket Handicap in the UK, really, although you don’t get your high class horses here in the same way you do the Newmarket. I’ve been on the MUM’S TIPPLE bandwagon for years, ever since he produced one of the most extraordinary wins you will ever see in a rich York race as a two-year-old in 2019. He’s never gone close to replicating that figure although he’s been a stalwart of the sprinting ranks. He was fourth in this race last year off a mark of 100 and, although he’s only carrying one pound less, he is four pounds better off in the ratings so he looks at the right mark to figure. Hopefully, today’s the day for him. APOLLO ONE was second in this race last year, beaten just a length. He’s a model of consistency, especially on top of the ground, and it’s hard to see him not being somewhere around the mark. RUMSTAR is worth including now he’s found form again – he was only two and a half lengths off multiple G1 winner Shaquille in the Commonwealth Cup at the course and distance last year and this looks a suitable race. Next best is ORAZIO, who was sixth as favourite in this race last year.

Numbers: 26-8-6-14

Suggested Bet: Mums Tipple EACH WAY

Race 6

The Golden Gates Stakes is the final handicap at Royal Ascot this year. For the three-year-olds over 2000m, it has only been run for four years with G3 Hawkesbury Gold Cup winner New Mandate the best Australian performer to come out of the race. PALACE GREEN might be one to side with here. He quickened nicely from last to take the lead at York before he weakened significantly over the final furlong. The horse who beat him, London City, runs in the Listed Martin Molony Stakes at Limerick an hour before this race so keep an eye on him for a guide. Still, Palace Green might be best at 2000m and this looks a good race if so. APPROVAL won nicely when stepped up in trip at Windsor a couple of weeks back. He gets in nicely at the weights and he’s the main danger. HAND OF GOD is coming off two wins at a mile, although he’s really looked in need of further. He’s drawn awkwardly but expecting to see him quicken into it at some point. Next best is PORTSMOUTH, who will likely be seen in Australia at some point given he is raced by OTI Racing.

Numbers: 9-10-8-16

Suggested Bet: Palace Green EACH WAY

Race 7

England’s longest flat race, the Queen Alexandra Stakes over 4355m, closes out Royal Ascot each year. It used to be the world’s longest flat race until the Jericho Cup at Warrnambool usurped its position. Two winners of this race have subsequently gone on to the Melbourne Cup – Honolulu and Simenon – while Stratum would win this race for the first time the year after finishing down the track behind Twilight Payment at Flemington. FASOL will be one of the outsiders but could be really interesting in this spot. He had some good stakes form in France, including a second to Melbourne Cup runner Lastotchka in September and a third to multiple G1 placegetter Skazino last year. He’s been beaten in two hurdles to begin his UK career but could see this race on the flat proving ideal for him. Last year’s winner DAWN RISING is stamina personified. He couldn’t get into the race last time out in the G3 Saval Beg Levmoss Stakes over 2800m behind dual Gold Cup winner Kyprios but stepping up drastically in trip should suit him. QUEENSTOWN, Kyprios’ stablemate, was second in that race and wouldn’t have looked out of place in the Gold Cup. The only query is the trip, as he doesn’t shape as a horse for this sort of distance. However, he could be a Melbourne Cup horse later in the year. Next best is TASHKHAN, fresh since a third in the G1 Prix Royal-Oak over 3200m in October. He’s the classiest horse in here, presuming TRUESHAN comes out due to the firm ground, but he’s also not right at home on top of the ground. Still, he’s a place chance.

Numbers: 3-2-13-7

Suggested Bet: Fasol EACH WAMarket Market