Royal Ascot selections Thursday 16th June
We have reached the middle day of Royal Ascot and today sees the Blue Riband event of the week, the Gold Cup. I think this year’s renewal is a fascinating one and a wide open affair, and for that reason I have two each-way selections at bigger odds. The card as a whole looks fascinating and aside from the big race I have also looked closely into the three handicaps on the card. We moved into profit for the week yesterday with Dark Shift winning the Hunt Cup (advised 10/1), whilst we had each-way placed runs from Hafit (9/1), Bless Him (20/1) and State Occasion (advised 12/1).
Royal Ascot 3.05: Israr & Mandobi
A high draw still seems an advantage over 12f at Ascot, despite horses drawn wide having to cover more ground, so both my selections are drawn in double figures.
ISRAR is the stand out in the field after winning the London Gold Cup for us at Newbury last month. He overcame a slow start and some greenness before storming through late on and I can only see the extra 2f working in his favour today. He looks very comfortable on fast ground and as a son of Oaks/King George winner Taghrooda is very much bred for 12f. Taghrooda’s only other progeny Almigwhar won twice at 12f and ran well over 2m, so Israr should certainly not be lacking for stamina.
Trainer William Haggas has run many unexposed types at this meeting, so far without any winners, but MANDOBI could buck that trend this week. After finishing a promising second at Haydock on his only start at two last season, he has won both starts this spring, albeit against very modest opposition at Ripon and Thirsk.
However he is already a winner at the trip and half brother Gaassee, has already won a big 12f handicap this season for the same trainer. A wide draw I see as a positive and he is the sort of horse that could be comfortable racing up near the front if there is a lack of early pace in the race.
Royal Ascot 4.20: Burning Victory & Bubble Smart
Even with the expected withdrawal of Trueshan, the Gold Cup looks a fascinating affair. However I have reasons to go against the market leaders. Stradivarius has his chance, but was beaten in this and on Champions Day last year and could be vulnerable at the age of eight. Kyprios has been very well supported but I have a suspicion he could be best fresh and he has stamina to prove. Princess Zoe is a tough old stick, but fast ground is probably not ideal.
BURNING VICTORY is best known as a hurdler, but has been high class in that sphere despite jumping poorly. The one time she really excelled last season was when making all at Punchestown, but with no jumps in front of her today, she can show her true class.
Her second place in the Cesarewitch reads well and proves she has limitless stamina. She won a couple of modest handicaps in France last summer, acts well on decent ground and could be the pace angle in the race. William Buick knows her from riding her at Newmarket and trainer Willie Mullins knows how to win these long distance races at Ascot.
At huge odds I expect BUBBLE SMART to be competitive too. She revelled at this distance in the Prix du Cadran last season, staying on strongly at the finish and whilst she has to find something with Stradivarius, she is value at many times the odds of the Gosden inmate. She has run two solid races over 2m at Longchamp this season, but without the emphasis on stamina in those races she could not be at her best. I am encouraged she was able to win on fast ground over 2m in a Group 3 at Longchamp last season, and the faster they go, the better her chances of figuring.
Royal Ascot 5.00: Tranquil Night, Amortentia & Atrium
This is one of the hardest races I have ever looked at in terms of narrowing down the short list and there are genuinely eight horse I strongly fancy. However you can’t back them all and I have got this down to three.
TRANQUIL NIGHT is one of two strong Godolphin contenders, but I think he has achieved more on the track and therefore I have opted for him even though William Buick has chosen King of Time. He got some good experience winning a couple of the All Weather at Kempton in the winter and showed the benefit of that when storming 3l clear of Outgate at Newmarket’s Craven meeting. The second home Outgate has franked the form in no uncertain terms since and he has been kept back for this to protect his mark of 95.
AMORTENTIA benefited hugely from a change of tactics when coming from way off the pace to win at Naas on handicap debut last month in a recognised trial for this race. Those tactics are much more suited to a race of this type and he left behind his maiden form of last season when largely trying to make all the running. He acts well on fast ground and a middle draw looks ideal on the basis of yesterday’s racing.
ATRIUM is 2-2 at the track and despite taking a marked step up in class, he could still be ahead of his mark for trainer Charlie Fellowes who has such a strong record on this straight track. He found plenty for pressure when coming from out the back to win here last month and hopefully a 7lb rise won’t stop him. That race proved his stamina for a mile and he is battle hardened now having taken in four handicaps to date.
Royal Ascot 6.10: Vafortino, Chiefofchiefs & Above
Another cavalry charge completes proceedings for day three and another three against the field is required.
The claims of VAFORTINO are obvious after he landed the Victoria Cup over C&D last month. Whilst he is bred for further, a strongly run 7f on a stiff track obviously suits him better and he confirmed his earlier Newcastle second was no fluke that day. Trainer Kevin Phillipaert de Foy is gaining a big reputation of improving horses from other yards and a Royal meeting winner would cap what has been an outstanding 2022 to date.
I backed CHIEFOFCHIEFS in that Victoria Cup last month, but it was a throw out run as he constantly met trouble in running. Of course his style of racing always means that is a potential issue and it could be again today. However he has enough form in the book here to merit another bet. He won over 6f here at the 2020 Royal meeting but has also placed twice on the straight track including over 7f. He has got his favoured fast ground today and if Jamie Spencer can pick a path through runners he holds great each-way claims.
ABOVE is an interesting contender and comes here in-form from back to back seconds at Newmarket. That includes a run over 7f and he can race off the same mark of 94 he won off at Chelmsford in the winter. He has plenty of good form over 7f in the past, notably a third in a Group 3 in Germany and the hold up tactics worked well at Newmarket last time, which leaves me to believe he should enjoy this bigger field to chase today. He loves fast ground too and is beautifully drawn in the middle of the pack.
1pt each-way – Israr – 3.05 Ascot – 7/1 Bet365, Paddy power (1/5 odds 1st 6)
0.5pts each-way – Mandobi – 3.05 Ascot – 14/1 Bet365, Paddy power (1/5 odds 1st 6)
1pt each-way – Burning Victory – 4.20 Ascot – 16/1 general
0.5pts each-way – Bubble Smart – 4.20 Ascot – 50/1 general
1pt each-way – Tranquil Night – 5.00 Ascot – 8/1 Boylesports (1/5 odds 1st 5)
1pt each-way – Amortentia – 5.00 Ascot – 8/1 Boylesports (1/5 odds 1st 5)
0.5pts each-way – Atrium – 5.00 Ascot – 14/1 general
1pt each-way – Vafortino – 6.10 Ascot – 8/1 Bet365, Skybet (1/5 odds 1st 7)
1pt each-way – Chiefofchiefs – 6.10 Ascot – 12/1 Bet365 (1/5 odds 1st 7)
0.5pts each-way – Above – 6.10 Ascot – 20/1 general (many bookies 1/5 odds 1st 7)