CAN Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) go out on a high for us on Saturday at Royal Ascot? Here are his best bets.
14:30 Royal Ascot | More 4
The Chesham Stakes is for 2 year olds over 7 furlongs and this is a fascinating renewal. We have a couple of Frankel colts lining up and a Ballydoyle hotpot, but who wins?
Cunco was the first Frankel colt to see the track and he was an impressive winner on debut at Newbury where he was installed favourite for this race straight after. He won well there and is respected but I feel he is a little short in the betting and I’m against him too.
Frankuus is another Frankel colt who made a winning debut and this Mark Johnston juvenile looks a good prospect. That was over 7 furlongs and he is guaranteed to stay today’s trip and the soft ground should be fine but I think one that finished behind him last time out is a danger.
I was really sweet on Devil’s Bridge but sadly he is a non-runner, in his absence I would tend to side with Churchill. The winner of his maiden has gone on to finish fifth in the Coventry on Tuesday and he shapes like the extra distance will suit. It’s not unusual for an O’Brien 2 year old to improve significantly for their debut and despite being a short price I think he can break his maiden here.
15:05 Royal Ascot | More 4
The Wolferton handicap over 10 furlongs is fiercely competitive but bookmakers are paying four places here and there is plenty of each way value so let’s take a look and see what we can find.
Maleficient Queen is a most progressive mare who won a Listed race at Ayr last time out and has to be respected here. She has won five on the bounce and this bargain buy could easily prove up to winning here. However this is a big step up in class even though it’s the same grade and my gut feeling is to swerve her.
Sir Issac Newton was a promising 3 year old who ran a good race in the Jersey Stakes here last season however since then hasn’t progressed. He was a decent third last time out and has to be respected given his connections however I think this looks a good race and I expect him to struggle.
Arthenus is an interesting runner here. He notched up a hat-trick last season including one at Ascot then made a promising return at Newmarket in April. He then ran no sort of race at Newbury but I’m prepared to put that down to the ground. His best form is on a soft surface and I expect him to run well here but he’s not one for maximum faith.
I really like Best of Times here. Godolphin are having a great meeting so far and I think they can visit the winners enclosure again and they could have a lot of fun with this horse this year.
He beat Balios in a Listed race at Newmarket last season which is solid form then he chased home Storm the Stars at Goodwood on what turned out to be his final start of the season. That’s Group form and despite a setback seeing him miss most of his 3 year old season he remains unexposed and potentially very well treated.
He made his seasonal debut at Chester at a trip short of his optimum and ran no sort of race. He was slowly away then had no luck in running at all and had no chance once they reached a furlong out.
That race will have put him spot on for this and this track and trip will be much more to his liking. It’s a big field but he’s an each way bet to nothing and he is the most unexposed horse in the line up and I think he will run a huge race.
15:40 Royal Ascot | Channel 4
The Hardwicke Stakes is a King George trial effectively however it’s a race worth winning in its own right and Sir Michael Stoute has a strong hand here in a race he does well in, but will he add to his tally of wins here today?
Exosphere was a decent horse last season but on his return at Newmarket in the Jockey Club Stakes put in an incredible performance. He took apart a good field and if taken literally he is a real player in 12 furlong Group 1 races this season.
The fact Ryan Moore rides him when Ballydoyle have a Group 1 winning colt in the field tells you he must be showing something at home so he is respected, but I can’t back him here on the back of one good race.
Dartmouth also from the Stoute yard is two from two this season and looks another improved horse. His win at Chester last time was a good effort conceding weight however he is dropping in distance here and I think others may have more pace. However the stable won this last year with a stayer dropping in trip so he has to be respected.
Beautiful Romance was a very good three year old filly and was an impressive winner at York on her return. After that race connections said they think she is a Group 1 horse and the fact she has been sent here is an indication of how highly they rate her. She needs to improve further to win this however she may and I make her a big danger in this.
