Ten is up for Cup
Steve Hughes looks ahead to Friday’s action at Royal Ascot
With the weather looking up I expect ground conditions to be improving dramatically for Friday. I have selections for four races on another star studded card.
Ascot 3.05: Humanitarian
The Derby form has had some ups and downs this week and I think the tables could be turned with Humanitarian having claims of overturning a near 7l deficit to Japan.
John Gosden’s colt was given plenty to do at Epsom, but kept on pleasingly into seventh without having an overly hard race, whilst Japan was only narrowly beaten in a pulsating climax. However he proved his stamina for 12f that day and can do better with a more forceful ride here.
He had made all the running to win a Salisbury novice prior to that and had been a wide margin winner at Lingfield last autumn. I suspect the drying ground will aid his chances and he looks overpriced, especially if eight runners stand their ground for each-way purposes.
Ascot 3.40: Ten Sovereigns
Without a doubt the nap of the day has to be Ten Sovereigns.
Aidan O’Brien’s colt was an exceptional 2yo, winning on all three starts, highlighted by victory in the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket. All of those wins though came at this 6f trip.
O’Brien tried to turn him into a miler for the 2000 Guineas, but having been going best 2f out, he faded into fifth ultimately. Sensibly that mile experiment has been ditched and this natural sprinter returns to his favoured trip. This really should be his number one target for this season given it is a rare group 1 sprint restricted to 3yo’s only.
Ascot 5.00: Layaleena & Whimbrel
In a wide open contest I am having two stabs.
Layaleena was thought of highly enough to have a go at a Group 1 last season, though she could only manage 6th in the Fillies Mile. She was given a very negative ride to try and stay 10f at Sandown on her comeback, but that trip was clearly too far. Given a more forceful ride back at a mile last time, she responded with a comfortable win at Nottingham. A strongly run mile contest here should suit ideally.
Whimbrel is given a shot – one of four John Gosden trained runners in the line up. At first glance she does not look the strongest fancy of the quartet on jockey bookings, but given her low weight, few jockeys are available – David Egan is a fine choice though. She has been developing quickly from a slow start. Unplaced on debut at Wolverhampton, she looked very green when third at Haydock last month, not getting the clearest of runs in the process. She built on that with an authoritative win at Chelmsford last time over 10f and that stamina for further will come in useful in what will surely be a strongly run mile contest. By a speedy sire in Dark Angel, her dam Seagull was a 12f winner so looks to have a lovely pedigree mix for a contest such as this.
Ascot 5.35: Baghdad & Arthurian Fame
Any number of these can be given a chance, but I have narrowed it down to two.
Baghdad won over course and distance at this meeting last year, but did not run again in 2018 through injury. However he has bounce back as good as ever this term. Given a considerate ride, he was a decent third on comeback at Newcastle and then showed all his old battling qualities to win at Newmarket last month, despite pulling harder than ideal. A typically gutsy Mark Johnston inmate, he is the perfect type for this track, a horse that likes to race prominently, but who finds plenty for pressure.
I have been very taken by Arthurian Fame’s two wins this season. Of only average ability last year, a gelding operation over the winter seems to have transformed him. A strong traveller, he quickened impressively to win at Leopardstown last time and a 6lb higher mark today looks more than fair.
0.5pts each-way – Humanitarian – 3.05 Ascot – 16/1 general
2pts win – Ten Sovereigns – 3.40 Ascot – 5/4 general
0.75pts each-way – Layaleena – 5.00 Ascot – 14/1 Bet365 (¼ odds 1st 5)
0.75pts each-way – Whimbrel – 5.00 Ascot – 20/1 general (Paddy Power & Skybet 1/5 odds 1st 6)
1pt win – Baghdad – 5.35 Ascot – 11/2 Ladbrokes
0.75pts each-way – Arthurian Fame – 5.35 Ascot – 10/1 general (most bookies 1/5 odds 1st 5)
Next column – Saturday 22nd June – Day Five Royal Ascot