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Richard Hoiles: My picks for every race at Royal Ascot on Wednesday

18 Jun | BY Richard Hoiles | MIN READ TIME |
Richard Hoiles: My picks for every race at Royal Ascot on Wednesday

The horse racing broadcaster picks out a bet from each race on the second day at Royal Ascot, including the St James's Palace.

After finishing with four races on Ascot’s round course on Tuesday, the straight course and the age-old debate over where you want to be drawn will very much be the focus on day two. The field sizes for the four straight races at final declaration stage are 26, 30, 25, and 28, so the stalls will stretch right across the course for all the races and the splitting into groups looks a certainty.

Also, make note of any watering plans after the first day, which are not known at the time of writing. The forecast has improved, and it is likely it will take place, probably with around 5mm being put on just to try and hold the ground at its starting point of a mixture of good and good to firm.

14:30

I have spent considerably more time this season following the two-year-olds, but a big field Queen Mary is still a minefield. The listed Marygate at York is the form line that looks the most solid, and Miss Lamai may well reverse form with her conqueror that day, Betty Clover. Miss Lamai did plenty early on and was left vulnerable in the finish that day, but impressed with the way she moved through the race from a stable in Karl Burke that has done well with their juveniles.

She is not the stable first string, with that honour going to Leovanni, who ran in the same Nottingham race that the stable had won the previous year with their Queen Mary third Beautiful Diamond, but she could well represent the best value of the pair. XANTHE / gets the vote, though, having won at the track on her debut, beating the colts, and her dam Gilded won this race back in 2006. She may take a big step forward here and is likely to have always had this on her agenda.

15:05

A complete change of pace next with the 1m 6f Queen’s Vase for the three-year-olds, many of whom will be tackling the trip for the first time. Aidan O’Brien sets a puzzle in his own right here by saddling four, with Ryan Moore electing to ride Illinois, who chased home Derby runner-up Ambiente Friendly in the Lingfield Derby Trial. That race has worked a little better than I expected, but Illinois looked a handful that day and even though Ascot does not have the twists and turns of Lingfield, the fast ground which he will again get here may also have been a contributory factor.

Wayne Lordan has also ridden HIGHBURY / in both his career starts to date, so that may well have influenced things, and it is his victory last time which marks him as a very interesting contender. Granted it was only a maiden, but he strode away to win by 7½ l and both the second and fourth from the race won on their next starts. He looks likely to stay, is nicely berthed in stall 2 (there is a very short run to the first turn), and given he beat a horse who had beaten him on his debut last time, looked to take a big step forward from his first to second run.

15:45

Next up is the Duke of Cambridge, which this year is going to be run on the Round Mile with the Kensington Palace run later in the day being switched to the Straight Mile. The demands of the two tracks are a little different, with the Round Mile speeds early quicker than the straight as jockeys must consider getting a position before the bend looms. That turn, coupled with the gradient, makes the 3f point just about the slowest part of the race, whereas that is the very place where speeds reach their maximum on the straight course.

The form line that looks the strongest is the Lanwades Stud Ridgewood Pearl at the Curragh at the end of May, where Ocean Jewel beat ROGUE MILLENNIUM / into third. Rogue Millennium had changed hands for a cool £1,650,000 at the end of last season, and it was her first start for Joseph O’Brien, who has made quite a slow start to the campaign this year. Sent off favourite, she met trouble up the rail and is taken to reverse the form from a better gate than Ocean Jewel, who also has to carry a 3lb penalty for that success.

16:25

The feature race of the day is the Group 1 St James’s Palace, featuring a clash between two of the headline horses of recent seasons in Auguste Rodin and Inspiral. The latter bypassed the Queen Anne to come here, with part of the reason given that it would give her more time to recover if she blows the start. If that happens from stall 10, then she will be a hostage to fortune as she will have to go back in a race that could be steadily run.

It may be that, given Auguste Rodin’s proven stamina, stable companion Hans Andersen is sent forward, but I am still happy to put up an outsider in ZARAKEM / , who could get the run of things up front. He was sent off favourite in the Prix Ganay, where he disappointed, but that was a potentially different pace profile to what he will encounter here. He beat Horizon Dore in the Prix D’Harcourt and is trained by one of the most promising handlers in France in Jerome Reynier. If Maxime Guyon can get over from stall 8, then he may outrun his odds in a race where there are just a couple of question marks against those at the top of the market. Blue Rose Cen also deserves respect, but the stable change from last year is a big query, so check out how Big Rock has fared the day before in the Queen Anne, having made a similar move.

17:05

Back to the straight course and one of the big handicaps of the week in the Royal Hunt Cup. Beshtani will have supporters after running well at Epsom, and do not be put off by an unfamiliar trainer name Hamad Al-Jehani, who has had great success for Wathnan Racing in his native Qatar and has a satellite yard at Newmarket for the summer. It is also a race where familiar favorites line up each year, and two of them are leading players in Ropey Guest and BLESS HIM / . Both are regulars in this type of contest, but it is Bless Him who looks to have dropped to a dangerous mark, especially on ground that looks likely to suit. A third in the Victoria Cup highlighted the fact, and in Jamie Spencer, he has the Ascot straight course master in slaloming his way through a field in a fast-run race. Ropey Guest should run his usual honest race, but is probably in terms of ratings closer to his ceiling than Bless Him.

17:40

As mentioned earlier, the Kensington Palace is now being moved to the straight course, and as a result has attracted a bigger field than the old maximum safety limit of 20 it had on the round track. Last year’s winner Villanova Queen did well to win that day and is still a player, as her hold-up tactics will potentially be easier to execute here, but it is the lightly raced ELIM / who catches the eye for the stable of Ed Bethell, who is making an excellent start to his training career. Off for over a year before a return run at Redcar, she is lurking off a dangerously low mark of just 83 and is still unexposed. Doha is another potential player and boasts possibly the best pedigree of the entire day, being by Sea The Stars out of dual Arc winner Treve.

18:15

We end as we began, with a big field of juveniles over 5f for the Windsor Castle. HAWAIIAN / had been touted as one of Richard Hannon’s nicest youngsters before his debut at Newbury in a race that worked out well, and was a warm order for the Listed Dragon Stakes at Sandown. He fluffed his lines that day, not looking the same horse on the softer ground, and he is well worth another chance back on a faster surface. Aviation Time is another worthy of a mention as she got shuffled back in the Hilary Needler and wasn’t able to show her true worth, but the fact she takes on the colts here makes things harder.

A tough day with plenty of runners. Good luck!

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Richard Hoiles

Richard Hoiles

Richard is a horse racing broadcaster and commentator who has been involved in the sport since 1992.

Richard Hoiles

Richard Hoiles

Richard is a horse racing broadcaster and commentator who has been involved in the sport since 1992.