Royal Ascot draws to a close and we’ve seen yet another riding masterclass from the evergreen Frankie Dettori – now firmly established among the pantheon of modern greats. Seymour Biz runs the rule over the final day of action and believes that the 2017 Diamond Jubilee Stakes winner and Ascot favourite still has what it takes to land this prestigious contest, once again. Find all previous UK racing previews in his weekly column: Saturday Horse Racing Tips.
We come to the final day of Royal Ascot and the ITV cameras are once again concentrating on just the one meeting when there are some great others up and down the country. Scotland especially has a couple of fine meetings with racing at Ayr and over the sticks at Perth, get along if you can. But as Ascot is being televised that is the one I will use to pick this week’s Lucky 15. The final day of Ascot used to have a distinctly end of term feel to it years ago, it wasn’t even called “Royal”, it was called Ascot Heath. But times have changed and we now have a a Group 1 in the form of the Diamond Jubilee Stakes run on a Saturday and the card has been bolstered by the inclusion of the Jersey Stakes this year giving us three Group races to look forward to. So here are my thoughts with an eye on value for this week’s Lucky 15.
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Starting with the Jersey Stakes at 3.05, this 7 furlongs Group 3 is targeted by some high class 3-year-olds. Current favourite is Charlie Appleby’s Space Blues a winner of his last two races. He won convincingly at York in mid-May then got home by neck at Epsom at the end of the month, beating Urban Icon by a neck. However those two wins were on good/firm going and earlier in the season when racing on soft he failed to get home. Aidan O’Brien has So Perfect in the lineup, she is a very consistent filly. Last time out she won the Lacken Stakes at Naas on good/firm going, prior to that she ran third at Newbury on good/soft so I have some concerns about the ground on Saturday. Added to that she has never won over 7f. Happy Power has had a fine season to date for trainer Andrew Balding. A dual winner as a 2-year-old he came out this season at Newbury and won on soft. He was then tried against older horses firstly at Haydock, running third, then winning at York last week again on soft. He has won at all distances between 6f and 1m, goes well with some cut in the ground and looks my idea of the winner.
At 4.20 it is the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, a Group 1 race over 6 furlongs. A big surprise entry for this is Blue Point, the winner of the King’s Stand Stakes on Tuesday. Trainer Aidan O’Brien considers he has come out of that race well after battling past Battaash to gain his second win in that Group 1 and although he had previously won twice in Dubai this year, I feel connections may be going to the well once too often. There is a good French challenger in City Light trained by Stephane Wattel who ran a good second at Maisons-Laffitte on his only outing this year after a good 4-year-old season including only beaten a short head in this contest. He has obviously been kept with this race in mind and has won on soft earlier in his career. Invincible Army is unbeaten this year with wins at Doncaster and York and trainer James Tate considers he is ready to step up in class. Sir Michael Stoute has Dream Of Dreams, another who is looking to step up in class after two victories. In one of those wins at Windsor he beat The Tin Man who won this contest in 2017 and was having a prep race. James Fanshawe’s gelding came back to form at Haydock in the Sprint Cup last September. He goes well on any surface and loves Ascot and can reprise his fine victory here.
The Wokingham Stakes is at 5.00 and this annual Charge of the Light Brigade over the straight 6 furlongs has again attracted the star handicappers. At the head of the betting is Cape Byron who won the Victoria Cup here in some style last month but that was over 7f and he has not run over 6f. Last year’s winner Bacchus is saddled with top weight and I cannot see him repeating his surprise win of 2018. Looking lower down the handicap there are two horses who won last time out, Watchable and Recon Mission but both have 5lb penalties for those wins. Likewise the well-fancied Danzeno falls into that category. Keith Dalgleish’s Soldier’s Minute is having a fine season, in his latest win at York he had several of the protagonists he meets here and I expect him to confirm those placings but he is a better horse on firmer going. I am looking at one of the older horses and that is Paul d’Arcy’s Spring Loaded. He goes on any surface, has won at Ascot albeit over 5f, and top apprentice Dylan Hogan has been booked. His 5lb allowance will make a difference and with a good draw he can get a flyer and will take some catching.
The final race of Royal Ascot is the Queen Alexandra Stakes and it is the longest race of the whole flat racing season. Run over almost 2m 6f look for fit National Hunt horses being sent over from Ireland. Gordon Elliot has won two of the last three runnings of this race and he sends over last year’s winner, Pallasator, to repeat his victory. He has had a prep run at Leopardstown and must be respected. Another Irish Raider is Willie Mullins’ Max Dynamite who raced in France at the end of last season and has not been seen out since. Mark Johnson’s Lucky Deal is fancied after his win at Haydock but the distance may be beyond him. Paul Nicholls sends out Black Corton and he is fit from hurdling having won at Sandown. He has his daughter Megan in the saddle. Could she be the next female Royal Ascot winning jockey? But my real fancy is John Gosden’s Corelli, who looks the class act in the race. He won twice last year then came out this year at Newmarket and ran a cracking second to the top-rated Baghdad. The distance is a concern but if the trainer has entered him he must consider him capable of travelling this distance.
Saturday Royal Ascot Lucky 15
3.05 Happy Power
4.20 The Tin Man
5.00 Spring Loaded