Royal Ascot – Gold Cup Day Preview
Gold Cup day at Royal Ascot, Stradivarius is back to defend his title but at long odds on it’s a watching race.
Looking to the accompanying races, there looks some decent betting prospects.
It’s worth keeping a close eye on the weather with some potential heavy storms predicted. The ground on Wednesday was good, possibly a little quicker on the straight track. As for betting on Thursday it’s worth holding until the state of tomorrows ground is clearer.
Gold Cup Day Preview
1:50 Wolverton Stakes
A race with an interesting betting shape, I like the chances of Regal Reality, Fox Tal and Walkinthesand with their relative prospects pivoting around what happens with the forecast rain and the ground conditions.
Sir Dragonet is at the head of the market. His chance probably increases if the ground comes up on the soft side, but I’ve had my fill of Sir Dragonet and he’s not for me at a fairly short price in this race.
Arguably Regal Reality has some of the best past form. He’s non-ground specific and I think he’ll run his race whatever the conditions. At 6/1 he looks solid for a place at least.
Fox Tal, while he won on quick ground at Doncaster, his prospects are probably enhanced should we get a real downpour. His run behind Magical gives him a solid chance here.
The flyer here is Walkinthesand, his best form is on rattling quick ground. If the rain stays away he has a big shout here and would be a decent bet for me at 40/1 (85’s on Betfair as I’m writing!!).
Walkinthesand invariable seems to get overlooked in the betting. Much as with Lord North who won impressively at Ascot on Wednesday, top-class handicap form is often underestimated when stepping into pattern class. Walkinthesand’s win at Newmarket carrying 9-7 in a very competitive handicap is right up there with the Regal Reality’s of this race.
So, holding brief for now, if it stays dry Walkinthesand is very appealing at big prices with Regal Reality looking solid whatever the conditions.
2:25 Jersey Stakes
I’m a little surprised that the favourite King Leonidas steps back to 7 furlongs here. He won over a mile at Ascot and on pedigree, he looks to have plenty of inherited stamina. I’d been expecting to see him go up in distance, so promising as he is, I’m quite keen to be against him.
That should reveal some opportunities in the race but I’m struggling to find a selection. I had been keen on Repartee who is another runner from the King’s Lynn Doncaster race, but his draw in stall 4 is off-putting.
Currently a 25/1 shot, that’s a fair price but does it compensate for the poor stall position? I’m not fully convinced. It’s not impossible to get across and run well from that draw but it’s a concern. Had he been positioned high, he’d have been a bet at the price.
Looking elsewhere, Final Song and Monarch Of Egypt have some of the better efforts in the book. Like Repartee, Monarch Of Egypt has a poor draw to overcome and has shown his best on softer going, should the heavens open he’d be of interest. Final Song makes some appeal from position 13 on her Guineas 4th.
One a huge price and a proven soft ground performer is Ropey Guest. Should there be a real deluge then the 50/1 about Ropey Guest would be appealing.
A watching race at this stage, with a close eye on the weather.
4:10 Britannia Stakes
One of my favourite races in the calendar, that might seem odd to some, a 30 runner cavalry charge (good news, only 24 runners this year) of unexposed 3-year-olds over the straight mile!! It’s a race that’s been kind to me over the years and a source of big-priced winners.
Last year when it felt the world was cheering on Turgenev and Frankie Dettori in his 5-timer quest. I’d backed Biometric at 50’s and while I rarely get caught up in the emotion of a race, I was on my feet when Harry Bentley got Biometric into his inevitable stride from furlong and half out.
Anyway, enough of the sentimental shite, past glories have no impact on whether I can find this year’s winner but, I have a strong view and have played in this year’s renewal.
Ascot draw bias
Firstly, on the evidence of the first 2 days, there’s a high draw bias in play.
This needs factoring in, the jockeys drawn low are likely to make their way over to the stand rail but those drawn high have less distance to cover and the chance to get a better track position without overexerting early in the race. That’s likely to be advantageous, a few pounds will make a difference in such a competitive heat.
