Kings Stand Stakes (Group1) 5f Royal Ascot Tuesday

battaash horseInaugurated in 1860 The Kings Stand Stakes regained it’s Group1 status in 2008 and with a pot of over £300,000 going to the winner is always one of the most keenly contested heats of the week. The first three home in last year’s renewal, Blue Point, Battaash (pictured), and Mabs Cross, are all in contention again and connections of the former will be hoping their son of Shamardal can confirm the form.

Trained by the excellent Charlie Appleby, the 5yo entire has continued to progress and last time out, (80days ago) landed a Meydan Group1 over six furlongs. He won last year’s renewal impressively by 1 3/4L and a neck from Battaash and the strong finishing Mabs Cross, and a repeat performance would make him the 12th animal to double up in the long history of the race. However, he has been campaigned over a furlong further in his last two races, and his previous two attempts at 5f were unsuccessful. He was only 3rd in York’s 5f Nunthorpe Stakes last August, a nose and 2 1/4L behind Alpha Delphini  and Mabs Cross, and was beaten 5L at odds of 1/4, again over the minimum distance at Meydan in February. I just wonder if he retains the blinding speed that won him last year’s race.

Battaash wasn’t the most consistent horse last term, he could only finish 4th when odds on for the Nunthorpe and again finished in the same slot when sent off a 11/10 shot for Longchamp’s Prix De L’Abbaye. However, following wind surgery and a 230 day break, the apple of trainer Charlie Hill’s eye, made an impressive seasonal debut when winning Haydock’s Group2 Temple Stakes by 2 1/2L and 3/4L from Alpha Delphini and Mabs Cross in a time 1.3 seconds faster than standard. By the excellent sire of sprinters, Dark Angel, Battaash is a genuine five furlong horse and if his wind operation has really worked the oracle, he will be hard to beat on Tuesday.

The terrific mare, Mabs Cross continued to progress for the rest of last season, and following a defeat in York’s Group1 Nunthorpe by the narrowest of margins, ended the season in a blaze of glory landing The Group1 Prix De L’Abbaye on “Arc” Day. She made a winning seasonal debut in Newmarket’s Palace House Stakes, getting up in the shadow of the post to beat Tuesday’s opponent, Equilateral. Her run last time in the Temple Stakes behind Battaash was disappointing but she will meet the Hills horse on 5 lbs better terms on Tuesday and her cause at Haydock wasn’t helped by losing a shoe.

oddsguru Royal AscotThis is by no means a three horse affair and Aidan O’Brien with 7 entries at the time of writing seems to be making a determined effort to land one of the few Royal Ascot
Group1s to have escaped him. All his seven are from the Classic generation and the two that catch the eye are the colt Sergei Prokofiev, and the filly, Fairyland. The former is by that phenomenal source of speed, Scat Daddy, and this top stallion has certainly injected plenty of speed into Sergei Prokofiev as 3 of his 4 wins have come at the minimum distance, and the 4th at 5 1/2f. His best performance as a 2yo came in Newmarket’s Group3 Cornwallis Stakes, when despite not getting the clearest of passages, he quickened inside the final furlong to win very comfortably by 1 1/4L. Slowly away, he could only finish 4th, 2 1/2L behind Mabs Cross in The Palace House Stakes 45 days ago, but plenty of improvement can be expected from the 3yo in the meantime, and with all this rain about its worth noting that he won his second race by 7 1/2L on soft ground.

The filly Fairyland, won 4 of her 5 starts as a 2yo, including the Group2 Lowther Stakes
(6f Gd/Fm York) and the Group1 Chevely Park Stakes (6f Gd/Fm Newmarket) but she didn’t seem to get home in either the English or Irish 1000Guineas this term, and now reverts to sprinting. She is by that strong influence for speed, Kodiac, and is out of an unraced daughter of that speedy mare Land Of Dreams, (won Doncaster’s 5f speed test, The Flying Childers) who also is the mother of the triple Group1 winning sprinter, Dream Ahead. So it is a pedigree packed full of speed and if she takes up Tuesdays engagement, (also entered in Friday’s 6f Commonwealth Cup) could be interesting at her current odds of 20/1

archie watson oddsguruThe Archie Watson (pictured) trained 3yo, Soldiers Call, did marvellously well for a 2yo to finish 3rd in the Prix De L’Abbaye, just a neck behind the winner, Mabs Cross. But for a fruitless trip to the Breeders Cup this would have been a terrific end to a 2yo season that included wins in the Windsor Castle Stakes over Tuesday’s Course and Distance, victory in a Chantilly Group3 (on soft) and a win in Doncaster’s Group2 Flying Childers Stakes. He made a satisfactory start to his 3yo career finishing a close 3rd in a York Listed race 33 days ago which should have put this son of Showcasing spot on.

