AFTER a 13/2 winner for us on Day 1, Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) is back with Royal Ascot Wednesday picks here.
14:30 Royal Ascot | Channel 4
The Jersey Stakes kicks off day 2 and it's a fiercely competitive 21 runner race. There is a mix of sprinters stepping up in distance and milers dropping back in a race that looks a real puzzle as to who will win,but someone has to so let's take a stab at finding the winner.
Ribchester from the Richard Fahey yard was ran a huge race in the 2000 Guineas coming third and looks a major player here. A Group 3 winner last season he has a 5lb penalty to contend with here however his form suggests he can cope with that. In his five career starts he has not been out of the places and that could well continue here.
Thikrayaat is an unbeaten Stoute horse and his best days are ahead of him. The total winning margin of his three wins is under a length so he's either the sort of horse who will only do enough or just isn't that good. I tend to lean towards he only does enough however this will require further progress and I'm against him.
Gifted Master has been a revelation and this gelding is the horse to beat here. Beaten at Haydock last time over six furlongs by Coronation Cup favourite Quiet Reflection he should improve for the extra furlong here. He has a penalty to contend with but looks primed to go close.
I'm going to take a chance here on Ibn Malik in this. He's been beaten by Gifted Master but I see reasons he can reverse that and I expect him to go very close here.
He's been beaten three times in his career but he's finished second to Emotionless, Galileo Gold and third to Gifted Master. He returned this season with a win in the Free Handicap at Newmarket where he was keen early and I think the pace here will help him. He handles cut in the ground and providing it stays dry I make him a confident each way bet here.
15:05 Royal Ascot | Channel 4
The Queen Mary is one of the big 2 year old fillies races of the season and normally throws up a good winner. Kachess won very well on her debut at Chepstow and this Tom Dascombe trained filly is very promising. She was backed off the boards before the race and travelled supremely well throughout that race winning by three lengths. She comes here with a real chance and should go close.
Al Johrah comes across from France with solid soft ground form in the book and looks a serious contender. She was a comfortable winner of a Chantilly conditions race last time and although it's hard to grasp the strength of the form she is a live contender for this.
Lady Aurelia represents Wesley Ward here and despite the concerns over the soft ground she looks the one to beat here. Her sire produced Coventry Stakes winner Caravaggio and if she handles conditions looks clear of her rivals.
She has had won her only start at Keeneland where she was sent off at odds on and won effortlessly in course record time. Now granted it's an unusual distance but she is obviously very fast and she won that in the style of a horse with more to come. The ground is a worry and she has drifted in the market but I will be backing her here.
15:40 Royal Ascot | Channel 4
The Duke of Cambridge Stakes is for fillies and mares over 1 mile and the ground conditions are going to be crucial here. It looks quite open on paper but since the rain has come my opinion of this race has changed significantly.
Lucida was a top 3 year old filly last season if a bit inconsistent but I would make her the one to beat here on better ground. However she doesn't handle soft and I think her chances have now gone unfortunately. She's drifted in the market all week and she faces an uphill battle here.
Devonshire beat Lucida last time out and she will relish conditions here. She's not the classiest filly in the line up but she has everything in her favour here. I don't think she's quite good enough to win but I expect her to run above her odds.
Jazzi Top is the highest rated of these and despite wanting better ground she stays much further than this and this could be run to suit. She was very keen first time out and should improve for that but I just don't trust her. If she doesn't settle on this ground then she will struggle to get home and despite her class I think she will enjoy a better second half of the season.
Last time out Usherette beat Jazzi Top and despite a pull in the weights I think she can confirm that. Her trainer, the French maestro Andre Fabre thinks she has a massive future and could go right to the top. A winner of five out of six career starts she can take another step up the ladder here and add to her trainers CV in the process.
16:20 Royal Ascot | Channel 4
The Prince of Wales Stakes is the highlight of day 2 and due to the ground it's attracted a field of just six and there are doubts about the participation of some of them.
For me this isn't really a betting proposition as the favourite A Shin Hikari despite looking well clear on ratings and form is too short now although he should win easily.
He brought top Japanese form to France last month and hacked up in a very good renewal of the Prix D'lspahan. That was his first encounter with heavy ground and he appeared to thrive on it so conditions here aren't a concern. Unless he runs significantly below his last run (which he can, his two career defeats were flops) he will win but I don't want to back him.
Found is a top filly but she has had a hard season already and she will meet fresher rivals here. She will handle conditions but I'm not sure they are ideal and I expect her to run her usual solid race however she is likely to find one too good here again.
At the prices I would be tempted by My Dream Boat from the Clive Cox yard. He has made giant strides in the last nine months and despite finishing well behind A Shin Hikari last time out he could arguably have finished second and if he settles better I think he could chase him home here. It's not a confident selection but he is a speculative each way bet in what is a strange race to get a grip of.
17:00 Royal Ascot | Channel 4
The Royal Hunt Cup is one of the big handicaps of the meeting and as ever it looks typically difficult to work out. Convey has taken time to fulfil his debut promise but his last two starts have been a real step in the right direction and he runs here 7lb ‘well in'.
Until the rain came he was probably my selection and I think he will run well but the ground makes him vulnerable as his pedigree suggests he wants a quicker surface. However he is arguably a group horse in a handicap and is a danger.
My selection here is Portage. He was a huge gamble at Royal Ascot last season in the Brittania Stakes however he disappointing there finishing down the field.
He proved that support was warranted by winning a handicap over course and distance in his next start on soft ground. He then ran into a place in the English and Irish Cesarewitchs and proved his liking for big fields.
He returned this season with a Listed win at the Curragh and everything looks in place for Portage to run a massive race here. I'm backing him each way and I'd be disappointed if he doesn't go close.
14:30 Royal Ascot – Ibn Malik each way (11/1 BetVictor)
15:05 Royal Ascot – Lady Aurelia to win (11/4 Paddy Power)
15:40 Royal Ascot – Usherette to win (9/4 Paddy Power)
16:20 Royal Ascot – My Dream Boat each way (16/1 Bet365)
17:00 Royal Ascot – Portage each way (11/1 Bet365)