King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Group1) 1m4f Saturday

ascot king george saturday.jpgThis middle distance, mid summer highlight of the racing calendar, was first run in 1951,  as a Top level contest open to all ages. Historically the classic generation, with 30 victories have had the better of the argument, (including last year with the John Gosden trained Enable) but with only the five wins since the dawn of the new millennium their star has become slightly tarnished. Training honours, with an impressive five victories apiece, are shared by Saeed Bin Suroor, and veteran Newmarket Maestro, Sir Michael Stoute, and the latter, with the two market leaders, Poets Word and Crystal Ocean, in his care at the Freemason Lodge Academy, must fancy his chances of landing a sixth success.

Poet’s Word has won six of his fifteen starts, accumulating an impressive, near £2,000,000 in win and place prize money but has only managed to bag a single top level success. However that was achieved in his last race, the 10f Group1 Prince of Wales Stakes at Royal Ascot where he put the 2/5 fav, Cracksman firmly in his place. A slight concern is his lack of success at the top level over Saturday’s trip, but his canny trainer is in no doubt that he will be equally effective over a mile and a half, and a quick glance at the 5yo’s pedigree would suggest that he might even improve for it. By Poets Voice, out of the Nashwan mare, Whirlybird, who was a winner herself at 11f, and is the dam of two animals who were best at two miles. Poets Word is a late maturing animal, the type The Master Of Freemason Lodge excels with, and a repetition of his Ascot effort will make him hard to beat.

His stable companion, Crystal Ocean has yet to score a top level success, but the 4yo put up a tremendous effort in his sole attempt at a Group1, when going down by a battling 1/2L to Capri in last year’s St Leger. crystal oceanThe son of Sea The Stars (pictured) may have been found out by the trip at Doncaster, but back at Saturday’s distance, over which he’s won on three occasions, including last time out, when taking the Group2 Hardwicke Stakes at The Royal Meeting (over Saturday’s course and distance Good/Firm) is bound to prove a very live contender. Beautifully bred, he is a half brother to the Group2 winning mare, Crystal Capella, and the Group1 winning stallion, Hillstar. All in all he has plenty to recommend him at the weekend.

With five entries at the time of writing, Aidan O’Brien is mob handed but if the markets have got it right, his best chance of landing a 5th win in the race lies with his improving, 3yo, Kew Gardens. Always well thought of at Ballydoyle, he finished of his 2yo career in some style, beating the subsequent Derby runner up, Dee Ex Bee by 3 1/2L in The Zetland Stakes at Newmarket last October over 1m2f. Disappointing in his first four races this term, he came good at the fifth time of asking, winning the 14f Group2 Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot by 4 3/4L and a neck from his stable companions Southern France and Nelson. The drop back to 12f proved no obstacle next time, when he won the Group1 Grand Prix De Paris by 1 1/4L from Neufbosc, with Dee Ex Bee 4 1/4L back in 3rd. The son of Galileo is improving at a rate of knots and it wouldn’t take a lot more to see him in the winners enclosure on Saturday.

Despite winning the Group1, Prix Ganay on his reappearance with his head in his chest, the John Gosden trained Cracksman has looked less than enthusiastic in his last two races. While it is dangerous to dismiss such a talented animal, the Gosden yards best chance of landing a 4th King George may lie with the 4yo filly Coronet. A daughter of Dubawi, she performed with plenty of credit as a 3yo, but her two runs this campaign would suggest that she is an improved filly. She won the Group2 Middleton Stakes at York on her reappearance over 10f, and four weeks later only lost out by a nose in a bobbing finish to the Andre Fabre trained Waldgeist in the 12f Group1 Grand Prix De Saint-Cloud on Good/soft ground. Fabre has withdrawn his talented colt from Saturday’s contest because of the likelihood of a fast surface, but the Gosden filly will relish a return to such ground.

Selection : Kew Gardens
E.W.          : Coronet

John Gray

Betting Tips King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes 1m4f Ascot Saturday

Paul Nicholls won his first Summer Plate at Market Rasen last Saturday in fine style with the very progressive 7yo, Alcala. The grey travelled really well throughout and looked the most likely winner a long way from home. There was only a neck in it at the post, but I feel that jockey, Sam Twiston-Davies had a bit to spare, and there could be more to come from this likeable grey. Bringing home the bacon at the rewarding odds of 9/1 he certainly left followers of The Oddsguru blog on good terms with themselves, so here's hoping we can keep the momentum going in Saturday's Ascot showpiece.

First run in 1951 as a Group1 open to all ages, the Classic generation, with twenty nine wins on the scoresheet have historically had the best of the argument, but it has to be said that with only four victories since the turn of the new millennium, their record hasn't been nearly so impressive. Sir Michael Stoute and Saeed bin Suroor share the training honours with five victories apiece closely pursued by the Master of Ballydoyle, Aidan O'Brien, with four.

