RACING expert Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) picks out his best bets from the second day of Royal Ascot.
15:40 Royal Ascot | Duke Of Cambridge Stakes | ITV
The Duke of Cambridge Stakes looks a really good race with the front three in the market all high-class fillies. Add in to that a host of talented rivals and two continental imports, this should be a fantastic little race and is bound to produce Group 1 winners throughout the season.
Usherette (9/2 William Hill) won this race last year and it looked like she was going to go on to be an absolute superstar. However, that was her last win and since then she hasn’t looked the same and she has no real form on quick ground.
Her win last year was on soft in a slightly weaker looking race and is going to need to bounce back to her very best here to be competitive.
Laugh Aloud (3/1 Betfair) has won three of her last four starts and is incredibly progressive. This is a big step up in grade but she deserves to be one of the favourites.
She goes from the front, will appreciate the ground and with the exception of the two French fillies, has the best form. I wouldn’t want to put anyone off her too much but this will be tough.
Qemah (3/1 William Hill) won the Coronation Stakes at this meeting last year and is a dual Group 1 winner over a mile. She seems versatile in terms of ground and in my opinion, she is the one to beat here.
She was below par last time at Lingfield when beaten by Mix & Mingle but she was weak in the betting all day and it was clear she was going to need that run – I think she will improve significantly and will go very close here.
16:20 Royal Ascot | Prince of Wales Stakes | ITV
The Prince of Wales stakes is the highlight of Day 2 and six of the runners have previously won at the top level, so this is a really good renewal. With the ground quick, it’s likely to be run at a real pace and speed is likely to prove crucial.
Highland Reel (11/4 Coral) is a fantastic horse and this globetrotting multiple Group 1 winner has his ideal ground. Over a mile-and-a-half he would probably be too good for these but his record over 10 furlongs isn’t quite as solid. He will be a tough nut to crack but I am going to back another.
Decorated Knight (8/1 Betfred) has improved over the past 12 months and is now a dual Group 1 winner. His form is a little below that of Highland Reel or Jack Hobbs but he deserves his place here. He has winning form on firm ground but I think he needs a little bit of cut to be competitive here and I think he may be playing for a place.
Jack Hobbs (3/1 10BET) has long been a favourite of mine and is one of my five to follow for the season. I didn’t expect him to line up here but I can see why he has as its a Group 1 and it looks a good opportunity for him.
His Dubai win has worked out well and his runs in the English and Irish Derbies show he handles fast ground. I expect him to get the better of what could be a fantastic battle with Highland Reel late on.
17:35 Royal Ascot | Sandringham Handicap | ITV
The Sandringham is a listed fillies handicap and with 24 runners, it’s another big Royal Ascot field. Last year’s winner went on to become a high-class filly and connections of these will be hoping to follow in Persuasive’s hoof prints.
Gymnaste (7/1 Bet365) represents last year’s winning connections and her stable certainly know what it takes to win this race. She needs to step up on what she has achieved so far to take this, but she is lightly raced and may well improve for this return to turf.
She has to be watched in the market as last year Persuasive was arguably the best backed winner all meeting, so she has to be respected.
On Her Toes (11/1 Ladbrokes) was a good juvenile ending her campaign with a third in the Sweet Solera and returned with a promising second at York in May. She’s won half of her career starts and with the stable and her jockey in great form, she is one of the more likely winners and high on the shortlist.
Rain Goddess (11/1 888) won her sole start as a juvenile at 50/1 and wasn’t seen again until April and she’s been highly tried since. Runs in Group company – including the French Guineas – have proved unsuccessful but this represents a big drop in grade.
She comes up against progressive fillies that are in form but she may just be too good here. She is bred to stay and this big field with pace to aim at may just be the making of her.
15:40 Royal Ascot – Qemah (3/1 William Hill)
16:20 Royal Ascot – Jack Hobbs (3/1 10BET)
17:35 Royal Ascot – Rain Goddess (11/1 each-way 888)