14:30 Queen Mary Stakes
The Coventry went the way of the market with a hugely impressive winner, but there is no standout performer in the Queen Mary unless you believe the Wesley Ward PR machine which would suggest that Chelsea Cloisters is home and hosed. I’m not sure about that, but Ward knows how to win this, and his fillies are almost always more mature than their European counterparts, so I’m in no rush to take her on.
On the other hand, I’m a lot happier to side against the prevailing notion that anything by the late Scat Daddy will be a stone better at Ascot than elsewhere, and part of the reason why sires like him and War Front do so well at this meeting is that Coolmore are hugely invested not only in both sires but in success at Ascot as well.
That brings us on to So Perfect who represents Aidan O’Brien here and is a daughter of Scat Daddy. She was arguably better than the result when fourth behind Servalan in a listed race at Naas, but that is being fairly kind, and the bottom line is that Servalan kicked her ass, and looked impressive in doing it.
Quite how Jessica Harrington’s filly is several points bigger than So Perfect in the win market beggars belief and highlights what poor value the Coolmore filly represents.
There are a host of others who demand attention as well, and I’d be more than happy to lay So Perfect for a place in a race with more than 20 triers.
Recommended: Lay So Perfect for a place @ 3.25 or shorter
15:05 Queen’s Vase
Kew Gardens will find this easier than the Derby, and it’s possible to forgive his flop at Epsom to some degree given he’d cut out the fractions in a well-run race, but he simply doesn’t look to have trained on particularly well from two to three, and the form of the Lingfield Derby Trial in which he was a well-beaten second has not worked out at all thus far.
In neither the Lingfield race nor at Epsom did he look like he needed a step up in trip, and while the Queen’s Vase was a soft race for some years, it’s elevation to Group 2 status makes it a more competitive and coveted race as a result, and it’s no easy pickings for Derby failures, which he undoubtedly is.
Ryan Moore’s decision to ride him instead of Nelson merely highlights the fact that neither has lived up to expectations, and it would be no surprise if the late-developing Southern France proved the pick of the O’Brien battalion
Recommended: Lay Kew Gardens @ 4.6 or shorter and also lay Kew Gardens for a place @ 1.85 or shorter
15:40 Duke Of Cambridge Stakes
Hydrangea is the pick of these on form, and if this race was run over an extra half mile in October then she would look something to bet on at 2.75. Unfortunately, it’s being run over a mile in fast ground in June, and the O’Brien filly has looked eminently beatable under these conditions in the past, with her form over a mile on good or faster ground hardly unassailable.
Her record under such conditions reads 200312, and while that gives her as good a chance as anything, it doesn’t equate to a price like the one she trades at currently, and she is a value lay at that sort of price.
Again, I feel the need to emphasise that there isn’t one in this race whose claims are more pressing, but merely that backers and layers must decide at what price they are happy to play.
The notion that winners and losers are in some way predetermined is arrant nonsense, and punters would do well to bear that in mind.
Recommended: Lay Hydrangea @ 2.8 or shorter
16:20 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes
It’s tempting to nominate another Aidan O’Brien runner given how we’re playing the card to this point, but the play here is an obvious one.
Cracksman ought to win comfortably on all known form, and even a reproduction of his workmanlike Epsom success would probably be good enough here, in terms of figures if not style.
Poets Word is his main market rival but is probably the fourth or fifth best horse in the race.
His win in the Brigadier Gerard was workmanlike, and gave no evidence that he had improved from four to five, but the industry is still largely in thrall to Sir Michael Stoute, who has an excellent record at this meeting but is no longer one of the leading trainers in the land, and his horses are regularly overbet based on notions of untouchability which are two decades out of date.
Recommended: Lay Poet’s Word for a place @ 2.0 or shorter