Sir Michael's best chance of taking the outright lead lies with recent Eclipse winner,
(and Oddsguru's selection) Ulysses. Typical of the slow maturing type that Maestro Stoute excels with, Ulysses, who had been a tad disappointing as a 3yo, showed that the penny was beginning to drop when winning the Group3 Sir Gordon Richard Stakes over Sandown's demanding 10f on his reappearance in April, and confirmed that he was indeed on an upward track eight weeks later, when finishing third in the 10f Group1 Prince of Wales Stakes to Highland Reel and Decorated Knight, beaten 1 1/4L and a Shd. Probably needing the race after his two months break, he took a very strong hold, and mounted his challenge too early in the straight, giving the winner a target to aim at, but seventeen days later looked much more the finished article when winning the 10f Group1 Eclipse Stakes. Always travelling well, he again came with his run a little too early and had to hold off the late challenge of 2000gns runner up Barney Roy, who clearly improved for the step up in trip. Ulysses won Goodwood's 12f Gordon Stakes as a 3yo and as a son of Galileo out of the Oaks Heroine, Light Shift, Saturday's trip could prove ideal. A concern would be testing conditions. Although he has performed on easy ground in the past, connections are hoping the rain stays away.

The Ballydoyle operation is represented by one of the toughest and most genuine animals on the planet, the 5yo Highland Reel, and by his year younger full brother, Idaho. The former, yet another son of the great Galileo is attempting to become only the third horse to win back to back runnings of the contest, and boasting six Group1 victories on three continents, must have serious prospects of bringing off the double. However he does like to hear his hooves rattle so with so much rain about a waiting brief is advised.

His younger sibling, the 4yo Idaho, was certainly not winning out of turn when taking Royal Ascot's Group2 Hardwicke Stakes last time out. He was an unlucky loser of last year's St Leger, unseating Seamie Heffernan when coming down the straight on the bridle, and again the fates were against him when making his seasonal debut in the Coronation Cup at the Derby meeting in June, where due to some cock up in the flying arrangements, he only got to the course an hour before the race. Third in Last year's Derby, and second in the Irish equivalent, this beautifully bred animal may only now, as a 4yo be beginning to realise his full potential, and as he seems to handle most ground is one for the short list.

John Gosden, a two times winner of the race, is represented by dual Oaks winner, Enable, and 5yo Jack Hobbs. The former, a daughter of Nathaniel, has looked a real class act when winning both the English and Irish Oaks. She won at Epsom by 5L from O'Briens Rhododendron, and was equally impressive at The Curragh, winning by 5 1/2L from Rain Goddess. It has to be a concern that it is only two weeks since her stunning Curragh victory, but very much in her favour is the fourteen pounds she will be receiving from most of her older rivals.

Second to Golden Horn in the 2015 Epsom Derby, and winner of the same year's Irish Derby, Jack Hobbs has had his problems since, but looked to have put them behind him when winning at Meydan on his reappearance in March, (yielding ground) but then was a major disappointment at Royal Ascot. He was sent off the 2/1 fav for the Prince of Wales Stakes but finished last of the eight runners behind Highland Reel. The fast ground and very hot day were blamed for the poor performance. However the horse has continued to attract plenty of support in the market, and with nothing faster than good ground likely at the weekend, is worth considering.

David Simcock would love to see the heavens open over the Berkshire track as his 5yo Desert Encounter revels in soft ground. The son of Halling is a little short of the required standard but he did run a decent race last time to finish third, 3 /12L behind Ulysses in the Eclipse, and as we all know, heavy ground is a great leveller.

Selection : Idaho

E.W. : Ulysses

John Gray

Racing Tips Wessex Youth Trust Handicap Hurdle


Nicky Henderson’s Consul De Thaix is given a strong chance by the Oddsguru on Saturday

Wessex Youth Trust Handicap Hurdle 2m Ascot Saturday  – Sponsored by the Ladbroke organisation since it’s inception in 2001, it is to be run this year as the Wessex Youth Trust Handicap. Due to weather, and the rebuilding of Ascot,  there have only been twelve renewals of the contest, and the most successful trainers have been Nicky Henderson, with three winners, and Irish handler, Gordon Elliott with two,( both in the last four years). Inexperience has been no bar to success, with seven of the last eleven winners having raced only seven times or less over hurdles in Britain or Ireland. Good recent form has been important, as seven of the last eight first past the post, had managed a top three finish in their previous race. Last year, Oddsguru followers, while celebrating, had to put up with a reduced dividend, when the Philip Hobbs trained 4yo Sternrubin, under an inspired ride from R.Johnson, got up in the shadow of the post to force a dead heat with our selection, the Harry Fry trained 6yo Jollys Cracked It. They meet again on Saturday and there seems to be plenty of confidence in the market that the Fry runner can stage a repeat.

Jolly’s Cracked It sustained a minor injury after last year’s race which has kept him on the sidelines since, but his top trainer, reports him fit and ready to run. He has had four races over the Berkshire track winning three of them and being placed on the other occasion so from a mark only 6lbs higher than last year he looks to have a serious chance at the weekend, particularly if we get some rain.

