Royal Ascot Wednesday: Take a shot of Ouzo…

Not a bad Day 1 of Royal Ascot for us with four winners courtesy of Circus Maximus (4/1), our 2pt Nap Frankly Darling (6/4), Battaash (5/6) and another 2pt pick Nazeef (10/3). We have high hopes for more on Day 2….

NAP OF THE DAY: Ouzo, (1315 Ascot), 3pts win, 5/1: AND Ouzo (1315 Ascot) & Bell Rock (1535 Ascot), 1pt win double, c 53/1

We had great success at Cheltenham by backing a single prior form-line in a double where the two horses involved (Imperial Aura & Simply The Betts) had ended up in separate festival races. Now is the chance to do the same at Ascot. The nature of the handicapping system is that there is a lag – recent performances only get captured by the handicappers once a week. In this case, any performance on or since Sunday 7th will not have been re-rated. It was on that day that Ouzo and Bell Rock fought out a great finish to a Newmarket handicap, pulling over 3 lengths clear of the rest. As Ouzo was beaten a neck he gets to run off the same rating here when he can expect to go up 5lbs or more when reassessed. Not only is he well in and in obvious form, he also gets the help of Ryan Moore and looks banker material.

RACE OF THE DAY: Bell Rock (1535 Ascot), 2pts win, 8/1:

Our love of handicaps means we’ll give the race of the day title to the Hunt Cup rather than feature Group 1 race the Prince of Wales. Bell Rock did wonders to run down Ouzo last time after that one shot clear at Newmarket. That suggests he is back to his 2yo best rather than his dismal 3yo campaign last year. With the Balding stable still flying and with the sensational Oisin Murphy steering he looks sure to run a big race with just a 5lb penalty for that Newmarket win. Has a couple of unexposed John Gosden horses to beat in Lord Tennyson and Alrajaa, and the progressive Montatham, but after that the rest of these look eminently beatable.

The Rest Of The Card

Russian Emperor, (1350 Ascot), 1pt win, 7/2:

Looks pretty significant that Aidan O’Brien should travel over with this fella only 8 days after an unlucky seasonal debut defeat at Leopardstown. There are plenty of easy targets at this Group 3 level back home, and this entry suggests Aidan thinks this horse capable of bigger UK targets as the season progresses. Strictly speaking Juan Elcano’s Guineas 5th sets a standard none of these can match, but he may have just been paced well that day on the best part of the track, and may not have progresses as much form his 2yo form as the bare result there implies. First Receiver is also a danger, but his Kempton maiden romp needs to be heavily extrapolated to justify being favourite here.

Kipps, (1425 Ascot), 1pt win. 4/1:

Whilst he is a fairly short price for a competitive race, we have to stick to our guns here with Kipps. He is another whose prep came on Sunday 7th, this time when narrowly edged out at Haydock. He looked the moral winner there but importantly escapes a penalty, and gets to run off the same mark. Travelled through the race like a class act that day, and although this is tougher, he should use that cruising speed to good advantage and he may have too much zip in the final straight for some of his sturdier more galloping type rivals.

Japan, (1500 Ascot), 1pt win, 5/4:

It’s tempting to be too clever here and look at a likely over-achiever like Mehdaayih who could go well fresh under Frankie. However, Japan was a cut above these last year as an improving 3yo. Was arguably unlucky not to win the Derby before making amends at this meeting. He won a Group 1 in France and the International at York before a fair 4th in the Arc. Arguably will be at his most vulnerable here first time up over a minimum trip for him, but there is less time for targets this year and Aidan won’t have travelled without getting him spot on. Moore is likely to sit handily and make a long strike off the home bend and it’s a better than 50:50 chance in our book that he will be impossible to pass.

Sunshine City, (1610 Ascot), 1pt win, 13/2:

The first 2yo event and a 5f dash that pits the Aidan O’Brien yard against a host of domestic challengers, but notably also the annual 2yo raid of US based Wesley Ward. Ward has done well here over the years, with the US 2yos often more precocious and very fast especially in the early stages. In a typical year, O’Brien;s Chief Little Hawk would get the vote, but the nature of this season means it has been an almighty rush for Irish and UK 2yos to be ready for this. Ward, however, has been prepping in the US where racing has never stopped. His main hope here Sunshine City was winning in April on debut, and will have been trained for this since. As a filly she gets a handy allowance, has Frankie on top and with all that preparation advantage must have a winning chance.

Fujaira Prince, (1640 Ascot), 2pts win, 9/2:

Has had very little mileage for his age, with just 6 runs and just 3 handicap appearances. A year off should be no problem given he has won on debut for the last two years. His mark of 100 is workable, he won easily off 88 on debut last year, and his second to First Eleven at York off 95 looks outstanding form. He was last seen finishing third at this meeting over 12f off 99 – he was probably unlucky that day so this rating looks well within reach, Could have looked for revenge over that 12f trip, but has taken advantage of the addition this year of a 14f race, and he looks very much the class act in a reasonably poor line-up. Must go well.

The Daily Yankee:

Ouzo – Kipps – Bell Rock – Fujaira Prince

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