UPDATE: Oh dear, well that couldn’t have gone any worse could it! I appear to have got that spectacularly wrong as the far side dominated. That is the nature of the beast in races such as that but I am in slight shock. As they passed halfway the big group on the near side was ahead of the largest group on the far side (albeit Serious Prospect was ahead) I thought and then it collapsed. I wouldn’t have backed the winner as I didn’t know if he would like the really fast ground and of course I thought the near side would dominate! I am left scratching my head as to how the race panned out. Serious Prospect and Bronze Angel are usually held up and I didn’t expect them to be leading the far side. I am still in shock at how the far side dominated come the end, I cant think it was just pace, rather is the ground that much faster on the far side? 6 points loaned back to the bookies there, and when you are that wrong it is probably best to forget about it! I am left hoping Michael Bell can rescue me in the luck last. None of the top 3 were a shock as such although my pride has received a big smack in the face there! That is the nature of these races, you can feel on top of the tipping world one minute (Epsom Dash) and at rock bottom the next!
Not too much damage done yesterday and a few learning points for me when it comes to Group sprints following the win of Gold Dream, which in hindsight wasn’t the massive shock some thought it was. The trainer angles highlighted in the Ascot Stakes picked out the winner at 8/1 and the 3rd at 33/1. I had some change on both to make sure I escaped Day 1 unharmed.
It doesn’t get any easier today…
Lincoln 20/1 1 point EW (5 places, B365, BV, others)
Big Baz 25/1 1 point EW (5 places, general)
You’re Fired 20/1 1 pint EW (Bet365 5 places, 18/1 general)
**Paddy Power are paying 6 places so there is that option, although they are a couple of points shorter for each horse**
Blimey this is a tricky affair, but these big handicaps up to 8f are what dreams are made of. There is no greater puzzle in the sport. My record in these types of races in recent years has been ok, and while it is hard to pick winners regularly, place money can add up to a lot and also when you do find a winner they normally reward you.
As you would expect this race is a challenge and you can give chances to a lot of them. My ‘shortlist’ included the three selections, Speculative Bid, Ayar, Temptress, Bronze Angel, Chill The Kite, Spark Plug and Mondialiste – Only about a 3rd of the field!! If something else wins I will be consulting my notes furiously to work out why I discounted them.
In general I like to see a decent level of recent form and I also want to see some big field experience, and some form on the going. I don’t like many unknowns and in a race like this you need reasons to discount horses.
15/18 winners of this have been drawn 3-6 or 23+. 0 or 1 career win only are 1/112, and so far those carrying 9-6+ are 0/65 (although the places are in line with expectations, and one day a highly weighted horse will win this)
Using those stats alone left a shortlist of 5 or so, of which Big Baz and You’re Fired were two.
Before looking at the selections a quick word on the pace set up. There does not appear to be loads on in this and it feels like you will need to be in the front 3rd as I cannot see the pace collapsing as such. There are a lot, and I mean a lot, of hold up types in this and unless quite a few horses change running styles I can’t see this being an out and out cavalry charge. I may have got this wrong as because of the field size they will clearly go a decent pace, but it feels like it will pay not to be too far away. It also feels like the near side/high numbers will shape the race, and the outcome. Dark Emerald may take them along from stall 13 for some of the way. But then to my eye all other potential pace setters/pushers are drawn 20+. Lamar (28) can lead and push pace, Lincoln is versatile and while he wont lead I hope Hughes doesn’t drop him out too much, Big Baz can push the pace (32), American Hope (20) should be up there, Don’t Be (31) can be up there and Piri Wango (27) can lead.
Lincoln…well we backed him last time at 40/1 EW and we are playing with profits with him at least. Given how close he went, given he had trouble in running, he was finishing fast and he and Speculative Bid had the rest well beaten, I had to go with him here. 1m should suit and he does have a change of gear. You normally book Richard Hughes because you think you have a chance. Bar hitting major trouble in running where Hughes would then ‘give up’ I struggle to see him out of the frame again here, if he repeats his last run. While he hasn’t proved he stays he has ran over 1m and the way he has finished his races suggests it should be no problem. It is an unknown but at 20s and my history with the horse I had to back him again. He has solid form, big fields are fine and we know he handles the track. He is also drawn on the right side. Chance.
Big Baz..He is unexposed and he was on the ‘stats’ shortlist. It was the pace angle that caught my eye the most. He is right against the rail and that could be a big advantage for a horse that races up there. He is in form and has experience of big fields and this track. He is a strong traveller and I would hope for a top 5 at worse. His trainer is 0/32 at the track but on the plus side the yard are in great form.
You’re Fired…He comes here at the top of his game and is another in form horse who has proved that a big field charge is no bother. He was on the stats shortlist and is another who is drawn in the right pace. A repeat of his last run, which was decent form, should see him get competitive here.
I don’t normally back 3 runners in a race and 6 points is a lot, but it is Royal Ascot and I wanted to have something on them all.
A word on Bancnuanaheireann – stall 33 is 3/5 I believe and I may not be able to resist some change on at a monster BFSP price!
Clearly there are dangers everywhere. Speculative Bid should go close and Spark Plug looks exciting although he has his draw and weight to overcome. Temptress is unexposed and if handling this environment looks like she will run a big race. GM Hopkins has been kept away from ground like this by the look of things and his best form has been with cut in the ground/good ground. Ayar has a form chance but looks to be on the wrong side for a hold up horse and may struggle to get into the race. If I have read that wrong and this isn’t an issue he should go very close. Mondialiste is interesting but has a big weight however a big run would be no shock there either. And the like of Bronze Angel and Chill The Kite could bounce back to form also!
So, plenty with chances in the most competitive race I have looked at this season. I think we have 3 live chances and if 2 can make the frame we will make a decent enough profit.
3.05 Ascot Queen Mary
-Mick Channon 3/14, 5 places (runs Kassia 20/1)
5,35 Sandringham Handicap
– M Bell: 2/6, 3 places (runs Touchline 8/1)