Richard Hoiles: My best bets for Tuesday at Royal Ascot

Home » Richard Hoiles: My best bets for Tuesday at Royal Ascot

The horse racing broadcaster provides his selections for the first day at Royal Ascot, including a pick in the big race of the day, the Coventry Stakes.

The first day of Royal Ascot week dawns with a strange early Monday morning sight – blue sky, no clouds and now a forecast that suggests this may be the norm for the next few days. Given that as recently as four days ago rain – some heavy – was predicted for most days, the scales have been tilted in favour of the faster ground horses and it could be a delicate balance as to when to water and how much. The first day card looks to be the strongest in the domestic Flat calendar, with three Group 1s and the feature two-year-old race of the week in the Coventry Stakes.

The meeting starts with the Queen Anne over the straight mile and is a case in point. With original ante-post favourite Inspiral waiting for the Prince Of Wales’ on Wednesday, this division is definitely a shallow one, especially on fast ground. As a result I am going to let my heart rule a little here with the hope that MALJOOM

17/2

(14:30) can return to the form that saw him so unlucky in the St James’s Palace on this day two years ago. Since then he has had lots of niggling issues which have severely restricted his appearances and when he has seen the racecourse his form has been well below that level. He was forced to make his own running last time in order to ensure a proper work out, tactics which did not suit as he refused to settle. With the Haggas yard finally seeming to be gaining more consistency and at a decent price, he gets the vote over Facteur Cheval who seemed to confirm he was not just a mudlark with his win in Dubai in March. With his Champions Day conqueror Big Rock potentially going backwards for the stable change and not suited by quick ground he is a very plausible winner but the bigger price and the memory of how impressed I had been by Maljoom’s early racecourse starts means the heart rules the head here.

AL QUDRA

12/1

(15:05) was retained in our stable tracker list after winning at Lingfield last time despite being held three wide for a large part of the race. The fact that he saw it out so well showed that the both the step up to 6f and racing away from Newmarket, where he had looked not to handle the Dip well, means there could be more to come. He has been well supported in the market since then but is a lovely looking juvenile and has the benefit of more experience than a few of his rivals. These include Camille Pissarro and Andesite the first of what could be several clashes during the week between Aidan O’Brien and Karl Burke, both yards that have a very good set of juveniles this season. There was no disguising the regard in which Karl holds Andesite in a recent Weatherbys Royal Ascot preview and this looks like living up to the tag of best juvenile race of the week.

Next up, back to Group 1 action for the renamed King Charles III sprint (old Kings Stand) over the minimum 5f. The sprint division is also very much up for grabs but Big Evs is a deserving favourite after his terrific juvenile career which included a victory at the Royal Meeting at 20/1 in the Windsor Castle. While the advent of the Commonwealth Cup keeps the three-year-olds away from their elders at 6f, this race can see an early clash of the generations. Big Evs may still be vulnerable physically to his elders and so preference is for REGIONAL

9/2

(15:45), who got picked off by Mitbaahy having forced a strong gallop on his return in Ireland. He looks equally versatile between 5f and 6f – and may do the sprint double this week – and is building up a consistent profile underpinned by a good attitude. Ed Bethell has made an excellent start to his training career and this would be another feather in his cap, or top hat!

The last of the trio of Group 1s is the St James’s Palace, which looks one of the races of the week and is perhaps the race on the first day that is going to be most dependent on track conditions. It features the winners of the UK, Irish and French Guineas along with Henry Longfellow, who never got the room to show his worth in France. Unlike 12 months ago, the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket is proving strong form and on fast ground I can see no reason why NOTABLE SPEECH

11/10

(16:25) can’t confirm the form with subsequent Irish Guineas winner Rosallion. Rosallion did well in Ireland to overcome a pace bias and overhaul stable companion Haathem close home, but seemed beaten fair and square by Notable Speech, whose asset in all his races has been the ability to sustain a change of pace in what can become a very tactical affair. That looks an important weapon on the Round Course with a run in of less than three furlongs. The French 2000 looks the weakest of the three Classics but it is excellent from an international perspective to see winner Metropolitan line up here. The resurgence of French Flat Racing has been a feature of the last 18 months but along with Irish hope Henry Longfellow their chances would be better with more cut in the ground, which would probably count against Notable Speech and certainly Rosallion.

The first handicap of the week is the marathon 2m 4f Ascot Stakes. Even though he is now 10 years old, THE GRAND VISIR

22/1

(17:05) is off a very dangerous mark here, especially compared to last season where he got no luck at all when finishing in eighth before being runner-up in the Queen Alexandra four days later. These stamina tests are few and far between during the season and he lines up 8lb lower than 12 months ago, and I like the return of Richard Kingscote in the saddle. If you are reading this blog early then take the price as he looks the type that will be tipped up in the trade papers.

The final two races are both round course races. In the Listed Wolferton over 10f, Wathnan Racing are doubly represented with Torito and HAUNTED DREAM

11/1

(17:40). Torito ran well in handicap company here last year and in a belated return to action was first home in his group at Newmarket. He is the choice of James Doyle, who did well to sit tight coming out of the stalls on Haunted Dream at Epsom last time and then had to be sharply switched off heels at halfway. He is trained by Qatar-based Hamad Al-Jehani, who has a satellite yard at Newmarket and, as an unfamiliar name to most racegoers, may lead to a better price.

In the last race, expect PARTY CENTRAL

16/1

(18:15) to be dropped out from her wide gate under Jamie Spencer in the 14f Copper Horse Handicap. A smart bumper horse, she is rated 140 over hurdles so a Flat mark of 96 looks reasonable. There is a very short run to the first turn so hopefully a few will press forward to try and get across, leading to a solid pace that could play into her hands. This will only be her fourth Flat career start but don’t be fooled, with 13 jumps races under her belt she has plenty of experience to draw on.

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