The Duke – Royal Ascot Day Two

If you were after a quiet start to Day Two at Royal Ascot, after the high excitement of the opening day, then you are in for a rude awakening.

The first race at 2.30 is the Jersey Stakes and we’ve got twenty horses ready to rumble. Daban was third in the 1000 Guineas behind Winter and had previously won the Nell Gwyn at Newmarket. She has a strong chance. On the face of it, Le Brivido would seem to have a big claims, although I’d question how strong the three-year-old form in France is this year. At longer odds, Whitecliffsofdover sports new headgear and has an each-way shout. Winning Ways was a very good handicap winner over C&D last time and actually the form stacks up well. At 16-1 he could be in the mix. However, I would love to see Josephine Gordon ride Dream Castle to success and become the first female for 30 years to ride a Royal Ascot winner. She’s got a good chance on a horse who could excel over this track and trip. He has an element of quality as shown in the Greenham Stakes (2nd) and the 2000 Guineas (5th). I’ll be cheering Josephine and Dream Castle on.

Wind the clock back twelve months and you’ll remember the Queen Mary Stakes was a joy to watch when Lady Aurelia dismantled the field. As such, every man and his dog assumes Wesley Ward will train this year’s winner and quite frankly 6/4 is pretty short to get excited about Happy Like A Fool. Having said this, I have no doubt when Wes Ward says she is the best of the young fillies he has brought over from the States, then she is probably very good indeed. At around 6/1, Heartache is sired by Kyllachy who often produces fast two-year-olds and given his dam was a Listed winner over five furlongs, I suspect she could be very speedy indeed. I think she’s the value. Mrs Gallagher and Out Of The Flames are others who could figure at long odds.

Race three is the Duke Of Cambridge Stakes over the straight mile. Argentinian form is hard to translate to Europe, but Greta G was a good horse over there last year. Usherette won this race last year, but I’m a little put off that she isn’t in the same kind of form yet this term. Smart Call is a really interesting one at the odds. She’s set to be partnered by Ryan Moore and she’s a Grade one winner in South Africa. Qemah was beaten on her return at Lingfield, but she wasn’t asked a question and that was very much a prep race for Royal Ascot. She will be cherry ripe for this and has a massive chance. But Qemah is proven at this grade and just edges it for me.

The Prince Of Wales’s Stakes is the fourth race at 4.20. Firstly, two who made the shortlist but didn’t quite cut it. Ulysses is an improved horse and Deauville, who he beat at Sandown, franked the form on the first day at Royal Ascot, so he has a chance. Decorated Knight is consistently underrated but on this occasion I think he may have too much on his plate. The two who deserve their place at the head of the market are Highland Reel and Jack Hobbs. Highland Reel is a real star, winning races all over the world. The thing is, I think he’s a better horse over a mile and a half and he had a tough race just 19 days ago at Epsom. I have always liked Jack Hobbs and he returned with a bang to win the Dubai Sheema Classic in March. He’s had his issues in training, but if he shows his very best, he can win this. It could go either way.

The Royal Hunt Cup is one of the toughest races of the day, if not the week. GM Hopkins won the race a couple of years ago but would need a drastic change in form. Bossy Guest has been running well in handicaps at Newbury and Ascot so far this year and based on an unlucky three-length loss in this race last year on ground that wasn’t ideal for him, I think on faster conditions he rates a contender. Fastnet Tempest has been in fantastic form this year, including winning the Victoria Cup at Ascot in May. Although he has risen up the weights, he has major claims. I’ll throw my hat on Bossy Guest, but honestly, this race requires a bundle of luck.

The final race on the second day is the Sandringham Handicap. Really Special has got some good form in Meydan and she is very much unexposed. I think she could run well, as could fellow Godolphin runner Bean Feasa who was a clear Group 3 winner at Leopardstown in May. Others to enter the shortlist include On Her Toes and Queen Of Time, but it’s a hard way to round the card off. Best of luck.

The Duke – Royal Ascot Day Two
Jersey Stakes – Dream Castle
Queen Mary Stakes – Heartache each-way
Duke Of Cambridge Stakes – Qemah
Prince Of Wales’s Stakes – Jack Hobbs
Royal Hunt Cup – Bossy Guest
Sandringham Handicap – Really Special

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