Of the thirty races compiling Royal Ascot, seven of those are handicaps of the highest quality. Due to the competitive nature of the big fields, riders have to be at their absolute best to find the gaps at the right time, which is where our 4 Jockeys to Follow at Royal Ascot comes in handy.
Ascot Stakes – Tuesday
Royal Hunt Cup – Wednesday
Britannia Stakes – Thursday
King George V Stakes – Thursday
Sandringham Stakes – Friday
Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes – Friday
Wokingham Stakes – Saturday
Royal Hunt Cup
Just one winning favourite since 1997 and only one winner at single figure odds in the past nine years, it’s been a difficult puzzle for punters to solve. Nine of the last twelve renewals have gone the way of four year olds, so it’s developed into a race where it can pay to side with unexposed improvers.
The market leader is James Tate’s New Graduate, who has only had four starts, registering two wins and two seconds. Juvenile form with the now 113-rated Zaaki gives evidence that he has plenty of ability and that was supported when bolting up on handicap debut at Ripon. That race has worked out very well with the second, third and fourth racking up five wins since between them. New Graduate has been raised a hefty 15lbs for that victory, but looks the right favourite.
Roger Charlton’s Blue Mist wasn’t beaten far by Wissahickon last season and continued to progress in subsequent starts. Beaten only three lengths over an inadequate seven furlongs in the Victoria Cup on seasonal reappearance, he would appreciate the step back up to a mile here, but may struggle to get in with a mark of 96 leaving him number 52 on the list of a maximum 30 runners.
Bowerman is another lightly-raced sort with just five starts under his belt, three of those being wins, he could still have more to offer. Last years victor Settle For Bay appears to have been aimed at a defence and had a lovely prep run in Listed company at Leopardstown when finishing off nicely from the rear of the field.
Laddies Poker Two was the last winning favourite of the Wokingham back in 2010, when famously landing a gamble following an exceptional Jeremy Noseda training performance. Dreamfield was a neck away from landing many a punter a winner as he was sent off one of the shortest-priced favourites in the races history, at 2/1 last season.
2018 winner Bacchus could be set for a defence of his crown, off just 3lbs higher. He hasn’t run yet this campaign, but that certainly won’t be concerning for his supporters as he won the race on his seasonal return twelve months ago.
Foxtrot Lady was a four-time winner last season and certainly wasn’t disgraced in Listed company at Windsor when last seen. Having been a close up sixth off this mark in the Stewards Cup at Goodwood last campaign, she has sound claims in this contest with the stiffer track likely to suit her.
He’s been around the block, but Danzeno was rated as high as 115 in his pomp and bounced right back to form when destroying a field by six lengths on seasonal reappearance. Carrying a penalty in the Wokingham, he’ll be racing off 3lbs below his official mark which is a massive tick in his box.
One at a big price to take note of could be Summerghand for David O’Meara. The five year old was highly progressive last season, winning five times and returned this season with a pair of excellent runner up efforts at Newmarket, being beaten by what looked a Group performer on the latter occasion. He’ll have the same mark for the Wokingham and could just be over-priced.
Other to Note
There are no entries out at the time of writing for the other handicaps yet, but an interesting one if entered in the Britannia Stakes would be Andrew Balding’s Hero Hero. The €325,000 Yearling was an eye-catcher on debut when finishing strongly over six furlongs and subsequently went off odds on favourite next time up. But he bumped into the talented Jubiloso (who is heading for the Group 1 Coronation Stakes) and subsequent winner, Dominus, at Chelmsford.
Hero Hero made it third time lucky when bolting up by eight lengths at Chester over a distance just shy of a mile, appearing to relish the extra trip. His immediate future definitely looks over that sort of trip and off a mark of 95, could make his presence felt in a race such as the Britannia.