HIS best bet of the meeting was a winner yesterday but who is Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) backing on Day 2 of Royal Ascot?
14:30 Royal Ascot | Channel 4
A typical Jersey Stakes has attracted a big field that looks very closely matched. The favourite Ivawood is without doubt the class act of the field coming third in both the English and Irish Guineas and deserves to be favourite here. Trainer Richard Hannon and jockey Richard Hughes see him as their banker of the meeting but I’m not so sure.
He has to concede weight to all his rivals here and I’m not sure he is that far ahead of them to make the 13/8 appealing. He has run consistently in his last four starts but he isn’t one I would trust at a short price (beaten favourite twice, once at odds on) and I’m looking elsewhere for value.
I’m going to take a chance on one here who has to step up on what he has shown but has the pedigree to win a Derby and the right connections to go right to the top so I’m confident there is more to come.
Sir Isaac Newton has run three times, all in maidens winning at the third attempt. He has started all three races at odds on (once at 1/6) and has a big reputation at the stable. He looked backwards and immature in his first two races, before taking a step forward in his third. Even then he still looked raw, and there is obviously much more improvement in the locker.
The fact Coolmore have pitched him in here show they still have faith in his ability and it wouldn’t surprise me if he stepped up significantly today. Available to back at 10/1 I rate him as a solid each way option.
15:40 Royal Ascot | Channel 4
The Duke of Cambridge Stakes sees last year’s winner Integral return to defend her crown and is a shade of odds on to do so. She is the class act of the field but she has to concede weight all round here and I am prepared to take her on with one at 8/1.
Rizeena, trained by Clive Britain and ridden by William Buick is my selection here. If you take the form of her last race literally she is a 40/1 chance. Tailed off in a Newmarket Group 2 on Guineas weekend, she never looked like getting competitive, but I have many reasons to forgive that form.
Prior to that race she had run exclusively at Group 1 level, winning twice in the Moyglare Stud Stakes at The Curragh and the Coronation Stakes at this meeting last year. She was also runner up in three Group 1 races, including once behind the favourite Integral, but I’m confident she can reverse that form.
In three previous starts at Ascot she has won on all three occasions. She seems to love it here and course form cannot be overlooked. Another positive is that because of the conditions of this race she isn’t carrying the Group 1 penalty that Integral has to and that could be enough to swing this in her favour.
The 8/1 on offer is in my opinion one of the best each way prices of the week and providing there are no non runners we have three places up for grabs here.
16:20 Royal Ascot | Channel 4
This is a very interesting race. Though there are only four previous Group 1 winners in the field I regard this as a top class affair and there is a horse in this race that has the potential to be a megastar. He may not be a Group 1 winner yet but I think it’s only a matter of time until he is and I think that today is his day.
This horse is Free Eagle. He has only had four starts, winning twice but the fact he started at 5/2 in a Champion Stakes brimming with stars last season shows he is held in high regard. He came third in that race but it was on heavy ground, and he is most definitely a good ground horse.
He missed his intended seasonal debut earlier in the season due to a high temperature, but that doesn’t concern me as Dermot Weld would not be taking him here if he was not 100%. His return to action is one of the most anticipated in flat racing and I expect it to be a winning one.
His main rivals in the betting may have winning form in Group 1′s, but there are holes to be picked in them. Ectot won six on the bounce last season but when stepped up to the top table he was found wanting in the Arc de Triomphe. The Grey Gatsby has the best winning form in the book with the French Derby and Irish Champion Stakes, but he looked like he had regressed in his two starts this season and Ryan Moore has abandoned him here so he’s not for me.
Western Hymn is improving this season and has won well on his two starts this season, but he has fallen short at Group 1 level before and I expect that to happen again here. Cannock Chase the mount of Ryan Moore looks like a typical Michael Stoute horse who is taken along slowly and may well put up an improved showing here, but he has to improve significantly and he’s an unlikely winner.
I am very excited about Free Eagle and I can see him winning this before setting up a dream race with Solow, Gleneagles and Golden Horn in the Champion Stakes later in the season, which though unlikely to happen would be the race of the century (I can dream).
14:30 Royal Ascot – Sir Issac Newton each way (10/1 William Hill)
15:40 Royal Ascot – Rizeena each way (8/1 Ladbrokes)
16:20 Royal Ascot – Free Eagle to win (100/30 Ladbrokes)