ROYAL ASCOT DAY 2 PREVIEW
Wednesday June 17th
1.15 SILVER ROYAL HUNT CUP HANDICAP
With the ground easing there will be plenty of horses inconvenienced by it, but the Ed Dunlop-trained ALTERNATIVE FACT looks to have a solid each-way chance here and won’t be hindered by the ground.
As a two year-old this horse finished second in a Listed race in France behind Wootton, who is now rated 113. That was on very soft ground and, even though he was well beaten, it was a good run.
This horse’s handicap mark has been on the slide in recent times and I just think he looks primed for a big run here. He was second to Dancetaria off a mark of 97 back at Newmarket in 2018 on softer conditions and is now rated 90. I keep watching his run in the Cambridgeshire last season where he ran a cracker to finish ninth, staying on from off the pace. With that in mind a strong-run mile at Ascot should be right up his street and, hopefully, he is drawn on the right side.
As with Tuesday, I have gone for the high draw as it looks to have most of the pace on that side.
1.50 HAMPTON COURT STAKES (GROUP 3)
RUSSIAN EMPEROR ran extremely well first-time up this season when second in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown last week. I just think that it took Seamie Heffernan a little bit longer than he planned to get this horse into top gear, but he was staying on all the way to the line and I expect him to back that form up and go very close in this.
The drop back a furlong may slightly inconvenience him, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he made the running or was very close to the pace. I think this horse has plenty of stamina in reserve and, hopefully, will get to use it.
If he was to win impressively here he could go to Epsom a little under the radar and he is one that I wouldn’t rule out in the Derby.
Keep a close eye on him later in the season – could land a few nice races.
2.25 KING GEORGE V STAKES HANDICAP
This is a very tricky race and Mark Johnston tends to do well in it, having won it six times. I am taking a bit of a shot in the dark here with TRUMPET MAN who will step up in trip and looks bred for middle-distances, as he is by Golden Horn.
He is just the type his trainer does well with and he could have needed the winter and could be a better three year-old.
He looked a bit green as a two year-old and was getting outpaced in many of his races over a mile. He has a small each-way chance in a competitive contest.
3.00 PRINCE OF WALES’S STAKES (GROUP 1)
The feature race on Day Two and this looks an absolute excellent renewal, with many of the top yards represented and plenty of top form on show.
Anyone who followed ADDEYYBB when he went globetrotting to Australia will know that the ground is a massive factor to his chance in any race. He needs softer ground and I think he will get it here after 10mm of rain had fallen on Monday night to leave the ground good to soft on Tuesday.
Both Australian victories at Rosehill and Randwick were very impressive and he showed an unbelievable turn of foot when Tom Marquand asked him to go and win his races.
This horse won the Wolferton at Royal Ascot last season and has progressed ever since. He finished second to Magical in the Champion Stakes at Ascot towards the end of the season and that was a very pleasing run.
I think he will give them all plenty to do here on ground that could blunt the finishing speed of others.
3.35 ROYAL HUNT CUP
AFAAK has a real association with this race, having finished second in 2018 and then going one better last year when he just hung on from the fast-finishing Clon Coulis, who was my selection on the day.
He was rated 103 last season and, effectively, races off the same mark this time around as he is rated 106 and Cieran Fallon claims a very valuable three pounds off his back.
For a six year-old, he doesn’t have many miles on the clock and, no doubt, this race will have been the plan for connections.
He was last seen finishing fourth in Bahrain, where he ran a very good race. The Royal Hunt Cup, as normal, is extremely competitive. The draw will be key and luck in running will decide your fate. This horse has plenty of ability and knows what it takes to land a big field handicap.
He will be hard to keep out of the frame and looks to have a solid each way chance here.
4.10 WINDSOR CASTLE STAKES (LISTED RACE)
As we are all well aware, Aidan O’Brien has had his two year-olds much further forward this year and one of my best bets for the entire week runs here.
CHIEF LITTLE HAWK produced a very professional performance under Seamie Heffernan at Navan back on the 10th of June, where he was like a bullet from a gun out of the stalls, travelled extremely well throughout the race and quickened smartly to win going away by a length and a quarter.
He went straight into my notebook and I thought connections may go down the Coventry route with him. They are sticking to 5f and it looks like the right way to go as he showed plenty of speed.
Navan is the sort of track that can undo many a two year-old, but this fella was electric.
I have been waxing lyrical about this horse since that and, hopefully, the ground won’t hinder his chance too much. He is drawn in stall two and Ryan Moore should be able to adopt a handy position along the rail and let him travel away.
My nap for Day Two.
4.40 COPPER HORSE HANDICAP
The Roger Varian-trained FUJAIRA KING looks the one to pay the most attention to here as he is very lightly raced and hasn’t been seen since finishing second at this meeting behind Baghdad last season.
Being by Pivotal, he is likely to appreciate any juice that is in the ground and, with question marks over many of the others in the race regarding both form and ground, he could be one the gambles of the week.
He heads the market in places at the minute, but it would surprise me if he was much shorter come 4.35 on Wednesday. He has won on good to soft before, when he broke his maiden at Wetherby, and in terms of his handicap mark, he is only a pound higher in the ratings than when he raced here at last year’s meeting.
He will take plenty of beating here as it looks to me like he has been laid out for the race.