Last year’s co-winner, Sternrubin gained his victory off a mark of 134, and won on his reappearance over course and distance in October, racing off an 8lbs higher mark. He had Saturday’s opponent, Modus, 1/2L and a neck behind in third, but two weeks later in a Cheltenham handicap Sternrubin was a disappointing 5th, finishing ten lengths behind Modus, who finished 2nd, and despite a 6lbs swing the Nicholls contender now looks the more likely of the two to come out on top.

Newbury Races

Could Modus give Paul Nicholls his first winner in the race?

Despite having had fourteen runners in the contest, a win has eluded the Master of Ditcheat but Modus does look just the type to fill in this gap in the Nicholls CV. A winner of two of his seven starts over hurdles the tough and consistent 6yo ran another solid race last time when only failing by 1/2L to better the well handicapped North Hill Harvey at Cheltenham five weeks ago. He has been put up, rather harshly in my opinion, another 5lbs for Saturday’s contest, but strikes me as the type from whom there is plenty more to come.

Two of Nicky Henderson’s entries, the 5yo, Brain Power, and the 4yo Consul De Thaix met in a Sandown handicap two weeks ago, with the 5yo prevailing by 3/4L. There are sound reasons to think that positions can be reversed at the weekend as the winner had the benefit of a run three weeks earlier, while the very inexperienced runner up was having his first run since finishing 10th in the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham in March. He also meets his stable companion on 4lbs better terms so this clearly progressive animal looks nicely handicapped on a mark of 135 giving him a nice racing weight of 10st10lbs and has to be on the shortlist.

Without a winner in the contest prior to 2012, Irish Stables had a particularly poor record until Gordon Elliott won with Cause of Causes, and as he repeated the dose two years later with Bayan, his 5yo Mick Jazz demands a second look. Previously trained by Harry Fry for whom he failed to hit the back of the net, he made a winning debut for his new yard in a Clonmel Maiden at the end of October. He finished 2nd in a Navan Grade 3 seventeen days later, and despite not getting the run of the race, continued to progress when finishing third in a valuable Fairyhouse Handicap thirteen days ago. Not badly treated on a mark of 141 he is worth considering.


Derrick Trotter would surely be keen on the chances of (he) Who Dares Wins (Rodney)

Alan King won this with Raya Star in 2011 and will be hoping for a repeat with his progressive 4yo Who Dares Wins. He was only having his fourth race over hurdles when finishing out the back in the Triumph Hurdle, but his three runs this term have been much more positive. He made a good start to the present campaign when finishing 4th to Ballyoptic in a valuable Chepstow Grade3 in October, and was going ok when unseating at Cheltenham five weeks later. However it was last time that he really showed what he could do, when coming home 9L clear of the field in a Class1 Newbury handicap off a mark of 140. He is set to carry 11st10lbs on Saturday and will have to put up a weight carrying record to win, but that Newbury performance was impressive.

Selection: Consul De Thaix (if abs. Who Dares Wins)

E.W.      : Modus

Almanzor Primed For Qipco Champion Stakes Glory

Almanzor looks the one in Saturday’s Qipco Champion Stakes
– A race first run in 1877 in which, over the next one hundred and forty years, the classic generation have had more than their fair share of success, but since the race was transferred from headquarters to Ascot in 2011 no three year old has managed to get his head in front. Sir Michael Stoute with two winners, Pilsudski 1997, and Kalinisi in 2000, has been the most successful of Saturday’s trainers, but one name, most conspicuous by its absence from the roll of honour, is one, Aidan Patrick O’Brien. However the Ballydoyle maestro, with four entries at the time of writing is attempting to fill in this glaring gap in his amazing CV, and as his 1000gns and Oaks winner, Minding, is more likely to run in the Qipco Queen Elizabeth 11 Stakes, his best chance would seem to lie with the “Arc” heroine of 13 days ago, Found. She was probably a little unlucky when finishing second in this to Fascinating Rock last year, but it is significant that she was again beaten, fair and square over 10f, in the Irish Champion Stakes by Almanzor, prior to that superb Arc victory, and it may be that she now needs a full 12f to show her best. Indeed the French race, which was run in a really fast time strongly played to her undoubted stamina. However she is a really tough animal, as she showed last year when, having finished second in this and the Arc, she went on to take the 12f Breeders Cup Turf only two weeks later, and as this is her time of year, her chance is certainly not easily dismissed.

The Dermot Weld trained Fascinating Rock won last year’s renewal by 1 1/4L and 1/2L from Found and Jack Hobbs, and indeed the score between the Weld 5yo and the filly stands at 2-1 in his favour, emphasizing what a top class animal the son of Fastnet Rock is. He is a big gross horse who needs to get his toe in and if he gets his conditions at the weekend he must have serious prospects of adding to his master trainer’s impressive Ascot record.

Having won his only 2yo race, and hacked up by 12L on his reappearance as a 3yo, Jack Hobbs looked like an animal going places, and so it proved, finishing second in the Derby and winning the Irish equivalent by 5L. Following that honorable third in last year’s Champion Stakes he was put away for the season and reappeared in a 12f Newmarket Group 2 in April where he was sent off the 8/15 fav. He was pulled up, and a stress fracture to his pelvis was diagnosed. His hugely talented handler John Gosden, was firmly of the opinion that the son of Halling was immature as a 3yo, and that he would be more the finished article with another year on his back, so obviously that Newmarket setback was a blow. However on the positive side, horses do make full recoveries from this particular injury, and as he is an animal who obviously goes well fresh, the enforced holiday could prove to have been a blessing in disguise.

