Royal Ascot, Wednesday: Fascinating Day 2
The excitement of the opening day of the Royal Meeting is sure to be replicated by six wide-open and intriguingly high-class races on day two.
A massive field of 26 goes to post for the Jersey Stakes, which kicks-off the day. Favourites are currently flip-flopping, with Sentaril and Reply both well fancied. Sentaril has been impressive in her two career starts thus far and though those victories came in much lower grades, she has the scope to improve under Johnny Murtagh. Reply is sure to be suited by the step down in trip to 7 furlongs having finished third in the Irish 2000 Guineas last time and his form is just about the best of any in this race. Sovereign Debt was very impressive over course and distance last time, and course form is always a plus. Ascot is a very different track to Epsom where Producer has won four times, but he is on an upward curve and has some fairly useful form. Red Duke meanwhile steps down in class having been keeping some tough company in quality races and could surprise a few.
Only in its ninth year, the Windsor Forest Stakes continues to go from strength to strength and this year the race is mouth watering. Lolly For Dolly won for Ireland last year and this year the Emerald Isle is represented by favourite Emulous. She has a penalty for having won the Group 1 Matron Stakes last year, but her comeback win was very good and she deserves respect. Nahrain was second at last year’s Breeders’ Cup, so that speaks for itself, whilst Chachamaidee represents Sir Henry Cecil and Tom Queally and was runner-up in this last season. Joviality may be the fly in the ointment however, having been a fast finishing second on her first start this season in the Princess Elizabeth Stakes at Epsom. The camber of the Downs didn’t appear to particularly suit her and as she was gaining on Clinical all the time, she must have a big chance back on this flatter, straight course.
By far the trickiest race of the day, and perhaps of the meeting, is the Royal Hunt Cup, which will see a field of thirty handicappers thundering up the Ascot straight. It really is a ‘stick your pin in’ event! Dimension looks unexposed and being well weighted, could win easily. Things are rarely that simple however, and it may pay to look for a longer priced horse. Arabian Star is incredibly consistent and has a light weight, whilst Invisible Man’s ultra consistency will see him shoulder top weight. Bonnie Brae will improve for the step-up to a mile and Boogie Shoes deserves another shot having disappointed badly when favourite at Epsom last time – that course can have that effect. High drawn horses have prevailed in the last two runnings, so Belgian Bill for Kieran Fallon, and outsider Capaill Liath for Kevin and Amy Ryan could benefit.
Jubilee Diamond is one of three runners in the Queen Mary Stakes bidding to give Richard Hannon his first two-year-old winner of the meeting and having being picked by Richard Hughes, looks the stable’s first choice. Indeed, she’d be an aptly named winner and could easily improve on her debut behind Upward Spiral, the favourite to take this Fillies’ Group 2. Another of Richard Hannon’s, Hairy Rocket, could give a bold show too, having been beaten by Graphic Guest, who re-opposes, in a tactical three runner race at Windsor last time. As it proved yesterday, Kevin Ryan has to be respected in 2-y-o races at the Royal Meeting and Projectisle looks the pick of his trio, interesting now stepped down in trip. Another down to the flying five is Irish raider Mironica, who runs for David Wachman. She could be the dark horse.
Bringing down the curtain on the second day is the Sandringham Handicap, which is as open as ever. Way Too Hot is a much bigger price than Hello Glory, despite having finished only a neck behind that rival at York last time. Both of those should be competitive. Electrelane was well ahead of them in that race and has subsequently won the German 1000 Guineas. She now gives her rivals plenty of weight, but looks in a different league to the rest. That said, Devotion, who ran in the Oaks at Epsom a few weeks ago, is also in the line-up. The step down to a mile isn’t certain to suit, but this is a much easier contest. Villeneuve of Willie Muir’s has some decent form and is a huge each way for risk-taking place punters, whilst Ladys First could improve down in trip and weight.
The action gets underway at 2.30pm.
Image courtesy of bbc.co.uk