I’m happy to put a line through those drawn low. With plenty of fancied horses running from low numbers, if the bias plays out here it makes this an attractive betting proposition.
There’s also the added complexity of storms potentially delivering some heavy rain on the course and changing the going drastically. There’s not that many who’ve been tested under softer conditions so that would be a real unknown added into the mix.
Britannia Stakes Favourite
Let’s get Finest Sound out of the way, he’s the right favourite in my opinion on his impressive Haydock win. If I had to pick holes in his form, will a varying pace of a Haydock race around a bend translate to an Ascot straight mile end to end gallop? We’ll find out.
He’s one of the few in the race who’s been tested with some give underfoot and produced his best effort at Haydock on good to soft ground. Should the rains arrive I see it enhancing his prospects.
I wouldn’t steer anyone away from backing him, but it’s all about price. Do I want to be backing him at around 5/1 when there are others with similar prospects at much bigger prices? No, in this case.
Doncaster Sales Race
I’ve mentioned this several times before in the blog but the Doncaster Sales race won by King’s Lynn last September is a hot race and in my opinion, critically, under assigned by the official handicapper.
From that Doncaster race, stall number in brackets, Toro Strike (26), Ziggle Pops (16), Glasvegas (13) and Great Ambassador (20) show here.
Glasvegas I’m happy to put a line through at the revised weights from Doncaster event.
As I write, the remaining three are all currently best-priced 25/1 (bigger on the Exchanges). I think there is value in each, if I had to prioritise, I slightly favour Toro Strike at the prices.
There’s added complexity to the puzzle this year given many come into the race on seasonal debut and their well-being needs to be assumed in these cases.
Ziggle Pops has had a run and did me a big favour when winning a decent handicap at Lingfield. That was a decent contest which has already had it’s worth proofed by the subsequent run of Tomfre. Ziggle Pops has a 5lb penalty for that win which is going to make it tough for him. He needs to improve a little to win this, there’s every chance he could, the step up to a mile is likely to suit him well.
Great Ambassador comes here on debut, he has a couple of strong time performances in the book which give him a decent shot here. Like Ziggle Pops he’s got stamina in his pedigree and is likely to appreciate the mile.
Toro Strike comes out slightly on top at today’s weights from the Doncaster race. He debuts here, so fitness is on trust. He’s a prominent racer and has pole position in stall 26. If he can get away and close to the rail I can see him running a big race. At a general 25/1 and bits and pieces of some silly prices on the Exchanges, he makes a fair amount of appeal.
A fascinating race as always, Toro Strike for me as the main bet, I’ve also backed Great Ambassador and Ziggle Pops to smaller stakes.
4:40 Sandringham Handicap
This is a fascinating heat, not least because the John Gosden trained favourite African Dream gets in here on an official mark of 80.
That mark was assigned on her first two runs and before she ran the Group 2 placed Stylistique so close at Newbury last week. Her revised mark is 96, so in theory, she is 16lbs (8 lengths) well in here. She is clearly well-handicapped, though I think the official handicapper has somewhat overreacted.
African Dream is progressing rapidly and could well continue on that trajectory. The question is, do you want to get involved at the price – 15/8 and shortening as I’m writing this? I’m not sure, if short-priced horses are your thing then there’s nothing in her form or profile that should put you off.
It’s difficult to see her drifting too much, I’m sure she’ll be a popular favourite tomorrow. At 2/1 or more I might be interested.
The handicapper appears to have been particularly harsh on a few of the others that are prominent in the betting. In the search for a bit of value, two at longer prices I’ve been considering are Onassis and Odyssey Girl.
Onassis is on a winnable handicap mark and progressing. Unfortunately, she has been burdened with stall one. That probably reduces her chances and even at 28/1, I’m not that inclined.
Odyssey Girl is coming off the all-weather so will naturally be overlooked by many in this grade. She’s on a decent mark and ran in a good Lingfield handicap won by Atheeb.
A 28/1, higher on the Exchanges she is no forlorn hope from an okay draw in ten against the well-treated favourite.