Sir Michael Stoute attempts to add to his two previous successes with the very lightly raced 3yo son of Galileo, Midterm, and it would come as no surprise at all if this beautifully bred animal figured very prominently on Saturday. He is out of that marvellous mare Midday who won six Group 1s, including an unprecedented three timer in Goodwoods 10f Group1 Nassau stakes, in her fabulous racing career. An impressive winner of both 2yo starts, Midterm confirmed the promise shown, when winning a Sandown Group3 on his reappearance and was sent off a warm order for the Dante Stakes. Unfortunately he sustained an injury during the course of the race, but for which he may well have started favourite for the Derby itself. However he showed that no lasting damage had been caused when finishing a close second in a Chantilly Group2 four months later. This beautifully bred animal’s career has yet to seriously take off but Saturday could well see him in the departure lounge.

J.C. Rouget’s 3yo Colt Almanzor is a hugely progressive animal. He won the French Derby, (10 1/2f) as an unconsidered 20/1 shot at the beginning of June, and followed up with a comfortable win in a Deauville Group2 eleven weeks later. It was last time though, which showed what giant strides he had  taken, when he cruised to success in the highly competitive Irish Champion Stakes 33 days ago. Second last of the 12 runner field  at the two furlong marker, he was switched to the outer, and made rapid headway to get to the leader, Found, and effortlessly went past the filly inside the last 100yds. With strong reservations on breeding, (his sire Wotton Basset never won beyond 7f) he didn’t take up his engagement, in the Prix de L’Arc, quite rightly in my opinion. He should arrive at the start on Saturday a fresh animal, and is going to be hard to beat.

Selection: Almanzor

E.W.       : Midterm

Gigaset International Stakes Betting Tips

Gigaset International Stakes Betting Tips 

Gigaset International Stakes (Heritage Handicap) 7f Ascot Saturday – With Saturday’s feature, the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes looking like a shoe in for Roger Varian’s short priced favourite, Postponed, our best chance of tipping a decent priced winner on an excellent Ascot Card is to nail the victor of the £150,000 “International”.

Mark Johnston has a great record in the contest with three winners, all 4yo’s, but with a trio of lowly rated 3yo’s this year he will need plenty above them in the handicap to come out to even have a runner. The man with the next best record in the race with two winners, is fellow Yorkshire trainer Richard Fahey, and anything from this yard demands plenty of respect.

His course specialist, and last year’s winner, Heaven’s Guest, won the 2015 renewal off a mark of 103 on soft ground and gets into Saturday’s contest on only 1lb higher. He has also won over course and distance, as a 3yo, again on easy ground, but showed that fast ground wasn’t a problem when going down by 3/4L in a Class2 at headquarters off Saturday’s mark of 104 fourteen days ago.

The Brian Ellison trained Balty Boys was a head behind Heavens Guest in last year’s race and reappears on 6lbs better terms but has failed to impress in three outings this season. However he has been campaigned over further and it wouldn’t surprise to see him play a more prominent role returned to 7f.

Another of the Fahey contingent, Right Touch, demonstrated his wellbeing when winning over 6f at Chester two weeks ago off a mark of 95. Badly drawn, he stayed on well to lead in the last 50yards on the soft ground. He has won over the course, (6f Gd/Sft ) last September, and has a victory over the distance (Ayr 7f good) in the same month. His form is mildly progressive so given ground no faster than good is worth considering off Saturdays mark of 98.

The Stuart Williams trained Suzi’s Connoisseur showed the benefit of his first run for eight months when coming home strongly at Newmarket fifteen days ago to get within 3/4L of Swift Approval (7f Gd/Fm) off a mark of 98 under Oisin Murphy. He acts on any ground, so again partnered by the talented Irishman, and racing off 97 looks one for the shortlist.

The Michael Dodds trained Glen Moss ran a great race in the 6f Wokingham handicap at the Royal Meeting, beaten less than 2L in third off a mark of 100, and confirmed the progress when taking a conditions event at Haydock a fortnight later. Back up to 7f, a distance he has won over four times, and with Ryan Moore down to ride he looks a danger to all, but his new mark of 105 does look challenging.

Considering his relative lack of experience Librisa Breeze was a very well backed 8/1 shot for the Royal Hunt Cup and ran a blinder. He came with a strong looking challenge one furlong out but didn’t last home, and finished second off a mark of 97. While the evidence from his four outings on turf would suggest that this 4yo colt requires easy ground to perform to his optimum, it is worth remembering that All Weather performers (and Librisa Breeze has won three times on an artificial surface) adapt well to Ascot’s straight course.

