Tuesday, 15th June 2021
Good afternoon. Royal Ascot gets underway today – five days of stacked high-quality cards that represent some of the best racing you’re going to see all year….
There’s no shortage of top Group action to sit back and enjoy this afternoon – the Queen Anne, the Coventry, the King’s Stand, and the St James’s Palace Stakes. Is there a better start to any meeting in the world?
My betting focus is – as ever – targeted on the handicaps. Day 1 is the day for handicappers with stamina – with the Ascot Stakes and the Copper Horse taking centre stage….
If you missed my betting advice for those races – I always go out 24-hours ahead of the game with my selections – catch up here….
My focus this morning has been on tomorrow’s card – where the Royal Hunt Cup up the straight mile is the big deal of the day for handicap fans. A field of 30 goes to post. Let’s get down to it….
There are options at 5.00 tomorrow when it comes to playing the 30-runner Royal Hunt Cup….
I toyed with hanging my hat on one selection and trying to get that to win or hit the frame (with bookies paying out on up to 8 horses – though generally 6)….
But – partly because I don’t like relying on just one horse in a field this size and partly because of the horses I fancy and their respective market positions – I’ve decided to go two-against-the-field (win only)….
Irish yards have won two of the last five renewals and I take Noel Meade’s LAYFAYETTE to make it three from six tomorrow….
The 4yo’s proved an improved proposition this term – thanks to being gelded; the application of cheekpieces and the decision to go back to the mile trip rather than continue at the longer distances he was racing over last term….
Back in March he won the Irish Lincolnshire on his seasonal debut – travelling well, finishing strongly, and giving every impression that there’s more to come….
He beat Master Of Kings (98) a half-length that day off an Irish mark of 90. That one franked the form by winning a G3 at Leopardstown last month and is now rated 107 – which leads me to think that Noel Meade’s horse is potentially very well treated on a British mark of 96 tomorrow….
Next time out the Layfayette logged another personal best – albeit in defeat. And he perhaps had excuses that day. The gaps didn’t open for him when he needed them most….
Most of his form has been produced on soft and heavy ground. But he won on a fast surface as a juvenile and I’m taking the view that the quick ground might well see him to better effect again….
I can’t imagine connections have shipped him over here – knowing full well how the weather’s been and how the track is likely to be – in search of cut….
In stall 22 he starts on the right part of the track for my money and the 18s & 16s generally available about him is a fair price in my book….
You can look at a dozen runners (and more) set to go to post and make a case for them. Discounting the most fancied horses (I always oppose them) – Grove Ferry, Matthew Flinders, Beat Le Bon, Escobar, and Ascension all went deep in terms of my pre-race analysis….
But you can’t back them all and it’s BRUNCH who gets the nod as my second selection at the general 18s & 16s….
The 4yo has been ultra-consistent for the last 12-months for Michael Dods – winning a couple of decent handicaps last term but finding one too good in both the big handicaps he’s contested this season to date….
Both times he’s bumped into very well handicapped horses – progressive Haqeeqy in the Lincoln (who he meets on better terms tomorrow) and a bouncer in Kynren at York….
He kind of deserves to land a big one like this and – given his form – I expect him to be there or thereabouts again tomorrow. The Ascot mile is pretty stiff and Brunch will get it better than most. Expect him to be keeping on late under Callum Rodriguez….
Like Layfayette, he starts in the cluster of stalls from which horses have beaten the biggest volume of opponents home over the last decade. Brunch has plenty going for him at the 16s and I expect a big run….
Talented 5lb claimer Laura Pearson did herself no harm at all when winning a Chester handicap on Dark Pine for David Loughnane in May….
She gets another good opportunity from him in tomorrow’s Kensington Palace at 6.10 in the shape of LOLA SHOWGIRL – and the pair are worth backing at 12s….
The 4yo filly took her form to a new level when winning an amateur jockeys handicap at York over 7f on seasonal return in May – winning from the front and showing a lot of a grit in the process….
It’s possible to get a bit sniffy about amateur races – but the performance was a big step forward, she’s only gone up 2lbs for it and the step back up to the mile might well be the catalyst for more improvement still – she certainly finished the York race like a mile will suit….
She likes a bend. She likes to do it from the front – like she did at York. She might not have it all her own way tomorrow but she can dig deep. She showed that under 10-11 at York….
Tomorrow she carries 8-07 – with Pearson taking off 5lbs. Lola Showgirl is going to feel as light as a feather – and she might take some going past for some of those burdened by more weight. She’s certainly one of those in the field open to 10lb+ improvement on the day. The 12s is fair….
Each-way backers take note: The firms are paying out 1/5 the odds on the first 5 home….
Nick’s contrarian picks….
To recap on where my idea of the value lies tomorrow afternoon….
In the Royal Hunt Cup (5.00 @ Ascot).
In the Kensington Palace (6.10 @ Ascot).
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. I’ll be back tomorrow. Meanwhile….
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Until next time. Stay tuned.