Royal Ascot 2015 – Ante-Post Focus

Wednesday 17 June – Prince of Wales’s Stakes

Having taken a closer look at this year’s running of the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, I feel the race is open to an upset, of sorts. Those to the head of the market have plenty question marks about them and it may pay to take some early value.

That comes in the form of Japanese raider, SPIELBERG. Now, I won’t even try to suggest I’m in the know, where the Japanese formbook stands, but with the ‘local’ challenge looking tepid, it wouldn’t surprise to see one of Japan’s top middle-distance horses go close.

His win at Tokyo in the Grade 1 Tenno Sho back in November saw him defeat a top-class horse in Gentildonna. Like I said, I don’t know much about the Japanese form, but I do know Gentildonna is a genuine top-class horse.

Having watched that race and his Japan Cup third, where he again beat Gentildonna, over her preferable trip, it’s clear to me Spielberg is a very useful type.  It’s also worth pointing out, Just A Way, another top-class Far-Eastern horse, was just ahead in second, too.

In terms of his strong suits, the son of Deep Impact looks to have a nice turn of foot. He really gets motoring at the end of his races. Ten furlongs, according to his connections, is his best trip, so I can see the stiff course and distance of the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes suiting him. Fast ground, which he likes, it looks like he will get meaning some of the most important variables for him are covered.

A massive factor in the bet is the booking of Christophe Soumillon, who knows the Ascot track well through his exploits with Cirrus Des Aigles. Soumillon will replace the selection’s regular rider back home, and that is another bonus.

With Free Eagle having his first start of the year, The Grey Gatsby looking overrated (officially), the inexperienced and free-going Ectot having his first run and California Chrome’s inexperience of European turf racing all being negatives for his main rivals, a price of 16/1 is simply too big.

He’s worth chancing at that price.

Advice

1pt each-way SPIELBERG @16/1 (Bet Fred, Bet Victor, Coral, Ladbrokes, StanJames)

Wednesday 17 June – Royal Hunt Cup

Where the Hunt Cup is concerned, two horses catch my eye and it may will be a case of grabbing a decent bit of value at this early stage before the declarations come out. AMERCIAN HOPE and FIRST FLIGHT both ran crackers at last year’s Royal Ascot meeting in the Britannia Stakes despite being drawn on the ‘wrong side’ of the track.

The main action happened stand-side where the first five places were filled with runners drawn high. American Hope was sixth while First Flight was ninth, beaten under fourth lengths.

Straight track form at Ascot always holds up well back at the course, so I feel it’s worth getting this duo onside early as there is a strong chance they may go off shorter.

I fancied American Hope last time out when he bombed out, but that effort is easily forgiven. Quite simply he was too keen into a strong headwind and was beaten early. He’s a horse who needs to get cover and if Shane Kelly can anchor him early on Wednesday week, American Hope will finish off strong.

In terms of First Flight I was very taken with this season’s comeback run at York where he finished third in a useful handicap. Held-up near last off a sedate gallop he was in an awful position to get competitive, but he still managed to do so through a sharp turn of foot. He shaped well despite the trip appearing to stretch him and back over the stiff Ascot straight mile he is very intriguing.

Advice

1pt win AMERICAN HOPE @25/1 (general)

1pt win FIRST FLIGHT @20/1 (bet365, Ladbrokes, Sky Bet)

Thursday 18 June – ASCOT GOLD CUP

The final ante-post bet of the evening comes in the Gold Cup. With conditions looking like they may be fast, it could well be that two of the market leaders, Forgotten Rules and Clever Cookie don’t line up. If that’s the case, horse’s prices will freefall, so getting on early may be beneficial.

The horse in question is the Willie Mullins-trained SIMENON, a stalwart of this race. He was second in 2013 and fourth last year, but with many horses who beat him in previous Cups not returning, any weakness in the current crop may be pounced on.

Run over two-and-a-half miles at Ascot, this race is all about stamina. No matter how good you are, if you don’t stay this trip, you won’t win. Simenon is certain to finish his race off and with him having a decent amount of class, he is simply too big a price at 20/1 in a race that may cut up badly.

He made a lovely return at Sandown two weeks ago despite plenty in the race playing against his strengths. For a start, he had to carry a penalty. Than the race was run at a crawl which wouldn’t suit his staying strengths, and this all came on debut.

It was interesting Ryan Moore rode him and I have a funny feeling Moore may keep the ride.

Even if the favourites were to line up, I still feel the current price is too big. He and Brown Panther are the only two guaranteed stayers, of the class horses I like, this year, and with Simenon receiving a poor ride in last year’s race, there is every chance he can turn that form with Brown Panther.

If the younger brigade don’t stay Willie Mullins’s stayer may pick up the pieces.

Advice

1pt each-way SIMENON @20/1 (Bet Victor, Ladbrokes, StanJames)

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