The James Tate trained 5yo  Braxos needs a few above him in the handicap to come out in order to get a run but the 3lbs penalty he incurred for winning at Doncaster (7f Gd/Fm) on July14th has certainly helped his cause. Racing off a mark of 89 he held on by a nose from Regal Dan and runs on Saturday off 92. He did win over course and distance two years ago off a mark of 95, so the weekend’s Mark may not be insurmountable.

Mick Channon’s 4yo colt Bossy Guest ran well in the Hunt Cup, finishing 6th, less than 3L behind the winner, despite an interrupted passage. He also ran a Corker in last years Group3 Jersey stakes over course and distance, finishing 3rd, 1 1/4L behind the classy Dutch Connection. He disappointed last time at Newmarket fourteen days ago but wouldn’t be the first to bounce back from a poor display in that race at   Headquarters.

Selection: Suzi’s Connoisseur

E.W.    : Right Touch

Diamond Jubilee Stakes Betting Tips

The Diamond Jubilee Stakes 6f Group 1 Royal Ascot Saturday – What a good ride Adam Kirby gave Oddsguru’s selection, Profitable, in Tuesday’s King’s Stand Stakes. Always travelling supremely well within himself, the 4/1 winner was the last to come off the bridle. However Adam had to get down to some serious riding inside the final furlong as the son of Invincible Spirit had to battle hard in the testing conditions. A tearful Kirby was hugely complimentary about the horse afterwards and he could well end the season as champion sprinter. The performance of the 33/1 runner up, Cotai Glory, must have come as a pleasant surprise to trainer Charlie Hills who always thought the horse needed fast conditions, and will surely have boosted his confidence that another of his top sprinters, Magical Memory will get his head in front where it matters in Saturday’s Diamond Jubilee Stakes.

The 4yo gelding by Zebedee has won won six of his fifteen starts and has shown a most progressive profile. He won his first handicap (May 2015) off a mark of 87 and three months later saw him winning a very competitive Goodwood affair off 102. Thrown in at the deep end the following month, he ran a great race in a Group 1 at Haydock. Starting at 14/1 he belied those odds when finishing third, beaten a short head and three quarters of a length by Twilight Son and stablemate, Strath Burn. Put away for the season he made a winning reappearance in a Group 3 at Headquarters with Dettori in the plate (Gd/Sft) in April, and followed up in a Group 2 at York twenty five days later. He had his Haydock conquerer, Twilight Son, 4 1/2L back in fifth and if we can believe the form, the Hills horse has taken a major step forward over the Winter. Magical Memory can handle most conditions and with Frankie again taking the ride he looks a worthy favourite.

James Fanshawe runs his 4yo gelding, The Tin Man, and is another who has made serious progress from the ranks of handicap sprinters. Rated only 79 last July, he hosed up in a course and distance handicap off a mark of 91 in October and connections were so impressed they supplemented him for the Group1 Champions Sprint fifteen days later. They retrieved their late entry fee when he finished fourth, 3 3/4L behind the impressive winner Mukaarar. Twilight Son was 1 3/4L in front of him in second and The Tin Man does seem to have it all to do to reverse the form. However it’s worth noting that this very lightly raced animal is a half brother, (by Compton Place) to his trainers Wokingham, and Group1 Champions sprint winner (2011) Deacon Blues, and we are very unlikely to have seen the best of him yet. There was certainly plenty to like about his reappearance win at Windsor twenty four days ago when he had Strath Burn three lengths back in fourth.

Last year’s winner, the US trained 6yo gelding, Undrafted, has had a very quiet twelve months since his victory, and has clearly been trained with a repeat on the Royal stage in mind. On only his third outing since Ascot he showed his wellbeing when taking a Grade2 at Keenland (April 9th) but the concern for him must surely be the ground as all his turf victories have been gained when the word firm has been in the going description. Unless there is a dramatic improvement in conditions at the Berkshire venue he is hard to fancy.

Already a Group 1 winner, and in view of his fine second over course and distance in last years Champions Sprint, Henry Candy’s 4yo son of Kyllachy, Twilight Son has to enter calculations. His reappearance run behind Magical Memory in that Group2 at York was perfectly respectable, but the fact remains that he has 4 1/2L to find on the winner, so perhaps the Candy yard has a better chance with their other 4yo, Limato. Always held in very high regard, he was sent off the 3/1 favourite for the 1m Group1 Lockinge Stakes in May but didn’t seem to get home. He did win a slowly run Group2 7f race at Doncaster but it’s worth remembering that five of his six victories have been achieved over 6f, (including a course and distance win), so the drop back in trip may well suit. If the ground improves to good by the weekend he would be worth considering.

The prize money in Hong Kong must be phenomenal because the 7yo ex Irish gelding Gold-Fun has managed to accumulate the eye watering sum of £3,721,460 in prize money, despite never winning at the top level. However he has put in plenty of good performances in Group1s, including last time, (May 6) when finishing fourth. Trained in Ireland until 2012 where he won a maiden over the stiff mile at Naas, he may be well suited by Ascot’s testing uphill straight 6f and a reproduction of his close second, (beaten 1/2l) in a Sha-Tin Group 1 last December would make him interesting.

