Royal Ascot Tips: 2020 Carnival

Royal Ascot 2020 is here, albeit in different circumstances with no crowds. To provide you with Royal Ascot Tips and the best back and lay selections for the entire carnival is UK and International Form Analyst, Rory Flanagan.

You can follow Rory on Twitter here.

We’re expecting Ascot to have some of the deepest markets we’ve ever seen on the Exchange this year. Go where the value is on Royal Ascot and head to the Betfair Exchange.

Day 5 Overview

Whilst Coronavirus has kept away the public and had a massive impact on the season, it’s turned the final day of Ascot into a “Super Saturday” with three sensational Group 1’s on offer among eight races: the St James’s Palace, The Coronation Stakes and the Diamond Jubilee.

There are also two high-quality 2yo Group 2’s: the Coventry Stakes and the Queen Mary.

General Race Day notes:

The track is drying out and whilst still soft, it shouldn’t have as much of an effect as it did the last two days. High barrier numbers should be where most of the winners come from in the straight races, and those who are not leading/coming off the pace are best advantaged.

Queen Mary Stakes 2yo

The Aidan O’Brien/Ryan Moore combo has been well backed to land this through MORE BEAUTIFUL. She thrashed the field on debut, but they could well turn out to have been traffic cones. I’m opposing her as the ground will likely be soft and her running action seems like she will prefer top of the ground as opposed to getting a toe in. She is drawn on the right part of the track, but she’s well and truly unders in my book.

I am happy to lay her at her price, with SACRED and DICKIEDOODA likeliest to beat her. The former was excellent at Newmarket when scoring on debut, the latter ran impressive late splits over in Ireland and that race might turn out better than More Beautiful’s.

Betting Strategy

LAY (WIN) – More Beautiful to win 5 units

Coventry Stakes 2yo G2 1200m

Thoroughly impressed with ADMIRAL NELSON’s debut. He wasn’t the stable first choice that day, but he sat off them and cruised to the front on the bridle before letting down powerfully like a good horse. He’s a big, strong, imposing type who has already shown he can handle racing in restricted room so he ticks every box for me, with improvement to come.

QAADER looked a smart prospect when winning at Newbury. He shot away late to win by 4L over this trip, and in good time too. He looms as the main danger to Admiral Nelson but I dislike that he has drawn barrier 4. Jim Crowley seemed extremely confident about his chances.

CREATIVE FORCE had his form enhanced by Imperial Force’s placing yesterday in the Norfolk. He should race prominently in a similar position to yesterday’s G1 winner Golden Horde. His debut win when making all was rapid, but there was a shade of bias that day with few horses managing to make up ground. This could have flattered the win and he has drifted the last two days.

ARMY OF INDIA next best after showing a punishing turn of foot on debut to knock off SCIENCE.

Betting Strategy

BACK (WIN) – Admiral Nelson 4 units

Coronation Stakes

QUADRILATERAL did not settle in the 1000 Guineas and her jockey made the mistake of fighting her to settle. She recorded the two fastest sectionals of the race when pulling Jason Watson’s arms off early on. She wasted far too much energy to be effective in the finish, but her class got her home into third. The cut in the ground is appreciated, as she won her G1 towards the back end of last season on good to soft going. She just has to settle and she’ll fare much better. If she doesn’t, hopefully, Watson lets her stride on and do her own thing. Fast horses should be allowed to be fast.

ALPINE STAR looks to be the one rival to Quadrilateral, with the potential to improve sharply on her 2yo season when she won a G2. She’s proven on all kinds of surfaces so there won’t be any trouble with the ground, and she’s raced around a bend before. The mile should suit.

I couldn’t have the American raider SHARING due to ground concerns and the fact that she’s mainly raced anti-clockwise, so this clockwise track may not help her chances either.

CLOAK OF SPIRITS next in line after a game 2nd in the Guineas.

