Royal Ascot selections Tuesday 14th June
The first day of five at Royal Ascot and we have lovely weather and very fast ground conditions to get underway with. We will surely have a Baaeed procession in the opener, but for betting purposes things get progressively more interesting as the day goes on. I have selections for four races for Tuesday. We had a fourth winning nap in a row through Lion Tower on Saturday (7/2), Blue for You was also placed for the each-way bet (SP 20/1).
Royal Ascot 3.40: Nature Strip & Arecibo
The fastest race of the week, the Kings Stand Stakes is an intriguing affair given we are back to a truly international field. I have two bets from opposite ends of the betting market.
NATURE STRIP is officially rated the best sprinter in the world and even at the age of seven, he can display exactly why today against a relatively modest home challenge. He was right back to his best when winning a Group 1 at Randwick over 6f last time, and whilst this represents a drop back in trip today, I actually think that will be in his favour.
5f at Ascot still takes plenty of getting given the undulating track and that might do for front-runners such as Golden Pal. Nature Strip is not always the fastest starter, but he has a fine cruising speed and can bring that natural pace into the race later on in the contest. He is quick enough to have won multiple Group 1 races at home over 5f and fast ground should be no impediment.
However I also can’t resist a little each-way saver on last year’s runner up ARECIBO. This race is a stronger renewal, but his natural hold up style is perfectly suited to Ascot and in a race where there is the potential for a slight pace collapse. He shaped well when third in a Group 2 at Haydock last time, if anything hitting the front too soon that day. That won’t be an issue today and at huge odds he can give us a run for our money for connections who won this very race in 2011.
Royal Ascot 5.00: Rock Eagle & Arcadian Sunrise
Whilst my two selections for this handicap are right at the top of the weights, there is such a small differential (10lbs) between top and bottom, I don’t see this as an issue at all.
First choice has to be ARCADIAN SUNRISE. This dual purpose horse has been concentrating far more on the flat recently, but still found time to win a valuable pot over hurdles at Galway last summer. He then went on to win over 2m at the Ebor meeting on fast ground and made a more than encouraging reappearance from six months off when fourth in the Chester Cup last month.
This more galloping track will be in his favour and a low draw will enable him to save ground around the bends. Exciting apprentice Harry Davies has been booked to take off 5lbs and the extra distance today will be right up his street.
ROCK EAGLE races only for the second time in fifteen months today, but he can benefit from a nice return at Haydock last month over an inadequate 12f. Whilst only sixth on that occasion, the race will have done its job of bringing him up to speed for today and he must have claims given he is a pound lower than when fifth in the 2020 Cesarewitch on his only previous attempt beyond 2m.
He has few miles on the clock for a 7yo and the application of a first time tongue-strap might just eke out some improvement too.
Royal Ascot 5.35: West End Charmer
Whilst the Wolverton is no longer a handicap, it might as well be looking at the betting with 6/1 the field readily available. This will only be a token effort on my part, but the lightly raced WEST END CHARMER did well on his return to the track and is well drawn.
A low draw is an advantage where there is such a short run into Swinley Bottom and this horse naturally likes to race up with the pace. Whilst I hope he won’t take on perennial front-runner Majestic Dawn, I am sure he will stick closer to that horse then when chasing him home at Goodwood from an impossible position.
This horse has a couple of fast ground wins to his name and ran a cracker to be third at the 2020 Royal meeting over 12f on softer ground. A strongly run 10f is probably ideal though and he has shown he belongs at listed level with two placed efforts in that sphere latterly.
Royal Ascot 6.10: Cleveland & Stowell
The 14f trip is rarely run at Ascot, but this is another distance where there is an extremely short run to the first turn. In last year’s inaugural running, the first seven home were drawn in single figures whilst the last four home were all drawn ten or above. For that reason my two are both drawn below ten.
CLEVELAND is the obvious favourite after impressively landing the Chester Cup on handicap debut. This represents a 4f drop in distance (he is rated too highly now for the natural target the Ascot Stakes earlier in the day), but he won at Chester through turn of pace and I can see him doing so again.
Whilst he had the run of the race around the inner at Chester, he still had to make up plenty of ground late on and had no issue doing so. A 5lb rise looks pretty lenient in my book at stall nine is no disadvantage (and effectively stall 7 with the reserves out).
STOWELL has been a tricky horse to catch right and only has a 12f maiden at this track win to his name so far. However he ran a fine race from way off the pace to be third over this trip in the Queens Vase at last year’s meeting on similar fast ground and the move into the hustle and bustle of a big field handicap might suit him perfectly.
I would expect Frankie Dettori to take his time once more and deliver him for a late run. That has not worked on his last three starts in pattern company in small fields, but is far more likely to pay dividends against very slightly lesser opponents and a slightly lower grade.
1pt win – Nature Strip – 3.40 Ascot – 9/4 general
0.5pts each-way – Arecibo – 3.40 Ascot – 50/1 general (most bookies 1/5 odds 1st 4)
1pt each-way – Arcadian Sunrise – 5.00 Ascot – 11/2 Bet365 (1/5 odds 1st 6)
0.5pts each-way – Rock Eagle – 5.00 Ascot – 16/1 Bet365 (1/5 odds 1st 6)
0.5pts each-way – West End Charmer – 5.35 Ascot – 14/1 Bet365 (1/5 odds 1st 5)
1pt win – Cleveland – 6.10 Ascot – 2/1 general
1pt each-way – Stowell – 6.10 Ascot – 13/2 Bet365, Paddy Power (1/5 odds 1st 5)