POWER START TO DAQMAN’S ROYAL JACKPOTS: Daqman’s first jackpot bet of Royal Ascot was Power (WON 4-1) but his attack on the favourites failed so he’ll be gunning for lays and layers alike today .
WHAT DO YOU ‘THINK’ OF TODAY’S BIG MATCH? After Canford Cliffs v Goldikova, there’s another striking match today, odds-on So You Think, rated one of the best Ballydoyle has ever trained, against the might of France, currently at their best, with Planteur.
18-1 SHOT IN THE ROYAL HUNT CUP: Daqman’s high scorers today are 19.0 and 17.5 (both Royal Hunt Cup), and 16.0 and 14.0 in the ‘getting-out stakes’, last race on the card.
I called them soft yesterday and it was fast ground. Going changes are a killer. Add to that the 2lb overweight put up by Olivier Peslier on Goldikova, and Canford Cliffs was handed his métier: a late surge on top of the ground.
Even then, it was close. Closer still for Frankel. Yet this morning they are making So You Think and Shumoos as short as a Sixties mini-skirt, teasing the punter into the betting fallacy: am I for or against? The answer has to be the same as on every other day: the side to be on is value.
2.30 Royal Ascot (Jersey Stakes): A bad race for favourites, with only one winner since Diktat in 1998, and that was Ballydoyle’s Mozart, who’d run second in the Irish 2,000 Guineas.
Nothing of that calibre has won the race since but here today is O’Brien’s Oracle, third in last month’s Irish 2,000, plus Havane Smoker, second in the French Guineas, and Fury, fifth in our Guineas at Newmarket.
All three prefer genuinely good ground or a bit of cut and judging between them, without collateral form, is tricky: you could say, for instance, that Oracle (nine runs) and Havane Smoker (seven) are more exposed than Fury (four) and that Fury’s Guineas was that weird Frankel ‘walk-over’ where the form keeps turning around.
We now know that several jockeys thought Frankel was the pacemaker at Newmarket that day and rode waiting races accordingly; yesterday’s result is more his real form and his ability to win races will depend largely on whether the jockey presses the button at the right time. We also know that Fury hasn’t really been ready until now, according to his trainer.
Strong Suit, Group-1 second to Dream Ahead in last year’s Middle Park, might be back on song after a wind operation, he, too, having been blasted out of the way by Frankel, stone last in the Greenham.
Two of the last five Jerseys have gone to Newmarket’s King Charles (Listed) winner. That was Codemaster this time around but I’ll go for the Classic runners dropping back to 7f; that will suit Havane Smoker in particular, if he can cope with fast ground.
Dubawi Gold let down Oracle’s Irish Guineas form yesterday and the King Charles runner-up, I Love Me, was nearly 12 lengths behind in the Newmarket 1,000, so I’m taking the colts’ form of Havane Smoker and Fury.
3.05 Royal Ascot (Windsor Forest Stakes): There are some tough fillies in this, not least Tommy Stack’s Lolly For Dolly, the Gladness winner, but she’s being asked to step up a grade to Group 2 here.
The same applies to Chachamaidee, First City, I’m A Dreamer, and Field Day, while Dever Dream, Shamandar and Seta are only Listed level so far, and Fontley just a handicapper.
The serious contenders are, therefore, Jacqueline Quest, Anna Salai, Music Show and Sajjhaa at 26.0, 18.5, 10.0 and 4.7 respectively on Betdaq, as I write. But the value isn’t always in the bigger odds.
Tom Queally has got off Jacqueline Quest, who hasn’t looked the same filly that was disqualified from last year’s 1,000 Guineas, and Music Show can’t beat Sajhaa on York form or Anna Salai on Irish 1,000 Guineas running, when they were second and third. So it ‘s Anna Salai and Sajjhaa the for me.
3.45 Royal Ascot (Prince Of Wales’s Stakes): Only one winner this century above 5-1 and fancy prices are unlikely today, with So You Think scaring off most of the opposition.
It’s 5-5 as four-year-olds battle with year-older horses, and the first one to go will have to be Twice Over, aged six, and who hasn’t looked the same animal since winning the Champion Stakes.
When you look back on that race now, the subsequent winners that came out of it have scored only on different terrain in international events. It says a lot that not one from that 11-strong field at Newmarket that day has won a single event in Europe since. Of any description.
France has taken three of the last four Prince Of Wales’s and So You Think has not frightened off Elie Lellouche and Planteur, the Harcourt and Ganay winner this Spring.
Planteur ran second in the French Derby and in the Grand Prix six weeks later, then showed his subsequent Arc form to be all wrong by turning over the Arc third, Sarafina, last year’s winner of the Saint-Alary and Prix de Diane.