Selection:    Magical Memory

E.W.    :   Gold-Fun

King’s Stand Stakes Betting Tips

King’s Stand Stakes Betting Tips Gp1 5f Royal Ascot Tuesday Last week’s selection, US Army Ranger gave us a good run for our money, but after a sluggish start, which left him out the back for most of the race, he had it all to do. Left with a mountain to climb three furlongs out, he didn’t get the clearest of runs and had to be switched widest of all. He picked up well and looked a possible winner, getting to within a neck of Harzand, but couldn’t go past. However he is still a pretty inexperienced animal and should have learned a lot. The Irish Derby promises to be an intriguing contest!

Intriguing is also the word to describe next Tuesday’s King’s Stand Stakes at the Royal Meeting, with the bookmakers going 7/1 the field at the time of writing. Since it regained it’s Group1 status in 2008, Robert Cowell has led up the winner twice, with Prohibit in 2011, and last year with Goldream. Cowell’s 7yo won at the tasty odds of 20/1 but having added the Prix de L’Abbaye to his C.V. since, such a generous price won’t be available on Tuesday. His win last year was preceded by a lacklustre seventh behind Pearl Secret in the Temple Stakes at Haydock, and his latest run this year, 9th at Meydan in March, wasn’t exactly inspiring. However his talented trainer certainly knows the time of day with his sprinters, and it wouldn’t come as a great surprise to see him become the first to train three winners of the contest.

William Haggas’s 6yo Muthmir, finished in front of Goldream twice in 2014, but has had the worst of the argument in recent exchanges. He was beaten fair and square by the Cowell horse in the Prix de Labbaye, but it was his run behind Goldream in last years renewal of the King’s Stand that offers hope of reversing the form. Taking a fierce hold, he ran the first half of the contest with no cover and with the choke out. As he was only beaten in a blanket finish you would have to be hopeful of him going even closer this year. He has only had his preferred good/firm surface to race on once since, a Group2 at Goodwood, a race he duly won. Given similar conditions on Tuesday he should be involved at the business end.

Clive Cox’s 4yo colt Profitable did Oddsguru a favour when winning the Group2 Temple Stakes at the rewarding odds of 8/1 from Mecca’s Angel and Waady (May 21st Gd/Sft). Twenty one days prior to that he had won the Gp3 Palace House Stakes from Jungle Cat and Waady on similar ground. However as wins at Sandown Gd/Fm, and York Gd show, he doesn’t need to get his toe in and looks a very progressive sprinter who is well suited by a stiff 5f. By that hugely prolific stallion, Invincible Spirit, out of an Indian Ridge mare, a Group1 victory on Tuesday would make him a very attractive addition to the list of sprinting stallions on his retirement, One for the shortlist!

One who does need to hear his hooves rattle is Charlie Hill’s 4yo colt Cotai Glory, and is another who looks progressive. He improved from his first run of the season when finishing second on Gd/Fm behind Take Cover in a listed race at Haydock. A winner of the Group3 Molecombe stakes at Goodwood on fast ground as a 2yo, this Colt by that good sire of sprinters, Exceed and Excell, is going the right way, and given his conditions could cause a surprise.

The 3yo American filly, Acapulco showed blinding speed when winning last years Queen Mary Stakes, and put in another fine performance against older horses when finishing second in the Group1 Nunthorpe Stakes on unsuitably slow ground at York. She has continued her progress this year with two facile victories, albeit at a lower level, at Turfway Park in Febuary and at Churchill Downs in May. Older animals have dominated the last seven runnings of the King’s Stand, but the 3yo Equiano did win the inaugural running of the race as a Group1 contest in 2008, so Acaculpo’s age shouldn’t be a problem. Her talented Trainer Wesley A Ward certainly knows how to win at the Royal Meeting so expect to see this flying filly to the fore.

Karl Burke’s 3yo filly Quiet Reflection was sold as a 2yo for £44,000 and what a bargain she has proved to be. She has won five of her six starts, including two Group3s and a Group2. The one blot on her otherwise perfect CV came at York last August when she finished fifth in a contest where Easton Angel was 2 1/2L ahead of her in third. She showed that form all wrong next time at Ayr, when winning easily, she had Easton Angel nearly seven lengths back in fifth. Her Group2 win came last time out when impressively winning by 3 3/4L over 6f at Haydock two weeks ago. Both runs this year have been over 6f and there must be some doubt about the drop back in trip being ideal, but she is a very exciting filly with tremendous speed whom we haven’t seen the best of yet, and Ascots stiff track should suit.

Selection : Profitable

E.W.    : Quiet reflection.

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth I I Stakes Betting Tips 1m4f Ascot Saturday

Snow Sky

Michael Stoute’s Snow Sky ran a fine race in the Yorkshire Cup (Gp2 1m6f) beating the tenacious Brown Panther by 1/2L, but then eclipsed that performance when returned to a more suitable trip in the Hardwicke Stakes over 1m4f at Royal Ascot.

