The final day of Royal Ascot starts with the Chesham Stakes over seven furlongs.
Optimum Time at 16/1 will attract some each-way bets after a decent winning debut at Windsor. He’s got a big step up to make though and there are others with more solid claims. Masar and Nyaleti both deserve to be there in the betting after winning their first starts and are both around 7/1 in price. However it’s all about September. She is sired by superstar Japanese horse Deep Impact and absolutely romped home in a maiden at Leopardstown. She is potentially very classy and despite rather short odds for such a competitive race, she may well justify them.
The second race on the card is the Wolferton Handicap and this is always a hard one from a betting perspective. Khairaat is the proverbial group horse in a handicap, particularly when trained by Sir Michael Stoute who is so good at bringing horses on gradually. He hosed up at Chester last time and must go close here. I’m not sure Central Square is particularly well handicapped but the ground is in his favour and it was a promising reappearance at Newmarket last time. Pacify is a little high in the weights but looks the one for each-way players. He was lightly raced in handicaps last year and performed well, so should not discourage bettors at 10/1. Khairaat though is the percentage call.
The Hardwicke Stakes is next up and while it is a tough race, I’m drawn towards three in particular. Wings Of Desire should be respected on his form from last year. He won the Dante, was fourth in the 2016 Derby and was runner-up behind Highland Reel in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. I rather fancy him here at very tasty odds of 11/2. Western Hymn is in decent nick after winning the Ormonde at Chester, but this is a significantly tougher task. Dartmouth is a lovely horse for HM The Queen and comes in to it in good form after winning the Yorkshire Cup. He’s rather short in price and while he might win, I’d prefer the much bigger price for Wings Of Desire.
The 4.20 is the Diamond Jubilee Stakes. I’m a huge fan of Limato. While it was a poor return at Meydan, the conditions were not in his favour and back on quicker ground he has a massive chance. He needs a rattling surface and I think he will win this. Tasleet won very nicely at York on soft ground and even the faster ground shouldn’t phase him. The Tin Man definitely hated that ground last time at York and back at Ascot on fast ground he’s going to be a force to be reckoned with. I’ve got it between Limato and The Tin Man, with preference for the former.
The penultimate race of the Royal meeting is the Wokingham. I’m going to have a crack at some big price ones here. Let’s start with Raucous who is partnered by Ryan Moore. He wears first time blinkers, he’s not badly weighted and ran well in a Group 3 at the track in October. G Force is a former Group 1 sprinter and even based on his runs in handicaps last year, he should be shorter than the 25/1 on offer. Danzeno is the one for me though. He races off his lowest mark since 2014, won’t be phased by the ground, has placed form in Group races at Ascot and quite simply a run towards his best would see him win this. He’s 25-1, and may be a cracking each-way bet.
The final race of Royal Ascot at 5.35 is the Queen Alexandra Stakes. A thorough staying trip and if Thomas Hobson lines up again after winning earlier in the week it could be one of the training performances of Royal Ascot history. Qewy was runner-up in the Ascot Stakes last year and should be respected, as should Fun Mac and Winning Story. US Army Ranger was runner-up in the 2016 Derby and while he’s been a very frustrating horse, he may still retain some class. Thomas Hobson though, could re-write history if he runs and gets the vote in the lucky last.
The Duke’s Picks:
Chesham Stakes – September
Wolferton Handicap – Khairaat
Hardwicke Stakes – Wings Of Desire
Diamond Jubilee Stakes – Limato
Wokingham Heritage Handicap – Danzeno each-way
Queen Alexandra Conditions Race – Thomas Hobson