Early Bird – 21st June

Once again a frustrating day with selections running well and placing but not getting their head in front.

2:30 Norfolk Stakes
A key requisite for this 5f dash for 2yos to have already won at the trip. The last 15 winners had all done so and you would expect all of the field to have here also, however, Shang Shang Shang won over 4 1/2f in the US whilst the Aiden O’Brien trained Land Force along with The Paddocks both won over further. The form of the Wesley Ward yard is extremely off putting at the moment with two beaten favourites and not even come close to placing thus far. Doesn’t give you the confidence to row in on another favourite of his. Significantly 14 of the last 15 winners had an RPR of 106 or higher which narrows our field down to two with Land Force ruled out already.
The two to look at are Konchek for Clive Cox and Vintage Brut for Tim Easterby. The pair are closely matched on their last run when Vintage Brut won from the plum stall 1 at Sandown whilst Konchek found plenty of trouble drawn out wide. This does mean if Konchek is to win it must break a 13/15 trend that the winner had also won last time out.
There is surely more to come from Konchek who didn’t get the best of runs yet was still beaten narrowly at Sandown. Trainer does well with his 2yos, including going close in the first today for us.
2pt win Konchek @ 4/1 widely available
3:05 Hampton Court Stakes
Only been one double figure priced winner in the last 11 years so once again its best to concentrate on those at the head of the field. 11 of the last 12 winners had already raced over 1m 2f which is a negative for lightly raced duo Wadilsafa and National Army. That leaves me Key Victory, Hunting Horn and Nordic Lights from those at single figures. Both the first two named ran well in France in a group 1 last time, not disgraced in 8th and 6th respective. Nordic Lights couldn’t get competitive in a tough group 2 last time which was won by Roaring Lion.
Two interesting things here that sway me towards Key Victory. Firstly that and Nordic Lights are both trained by Charlie Appleby for Godolphin so you would imagine William Buick had first choice, having also ridden both. He has naturally selected Key Victory. Secondly even though Key Victory only finished 8th in France and Hunting Horn finished 6th, the latter was a 25/1 chance before the rac and largely unfancied whereas Key Victory went off at 9/2. Quite possible it wasn’t suited to the soft conditions in the race having previously won on good and good to firm, I would be hopeful it can return to form here.
1.5pt win Key Victory @ 9/2 widely available
3:40 Ribblesdale
13 of the last 15 winners had raced at least twice that season which is a negative for one of the favourites in Sun Maiden. 12 of the 15 had placed on their last start, which leaves just four. When you factor in 11 of the 15 having won over 1m 2f or further and it leaves us with just Athena.
O’Brien has 4 runners and though Athena isn’t the first string she promises to be well suited to the step up to 1m 4f. Already improved for the better ground she finally got off the mark last time. Should have the race run to suit, I don’t think she will be far away.
1pt e/w Athena @ 10/1 Paddy and Boyle 1/5th odds 3 places
4:20 Gold Cup
A race that looks to be between the front three in the betting. However, picking between them isn’t easy. Order Of St George has been there done it and got the t shirt. Whereas Stradivarius is the young pretender who has the potential to be a star over these marathon trips. You then have Vazirabad who has only finished outside the first two twice from 22 starts but is making its Ascot debut.
It is a race I am happy to watch and enjoy. Hopefully they all run to form and it is a fascinating battle as it promises to be. No Bet.
5:00 Brittania Stakes HCap
A mass field of 3yos running in a mile handicap where there are numerous factors that can have an effect. Unlike in the Royal Hunt Cup where we often have two years plus of form to consider we have to make a judgement on what these did as a 2yo and beginning of their 3yo campaign which makes it so tough with several unexposed rivals. The two I want to take are Crack On Crack On for Clive Cox. This horse is two from two this year but beat many of these last time out in a valuable Haydock handicap on good ground. Showed a good turn of foot that day which impressed me enough to think the handicapper hadn’t got hold of it yet. The other worth backing is Qaysar who was favourite when finishing behind Crack On Crack On. Clearly didn’t get the run of the race that day yet had looked very progressive prior. Has experience of straight tracks and has previously shown a good quickening speed so hopefully it can reproduce it again.
Got to go on two fold in such a big field handicap with unknown quantities. The best of these look to be Crack On Crack On and Qaysar.
1pt e/w Crack On Crack On @ 8/1 1/5th odds 6 places widely available
0.75pt e/w Qaysar @ 22/1 Paddy 1/5th odds 6 places
5:35 King George V
As a way of breaking this field down, the last 15 winners had all raced between 2 and 4 times that season, 14 of 15 had been placed last time out, 12 of 15 carried 8st 13lb or less whilst 9 of the last 12 winners came from stalls 10-20. With these in mind our shortlist is Baghdad, Corgi and Making Miracles. Two of the three are trained by Mark Johnston who has won this three times in the last 15 years. Baghdad recently beat Making Miracles with the latter then going on to take its own victory next time. That means there is very little between them again. As Baghdad is a prominent racer I would be swaying towards Making Miracles from the pair has it will be ridden more patiently from its wider draw, get dropped in and finish well. I also like Corgi who is improving with every run having still looked green at times. Not disgraced in the maiden won by Stream Of Stars, well fancied for a group race today, it then won a handicap at Sandown showing a good resolution. Only gone up 3lb in the weights, it should go well.
Competitive handicap to end the day but hopefully the trends stand up and we are rewarded. Could take three in the race and have a saver on Baghdad but instead will stick to just the two selections.
0.75pt e/w Corgi @ 14/1 Skybet and WillHill 1/5th odds 5 places
0.75pt e/w Making Miracles @ 16/1 Boylesport 1/5th odds 5 places