The Mailbag: Royal Ascot Day 2

ROYAL ASCOT Day 2 - Wednesday 20th June

The weather forecast for Ascot is a maximum of 24c, a passing shower in the afternoon and gusty winds. The track is rated Good to Firm (Good in places)

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)

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