Caviar the star
Alex Hammond brings you her tips and predictions for Thursday, Friday and Saturday at Royal Ascot.
Last Updated: 21/06/12 10:40am
Frankel and Black Caviar are topping the bill at Royal Ascot this week in what should be a fantastic few days of racing.
Here Sky Sports News presenter Alex Hammond takes a look at the big races on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and makes her selections.
You can see Alex's tips for Tuesday and Wednesday at Royal Ascot here.
The Ribblesdale (Group Two) is the second race on the third day of the meeting. It's a race for three year-old fillies over a mile and a half. It's good news that Vow has been given the go ahead for the race by trainer William Haggas. She finished 4th in the Oaks on only her third start on a racecourse and takes in this race en-route to the Irish Oaks at the end of July. Of her opponents I like the look of The Fugue, who was my strong fancy for the Oaks but got knocked over giving her no chance of getting into things. I hope she gets compensation here.
Selection: The Fugue
Fame and Glory is bidding to retain his Gold Cup crown in the feature race on Thursday but I don't think Aidan O'Brien's stayer will have things all his own way. He's very smart, but he's no Yeats. However, there appears to be plenty of confidence behind him and he is currently Even money favourite with Sky Bet. Opinion Poll is 9/2 next best for Godolphin trainer Mahmood Al Zarooni and Frankie Dettori. Colour Vision is 5/1, also for Godolphin although this horse is trained by Saeed bin Suroor and will be ridden by Silvestre de Sousa. Saddler's Rock is the horse I think could give the favourite a run for his money and at 5/1 offers a bit more value for John Oxx. He beat Opinion Poll in the Doncaster Cup last Autumn and will be sharper for his recent run in the Saval Beg Stakes. I love Overturn and it would be great to see him run into the frame, he's a 20/1 shot.
Selection: Saddler's Rock
The King Edwards VII Stakes is often referred to as the Ascot Derby and compensation could await Derby third Astrology who is one of seven in this for Aidan O'Brien. John Gosden has Derby fourth Thought Worthy entered along with Lingfield Derby Trial second and subsequent maiden winner Shantaram and also Goodwood winner Michelangelo. Sir Henry Cecil runs Frankel's brother Noble Mission and recent Newmarket handicap winner Thomas Chippendale. It looks like a wonderful race and it maybe that horses that didn't run in the Derby have the edge here as Epsom can often take it's toll on a horse. Noble Mission is a horse I've followed due to his illustrious pedigree and he could be the sort of horse that comes into his own now he's stepped up to a mile and a half. He is progressing and can hopefully turn around the form with Thought Worthy.
Selection: Noble Mission
The Coronation Stakes sees the classic fillies line up over a mile and it's exciting to see both English and Irish Guineas winners entered along with some other very smart individuals. Maybe hails from the Aidan O'Brien stable, she is one of six entries for Ballydoyle, which also include 1000 Guineas winner Homecoming Queen. Maybe finished third to Homecoming Queen in the English Guineas and then didn't stay in the Oaks and she must have very strong claims dropping back to this trip, although she has yet to show she is as good as she was at two. The other classic winner in the field is Mick Channon's Samitar who won the Irish Guineas. Mick obviously thinks plenty of this filly although he says he can't separate her and the other filly he saddles, the progressive Laugh Out Loud. He has managed to secure the services of Frankie Dettori for Laugh Out Loud as William Buick who rode her to win her last two starts will be claimed by John Gosden for one of his runners (who wouldn't want Frankie on board at his favourite racecourse?). The pick of the Gosden entries appears to be Elusive Kate. It's a worry that she hasn't run since the Breeders' Cup when conditions didn't suit her there, but she was progressive as a juvenile and shouldn't be discounted. I think it's particularly difficult to find the winner of this top class race, but I'm just leaning towards Laugh Out Loud with Frankie in the plate.