Betting Strategy

BACK (WIN) – Quadrilateral 4 units BSP

St James’s Palace Stakes 1600m G1

PINATUBO. Head says no, heart says yes. I’ve stated several times that I feel his limit is 1400m, and his stride cadence data shows that. Ran a solid third in the Guineas but was thrashed by Kameko. It remains to be seen if that was down to circumstances and Kameko having the drop on him from off the hot speed, but he still finished with a time that would have broken the old track record. Charlie Appleby is adamant he can get the trip and has stated repeatedly that the champion 2yo is the horse they have to beat. The Godolphin trainer thinks that he will improve with more racing and benefit from returning to the course where he romped home in the Chesham. I’d love to see him bounce back, but I can’t have him and I’m sticking to the opinion I’ve held for nearly 9 months.

WICHITA ran alongside Pinatubo in the Guineas and beat him home. There’s nothing here to say that he can’t do it again and his 2yo form keeps looking better and better when finishing between Molatham and Berlin Tango. He’s a bigger, stronger horse than Pinatubo and I feel he’s just got that little bit more stamina so I’m trusting him to uphold the form of the Guineas.

The untapped PALACE PIER could be anything, and I’d be wary of any plunge on him. He has demolished the fields he’s been up against thus far, though the form hasn’t quite stood up as well as it could have. The stable are gambling on the horse handling the ground, but the way John Gosden has talked about the horse it gives the impression that he’s extremely bullish about this son of Kingman.

Betting Strategy

BACK (WIN) – Wichita 3 units

Diamond Jubilee 1200m G1

This looks a thoroughly underwhelming renewal of the race and a smaller field than usual. The six-furlong sprint division could prove to be quite weak this year so I’m chancing the up and coming SCEPTICAL to come out on top. The son of Dubawi was cast aside for just over $5000 by Godolphin, which now looks like a complete disaster in hindsight. Denis Hogan’s charge has been immaculate in his last four starts, rating through the roof each time on his way to becoming Ireland’s highest-rated sprinter at 116. Frankie Dettori advised connections to give him some extra time from his fresh win and get out of Battaash’s way so they accepted for this instead of the King’s Stand.

He’ll likely have several detractors and lay bettors due to having only one start on turf and no soft ground form, but being by Dubawi I’m moderately confident that he’ll handle the conditions. I was not keen to get involved at 2.8, but his price has nearly doubled into something much more appealing around the 4.8-5.0 mark.

There are only two horses that I can see troubling him or capitalising if he flounders and they are HELLO YOUMZAIN and DREAM OF DREAMS. The former won the Haydock Sprint Cup at G1 level and had form around Calyx who was retired due to injury, whilst Dream of Dreams was extremely unlucky last year when rattling home for second place behind Blue Point. They’re drawn on opposite sides so the tactics will be interesting, but you would think Dream Of Dreams has the better draw in 9 based on how the track has raced throughout the week.

Betting Strategy

BACK (WIN) – Sceptical 3 units

BACK (WIN) – Dream of Dreams 1 unit

Norfolk Stakes 2yo G2 1000m

EYE OF HEAVEN was simply rapid on debut, beating Tactical who went on to win the Listed Windsor Castle in great style. He shattered the 2yo record at Newmarket and Frankie Dettori immediately secured the ride for this race. It’s tough to see anything beating him but the weather, as it found out the dry trackers all throughout yesterday.

I have this race marked as basically a bet to see if the horse handles the soft going. It’s a simple yes or no question, and if he does, he wins, if he doesn’t, he doesn’t. That’s a 50-50 question, so getting 2.75 as a price is worth taking in my opinion.

LIPIZZANER is the only horse with acceptable rain-affected form and is from the strongest of stables, but appeared a little flat when going down to Lucky Vega as an odds-on favourite. His price should hold steady around 5.0-5.5.

IMPERIAL FORCE bumped into Creative Force on debut and ran extremely well to hold down second place. He is drawn somewhat poorly with gate 2, so Doyle would need to be extremely positive should he want to get away from the poor ground.

THE LIR JET is drawn in stall one with the same tricky gate, and I hold doubts about the quality of his form on debut. Qatar Racing don’t however, as they threw the cash at him last week and now own the colt.

