I hope you all had a fantastic Royal Ascot and found some winners.
Canford Cliffs got us off to a fantastic start on day one of the meeting by beating Goldikova in the opening Queen Anne Stakes.
I thought the up and coming colt would beat the mare this year and that proved to be the case. However, Olivier Peslier did ride at 2lbs overweight - I'm not sure that made a difference, though, and I think Canford would have pulled out more if needs be.
I'm not quite sure why some people are knocking Frankel's victory in the St James's Palace Stakes. Did they not see the speed he maintained for the last half a mile?! I was really pleased with the horse; he settled so well and what was he supposed to do when asked to step it up a couple of gears turning for home?
I thought it was an admirable performance and one that gives trainer Sir Henry Cecil more options in the future. The possibility of the top three-year old and older miler clashing in the Sussex Stakes could be on the cards and what an exciting prospect that would be.
Power is now 12/1 favourite for next season's Guineas after victory in Tuesday's Coventry. Aidan O'Brien's colt came into the race unbeaten in two starts and this strong colt made it three. He is a tough sort and winning jockey Ryan Moore says he will stay further. He will be tested next in the Phoenix Stakes in August, where we should learn about this son of Oasis Dream.
There was a turn up in Wednesday's feature, the Prince of Wales's Stakes, with hot favourite So You Think turned over by a determined Frankie Dettori on Rewilding. Aidan O'Brien blamed himself for the horse's defeat, saying he didn't get stuck into him at home before the race, but this was his toughest test since joining the stable and Rewilding is no slouch.
So You Think was a bit free and, according to his former trainer Bart Cummings, hit the front too soon. Rewilding showed what a battler he is though as he responded to Dettori's urgings to earn himself a tilt at the King George next month. He's had a hard race here though and needs time between his races, so he may be opposable there.
However, if he goes there in good form, the step back up to 12 furlongs will suit. He is 4/1 with Sky Bet for that race and So You Think, who lost nothing in defeat, is also at fours. Also on Wednesday, it was great to see Strong Suit bouncing back to form in the Jersey Stakes. A breathing operation has done the trick on last season's Coventry winner after he flopped in the Greenham. He will deservedly step back up to Group One company now. He should make an impact over a mile.
Aidan O'Brien may no longer have Yeats for the Cup races, but he has found himself a suitable replacement with Fame and Glory, who took the step up to two and a half miles in his fabulous stride in the Ascot Gold Cup on Thursday. However, he will drop back in trip with the Arc his main Autumn target for which he is now a 16/1 chance with Sky Bet.
You wouldn't like to bet against him emulating his former stablemate as he is sure to be trained with this race in mind in coming seasons if he stays sound. Also on day three, Banimpire won the Ribblesdale for Jim Bolger in the style of a very smart filly. She was running over this mile and a half trip for just the second time, her first try at the trip was nothing more than a blow out at Cork the Sunday before this race.
She will now take the step up into Group One company where better ground will suit her with the Irish Oaks in a month's time. Finally on Thursday, and Michael Owen looks to have a classic contender on his hands as Brown Panther won the King George V Stakes in great style on what will no doubt be one of his final starts in handicap company. He ran away with this race for an emotional victory for the Manchester United striker who also bred this colt. He was cut into 10/1 for the Doncaster Classic and deserves his place in the line-up.
Moving onto Friday's action and the Coronation Stakes was a French affair, as the first two home were trained across the Channel. To be honest, it didn't end up looking like a vintage race with the ground having such an impact.
Immortal Verse was given a perfectly timed ride by Gerald Mosse to come from the back of the field to beat compatriot Nova Hawk. Races such as the Prix Rothschild, the Jacques Le Marois and the Prix du Moulin are likely options for the winner who has only ever raced on a soft surface and will meet the older filly Goldikova at some point in the near future.
Staying with fillies but with the juveniles and Mick Channon has trained many decent fillies in the past and he looks to have another on his hands after Samitar won Friday's Albany Stakes. She is now 20/1 for next season's 1000 Guineas and winning jockey Jamie Spencer thinks she will be even better on faster ground. However, as Mick quite rightly pointed out, there is 10 months to go before that race and anything can happen.
Michael Owen will have been paying close attention to the King Edward VII Stakes as Nathaniel looks a big threat to his Brown Panther in the St Leger. John Gosden's colt is now 5/2 favourite after an easy win in Friday's race. He gets very worked up beforehand, but that is just a family trait and I won't be worried when I see him performing again in the future.
The Golden Jubilee was the final Group Oner race of the five-day meeting and what a day it proved to be for James Fanshawe with two big wins. Society Rock went one better than his second in the Golden Jubilee last year and Deacon Blues completed the double in the Wokingham. Society Rock is now 9/1 for the July Cup, but Fanshawe isn't certain the July course at Newmarket suits him.