If reproducing his impressive performances in the Derby and Eclipse Stakes, Golden Horn now rated 130, would look a good thing for Saturday’s contest, but as ever in life there are certain caveats. Firstly, only two three year olds have collected in the last decade, but they were both in the hugely talented hands of Golden Horn’s trainer John Gosden, the filly Taghrooda last year, and Nathaniel in 2010. Secondly, four of the last five Derby winners who contested the Ascot race have been beaten, and none since Galileo in 2001 has been successful. However it hasn’t been a race targeted by Derby winners in recent years, with Sir Michael Stoute’s Kris Kin in 2003 the last to try, (he finished 3rd to another 3yo, Alamshar).

Recent statistics certainly give plenty of encouragement to the older generations, and the one with the best C.V. For the task would seem to be the Andre Fabre trained 5yo horse, Flintshire. He ran a great race in last years “Arc” when second to the superb mare Treve, and again ran well when finishing 1 1/4L behind her at Saint-Cloud four weeks ago. Flintshire has won twice at the top level, both times over 1m4f, and his excellent trainer has won the race before (Hurricane Run 2006), so if the favourite doesn’t bring his A game on Saturday the trophy could be going across the channel.

The Italian trained Dylan Mouth also boasts winning form at the top level, having won two Group ones, both at 1m4f, at St Siro. It is tempting to dismiss Italian form as not being up to the standard of British, Irish, French, and more recently German. However this 4yo Dylan Thomas colt was most impressive in a group one last time, winning by 5L, so it is not impossible that he might emulate his sire who won this great race eight years ago. Definitely worthy of his place in Saturday’s line up.

Sir Michael Stoute has trained five previous winners, most recently with Harbinger in 2010, and a success at the weekend would give him the all time record, so his two runners deserve the utmost respect. While it is dangerous to totally dismiss the 5yo Telescope, whose form this year has been disappointing, his best chance seems to lie with the progressive looking 4yo Snow Sky.

He ran a fine race in the Yorkshire Cup (Gp2 1m6f) beating the tenacious Brown Panther by 1/2L, but then eclipsed that performance when returned to a more suitable trip in the Hardwicke Stakes over 1m4f at Royal Ascot. Making all he beat Eagle Top and Postponed by 3 3/4L and a nose in a controversial race. Some may consider him a fortuitous winner but this observer wouldn’t agree. Considering Sir Michael’s supreme talent with the mature thoroughbred, further progress can be anticipated and it will be no surprise to see him involved on Saturday.

Another, who one feels has his best days in front of him, is the Luca Cumani trained Postponed. He has never won at the top level, but went very close at the Curragh in May. Racing over an inadequate 1m2f, he was only beaten a nk and a shd by Al Kazeem and Fascinating Rock. He was then involved in that barging match with Eagle Top in the Hardwicke Stakes where his pilot, Adam Kirby did him absolutely no favours. By the all conquering Stallion Dubawi, a much improved performance is in prospect.

Selection: Snow Sky

E.W. : Postponed

King George VI and Queen Elizabeth I I Stakes Betting Tips 1m4f Ascot Saturday.

Victoria Cup Racing Tips 7f Ascot Saturday

Jamie Spencer Speculative Bid

Jamie Spencer, who is riding so well at the moment, is doing the steering on Speculative Bid and could go close.

Our suggestion for the 2000gns, Gleneagles, did us proud last week winning at the rewarding odds of 4/1, but I have to admit that Saturday’s wide open Victoria Cup, presents a much thornier problem to solve. As only two horses above the age of five have managed to win in the past decade, sticking to four or five year olds, is probably advisable.

Winning, or at least going close at the specialist distance of 7f has been essential, as has good recent form. Top weights have a particularly poor record, which enables us to leave Hughie Morrison’s Chill The Kite out of the picture.

One that catches the eye, with the evergreen Kieran Fallon in the plate, is the Michael Attwater trained 5yo entire, Professor. A course and distance winner in May 2013, He also ran a blinder at the course last June when finishing second off a mark of 108 in a Cl2 handicap over 6f. Racing on Saturday off 102 He doesn’t look badly treated, and is one for the short list.

Another course and distance winner, is the Jeremy Noseda trained Outback Traveller. He hosed up over course and distance in a 3yo handicap last October off a mark of 93, and showed what progress had been made over the winter, when just collared in the final stride by Speculative Bid, on his reappearance on the Kempton A.W over seven furlongs off a mark of 105. Just 2lbs higher, and 1lb better off with Speculative Bid at the weekend, this very progressive animal is another to consider.

Speculative Bid is himself clearly progressive and comes strongly into the argument on the Kempton form. He has now won his last two races, both over 7f, strongly suggesting that this is ideal distance, so with Jamie Spencer, who is riding so well at the moment, doing the steering, He is another to consider.

The Ed Dunlop trained 4yo Zarwaan gives the impression that Saturday’s trip might well suit. He was quietly fancied for the Lincoln, and ran a fine race to finish sixth, but didn’t seem to quite get home. He also ran well over the track in a 1ml 30 runner handicap, finishing a highly creditable fifth, only 2L behind the winner, off a mark of 101. His runs in the Lincoln, and at Ascot demonstrate his ability to cope with the demands of a large field handicap so off a mark of 102 his chance has to be respected.