Betting Strategy

BACK (WIN) – Eye of Heaven for 4 units

Hardwicke Stakes 2400m G2

I’m of the opinion that this race should hold G1 status, and that would bump up the quality of entries it receives whilst cutting away some of the dead weight that usually doesn’t get anywhere near the finish.

This looks tailor-made for ELARQAM to run away with. He should have won at Haydock first-up, Dane O’Neill simply got it wrong tactically and allowed Lord North to use him as a lead horse. Lord North bolted in on Wednesday with the G1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes, and Elarqam was about to run past him in another stride.

He should not have to make the running here, and the star of the week thus far Jim Crowley can position him away from the fence in better ground. It is his first attempt at 2400m, but the way he savaged the line gives the impression he will relish the step up.

His stride pattern data shows that his stride has slowed and lengthed as he has matured, and now sits in the area of a horse looking for more ground. There are also no qualms about soft tracks, he prefers them.

His main rival ANTHONY VAN DYCK does not, as Aidan O’Brien is having doubts about even running his derby-winning colt due to the going. I am hopeful that he does, otherwise, there will be a hefty slashing of the price on offer for Elarqam. His run in the Coronation Cup was outstanding, but that was with track-record pace for him to chase and on what you would call a Good 3 in Australia. This is closer to a soft 7 and the tempo he craves will almost surely be absent. Take him on.

MORANDO is a swimmer, plain and simple. If the rain continues to fall, his chances increase. He will be finishing the race off strongly when most of the others have all had enough.

DEFOE looks one-paced this prep. He should have massacred them in Dubai, and he couldn’t keep up with the field at all in the Coronation Cup. This will likely suit him better and the rain isn’t an issue but I can’t trust a horse who hasn’t shown enough this campaign unless there is a seven-storey plunge on him.

Betting Strategy

BACK (WIN) – Elarqam for 5 units


Commonwealth Cup 1200m 3yo G1

I’ve always enjoyed this race as one of the highlights of the meeting and this looks set to be an intriguing renewal. There is likely to be rapid speed engaged with Aberama Gold, Royal Lytham, Kimari, Mum’s Tipple and GOLDEN HORDE engaged.

The latter was unlucky to be caught late on in the Middle Park Stakes last season. If he is fully fit and firing it will take a serious effort to catch him if Adam Kirby takes the horse to the front on his own from gate 10.

The rest of the pace angles are all drawn relatively low bar KIMARI who will spring from 11. She was a touch unlucky not to win at Ascot last year and will handle the conditions undoubtedly with Frankie Dettori booked to ride after knocking her off last year on Raffle Prize.

PIERRE LAPIN has to answer the soft ground question and importantly represent his form a shade better than the horses he beat last year who are now running around in lowly synthetic races.

I watched ROYAL CRUSADE run at Saint Cloud late last season and thought “this guy is quick, please step him back in trip” immediately after he finished second over 1400m, in front of the well-backed (now scratched) Wooded.

Thankfully Charlie Appleby has read my mind and he takes his place in the lineup at generous odds. The ground won’t be an issue and 1400 back to 1200 at Ascot is a proven formula so he will be one of those horses finishing best. Hopefully, he benefits from a blistering tempo and follows Kimari all of the way for a cart into the race and lands the knockout blow.

Betting Strategy

BACK (WIN) – Royal Crusade for 1.25 units

BACK (WIN) – Golden Horde for 1.75 units

Queen’s Vase 2847m 3yo

They really haven’t missed BORN WITH PRIDE. She has been piled into all yesterday morning and night and has moved into favouritism after being scratched from the Ribblesdale. I was planning on aggressively laying her in that race as not a single thing about it looked in her favour.

This is a different ball game now and she has proven she’s a mudder by winning at Listed level on debut. Tom Marquand is on board and this is William Haggas’s best chance of the week.

She may have bottomed out in price with the blinkered AL DABARAN and strapping St Leger type SANTIAGO well in the market. Taking the SP here looks the best angle as there might be a market correction and drift.