Await the Dawn stamped his authority on the Hardwicke field despite not seemingly enjoying the cut in the ground. The Breeders' Cup Classic is his ultimate target this season and Aidan O'Brien has always thought he could win that race but the horse has taken time to come to himself.
He has to improve again to win the American race, but he is progressing and should pick up a Group One along the way. Maybe is now 8/1 favourite with Sky Bet for the 1000 Guineas after her impressive win in the Chesham. She's a very strong filly and will have no problems staying the mile.
Plate spinning for punters
Moving onto the weekend action and the punters puzzle is the Northumberland Plate at Newcastle on Saturday.
The ground for the race is going to be on the soft side and at the time of writing was being described as good to soft, good in places but with forecast rain every day it looks like being easier than that. That would have to be a real concern for last year's winner Overturn who missed Royal Ascot because of the rain softened ground.
He is currently 7/1 co favourite of three for the two-m mile handicap. If he does run it will be a huge day for jockey Henry Brooke. He is a conditional jockey over jumps and will be looking for his first win on the flat! He rides in place of the suspended Eddie Ahern and has had one second place from just eight rides on the flat.
Activate and Harlestone Times are his fellow co-favourites with the former the mount of Hayley Turner for Michael Bell. The trainer also runs the Queen's horse Tactician, who won't enjoy conditions if they are very soft. Activate on the other hand, is a winner on heavy and that won't be a concern.
I quite like the look of John Gosden's horse Investissement who has had this race as his target for some time. He is a 12/1 chance with Sky Bet. He also holds an entry in the Group 1 Irish Derby, so clearly they think plenty of him. He has just had the one run in the last 15 months and that was a winning outing at Goodwood in April and he has been given plenty of time to recover from that so he shouldn't 'bounce'. He hasn't been an easy horse to train with breathing problems and a fractured pelvis to contend with, but he is the sort to progress with age and I hope he is well drawn and runs well.
Mount Athos (also 12/1) warrants plenty of respect for David Wachman. He was fourth in the Chester Cup last time out from an horrendous draw and if the draw is kinder to him here can make his presence felt for his new trainer.
One point to make though is you are having a bet in the race, is that the draw is significant. The wider out you are, the harder it is to ride a race and even over two miles the lower the draw the better. I don't have the benefit of that information at the moment as the draw hasn't been made, but it is something to look out for when you pick your fancy. My picks are Investissement and Mount Athos and I will back whichever one is better drawn.
Fairy can come out on top
There is some top-class racing at the Curragh this weekend with Saturday's feature the Group One Pretty Polly.
This looks to be a three horse race between Midday, Snow Fairy and Eleanora Duse. Given that Midday has had a couple of hard races, including when second to St Nicholas Abbey in the Coronation Cup at Epsom, then I'm going to go with Ed Dunlop's Snow Fairy. This is her seasonal reappearance which has been delayed after sustaining a leg injury in the run up to the Dubai Sheem Classic in March. She's a smashing filly who won the English and Irish Oaks and went on to win Group One races in Japan and Hong Kong at the end of the year. She goes well fresh and I'm looking forward to seeing her run.
We have more classic action to look forward to with the Irish Derby taking place at the Curragh on Sunday.
Aidan O'Brien, unsurprisingly, has an outstanding record in the race having won it for the last five years. Unfortunately, Recital doesn't run in the race, but he looks like being represented by Irish 2000 Guineas winner Roderic O'Connor who is one of nine left in the race at the time of writing. He is a 10/1 shot with Sky Bet. The team also have Epsom runner-up Treasure Beach, the Derby fourth Memphis Tennessee and Seville in Sunday's race.
Carlton House is the 6/4 favourite to put his luckless run in the Derby behind him. He will be very popular at that sort off price and he could even go off odds on come raceday. With a smoother preparation and a more conventional track he could be hard to beat. Native Khan is also in the race and is a 7/1 chance.
He was fifth in the Derby and that was a fair reflection of his ability. There are a couple of bigger priced runners - Dunboyne Express and Notable Graduate. The latter is one to watch with the Leger in mind and Dunboyne Express won't mind any rain that falls on the Curragh. In all honesty, with a small field likely, Carlton House looks hard to beat and each way options look limited.
Investissement and Mount Athos in the Northumberland Plate, both @ 12/1 with Sky Bet
Snow Fairy in the Pretty Polly Stakes
Carlton House in the Irish Derby @ 6/4 with Sky Bet
Tune into Sky Sports News each morning between 6am and 10am for all the latest racing news and tips for the week.
All prices quoted correct at time of blog posting. For all the latest updates take a look at skybet.com.
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