The Mailbag: Royal Ascot 2018

The Mailbag team are mounting yard and form analysts experts. Using a sectional times database, they are providing their best selections over the Royal Ascot 2018 Carnival.

Go where the value is for Royal Ascot and head to the Betfair Exchange.

Royal Ascot R3 – 12:40am | King’s Stand Stakes Group 1 – 5f

Strong level of confidence in the first spring race of the Royal Ascot carnival over the 1000m. Battaash did enough first up at Haydock in late May to win, recorded his third highest rated performance on a track that was rated firmer than he prefers. Jim Crowley regains the mount and if Battaash runs up to his two previous peak ratings in the Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp and King George Stakes, it will take something special from his rivals to beat him.

The danger in the race appears to be Lady Aurelia. Winning this race last year, the 1000m specialist failed to win a listed grade race first up and was well off below her best her past two runs. Her best form is slightly below Battaash’s peak performances, but it has her competitive and rates her significantly higher than any other runners form.

Outside of the two favourites, Blue Point and Kachy are the two improvers to watch out for. Blue Point won at this course back in October and the stable believed the horse had gone to the next level before being scratched in Dubai due to a bleeding incident. His recent run at Sha Tin, finishing last, just has to be forgotten, based on the race shape that has seen the last 24 British or European horses fail to win the race and just three find a placing. Kachy finished 0.15L behind Battaash last start and has won three of his past five races, continuing to improve with every run this preparation and has to be considered a live chance in the race.

Betting Strategy

 BACK (WIN) Battaash for 3.5 units

 BACK (WIN) Lady Aurelia for 1.75 units to win


Royal Ascot R4 – 01:20am | St James’s Palace Stakes Group 1 – 7f 213y

An open race full of horses expected to show progression over 1600 metre course. No runner in the field has run a rating equal to or higher than the rating required to win this race the past five-years. Tip Two Win ran brilliantly in second last start behind Saxon Warrior in the 2000 Guineas Stakes and is likely to have improved from that run and comments from the stable suggest this is the case.

Romanised was an eye-catcher running on strongly at Curragh pulling away from a good field that included the fancied runner U S Navy Flag. Romanised doesn’t act well on wet tracks and has been under-rated on firmer surfaces due to those wet track runs in the past. Tip Two Win and Romanised, started their last starts as $143 and $50 on Betfair running the race of their lives, so it is no shock that neither of these runners have opened favourite.

Without Parole is a lightly raced type that performs well on all surfaces. This well bred colt he has been opened favourite in this race on potential, rather than runs currently on the board, and will need to improve on the run at Sandown in late May in a Listed race to win here.

Betting Strategy

 BACK (WIN) Romanised for 0.75 units to win

 BACK (WIN) Tip Two Win 0.75 units to win

Royal Ascot R2 – 12:05am| Queen’s Vase Group 2 – 1m 6f 34y

A progressive bunch of horses in a race that usually doesn’t throw up a world beater. Aidan O’Brien has won this race three of the past five years and trains three of the four favoured runners in the race. Kew Gardensas a 2YO ran ratings in the Beresford Stakes and Zetland Stakes higher than what has been required to win this race the past five years. As a 3YO, Kew Gardens recorded a career peak in early May running second in the Derby Trial Stakes at Lingfield Park. Ryan Moore jumped off the horse in the Group 1 Investec Derby to ride the race favourite Saxon Warrior, but reclaims the ride today, meaning Donnacha O’Brien takes the ride on the less favoured stable runner Nelson. Kew Gardens was used as a pacemaker in the Derby last start and ran accordingly. With a hard run on the lead in, Kew Gardens is ready to win ridden more conservatively.

Nelson, the son of Frankel, is having his third start for the prep coming off a disappointing 6th in the Derby Trial at Leopardstown. Nelson won very well the start prior in the Ballysax Stakes at Leopardstown on a Heavy track recording a rating significantly higher than what would be required to score a win in this race and past ratings suggest Nelson can still measure up to the level needed on dry tracks.

Seamie Heffernan gains the ride on the fancied O’Brien runner Southern France over regular riders Ryan Moore and Donnacha O’Brien. Southern France won his maiden two runs back by 2.5L and then followed that win up with a half length win in the Yeats Stakes at Navan. Compared with Nelson who is already a Group 3 winner and Kew Gardens who is stepping back from a Group 1, Southern France still has everything to prove.