Betting Strategy

BACK (WIN) – Born with Pride for 3.5 units

Golden Gates Handicap 2000m 3yo

It’s pretty open but I am putting my faith in the versatile and consistent GLOBAL STORM. He ran superbly as a maiden behind Miss Yoda who went on to win the Oaks Trial, and then has won his last two starts at Newmarket over 1800m and 2000m. He’s got a fairly winnable weight and came from last on a leader’s highway at the Guineas meeting. I can’t see him starting any longer than 6.0 on the exchange.

I do have a lot of respect for the Kempton Classic Trial form as Pyledriver came out and won next start, and Berlin Tango acquitted himself well against two derby contenders in Russian Emperor and First Receiver this week. HYPOTHETICAL ran a good 4th in that race and wasn’t exactly given the best of rides by Frankie that day. Lope De Vega progeny have a good record in the wet so the weather does not put me off him.

Betting Strategy

BACK (WIN) – Global Storm for 2.5 units

BACK (WIN) – Hypothetical for 1.5 units

Jersey Stakes 1408m 3yo G3

KING LEONIDAS for Dettori & Gosden will be very popular. He danced away to win on debut and again on resumption as a 3yo. The track should still be advantageous to those drawn wide so gate 15 is a boost. He is a son of Kingman, and they usually handle any kind of surface. He has very good raw ability, an impressive stride and acceleration to boot. He has raced both near the pace and near the tail in his first two starts, so Dettori will just position the horse where he feels most comfortable.

MOLATHAM had an impressive victory over seven furlongs as a two-year-old when he beat Wichita, the 2000 Guineas runner up. He then flopped when stepping up to the mile, which could have also been due to the wet track so stepping back down in distance looks the right move at this stage. Jim Crowley is also keen on his chances to make it five winners for the carnival thus far. If the rain does not come, he is a bet.

Betting Strategy

BACK (WIN) – King Leonidas for 3 units

BACK (WIN) – Molatham for 2 units if track conditions are rated GOOD

Chesham Stakes 1400m 2yo

This was the race won by Pinatubo last year on his way to recording the best 2yo figures in over 25 years. Unfortunately, all of the field have only been able to get a solitary run in due to COVID so I’m not sure we’ll see the proper G1 horses come from out of the race going forward but there’s still two eye-catching colts who look to have some x-factor about them.

BATTLEGROUND was given an “educational” O’Brien debut and dropped in near the rear of the field of 18. He made plenty of headway to finish an eye-catching 5th, and that was enough for the stable to lock him in as a horse for this race. The improvement that O’Brien-trained horses make from their first to second starts is vast, so I’m expecting big things from this horse.

MODERN NEWS couldn’t have done much more on debut, turning over his high-priced stablemate with a great turn of foot despite seemingly being the stable second string. He’s by the late super-sire Shamardal who has produced the likes of Blue Point, Pinatubo, Earthlight, and Victor Ludorum so the expectation is he’ll be able to act on all surfaces and not get into trouble on a rain-affected track. I’m a fan of horses going from Newmarket to Ascot with the uphill undulations over the straight course potentially catching out types with uneconomical actions, so he fits the bill nicely.

I’m happy to back this pair to see off the field.

Betting Strategy

BACK (WIN) – Battleground for 3 units

BACK (WIN) – Modern News for 2 units

Ascot Gold Cup 4000m G1

It’s always a pleasure to see the world’s best staying horse STRADIVARIUS go around. He is a prohibitive quote and with rain about I cannot recommend backing him despite him being far superior to the field. He was beaten for the first time in over two years at the end of last season in the wet, and if storms roll in and have a marked effect on the track then he could be vulnerable as his turn of foot disappears in the wet.

His first-up run was a complete non-event in the end as Dettori only tried to win the race for 600m before accepting defeat and letting the tearaway Ghaiyyath take the race in record time with conserving him for his main target in mind.