Last year’s Derby third, Rewilding, and Irish Derby third, Jan Vermeer, will have their supporters but Planteur must be a formidable opponent to So You Think and the best value this morning at 5.8.
So You Think didn’t beat much of modern account in the Mooresbridge and his Tattersalls Gold Cup first Group 1 in Europe was run in slow time at The Curragh against a couple of Group-3 winners, with the second horse – Campanologist – having won his Group 1s in Germany.
4.25 Royal Ascot (Royal Hunt Cup): The essentials for the Hunt Cup are aged four or five (11 of the last 12), with big-field handicap form (10 out of 12) and a rating of 94-105 (seven out of seven), which goes to show that the race is increasing in quality.
Those ratings and age parameters reduce the field by more than half and I can’t have Brae Hill (always the bridesmaid in big fields) and Invincible Soul (always the bridesmaid, full stop) or Capital Attraction and Mont Agel who, like Invincible Soul, have won only a maiden.
Eight of the last winners were drawn no more than six stalls away from either rail, and yesterday’s results suggest high numbers have a distinct advantage, so Mont Agel (again) and Invincible Soul (again), Start Right and Point North all lose my interest. Low numbers failed to reach the frame on the straight course yesterday so I’m laying Mont Agel and Invincible Soul for a place, the draw allied to my two other reasons against them.
Invincible Man landed me a 28-1 winner last year but a repeat was last done in 1948. Eton Forever is up 11lb on his Spring Mile win and Dance And Dance has a penalty which was last carried to victory in 1985. Pintura needs cut. So does Brick Red.
So it is that I’m with the fast–ground horse Julienas (19.0 this morning), whose Whitsun Cup chance was spoiled by rain: winners of this have poured out of that Sandown handicap. Bronze Prince (17.5) has crept in with a featherweight.
5.00 Royal Ascot (Queen Mary Stakes): You’re betting blind here with 13 previous winners, six of them raced only once, and just a couple with more than two outings; even they cannot be regarded as exposed.
Yet it’s a one-horse market this morning: around 11-10 Shumoos, 12-1 bar two, with only Gypsy Robin (8.0 on Betdaq) mildly supported against her.
But the stats say: no way. Only Attraction this century had landed the spoils for the favourite until Maqaasid obliged last year. There have been 16-1, 20-1 and 25-1 winners.
Wesley Ward won it two years ago and Gypsy Robin cannot be discounted but to make her second favourite is pure guesswork, and Shumoos’ scintillating win at Haydock will clearly be hard to beat.
I shall use her as saver, since my own favourite filly in the race is Dozy. Dozy she is not. She had six winners behind her when she won the Hilary Needler (won by Attraction on her way to this) over the stiff Beverley 5f, including the subsequent York Listed runner-up, Vocational, and Chester’s Lily Agnes scorer Lily’s Angel. Excellent each-way bet this morning at 13.0 on Betdaq.
5.35 Royal Ascot: Favourites have a bad time in this – one winner this century – and we’ve had 10-1, 11-1 (twice) 12-1 and 16-1 shots come home. But finding the winner has been easy recently: the last four had all raced in a Classic or a Classic trial.
Cape Dollar has done both: she was less than five lengths behind Rimth in the Fred Darling before being out of her depth in the 1,000 Guineas. Winner of the Rockfel last season, she could be good enough here, despite top weight, in a moderate event.
The snag, for betting purposes, is that at least seven fillies, raced only three or four times, must be said to be ‘dark’. They could be ‘anything’, particularly those like Blessed Biata and Sweetie Time whom we haven’t seen out yet this season, and most particularly ‘Biata’, since her trainer won the Oaks with Dancing Rain. Blessed Biata is 14.0 this morning; Cape Dollar 16.0.
The morning market leader, Dubai Queen, is among the seven but she is not so secret, since she is plying her trade in handicaps and has gone up 5lb for being beaten favourite for a stable which does badly here (Cumani 1-27 since 2006). Lay.
BET 4.7pts win FURY and 4.3pts win HAVANE SMOKER (2.30 Royal Ascot)
BET 5.2pts win SAJHAA and 1.1pts win and place ANNA SALAI (3.05 Royal Ascot)
BET 4.1pts win PLANTEUR (3.45 Royal Ascot)
LAY 10pts each for a place MONT AGEL and INVINCIBLE SOUL, plus WIN-30 JACKPOT: BET 1.8pts win and place BRONZE PRINCE and 1.6pts win and place JULIENAS (4.25 Royal Ascot)
BET 1.6pts win and place DOZY and 2.5pts win (saver) SHUMOOS (5.00 Royal Ascot)
LAY to win 10pts DUBAI QUEEN, plus 1.5pts win and place BLESSED BIATA and 1.3pts win and place CAPE DOLLAR (5.35 Royal Ascot)