Charlie Hills 2nd string, Equilateral, is not without a chance as he took a definite step forward when finishing 2nd to Mabs Cross in the Palace House Stakes 45 days ago. He was beaten a neck but looked the winner everywhere but on the line. This was an excellent effort and if the speedily bred son of Equiano has continued to progress could get involved.

Selection : Battaash     Danger: Sergei Prokofiev
EW.           : Fairyland.    (If Abs)  Soldiers Call

John Gray

Racing Tips William Hill Great St Wilfrid Handicap 6f Ripon Saturday


Named after the patron Saint of the charming North Yorkshire Cathedral City of Ripon, it hasn't always been the most punter friendly contest, but with three of the last five Jollys obliging, we backers have had the best of the more recent arguments. With David O'Meara hitting the back of the net three times, and Malton Maestro, Richard Fahey scoring twice, between them they have had a near monopoly of the last six renewals, and both are strongly represented again.

O'Meara won with Out Do three years ago off a mark of 94, and racing on Saturday off a 10lbs higher mark certainly isn't out of it. He showed himself to be as good as ever when winning this year's renewal of the Wokingham Stakes at Royal Ascot off a mark of 99, so Saturday's 5lbs higher mark doesn't look impossible, and he is the intended mount of Daniel Tudhope who has ridden three of the last six winners. Keep a weather eye out though, as all his best form is on good or faster ground.

Rain won't be a problem for Mr O'Meara's second runner, Al Qahwa, and he can easily be excused his 23rd in The Steward's Cup last time out. Racing off a mark of 97, he was one of the best backed runners on the day but suffered repeated interference in what was a pretty rough contest. He has been a bit disappointing since his reappearance win at York in May, (6f soft) off a mark of 94, but it wouldn't come as any great surprise if he was involved at the business end at the weekend, particularly if it comes up soft.

Having finished less than a length behind the winner in the Stewards Cup off a mark of 99, the Richard Fahey trained Growl heads the market. He had previously run an excellent 6th in the Group1 July Cup at Newmarket finishing less than 2 1/4L behind the exciting winner, Harry Angel, and less than a length behind Brando, who went on to win the Group1 Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville next time out. His new mark of 109, giving him a racing weight of 9-10, looks challenging, but this classy animal is a serious contender.

Brando's talented trainer, Kevin Ryan had his stable virtually closed down for much of the season with the devastating disease, Equine Herpes, but is now beginning to hit a rich vein of form, and is represented by the 3yo, Tommy Taylor. His poor performance last time at Newmarket was almost certainly down to the situation in the yard but previously he had put up an excellent performance when beaten a head by Ekhtiyaar at headquarters in a valuable Class2 handicap racing off a mark of 95. The son of Mizzen Mast handles most ground, and with the stable now clear of that ghastly infection, might well prove up to defying his mark of 100.

Not all horses handle Ripons undulations so the fact that Tim Easterby's 4yo Flying Pursuit boasts a record of two wins and a place from five course appearances speaks strongly in his favour. The son of pastoral pursuits looks progressive, and put up an excellent performance last time winning off a mark of 90 by 2L from Al Qahwa (York 6f Good-Soft) three weeks ago. A six pounds rise looks fair and must give Tim a serious chance of emulating his success with Pipalong way back in 1999.

Roger Varian runs the lightly raced 5yo son of Kodiac, Atletico, and if getting into the race, (at the time of writing needs nine above him in the handicap to come out) could be interesting. Placed on his only previous visit to Ripon, Atletico won nicely at Windsor on July 24th off a mark of 87 and probably, turned out too soon only a week later, was beaten 2L, when finishing 5th at Goodwood off a mark of 93. He has attracted interest in the market, and coming from this powerful yard is worth a second look racing off a mark of 92.

The Charlie Hills (pictured above) trained Shanghai Glory put up an excellent performance for a 3yo when winning a listed 6f contest at the Curragh last October. He was well beaten on his reappearance in the Wokingham at Royal Ascot, but then ran a very solid race to finish 5th, (3/4L behind Growl) in The Stewards Cup at Goodwood racing off a mark of 101. Jockey Fran Berry felt that he was unlucky in running at the Sussex track, and as he does like to get his toe in, the son of Exceed and Excel, racing off the same mark of 101, definitely needs considering if turning up, (also engaged Doncaster Saturday).

Selection : Shanghai Glory (if abs) Flying Pursuit

E.W. : Al Qahwa

John Gray

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