Should conditions prove detrimental to the two-time defending champion, TECHNICIAN will surely be the threat. This horse is the classical wet-track type and has a phenomenal record on soft and heavy going. He toyed with his rivals in two French races last season, and the only flops in his career thus far have been on top of the ground when unable to get his toe in. He stays all day so the rise in distance would not be a problem and from the way John Gosden’s handled his media appearances it suggests he’s slightly afraid of this horse.

MOONLIGHT SPIRIT is another horse who could be an international raider for the spring carnival this year and Dubai next year that Appleby wants to audition. The fact that William Buick rides him over seasoned campaigner and Melbourne Cup winner Cross Counter shows who they see as higher up in the pecking order at Moulton Paddocks.

There is approximately 12mm of rain forecast in the morning and potentially more as the day goes on.

Betting Strategy

BACK (WIN) – Technician for 1.5 units ONLY if the track condition is SOFT

Hampton Court Stakes 2000m G3

The market has this shaped as Frankie Dettori vs Ryan Moore with First Receiver and Russian Emperor heading the betting. FIRST RECEIVER was a class above his rivals in a weak maiden at Kempton, dispatching them by seven lengths.

There is some substance to his debut form (third) as well with boom colt Al Madhar winning recently. First Receiver will likely be ridden in behind or outside the leader which will likely be Aidan O’Brien’s New World Tapestry.

This should set up RUSSIAN EMPEROR for the perfect tow into the race, with Moore following Dettori every step of the way. The son of champion mare Atlantic Jewel should have come on lengths from his first-up effort when seemingly resenting the rock hard track in the Derrinstown Derby trial. With more and more of Aidan O’Brien’s charges seemingly dropping out of Epsom Derby contention, they’ll expect a strong showing here and I think he measures up with ease.

BERLIN TANGO’s credentials were boosted with Pyledriver bolting in at Group 2 level yesterday. The new powerhouse combo of Oisin Murphy & Andrew Balding was a touch bullish about his chances and he could prove to be the real deal but after watching his running action and going through his pedigree, I am in opposition due to a likely soft-ground weakness.

Betting Strategy

BACK (WIN) – Russian Emperor for 3 units

Prince of Wales’s Stakes 2000m G1

Last year Crystal Ocean powered through the rain to win his maiden Group 1 race ahead of Magical, who is a notable omission from this year’s renewal. In her stead is JAPAN, a regally-bred son of Galileo that has already proven himself to be top class, beating the older horses as a 3yo in the Juddmonte before running 4th in the Arc.

There is a notable lack of first-up form in all the progeny of Shastye, the dam of Japan, Mogul, Sir Isaac Newton, Maurus. For this reason, I feel Japan could be a touch vulnerable and it might pay to look at other options in the race with testing conditions a strong possibility.

The first of these is LORD NORTH. He was utterly dominant, winning the Cambridgeshire from what should have been a losing position in the run. He has avoided an easy kill in the Wolfreton Stakes in favour of this race and soft ground would be in his favour. His win over Elarqam at Haydock was mightily impressive, and Elarqam would have accounted for Japan in the Juddmonte better luck in running. He has X-factor that I’m willing to take a chance on.

ADDEYYB whilst brilliant in Sydney is probably just a shade below proper European Group 1 level and would need the track to be getting into heavy territory to be most effective. There is also the fact that his best figures are all when running 2nd-up. He will hold residual fitness from his campaign down under, but this might just be a throw at the stumps from deep square leg after his grand final in the autumn.

BARNEY ROY’s brilliance was on show earlier this year at Meydan when he blitzed the Jebel Hatta, but this is far harder and the softened ground will be to his detriment. He’s a maiden in three runs on wet tracks, and 2000m probably stretches him.

MEHDAAYIH looked like a horse that was fed up with racing towards the end of last season, and unless she has come back another 50kg heavier and stronger, I’m happy to oppose the lanky mare despite her being Frankie’s choice.