Another course and distance winner is the Richard Fahey trained 5yo Heavens Guest, who showed his wellbeing when cozily taking a Thirsk conditions event three weeks ago. His course and distance win was back in 2013, but he put up another fine performance last October when finishing third, off Saturday’s mark off 105 over course and distance. With the very useful 5lb claimer Jack Garrity riding on Saturday, He is one to keep an eye on.

David O’Meara’s 5yo So Beloved ran a fine race on his reappearance in a Thirsk handicap three weeks ago, when going down by 1/2L to One Word More. As he meets the winner on a pound better terms there should be very little between them at the weekend, but it is interesting that So Beloved is stable jockey Tudhope’s selection from the yards three entries.

Peter Chapple-Hyam’s 5yo Buckstay, was backed in to favourite in a 1ml Newbury handicap last time out, but got no sort of run, and as a result gets to race off the same mark of 94 here. His previous 2nd at Doncaster was a run full of promise, and did suggest that He would not be inconvenienced by a drop back to 7f.

Selection: Speculative Bid.

E.W: Zarwaan.

Ladbroke Handicap Hurdle Betting Tips Ascot

Nick Henderson race horse trainer.

Our racing guru fancies Nicky Henderson’s Sign of a Victory to go close in Saturday’s Ladbroke Handicap Hurdle.

Since its inception in 2001 there have been only nine renewals of this highly competitive race at its Ascot venue. It was abandoned in 2009 and 2010 due to snow, and was run elsewhere in 2004 and 2005 due to course redevelopment. Nicky Henderson has been the most successful trainer with three wins. Five year olds have been the winning most age group with five successes. Two six year olds, one seven year old, and one four year old have also hit the back of the net. This stat may be a little misleading as four year olds have been very much to the fore in recent runnings. The market hasn’t been a great guide with only one favourite (Henderson’s Jack The Giant 2007) obliging, and two 25/1 shots winning.

Harry Fry’s 4yo Activial leads the market at 5/1 having been backed in from twice these odds since last weekend. He was a convincing winner of the Adonis hurdle at Newbury last Febuary, but then disappointed in his next engagement at Aintree in April where he was probably unsuited by the sharp track. However the Newbury form has worked out well with the runner up Commissioned ( beaten 3 1/2L ) winning twice this season, achieving a rating of 140, making Activial’s Mark of 137 on Saturday, look rather generous. His lack of a recent pipe opener and indeed experience ( has had only 3 hurdle races), may count against him, but with the very talented Mr Fry in charge and carrying the nice racing weight of 10st10lbs he is short listed.

With his three previous winners Nicky Henderson certainly knows what is required, so his very promising 5yo Sign of a Victory is worth serious consideration. In only his fifth race over hurdles ( Ascot 2ml. Nov1 ) he came home on the bridle in what was a truly run race,of a mark of 139. He has been raised what appears a quite harsh 11lbs to 150 but it will be no surprise if he ends the season racing off a considerably higher mark. Ground conditions on Saturday are a concern as he had been an intended runner in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle but was taken out because of the soft ground. However I can’t see Saturday’s likely gd/sft being a problem for this son of Kayf Tara out of a Bob Back mare, and unless conditions really deteriorate should have every chance.

Having performed with credit in a number of top handicaps Gordon Elliott’s 5yo Bayan is already a seasoned campaigner. He ran a great race to be third in the Coral Cup at the Festival, and improved again,coming second in the Galway Hurdle. However the handicapper has had his say and he is now 8lbs higher than Cheltenham. He probably needs testing conditions at two miles so if it does come up soft he is well worth a second look.

Dan Skelton’s 5yo Galileo gelding Shelford has won his last two races and is another who wouldn’t mind it testing on Saturday. Rated 89 on the flat he has made a highly successful transition to the winter game and was quite impressive in his first handicap ( 2 1/2 mls sft Chepstow ) at the end of October, where off a mark of 127 he made all and kept on very gamely to beat Aubusson by 3/4L. As the runner up went on to win the £80,000. Fixed Brush Hurdle at Haydock, Shelford’s 7lbs rise seems more than fair. He travels well in his races so it would be no surprise to see him leading the field over the last on Saturday.

Garde La Victoire and Clondaw Warrior are closely matched on Cheltenham form in November and the progressive Hobbs horse is fancied to come out on top again. Clondaw Warrior is 3lb better of for the 2L he was beaten but Garde La Victoire has the more progressive profile and indeed must have every chance of being involved at the business end.

Tony Martins 4yo Pyromaniac finished a well beaten 3rd at Cheltenham in November but had shown considerable potential in his previous two runs at Listowel and Killarney. Coming from this stable, this very lightly raced and unexposed animal could easily spring a surprise.

Jonjo O’Neill’s good flat horse Goodwood Mirage showed he was getting his act together when winning at Wetherby in October. Quietly fancied for the Triumph hurdle, he was brought down at the second and is definitely one to note if there is any market confidence.

Selection. Sign of a Victory.

E.W. Shelford.