Royal Ascot – A Look Back

June 25th, 2017 | Marten's Current Racing Diary

It was something of a frustrating week at Royal Ascot, with more than our fair share of near-misses.

As you know I decided to be brave and select long-priced horses, at prices ranging to 100/1, and we were rewarded with a 12 of them making the frame including the winners Stradivarius, who was heavily supported from 12/1 overnight to 11/2, and Out Do, my best outsider for the Wokingham.

A profit was made for those who followed my advice, especially relating to each-way betting, but the scene for the week was set when Headway, my 33/1 each-way advice for the Coventry, failed by just a head to catch Rajasinghe, who was racing away from him in the middle of the track.

Three of the first four races at the meeting were run in new course record times, demonstrating that the ground was fast but safe. Contrary to popular belief, course records are not a broken on lightning fast ground because most horses don’t stretch out freely on such conditions, so this reflects very favourably on the clerk of course’s irrigation policy in the weeks leading up to the meeting.

The race I had been most looking forward to beforehand was the Commonwealth Cup, and I wasn’t disappointed with the right horses finishing in the frame.

Tactically this was always likely to play into Caravaggio’s hands, with Harry Angel setting a strong pace and Blue Point not far behind. Caravaggio ran as he always does, requiring a little shuffling along at halfway before powering home once he found his gear.

Harry Angel’s chance rested on him establishing an unassailable advantage, but the favourite had the greater strength in the closing stages. Blue Point ran to past form and is a Group 1 winner in waiting, while Bound For Nowhere ran respectably back in fourth.

I expect Caravaggio to tackle the July Cup against older horses next , with trainer Aidan O’Brien mentioning the Everest – a newly formed race to be run at Randwick in Sydney on 14 October which, with $10 million in prize money will be the most valuable race run anywhere in the world.

Ryan Moore said afterwards that the Commonwealth Cup represented “very, very good form” and I agree. It always promised to be a race of the highest class and so it proved.

Barney Roy battled hard to just get the better of my selection Lancaster Bomber in the St James’s Palace Stakes, winning in a course record. Regular clients will know that I have had the runner-up in mind for a top prize since seeing him in the 2,000 Guineas, where he was used to spoil things for the main threats to Churchill. He loved the fast ground and I hope there is another chance for him somewhere this summer.

I was impressed that Highland Reel was able to land the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes back at a mile and a quarter. The globe-trotting winner is best suited to a mile and a half, but his class prevailed as he beat my each-way selection Decorated Knight by a length and a quarter.

I noted Gm Hopkins doing steady late work at the finish of the Royal Hunt Cup. The six-year-old won this a couple of years ago and is handicapped to win another big one, with the Cambridgeshire looking a likely autumn target. I strongly advise you to keep him on your side for the rest of the season.

Atty Persse, winner of the King George V Stakes, and Queen’s Vase winner Stradivarius look destined for greater things. The former will be raised at least 8lb, possibly more, for this three-lengths victory which will leave him on a mark in the low 100s. Stradivarius landed some good bets in the Vase and in beating a horse rated 9lb superior his mark will rise to around 106. The St Leger is the long-term aim for him.

Bye for now