Betting Strategy

BACK (WIN) – Lord North for 1 unit

Windsor Castle 1006m 2yo Listed Race

I’m excited to see CHIEF LITTLE HAWK go around again. He showed blistering pace on debut and already looks a professional, polished type capable of running slick time. He looks like he’ll just jump and run again and the others will have to chase him down. I have him marked as a confident bet at an assessed price of $3.50.

I am strongly opposing Wesley Ward’s two runners SHERRIF BIANCO and SUNSHINE CITY. American 2yo racing is extremely speed and barrier dependent. The fact that they run around a harsh bend means the horses with early gate speed can find the rail, making life difficult for the rest of the field.

Ward is a phenomenal trainer at getting his early types educated in breaking from the barriers and controlling their races. The Windsor Castle however is a straight race and often catches out most horses that seemingly have good form around turning tracks.

For that reason, I am including TACTICAL as a bet as he was most unlucky on debut but showed a quality attitude to keep finding the line despite his rough race. He comes out of what I rate as the second-best 2yo form on offer currently – Eye of Heaven form. Gate 20 should mean that if he breaks cleanly enough there is a chance for the Toronado to secure the better ground late in the day.

Betting Strategy

BACK (WIN) – Chief Little Hawk for 2.5 units

BACK (WIN) – Tactical for 1 unit

Copper Horse Handicap 2847m

I’ve followed the six-start career of FUJAIRA PRINCE closely and whilst his body might not be reliable, on raceday he is as tough as they come. He was galloped on and dropped back sharply through the field before somehow rallying to finish a game third behind Baghdad last year and has been off since.

If he repeats that run he wins this.

Rain is no issue, the trip is no issue, the freshness is no issue. He is just a model of consistency (unfortunately consistently injured too) and I fully expect him to be in the finish. His main rival COLLIDE will have to carry 3kg more, and RANCH HAND is very hit or miss.

Connections would not persist with such a horse over almost five years if he was not blessed with elite ability.

Betting Strategy

BACK (WIN) – Fujaira Prince for 3 units

Queen Anne Stakes 1609m G1 4yo+

Shapes as a thrilling contest with several winning chances. Circus Maximus won the St James’ Palace Stakes last year and is a top-line miler, Terebellum drops in trip from her victory over 2000m last weekend and Fox Chairman returns to the races after an 11-month break.

Past trends show that it’s quite difficult for mares to win the race, with only two in the last decade getting their nose in front (Tepin, Goldikova)

With the exception of the last two renewals, the market is usually close to the mark with winning SPs from 2010-2017 averaging 3.39.

Race shape

Marie’s Diamond looks the likely leader on paper as a bold front-running type. The stalls are located in the middle, so with him drawn in 15, the field will gravitate towards his position in running for cover. Circus Maximus is drawn in 4, and clear of any pace rivals on his side so he should be able to comfortably go forward and not face traffic issues.

At time of writing, CIRCUS MAXIMUS’s Betfair Exchange price sits at $3.4, so he fits snugly into the price profile. The figures he recorded in France winning his latest Group 1 over a mile were impressive, considering he led at what can be rated as sharp sectionals. He recorded 60.82s for the first 1000m, and still finishing off the race with a high-class 23.46s. He won’t struggle with any potential inclement weather and looks a bombproof bet. The only knock I have on him is that his forward racing pattern can be a detriment over the straight mile at Ascot where backmarkers often thrive compared to the round course.

MOHAATHER is the horse I expect to sharply improve and outrun his price. He has only raced four times for three wins, with a G1 fifth-placing behind proven mudlark types. He was held up for room that day when seemingly having a lot to offer. The going meant it took too long for him to let down, finally striding out too late when the race was over.

I feel he is the likeliest type to make sharp improvement from age three to four, with Jim Crowley notably opting to ride him over his previous G1-winning mount Mustashry. He has been working the house down and should be ready to run a bold race at double figures.

Betting Strategy

BACK (WIN) – Circus Maximus for 3 units

BACK (WIN) – Mohaather for 1 unit

King’s Stand Stakes 1006m G1

Battaash (126) rates a mile clear of the rest of the field. He is a perfect four from four over five furlongs when first up, and a repeat of either of his last two runs in this race when touched off by Blue Point are enough to easily land the first of Britain’s two Group 1 dashes over the minimum trip.