I was keen to back Eagle Top who has a brilliant record round this course but in his absence it should make Exosphere’s job a lot easier but I’m still not entirely sure his last run was accurate. Simple Verse is weighted to go close and though she holds Beautiful Romance on last season’s form I think we’re yet to see the best of that filly and I’m going to back her here each way.
16:20 Royal Ascot | Channel 4
The Diamond Jubilee Stakes is the big 6 furlong race of the meeting and one of the sprint highlights of the season but it has attracted a surprisingly small field. However it’s a good quality race and will take some winning.
Magical Memory has progressed from handicaps to Group races and is the favourite for this on the back of two wins already this season. He is clearly a talented colt and a horse I like a lot but he seems a bit short in the betting here. This is the best race he had lined up in and at the odds I’m not interested.
In his last three races The Tin Man has announced himself to the sprint world and looks a hugely progressive sprinter. He’s still unexposed and could easily become the best of these but he is a bit short in the betting now and although he’s respected he’s not for me.
Twilight Son only lost for the first time in the British Champion Sprint over course and distance behind the superstar that was Muhaarar and is probably the best of the home team here. He returned behind Magical Memory but the stable was bang out of form and it’s starting to show signs of a revival now. However I think the home team may struggle here against the visiting sprinters.
Holler comes over from Australia who love to win this race but he isn’t up to the standard they usually send over. He is a very good sprinter however he may struggle to see out this 6 furlongs and others look stronger.
Undrafted is the opposite and he will need every inch of this trip here. The faster they go the better for him however this slightly smaller than usual field will play against him here and I think he may get going too late.
The one I like here is Hong Kong raider Gold Fun. He has won over a mile however he is a sprinter by trade now and I think he looks primed to run a huge race here.
His last four starts have been in Group 1 races and he hasn’t finished worse than fourth in them and on his final start was in the Chairman’s Sprint at Sha Tin and that was a top contest. He’s another horse that needs every inch of this trip however the slower ground and far stiffer track will suit him and providing he has travelled over well I think he is the horse to beat here. I’m backing him each way in this race.
17:00 Royal Ascot | Channel 4
The Wokingham is one of the toughest handicaps of the season but with some bookmakers offering extra places now it’s no longer as much of a disaster for each way backers it once was.
Brando is a very progressive young sprinter and is a deserved favourite here. He now shapes although 6 furlongs is his optimum trip, has big field experience and last time out ran a solid race at York behind a well treated winner. He should go very close here and I wouldn’t put anyone off him.
Outback Traveller is popular in the market and his trainer Robert Cowell is a master with sprinters. He is a horse who has promised more than he has delivered and his form is short of the best of these. Connections appear to expect a big run however he’s not for me.
Spring Loaded progressed on the all weather over the winter winning his last four starts and is still potentially well treated. He ran a good race over course on distance last September so he handles turf however this is going to be a completely different test to where he has done his winning and I will swerve him here.
Of the big prices Absolutely So interests me but more because I don’t think we’ve seen the best of him rather than his current form. He’s a horse I like but on his return he ran no sort of race behind So Beloved and needs to improve from that significantly. However he is still lightly raced, was favourite for this race two seasons ago and could sneak in to a place here at a very big price.
My selection here is Buckstay. He’s not a six furlong specialist, in fact only one of his 26 career starts has been over this trip however that was one of his best efforts. He has an enormous amount of experience in big field handicaps and looks sure to appreciate the pace here. He will be running on close home and Jamie Spencer is a master in big field handicaps on straight courses. Despite being drawn in stall 1 I think he will get covered up and come with a late rattle and providing he doesn’t get too far behind will go very close. I will be backing him each way here.
14:30 Royal Ascot – Churchill to win (11/10 Bet365)
15:05 Royal Ascot – Best Of Times each way (9/2 Bet365)
15:40 Royal Ascot – Beautiful Romance each way (8/1 Bet365)
16:20 Royal Ascot – Gold Fun each way (9/1 Bet365)
17:00 Royal Ascot – Buckstay each way (14/1 Bet365)
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