Ocean will love the water at Ascot
Steve Hughes previews day two at Royal Ascot
With heavy overnight rain expected, Ascot looks set to be very soft for the Wednesday of the Royal meeting. My selections are therefore based on horses expected to act well in testing conditions. We got off to a winning start on Tuesday with a winning nap in Blue Point (advised 3/1).
Ascot 3.40: Crystal Ocean
Despite being officially the highest rated horse in the line up, Crystal Ocean is only third favourite for Wednesday’s highlight, but the 5yo will relish the soft going and at this 10f trip those testing conditions will bring his confirmed stamina into play.
He has cosily won two weaker group races this spring and has more than earned another chance at a Group 1 prize. He has already finished second twice in Group 1’s at this track, including a narrow defeat in one of the races of the season in the King George last year.
That was on fast ground, but he has excellent form on softer going including chasing home Cracksman over course and distance in the Champion Stakes last autumn. Minding is yet to win against the colts on Group 1 company and another chief rival Sea of Class has to overcome a long absence and is unproven on the ground.
Ascot 4.20: I Can Fly
Course form at Ascot is always a strong factor and I Can Fly’s narrow second to Roaring Lion in last year’s QEII here is surely the best form on offer.
That race was run on similar ground to what they will face today and this hold up performer clearly acts well on a soft surface. She is not quick out of the stalls, something that compromised her chances at Newbury in the Lockinge, but a slow start on this track is not a disadvantage at all.
She got going too late at the Curragh last time when again slowly away, but she has been consistent at a high level for a long time now and the 3lb penalty picked up for winning a group 2 on Champions weekend at Leopardstown can be overcome here.
Ascot 5.00: Mordin, Robin of Navan & Raising Sand
Three against the field in the Hunt Cup in a race where there are only 8lbs between the second top weight and bottom weight.
First choice is Robin of Navan, a Group 1 winner as a juvenile on soft ground, but a horse without a win since 2017. His days in top group races are probably over now, but I have been taken with how easily he has travelled in handicaps this spring. His run at Newbury last time can be safely thrown out as he was knocked to the back of the field at a crucial time. However he was cruising for much of a listed race here in May before fading and a big field and strong pace here looks sure to suit.
Mordin is racking up a good record in these sort of races. A fine second in the Cambridgeshire last season, that stamina to last 9f should bode well for a strongly run mile. Encouragingly his first attempt on soft ground at Haydock in April brought about a convincing victory. He was less well suited by a small field group race last time, but back in more familiar territory he can make his presence felt once more.
Assuming the forecast showers arrive overnight at Ascot, Raising Sand has to be considered to make Nicola Currie the first winning female jockey at Royal Ascot. A real mudlark, he made a fine reappearance in the Victoria Cup when a fast finishing fourth over 7f. Whilst he boasts good form at that trip, he is surely better at a mile running well when seventh in this race last year when the going was much too quick for him. He is drawn right on the near side, so could be at a mercy of the draw, but providing that is no disadvantage he rates strong each-way value.
2pts win – Crystal Ocean – 3.40 Ascot – 9/2 Bet365, Skybet
1pt win – I Can Fly – 4.20 Ascot – 9/2 general
0.5pts each-way – Mordin – 5.00 Ascot – 25/1 Ladbrokes, Coral (1/5 odds 1st 6)
1pt win – Robin of Navan – 5.00 Ascot – 11/1 William Hill, Paddy Power
0.5pts each-way – Raising Sand – 5.00 Ascot – 8/1 Skybet (1/5 odds 1st 7)
Next column – Royal Ascot Day 3 – Thurdsay 20th June