He is infamous for pre-race antics and being difficult to manage, but with no crowd in attendance, this will surely eliminate the possibility of him being spooked in the parade ring. Despite this race looking tailor-made for him, his price is prohibitive. I’m not backing him, but I am not laying a horse that can produce a 130+ Timeform figure on his day.

This leads me to look at the value runner of the race LIBERTY BEACH. Her 2yo year was outstanding and she is a model of consistency. The game, fourth-place finish of 25 in her previous Ascot run can be sharply upgraded as she ran in poor ground and the opposite side of the track to the first three across the line. She was comfortably the first home of her pack.

With that race put aside, her career form reads 111121 which is mightily impressive. After a tune up at Haydock over six furlongs winning easily, the step back to a stiff five suits perfectly and she can have no better chance for a cart into the race than being drawn alongside Battaash. Expecting a bold run from her.

Glass Slippers is Battaash’s nearest rival on ratings, and yet despite defeating him in France at the back end of last season, I am inclined to think she will struggle fresh, especially after such a long layoff due to COVID. Not sure the Kevin Ryan-trained mare will appreciate the rising ground either.

Betting Strategy

BACK (PLACE) – Liberty Beach for 3 units

Duke of Cambridge 1609m G2

JUBILOSO looked a future G1 star last season, but multiple niggling injuries curtailed her progress. She has been rehabilitated and kept in training by the Juddmonte operation and could really make a mess of the fillies and mares grade this season if maintaining her form from the Coronation Stakes at Ascot last year.

Her two subsequent starts are completely forgiven after being steered into traffic for 500 metres, and pulling up lame respectively. She’s been working well according to connections and this doesn’t look the strongest race on paper. She is worth backing.

MAGIC LILY seems to have been dismissed as without much of a chance due to the effort she put forward last weekend. She may well have just bumped into a good horse if Terebellum does end up winning the Queen Anne. Her career peak is enough to win this, but she won’t want any rain to show up as that will dampen her chances.

MISS O’CONNOR is a wet track type that has run some impressive splits on heavy tracks. Having ducked and dodged good tracks wherever possible, it wouldn’t shock to see her scratched and saved for another day when there is more juice in the ground. If the rain does come, she will prove very hard to chase down. I cannot see her winning in dry conditions, however.

Betting Strategy

BACK (WIN) – Jubiloso for 2.5 units

Ascot Stakes 4000m HCP

I’ve spent a lot of time looking at this race, how to attack it and how the market might treat VERDANA BLUE. It’s highly plausible that punters will gravitate to a preferred jockey like Ryan Moore in wide-open handicaps such as this, and as she is substantially shorter than her next rival in the market the favourite backers will also look to back her to end the day on a high note.

Simply put – I think she has no chance whatsoever.

She must carry topweight of 62kg at a distance she has only raced at once (4000m), with a first-up record of eight starts for just the sole win which came in a five-horse novice race over 2600m at Kempton. It would take a mighty display to beat some well-handicapped, upcoming types that are sure to relish the trip like the son of Sea The Moon, MOON KING.

Moon King was extremely impressive first-up at Haydock last weekend. He looks to be bouncing out of his skin and is crying out for races beyond two miles. This looks ideal for him. If the rain comes, his chances are further enhanced.

Summer Moon ran a phenomenal third of 30 runners in the Cesarewitch last year and will benefit from a gelding operation that should put paid to any overracing problems. However, it must be said that it’s extremely difficult to make all in these races, so having an in-play lay strategy for Summer Moon should he lead the field as they round the home turn could prove profitable.

He will kick strongly and may even look the winner at some point which will shorten his price drastically and present the opportunity to lay as he tires under 61.25kg.

Betting Strategy

LAY (WIN) – Verdana Blue to Place for 5 units liability

BACK (WIN) – Moon King for 1 unit

BACK to LAY (WIN) – Summer Moon – Lay under $2.50

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