Friday, 17th June 2016
Good morning, contrarians,
On the menu today….
These big meetings fly by very quickly and we’re already at the numb end of Royal Ascot for another year.
I’m writing this on Friday morning – before the outcome of the races on Day 4 are in – and so far it’s been a meeting of near misses for followers of the contrarian bets I put up in this column.
Goken hit the frame at a big price on Tuesday in the King’s Stand Stakes.
Librisa Breeze (we beat everybody to the punch on the price of that one) found just one too good in the Royal Hunt Cup on Wednesday.
Yesterday Luca Cumani’s Mizzou – who certainly ran well enough to win a Gold Cup in an average year – bumped into a rival who looked a class above everything else he was racing against.
I’m not in bad shape – thanks to place returns – but a winner at a nice price would just put the brass hat on the week.
I’m playing in three races this afternoon and another two tomorrow – so there’s still plenty of time and opportunity to put more distance between myself and the layers. And that, as always, is the plan….
Let’s crack on to tomorrow’s races. I fancy the G1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes and the Wokingham Stakes – both run over the 6tf trip – as the races to play in on the final day.
The field for the Diamond Jubilee Stakes (4.20) has cut up a bit more than anybody would like. With just 10 runners set to go to post this will be the smallest field for the race this century.
Magical Memory sits atop the market at 3s – coming into the race on the back of his win in the G2 Duke of York Stakes at York last month.
The horse he beat just a half-length that day – SUEDOIS – reopposes tomorrow afternoon and can be backed at 4 times the price to overturn the form. Coral have that one in at 14s whilst he’s 12s generally.
The French-import does still have a bit to find at G1 level but he’ll be having just his third run for David O’Meara and Danny Tudhope and they earmarked this particular target for him pretty early on.
Both trainer and jockey have been learning about the horse all the time and the ground – with more ease in it than was the case at York – will certainly suit. The more of the forecast rain that falls between now and the off the better.
The place terms of 1/5 1-2-3 don’t get my pulse racing so I’m going to hedge my bets with a few quid on JUNGLE CAT at a big general 20s.
He ran a cracker in the King’s Stand Stakes on Tuesday – finishing 4th – and he fully deserves to take his chance in this over the extra furlong. It’s not as if he hasn’t been 6f before. He was 3rd in the 2014 Coventry Stakes at the track and has decent form in the book at Newbury and Meydan.
He’s hit the same Racing Post rating – 114 – in each of this last 3 runs and it maybe that this step back up in trip to 6f is just what he needs at this stage to hit another top. He’s fit and firing and with that in mind he could very well be under-estimated at the price.
Where Suedois will be the one to benefit from more rain, Jungle Cat would benefit from it staying dry. Either way both horses are proving to be pretty versatile. At the prices they’re the pair I fancy going to war with.
BUCKSTAY is interesting for the Wokingham Stakes (5.00) at prices around 20s (Paddy Power are 22s)….
Jamie Spencer has been on the back of the horse in 2 of his last 3 runs – both over 7f at Ascot where the horse won and finished 3rd – and you’d imagine he’s had something to do with the horse stepping back in trip for a tilt at this prestigious prize rather than going for Wednesday’s Royal Hunt Cup.
Form at 7f is never a bad thing for the Wokingham. Buckstay has that in spades. And in finishing 5th in last season’s Ayr Gold Cup, Buckstay served notice that tomorrow’s stiff 6f might just prove perfect for him.
Buckstay does like going up a rail and he gets stall 1 tomorrow on the stands side (which showed signs of being the favoured side yesterday afternoon). I think he’s exactly where connections wanted him to be. He’ll be staying on very strongly at the end under Spencer and – traffic permitting – I can see him going very close at a big price.
On the other side of the draw in stall 30 I’m also going to support TOOFI at the general 20s.
He’s only had one run for sprint-king Robert Cowell. That was last month at York over an inadequate 5f and the horse finished down the field.
But Cowell and rider Andrea Atzeni will have learnt something about the horse and I expect him to show up as a very different proposition tomorrow for a yard that knows how to win a big sprint – be it a G1 or a big handicap.
The 5yo is rated 103 but that should not be an issue. He was 2nd in the 2015 Stewards Cup behind Magical Memory off a mark of 98 and he went close in the Ayr Gold Cup too off a mark of 102.
Make no mistake. Cowell will improve this horse. He has a habit of making sprinters he inherits faster than they were before. That makes Toofi dangerous tomorrow at a nice price.
The Contrarian Bet Box….
To recap on where my contrarian money will be going tomorrow afternoon….
In the Diamond Jubilee Stakes (4.20)....
In the Wokingham Stakes (5.00)....
That is my take on where the value lies – but you will no doubt have your own ideas and that’s exactly as it should be.
That’s all from me for today and for this week. Stay tuned for more contrarian big-race insight & analysis next week.