Selection: Laugh Out Loud
The Group Two Hardwicke Stakes looks superb with last year's winner Await the Dawn amongst the entries. The horse who finished second to him last year, Harris Tweed, is entered again for trainer Williams Haggas. Haggas has Beaten Up in this too, he deserves another chance after not handling the cambers of Epsom in the Coronation Cup last time out. Melbourne Cup/Hong Kong Vase winner Dunaden is also being aimed at this race. Connections hope he can make up into an Arc contender later in the year, so you would hope he can make an impact in this mile and a half race. This will given connections an idea if he's up to mixing it with the best over this trip and if not he will step back up in distance. John Gosden has a couple of interesting entries, Leger winner Masked Marvel and King George winner Nathaniel. Sea Moon is another with claims for Sir Michael Stoute after a winning reappearance at Goodwood which should have helped put him spot on for this race. Back over this course and distance Nathaniel could go well here and I have plenty of respect for Sea Moon.
The Diamond Jubilee Stakes is the most anticipated race of the week as Aussie superstar Black Caviar makes her Northern Hemisphere debut. Plenty has been said about this mare in the last few weeks and it will be a huge shock if she is beaten. She definitely falls into banker category for me but as you can imagine is a short price - 1/3 favourite with Sky Bet. There are some smart horses in the race away from her though and some good each way value to be had. Bated Breath may run here either as well as, or instead of, the King's Stand, he is 8/1. Moonlight Cloud is a dangerous horse to ignore for Freddy Head. He has been speaking highly of this filly and she comes here in good form having won a Group Three over seven furlongs at Longchamp last time out carrying a Group One penalty. She has won six of her ten starts and although she may be better over a furlong further than this six furlongs she could give the favourite a race and looks to be her biggest danger. If you fancy her, she is 7/1. Society Rock is the horse I'll be backing each way. He has a pretty impressive record in this contest, finishing second in it as a three year-old and then winning the race last year for his shrewd trainer James Fanshawe. He has only been out the frame once at this track and ran a decent race on his reappearance in the Duke of York Stakes last month. He saves his best for this track and I hope he can finish in the frame, he is 12s.
Selection: Society Rock (each way)
The Wokingham Stakes is an ultra competitive handicap and finding the winner will be tough. Mac's Power is Sky Bet's 12/1 favourite, he won this race on the wrong side last year. Alben Star and Cape Classic are next best at 14/1. Alben Star represents Richard Fahey. Cape Classic hails from the William Haggas stable and his runners have to be respected in these big handicaps. Maarek (16/1) can run well, but he has plenty of weight and there could be something better treated to come and beat him. Bartolomeu (16s) is a three year-old and I think it's tough for that age group despite the fact he's well regarded by Marco Botti. Desert Law can run well for Andrew Balding if the ground dries up. He was second in the Epsom Dash and is 16/1. Henry Candy's Seal Rock is another in with a shout at 20/1. Rae Guest runs Mirza, another 20/1 shot who can run well. Once again, we don't know the draw or ground conditions for this race on Saturday but if I had to pick one now it would be Alben Star.
Selection: Alben Star
Champion jumps trainer Paul Nicholls is set to have his first Royal Ascot runner. He has American Trilogy in the Queen Alexandra Stakes on Saturday. He is a smart horse, rated 141 over hurdles and he won a Listed race on the Flat when trained in France. He also won on the level under Mick Kinane in a charity race at Aintree's National meeting and I don't suppose Britain's Champion Jumps trainer would come here just for the sake of it, so watch out for this runner. Nicholls isn't in line for top trainer honours at this meeting for a change (I would imagine the flat trainers hope he doesn't decide to take more of an interest in that code) so Aidan O'Brien is 4/6 to be top of the tree. His son Joseph is 2/1 to be leading jockey. I think Aidan O'Brien is worth a bet to be top trainer once again with some strong entries and plenty of them to boot. As for leading jockey Joseph O'Brien is the obvious one, but it may be worth a bet on William Buick who has some decent rides and at 7/1 offers more value and could have some decent rides for John Gosden.
Alex's Best Bet
I'll be watching from afar this year as I'm just down the road at Hickstead for their famous Jumping Derby meeting, but my best bet of the five days at Ascot is The Fugue in the Ribblesdale. Good luck and have a great week.