Irish challenger can see off international rivals in feature race
The Prince of Wales Stakes is the feature race on day two of Royal Ascot and unfortunately American challenger California Chrome was withdrawn after the final declarations due to a foot abscess.
That leaves a field of 9 and there is still some international flavour to the race with Criterion coming over from Australia, Gailo Chop and Ectot crossing the Channel from France and Spielberg bidding to win the race for Japan.
The latter looks very interesting at 11/1. His beating of Gentildonna, a horse that has finished second to St Nicholas Abbey and beaten Cirrus Des Aigles, gives us a good idea of his quality.
A reproduction of that run would probably see him go close.
The favourite for this race is Free Eagle at 16/5 and the big question mark hanging over him is his lack of run this year.
He’s clearly been tough to train, managing just 4 runs to date, but Dermot Weld wouldn’t run him if he wasn’t 100%.
He won on his seasonal debut last year and in beating Elleval by 7 lengths he really put himself on the map as one of the best 10f horses in training.
He followed that up with a close third on unsuitable ground over this course and distance in the Champion Stakes.
He’s a good price considering the form he’s shown in what probably isn’t the strongest renewal of this race so he’s just given the nod over Spielberg.
Take one from each side in the difficult Hunt Cup
The Royal Hunt Cup is the big betting race of the day and with the draw bias often changing from day to day at this meeting it’s often a good strategy to back one drawn on either side in this race.
If low numbers are at an advantage then Ayaar at 10/1 has the best of the draw in stall 1.
This horse is often well fancied for this sort of race but had previously failed to deliver on more than one occasion until the Spring Cup in April.
He won that in good style beating the likes of Spark Plug and Big Baz who have both won since (both reoppose here).
The 5th home in that race, Loving Spirit, has also won since so for Ayaar to have beaten other well handicapped horses so easily, we have to be looking at an improved animal this season.
Temptress at 14/1 from stall 19 is the high drawn selection.
The Roger Charlton trained filly has won both her starts at this venue with considerable ease and it’s worth noting that there was talk of moving up to listed level after her latest victory, in which she beat Amazing Maria who has since placed at group 2 level, but she has been saved for this race instead.
Always Smile to leave punters grinning in lucky last
The Sandringham Stakes might not be one of the best races at the meeting but it can be one of the best betting events.
Most of the horses graduating from handicaps have to run from out of the handicap due to the high rating of the top weight.
In this year’s renewal over a third of the field will have to carry more weight than their official rating would normally dictate.
At the other end of the scale, we have horses dropping down from graded races at the top of the weights here and those are rarely well handicapped horses.
That leaves very few with realistic chances and one that really stands out here is Always Smile.
The horse has been graduating through the handicap ranks and after her debut maiden success she went on to win both handicap starts.
That latest win saw her defeat Sahaafy who won a handicap by 5 lengths next time and Al Bandar who won a handicap by 3 lengths next time out.
She’s been raised 11lbs for that effort which is a lot but she still seems to have plenty in her locker and will find conditions ideal here.