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Smiles for Day 1 and onto Royal Ascot Day 2

Capt. Kneesup

Capt. Kneesup

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Go on dear - give us a smile!

What a marvellous day. I spent the morning in the company of one of the best jockeys of the last quarter of the 20th century John  Reid, and his brother Noel, having breakfast and chatting about the day’s racing and various mutual chums in the Vale of the White Horse. Then running slightly late, onto lunch, where my hostess produced a cornucopia of fresh prawns, Jubilee Chicken with fresh mango, lovely new potatoes, salad and a host of good friends to share it with, some not seen for some time. A wonderful Mersault and gallons of Aix were poured into various people including a former trainer, a current NH trainer, new babies, a vet, several wives, a couple of fund managers and assorted bright and witty girls, including a cousin of Capt Smyly, former trainer, Lambourn wine merchant and organiser of The Lambourn Open Day, (for which he should have been ennobled by now).

The racing went pretty well according to form and the first two legs of our Acca came up and we’ll wait until Saturday for the rest. Otherwise, at this stage and without knowing that result, we were down 6 pts, so by no means a disaster. I was delighted for Hollie Doyle getting her third RA winner, and for Archie Watson getting his second, making up perhaps for the contentions of last year’s disqualification.

By the time we got the handicaps, it is fair to say that all was going swimmingly well on the social front. Then the former trainer decided to leave and, being Irish, forgot that spanking a parked Range Rover with your own car is fine in Cork, but generally considered poor form in the Shires. Sadly he was simply too tonked to know whether it was a Range Rover or a Mars Rover and made his way home without mentioning the incident to the owner. Then friends of The Irish Pier arrived, who were keen to resolve the issue in the time-honoured fashion of the Irish having a jolly time out. They were dissuaded, tea and cake were served, at which point I thought it best to leave and seek a refreshing Pint of Guinness in The George.

It was Joe Gargery who best summed the day up in Great Expectations; “What larks eh Pip? What Larks!”

WEDNESDAY JUNE 15th

RACE TIMES THROUGHOUT THE WEEK: 14:30 – 15:05 – 15:40 – 16:20 – 17:00 – 17:35 – 18:10

QUEEN MARY STAKES – Group 2, 5f, 2yo fillies

7 places with Skybet – 6 with Paddypower  – 5 places generally.

I am struck by the fact that 8/9 (to avoid confusion that means eight of the last nine winners) came from Stall 12 or higher. That must suggest that Wes Ward’s LOVE REIGNS is at a disadvantage from 5. You’d have to fancy the filly MARIA BRANWELL who won a Listed against colts with the second having run Coventry hopeful Blackbeard to a shorthead previously. The pair were 6½l clear of the field.

There is some real value to be had from CARMELA who won her debut  (2nd and 3rd won since), at Yarmouth then went to a Listed Fillies at York. There she was tardily away, then bumped at the start, got short of room at the 2f pole and then started to race properly. She won the next time out and the second has gone on to win since. I have her top 5 on Raceform’s speed figures – but to be fair Timeform has her pretty low down the pecking order.

MARIA BRANWELL 3 pts e/w – CARMELA 1½ pts e/w both for 7 places

QUEEN’S VASE – Group 2, 1m6f, 3yo

I fancied NAHANNI on Derby Day and he was unsettled before the start. He stayed on late to take 7th and the extra 2f will suit. ELDAR ELDAROV has a capital P from Timeform and is a bit ahead of NAHANNI. I’d dutch those two at around 9/2 to get combined odds of 7/4. I’d also have a small e/w on TYPEWRITER who was all over the place at Chester LTO when coming 3rd after some poor behaviour down at the start. The runner-up has won a G1 in France and she gets a 3lbs sex allowance. Include her in the combination forecast

ELDAR ELDAROV – NAHANNI Dutch the pair for 6 pts – TYPEWRITER 1½ pts e/w – 6 x ½p pt CFC the 3

PRINCE OF WALES’S STAKES – Group 1, 1m2f, 4yo+

Just the five runners and every instinct says SHAHRAYAR will give Japan their first Royal Ascot winner. BAY BRIDGE looks solid – but he’s 4yo and this is his first G1 and I have my doubts about the ground. STATE OF REST has won G1s around the world and likes fast ground. French mare and winner of the Prix Jean Romanet last season, GRAND GLORY has been supplemented for this (sticky end of £70k). She was sold for £2¼m having come 5th in the Japan Cup, has been kept in training and her prep races include a Listed and G3 victory this season.

SHAHRAYAR 3 pts win – 2 pts SFC GRAND GLORY

DUKE OF CAMBRIDGE STAKES – Group 2, 1m, 4yo+ fillies and mares

BASHKIROVA 3 pts win – SIBILA SPAIN 2 pts e/w – 1 pt RFC

ROYAL HUNT CUP – Heritage Handicap, 1m, 3yo+

I have cut the list to six hopefuls on the trends, FANTASTIC FOX – EXCEL POWER – NOTRE BELLE BETE – ISLA KAI – REBEL TERRITORY – DARK SHIFT. Forced to narrow it down I would suggest

FANTASTIC FOX 2 pts e/w –  REBEL TERRITORY 2 pts e/w

WINDSOR CASTLE STAKES – Listed, 5f, 2yo

I have a short list of five. LITTLE BIG BEAR – KAASIB  – WODAO – ROCKET RODNEY – CHATEAU. I wouldn’t put anyone off having a 20 x ¼ pt CFC all five – or the favourite reversed with the other four. Just a thought.

ROCKET RODNEY 2 pts e/w

KENSINGTON PALACE STAKES – Handicap, 1m, 4yo+fillies and mares

FARHH TO SHY 2 pts e/w – IMPROVISED 3 pts win

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