Crunchsports.com's guide to Wednesday's racing at Royal Ascot...
The Jersey Stakes over the specialist trip of 7f (due off 14:30 BST) gets proceedings under way this afternoon on the second day of Royal Ascot.
Several of the runners are stepping back in distance and that includes the likely favourite Reply, who looked to find a mile just beyond him when finishing third in the Irish Guineas behind stablemate Power. That’s the best form on offer here and 7f should be perfect but he’s also fairly exposed after seven runs and something might improve past him. ALJAMAAHEER looks capable of doing just that based on his easy success in the influential King Charles II Stakes at Newmarket on his latest start, which was the same route taken by recent Jersey Stakes winners Jeremy (2006) and Tariq (2007). His trainer Roger Varian reports him to have “come on” since that run, which was only his third career start, and the drying ground is very much in his favour too, so I’m hopeful he can get us off to a flyer.
Sir Henry Cecil has already given us one shining star this week and I fancy he can light up day two with CHACHAMAIDEE in the Group 2 Windsor Forest Stakes. Previous form at the course has featured in the CV of four of the past seven winners of this race, and two of these had been placed at the royal meeting previously, so Chachamaidee fits the bill nicely having finished runner-up in this race 12 months ago. She looks to be still improving too judging by her stylish reappearance win at Lingfield last month, and she’s taken to score from the penalised pair of Emulous and Nahrain.
What to make of Prince Of Wales’s Stakes favourite So You Think? It’s clear that he’s not the superstar that was once so confidently predicted and he’s twice disappointed on this course, including when beaten at 4/11 in this race 12 months ago (albeit narrowly), but that’s the best form on show here and frankly he should win. He’s not a betting proposition at around the even money mark, though, and I’m going to put up PLANTEUR as a solid each-way alternative. A Group 1 winner when trained in France, he’s run two fine races in defeat this season since joining Marco Botti, finishing third in both the Dubai World Cup and Prix d’Ispahan, and a stronger gallop at a stiff track like Ascot should bring out the best in him.
The Royal Hunt Cup is often seen as a lottery with 30 plus runners the norm but results suggest otherwise, with no fewer than 13 of the last 17 winners priced at 20/1 or lower, while six went off at single figure odds. DIMENSION has always been amongst the market leaders and looks the ideal type for the race. After hitting the crossbar in several big handicaps last season, the four-year-old finally came good at Ascot in September, and his trainer James Fanshawe, who has a cracking record in straight course handicaps here, reports him to have improved for a gelding operation over the winter. Jamie Spencer has been booked to do the steering and he’s taken to score from Captain Bertie, who is 8lb higher for his Spring Cup win last time.
Richard Hannon was winning his fifth Queen Mary Stakes with Best Terms 12 months ago and therefore his three runners are given maximum respect, with Jubilee Diamond just preferred. However, Mick Channon’s record is pretty impressive too with his last 10 runners in the race yielding three winners, a second, third and fourth, and I fancy his GRAPHIC GUEST can bring up win number four and land a hat-trick in the process. Granted, she didn’t beat much when winning over course and distance on her penultimate start and at Windsor last time, but that’s the nature of these early season juvenile races, and I’m confident she can more than hold her own in this company.
The closing Sandringham Handicap looks seriously competitive and Richard Fahey’s LADY’S FIRST is just a hopeful selection. Her close up fifth to Reply in a valuable sales race at Doncaster last season looks a nice piece of form now and she will be cherry ripe for this after finishing second at the same track last month. Considering that was just her fourth career start, there should be more to come and she gets in here with a lovely racing weight of 8st 7lb.
Ross Aylward's selections for Royal Ascot on Wednesday:
3.45 Planteur (each-way)
5.00 Graphic Guest
5.35 Lady’s First