Pointing the way to a successful Royal Ascot
Steve Hughes looks ahead to the first of five days of British racings’ biggest fixture.
Three Group 1 races form the traditional strong start to the Royal meeting. Of those I have selections from two, plus an each-way fancy for the only handicap on the card.
Ascot 2.30: Le Brivido & Mustashry
In the expectation that the ground continues to dry out, I have two win bets against the field in the opener.
Le Brivido is not an easy ride as he can often miss the break and his stamina is not completely proven at a mile. However he possesses plenty of speed and this hold up horse clearly loves this straight track having landed the Jersey Stakes two years ago. He again met trouble in running when only fifth in the Lockinge at Newbury last month. However the steady pace that day left him with too much to do after another slow start. This stiffer track should give him more of an opportunity to come through the field with a late run.
It would be folly though to overlook the winner at Newbury that day, Mustashry. The faster the going the better for Michael Stoute’s ever improving 6yo. He finally enjoyed his big Group 1 day with a game performance, where he was always prominent. In a field full of hold up horses it is quite possible that Mustashry will get away from them again if the rain holds off.
Ascot 3.40: Blue Point & Sergei Prokofiev
A brilliant winner of this race last season, Blue Point should be up to the challenge of a repeat win. This is an out and out 5f performer who put 2l into top sprinter Battaash last year. He is 3-4 on this track, his only defeat coming in the Commonwealth Cup behind Caravaggio over 6f. He earned his keep with three wins in Dubai over the winter and has been kept fresh for this since.
Although it is a big ask for 3yo’s against older rivals, I am giving another chance to Sergei Prokofiev to defeat his seniors on this track. He could never get in a blow when a never nearer fourth at Newmarket last time, but this track is much more suitable for hold up performers. In what might prove a real burn up I can see Ryan Moore picking up some pieces – just as he did when winning a Group 3 at Newmarket last season, and in a listed contest at Naas this spring over 5f..
Ascot 5.00: The Cashel Man
This is effectively a 2m4f jumps race without any jumps and my hopeful for this is a horse that has been hurdling this winter in The Cashel Man.
The 7yo has snuck into this off bottom weight and can build on two modest looking efforts back on the flat this spring. However he showed in his younger days that he is an out and out stayer and it is only in marathon contests such as this one that we will see the best of him.
Nicky Henderson has had plenty of success with these dual purpose horses that have been sent to him from other yards and The Cashel Man appeals as just that sort of horse to excel here. In the past he was fourth in a Cesarewitch (from just 1lb lower) and was winning over as far as 2m as a 3yo.
1pt win – Le Brivido – 2.30 Ascot – 6/1 general
1pt win – Mustashry – 2.30 Ascot – 5/1 Paddy Power, Boylesports
2pts win – Blue Point – 3.40 Ascot – 3/1 general
0.5pts each-way – Sergei Prokofiev – 3.40 Ascot – 11/1 William Hill
1pt each-way – The Cashel Man – 5.00 Ascot – 28/1 Ladbrokes (1/5 odds 1st 5)
Next column – Wednesday 19th June – Day Two Royal Ascot