Horse racing

Royal Ascot looms large on the horizon to add to what’s been a superb start to the flat season with the brilliance of Frankel and So You Think, added to by the drama at Epsom last Saturday. It was a shame Carlton House couldn’t win the Derby for the Queen but I’m convinced the best horse won on the day and would have a big bet on Pour Moi to win a re-match on a more conventional track.

I’m really looking forward to a trip to Royal Ascot as there promises to be some sensational racing with Frankel set to dazzle on Tuesday, while the clash between Canford Cliffs (2.18) and Goldikova (2.62) in the Queen Anne should be a highlight. It seems bizarre that two of the five-day meeting’s best races come right at the start of day one. Why not keep one up the sleeve for later in the week when Friday and Saturday’s cards need boosting?

Tuesday is undoubtedly the day to be at Royal Ascot and I will be lucky enough to be there and just favour Canford Cliffs in the Queen Anne, while I think Wootton Bassett will run a big race in the St James’ Palace Stakes and give Frankel something to think about.

The best bet of the meeting is Await The Dawn in the Hardwicke Stakes on the final day, though more on that next week.

In the meantime, keep an eye on a horse called Arch Fire in the maiden at Sandown at 4.40 on Saturday. I was told by a Sky Sports colleague close to the yard that they thought the world of him prior to a disappointing run in the Wood Ditton in April. Arch Fire is definitely worth another chance.
Test Cricket

No sooner do I say last week that having got out of jail laying the draw in Cardiff, England would steamroller the Sri Lankans at Lord’s. Cue stalemate. It was expensive but a fine effort from the Sri Lankan batsmen to bounce back from being bowled out for 82 in the first Test but I’m putting a lot of that down to the “Lord’s factor” which continues to inspire the touring side.

England are much the better side and I expect them (1.76 on Betdaq) to win at the Rose Bowl and will again be laying the draw – weather permitting – at 3 or less.

I’m intrigued by the Wimbledon market on Betdaq. Sadly, form and fitness gives Andy Murray little chancing of winning the title at 9.4, while Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are vying for favouritism at around 3.7.

For me, the best thing that happened for Novak Djokovic’s chance at Wimbledon was his defeat in a vintage semi-final in Paris against Federer. So while the big two were knocking lumps out of each other in a draining final, Djokovic could rest up and re-focus and he’ll be determined to bounce back at Wimbledon. Prior to the French Open he has been the best player in the world this season and will be incredibly hungry and re-motivated to lift his first grand slam on grass. He looks the bet to me at 4.5, though I will hold fire to check his preparation on grass. At the moment he’s only planning one warm-up next week so it may pay to back him after the first couple of rounds when his price is unlikely to have changed.