Stream of Stars from the John Gosden stable looks the main danger to the O’Brien yard runners having won this race last year with Stradivarius. Stream of Stars is coming off a strong maiden win at this course last start and can run a bold race up in distance.

Betting Strategy

 BACK (WIN) Kew Gardens for 1.5 units to win


Royal Ascot R4 – 1:20am| Price of Wales’s Stakes Group 1 – 1m 1f 212y

Cracksman returns to the scene of his 7 length demolition job in the Champion Stakes last year. The current Arc favourite in futures markets, Cracksman comes into this race with two Group 1 wins in recent months, but has yet to record figures close to his very best. He won the Prix Ganay at Longchamp by 4 lengths and followed that up last start by winning the Coronation Cup by a head. Starting $1.32 favourite on the day, Cracksman wasn’t suited by the Epsom Downs track and traded at a high of $18.50 before grinding out a win. Ratings wise, his last eight runs would have him fighting out the finish with the best contenders in this race and his best from the Champion Stakes looks to be simply better than any runner in this field.

Poet’s Word, was well beaten in second behind Cracksman last year in the Champion Stakes and has failed to run a higher rating in three runs since. His last start win in the Group 3 Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown Park was painless and a nice lead in run suggesting further improvement is on the cards.

Hawkbill sweated up heavily before failing in the Coronation Cup at Epsom Downs and the stable have been happy with his trackwork after that run, noting no issues with the horse. His form back in March at Meydan saw him run his best race ever rating when winning the Sheema Classic defeating Poet’s Word by 3 lengths on a similar surface rating. A repeat of that Dubai run will have him in the mix to win the race.

Betting Strategy

 BACK (WIN)  Hawkbill for 1.5 units to win (Without Favourite)

Royal Ascot R3 – 12:40pm | Ribblesdale Stakes Group 2 – 1m 3f 211y

Wild Illusion heads the market having run two consistent ratings when 4th in the Group 1 1000 Guineas and second in the Group 1 Investec Oaks. Down in grade here, her last three runs ratings wise would have won this race the past two years.

Sun Maiden is a lightly raced daughter of Frankel stepping up in distance for her third start ever. She won last start at Salisbury in a low grade race by 12 lengths and will need to improve significantly again to measure up.

Ryan Moore takes the ride on Magic Wand coming out of a 11 length defeat in the Group 1 Investec Oaks; beaten 6.5 lengths by Wild Illusion on that occasion. Back to a dryer surface, we will truly see what she has to offer in this grade.

Sizzling is an under-estimated runner from the Aidan O’Brien yard with a big chance in this race. Last start in Group 3 company, she was held up for runs behind the eventually winner and seemed to almost fall when taking a run that closed up about 100m out from the line. That run had a load of merit and a win here wouldn’t shock.

Betting Strategy

 BACK (WIN) 2 units Wild Illusion to win

 BACK (WIN) 0.5 units Sizzling to win


Royal Ascot R4 – 1:20am | Gold Cup Group 1 – 2m 3f 210y

Order of St George has led the staying ranks in the UK for the past few years and his two lead in wins in the Vintage Crop Stakes and Levmoss Stakes suggest he is ready to peak here.

Vazirabad ran his best rating since 2015 last start winning the Prix Vicomtesse Vigier by half a length over Marmelo. Vazirabad is a top class horse that has won 13 of his last 17 races including three Group 1 wins. Doing his best work from back, he will most likely be making his runs with Order of St George.

Stradivarius is the new kid on the block and may very well go to the next level off a strong 3 length Group 2 win in the Yorkshire Cup first up. He has already proven his worth in Group 1 company with a win last year over Big Orange in the Goodwood Cup. The big query as admitted by the stable in interviews is if he handles the step up in distance against these proven types.

Betting Strategy

 BACK (WIN) 2.5 units Order of St George to win

Royal Ascot R2 – 12:05am | King Edward VII Stakes Group2 – 1m 3f 211y

Delano Roosevelt steps back from the Group 1 Derby where he ran a respectable 6th and Ryan Moore jumps on today for the first time in the past five rides. This horse isn’t the best starter and generally finds himself out the back in most races taking runs ridden for luck. The main query here is if the horse can let down on a dry surface with his two previous best runs at Leopardstown in significantly wetter ground.

Old Persian won well last start in a three horse Listed race at Newmarket and looks likely to take the step up again suited by the ground. You had to love the guts shown to fight them off last start and he looks suited to the track.

