Day two of Royal Ascot 2019 and the fans will be hoping that it is dryer affair than the first. One of our resident racing tipsters has surveyed the card to find his fancies with the intentions of trying to navigate the Boosted £20,000 Place 6 pool. Magical is his nap of the day and he expects her to win without much fuss.
2.30 – Queen Mary Stakes
Wednesday opens up with the Queen Mary Stakes, a ferocious 5f which always produces a fantastic spectacle.
Wesley Ward fields two here and the vibes are that Kimari could be a special filly. Her 15 length demolition at Keeneland on her debut was the fastest figure of any Ward juvenile since the superstar Lady Aurelia.
Ward won the race with Lady Aurelia in 2016 and Acapulco the year before that so it would be brave to oppose either of his two runners and, for that reason, Kimari is one I will be keeping onside.
His other runner, Anna’s Fast, was another impressive debutant, a wire-to-wire success at Keeneland back in April. Although not as visually striking as Kimari, she still displayed a powerful turn of toe when turning for home.
Of the UK challenge, Raffle Prize is one that appears to have been slightly overlooked. A solid second on debut at Newmarket was followed up with a facile success at Chester at the end of May and, although she coped with the demands of Chester’s tight track well, the suggestion is that a return to a flat galloping track will suit more.
I am going to throw her in as one that could put it up to the international raiding parties.
Selections: Kimari, Raffle Prize
3.05 – Queen’s Vase
Considering that the roll of honour for this race includes Stradivarius and Kew Gardens, it looks a poor renewal.
Given that he was effectively sacrificed as a pacesetter alongside Sovereign in the Derby, it is easy to draw a line under that run for Norway.
Realistically he was never going to get home in those conditions and this 1m 6f trip looks sure to suit. He looked like he was crying out for a step up in trip when a staying on for second in the Chester Vase behind Sir Dragonet and I expect him to get the better of his stablemate Western Australia here.
He too stepped up in trip last time out, winning a Navan listed race over 1m 5f, stretching clear in the final furlong and shaping as if the extra furlong will not be a problem.
However, I believe Norway is the better horse, with a Listed success at Newmarket last season under his belt and he could easily run his way into Aidan O’Brien’s St Leger plans with a decisive performance here.
3:40 – Prince of Wales’ Stakes
Despite the defection of Maser to the Hardwicke Stakes on Saturday, this is still arguably the hottest race of the week, as Enable victims Sea of Class and Magical do battle alongside Crystal Ocean and French raider Waldgeist.
Magical heads the market and few can argue with that. She has already amassed three Group victories this season, fresh off the heels of her Breeders Cup Turf second and Fillies and Mares victory last campaign.
Granted, her three victories have been against weak opposition and she’ll have to significantly step up on those runs on Wednesday but she ranks as one of the safest selections of the week for me. She is versatile ground and trip-wise and has a serious turn of foot. That she is race fit cannot be underestimated in this stellar field, with Sea of Class not seen since her agonising neck defeat to Enable in the Arc last October.
With another campaign that is set to be focused around an autumnal day at Longchamp, it will be hugely interesting to see just how sharp Sea of Class will be on her return. Her performances in the Irish and Yorkshire Oaks alongside the Arc last season are just about the strongest pieces of form in this field but it is optimistic to think she will be fully primed for this, with her mouth-watering rematch with Enable firmly on the radar.
Magical has also fallen on her sword to Enable but we soon learned there is no disgrace in that. While the French form of Waldgeist looks solid and he looks sure enough to run a respectable race, I expect Magical to be much too good and take home another Ascot Group 1.
4.20 – Duke of Cambridge Stakes
Rawdaa gave Lah Ti Dar a serious fright in the Middleton Stakes at York last month and just about sets the standard in what looks a pretty weak Group 2 to me.
The form of that race took a nosedive when Lah Ti Dar ran abysmally in the Coronation Cup at Epsom but the writing was on the wall a long way out and it was clear that she never took to Epsom’s undulating track. That should not diminish Rawdaa’s achievements to get so close to her when they met and a straight galloping track should suit her perfectly.
Of the chief rivals, Veracious has had more than enough chances and it’s apparent she is not good enough at the highest level. I Can Fly has a tendency to chuck a stinker in and I question any piece of form that merits her lining up in a Group 2.
One at a bigger price who is interesting to back at Ascot is Nyaleti. She is a horse who seems desperate for a straight mile run at a good gallop.
Her best recent performance came on the Rowley Mile, when a length second to Worth Waiting in the Dahlia Stakes on 1000 Guineas day. That form seems reasonable in this field and her current odds underestimate her.
She has raced at Ascot twice and was second in the Chesham back in 2017 (finishing in front of future Derby winner Masar), before thrashing her rivals in the Princess Margaret a month later.
She clearly enjoys the track and could figure in what looks a relatively open race.
Selections: Rawdaa, Nyaleti
5.00 – Royal Hunt Cup
The trickiest puzzle of the entire meeting to solve. 30 runners, and not many forlorn hopes. Where to start?
The sustained gamble on New Graduate shows no signs of stopping and he looks likely to go off as clear favourite. He was very impressive when winning a handicap at Ripon in April, which has earnt him a mark of 105. This looks reasonable, considering he was only 1 length behind Diomed Stakes winner Zaaki on his debut last season.
It could simply be a case of him being far superior to the rest of this field, but due to popularity and diminishing value, I’m happy to look elsewhere.
There has not been a back-to-back winner of the Royal Hunt Cup since Master Vote in 1948 but that may change in 2019 thanks to Settle For Bay.
He quickened away from the bumper field impressively last season, eventually winning by two and a quarter lengths from Afaak. He was not seen again until running at Meydan over the winter, two runs that can easily be forgiven and dismissed.
A dismal first outing at Naas in May was followed up by a much improved fourth behind Flight Risk next time out, form which was franked when Flight Risk won the Ballycorus next time out.
Because of this, he is rated 105 for this year’s edition – six pounds higher than his winning mark in 2018. However, it is arguable he would’ve won off six pounds higher last year and it looks clear he has been campaigned with this race in mind. I expect him to go close once again in the quest for history.
Selections: Settle for Bay
5.35 – Windsor Castle Stakes
A cluster of unexposed 2yos to finish off the day.
Temple of Heaven built on his debut promise to win what appears to be an above average Conditions race at Newbury a month ago. He had Fort Myers and Well of Wisdom in behind, who are both due to line up in the Coventry on Tuesday. He has a great deal going for him and looks the right favourite.
Rayong looks another interesting contender for Karl Burke. He was a late non-runner in the Woodcote at Epsom but shaped with plenty of promise on his debut at Carlisle, scoring by three-quarters of a length from Dragon Command, who was fifth in the aforementioned Epsom race.
It would be a fitting tribute to the late Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha if his King Power colours were in the winners enclosure at the Royal meeting and he has a great chance of doing so with some very talented horses throughout the week. Rayong is a lively contender to do just that.
Selections: Temple of Heaven, Rayong