Aussie sprinters to be too quick again

Royal Ascot Racecourse

Royal Ascot selections Saturday 18th June

We are already onto the final day at Royal Ascot and the meeting climaxes with two great sprints, the Platinum Jubilee Group 1 and then the big betting race the Wokingham. I have selections for the final four races on the card. In US open week we peppered the flag on Friday with Candleford an 9/1 (advised) winner, leading home each-way selection Ajero (advised 9/1) in second. Headline selection Discoveries placed for the each-way bet (SP 11/1) whilst Zanbaq (advised 12/1) and Fresh Hope (advised 7/1) were also placed for the each-ways in the 5.00.

Royal Ascot 4.20: Home Affairs, Artorius & Happy Romance

After Nature Strip’s demolition job on Tuesday I am expecting the Aussie sprinters to run rampant once more over a furlong further and with the European challenge decent, but lacking a star, it seems sensible to go in with both raiders from down under.

HOME AFFAIRS looks slightly one dimensional in that he goes from the front, but that pace could simply burns off the others. He bravely held off Nature Strip to win the Black Caviar at Flemington in February and his last run was not as bad as it sounds when only ninth as he ended up in the wrong group on the near side of the course. He might simply have been over the top by then as well and has been freshened up for today. Chris Waller clearly got the training of Nature Strip bang on, so the same should apply to Home Affairs too.

Given he will be setting a strong pace from the outset, that must bring ARTORIUS into play as well. He actually finished ahead of Home Affairs last time out, but his style of running is completely the opposite in that he starts slowly and flies at the finish. That makes him an attractive proposition on this track and it is no surprise to see him team up with Jamie Spencer this afternoon. His low draw could be an issue given where the early pace is likely to be, but this horse stays 6f really well and given the level of form of Australian sprinting is so strong, he remains each-way value.

Of the home challenge I will be having a little saver on HAPPY ROMANCE. A stiff 6f on fast ground look to be her optimum conditions and she ran a career best when second in the Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan in March. That showed she belonged at Group 1 level and she was a staying on fourth in the Haydock Sprint Cup last season where that sharp track did not bring her stamina enough into play. Jockey Sean Level will be full of confidence after his first ever Royal Ascot winner yesterday and a middle draw should be perfect.

Royal Ascot 5.00: Blackrod, First Folio & Chairmanoftheboard

My three for the Wokingham all have form that ties in nicely with each other.

BLACKROD is working himself nicely through the handicapping ranks, and should still have at least one more big one in him off 100. A winner at Newmarket’s July meeting and York’s Ebor fixture, he finished the year with a third in the Ayr Silver Cup. However he looked a better horse again when winning a heritage handicap at Newmarket on Guineas weekend and has been held back for a tilt at this. A high draw might just be ideal based on how the latter races panned out yesterday.

However if you fancy Blackrod, then FIRST FOLIO must come into consideration. He beat Blackrod fair and square in the big June 3yo handicap at York last season and is actually 8lbs better off today. It is not as if First Folio is out of form as he was fifth behind Blackrod at Newmarket when potentially in need of the run and he was a staying on second in a listed race at Windsor last month. His strong travelling style should set up beautifully for this race and he will love the fast ground.

CHAIRMANOFTHEBOARD scrapes in at the bottom and appeals as a likely type for this race. He was an unfancied third in that Blackrod race at Newmarket and is a strong finisher at 6f. His stamina came into play when winning on soft ground at Haydock last autumn, but he has already finished fifth on fast ground in a Stewards Cup and the stiffer track at Ascot is more likely to be in his favour.

Royal Ascot 5.35: Honiton & Bushfire

No great stand outs in this final handicap of the meeting but I have two hopefuls.

HONITON only got off the mark at the fifth attempt at Sandown last Saturday, but given the horses who beat him previously that is no disgrace. He was unlucky enough to run into My Prospero (Group 1 runner up this week) and Thesis (winner on Thursday at Newbury on his seasonal debut. He then chased home Secret State (also a winner Thursday at Chester and was then third to Eldar Eldarov at Newcastle last month (winner on Tuesday).

With nothing of that calibre up against him at Sandown he romped home by 9l and has now built up plenty of experience with which to take on a more competitive race such as this.

BUSHFIRE showed conspicuous promise last season after showing nothing on debut. He was then a good third at Salisbury (Israr second) before winning a heavy ground novice at Newbury. We have not seen him since and the faster ground is a concern (though it might rain by then). However this son of Australia is bound to improve for this step up in trip and is surely better than is current rating of 83. Trainer Hughie Morrison is a master in bringing these horses through as he did with Quickthorn to win here last season.

Royal Ascot 6.10: Calling the Wind

Much revolves in the finale around whether Trueshan turns up and it could be quite a last minute decision. However my angle here is to back CALLING THE WIND each-way.

He ran a cracker to be second in this race last season and proved that to be no fluke when winning the 2m4f handicap at Glorious Goodwood, confirming him as a horse with limitless stamina. He finished off the year with a placing in the November Handicap at Doncaster over just 12f.

However this has surely been the target all season and he has run respectably in two 12f races so far, where he was unable to bring those stamina reserves into play.

Recommended bets:

1pt win – Home Affairs – 4.20 Ascot – 5/2 Bet365, William Hill

1pt each-way – Artorius – 4.20 Ascot – 15/2 Bet365 (1/5 odds 1st 6)

0.5pts each-way – Happy Romance – 4.20 Ascot – 22/1 Bet365, Boylesports (1/5 odds 1st 6)

1pt each-way – Blackrod – 5.00 Ascot – 7/1 Skybet (1/5 odds 1st 8)

1pt each-way – First Folio – 5.00 Ascot – 16/1 Skybet (1/5 odds 1st 8)

0.5pts each-way – Chairmanoftheboard – 5.00 Ascot – 22/1 Bet365 (1/5 odds 1st 7)

1pt each-way – Honiton – 5.35 Ascot – 9/2 general (most bookies 1/5 odds 1st 5)

0.5pts each-way – Bushfire – 5.35 Ascot – 20/1 general (most bookies 1/5 odds 1st 5)

1pt each-way – Calling the Wild – 6.10 Ascot – 11/1 general (most bookies 1/5 odds 1st 4)

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