Donnacha O’Brien takes the ride on Rostropovich as Ryan Moore jumps off this Group 2 winner for the first time in 6 runs. Rostropovich scored a win in Listed grade at Chester first up before running a respectable 9th in Group 1 company last start at Chantilly in the QIPCO Prix Du Jockey Club. Back in class here, i’m expecting the horse to get clearer running from the barrier allowing the horse to gain momentum through the final 2 furlongs and be a genuine contender.

Betting Strategy

 BACK (WIN) Rostropovich 1 unit to win

 BACK (PLACE) Rostropovich 1 unit to place


Royal Ascot R4 – 1:40am | Coronation Stakes Group 1 – 7f 213y

Billesdon Brook was a last start surprise winner of the Group 1 1000 Guineas at Newmarket with a starting price of $66 on the day. After a horror run in the straight, smashed and blocked for runs multiple times, she grew wings and found a way through the field to score a genuine Group 1 victory. She looks the real deal and will eat up the firm ground on offer.

French filly Teppal is unbeaten from three starts after claiming a Group 1 victory in the Prix Emirates Poule D’Essai Des Pouliches last start at Longchamp. Held up for runs from the top of the straight losing important momentum, she still found strongly to the line and was fairly holding all opposition. Suited by an inside barrier and will be on speed.

Threading won a Listed grade race by 7 lengths last start at York recording her best career run to date. Suited by the surface and from the barrier, expect a bold run.

Clemmie comes into this race the highest rated horse in the race, but failed on her reappearance at the Curragh in Group 1  class first up. Best ratings in the past were recorded on a ground with a little more give, but Ryan Moore takes the ride here and has to be respected.

Betting Strategy

 BACK (WIN) Billesdon Brook 2 units to win

 BACK (PLACE) Billesdon Brook 2 units to place

Royal Ascot R1 – 11.30pm | Chesham Stakes Listed – 7f

Natalie’s Joy made easy work of all rivals first up at Goodwood with a 6 length victory absolutely breaking the clock on good ground. Ratings suggest she was good enough on that day to win this race in three of the past five runnings. Most importantly, she savaged the line and looks the type to improve over the extra furlong.

The Charlie Appleby trained Beyond Reason is third up here coming off a 4 length win at Kempton Park on a slow all-weather surface. Looks a type open to natural improvement and will need to find all of it to beat the favourite.

Ryan Moore legs up Cardini for the O’Brien stable coming out of two maiden defeats at the Curragh on similar rated firm tracks. Attracting support in early markets, he will need to find a second and third gear that we are yet to see on the track.

New Winds is on the 10-day back-up after scoring at Haydock in significantly easier company. Her win at Newmarket first up in mid May suggested she may be a very promising horse, but her ratings run on the track since have regressed.

Betting Strategy

 BACK (WIN) Natalie’s Joy for 3 units


Royal Ascot R4 – 1:20am | Diamond Jubilee Stakes Group 1 – 6f

Harry Angel comes into the race as the highest rated sprinter in the world and backed up those claims on return at York over 6f running a career peak rating with improvement to come. Just how good is Harry Angel? Two of this horses last three wins would have won the previous five Diamond Jubilee’s by lengths. The firm condition of the surface has been catching out a few runners this week, but Harry Angel it’s a positive for Harry Angel. .

Merchant Navy proved to be a solid competitor in Australia during the 2017 Spring and 2018 Autumn scoring a Group 1 win in the Coolmore Stud Stakes down the Flemington straight and a third in the Newmarket Handicap. Now with the Aidan O’Brien stable, he was expected to need the run first up at the Curragh when winning well in Group 2 class and recording a significant career peak run that has him well in contention.

The old warhorse Redkirk Warrior has gone from strength to strength since arriving in Australia sweeping the two main Group 1 sprint races in Flemington over the Autumn. No stranger to travel, the stable believes he has settled in perfectly and will give a bold showing after recording his best ever run last start to win the Newmarket Handicap.

Defending champion, The Tin Man, failed to hit the lofty heights expected of him after his win in the race last year. On the four runs since that victory, he didn’t score a win until dropping back to Listed grade first up this prep at Windsor. Ratings suggest he is going well enough this prep and has to be considered a contender on his best form.

Betting Strategy

 BACK (WIN) Harry Angel for 2 units


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