Royal Ascot Tips: Let's all back a winner, Ifwecan, then you can

Mark Johnston trains Tony's big price fancy Ifwecan
Mark Johnston trains Tony's big price fancy Ifwecan

It's day three of the Royal meeting and Tony Calvin is back in the hunt for winners as he takes us through the six races on Ladies Day, recommending a selection in five of them...

Recommended Bets

Back Mukhmal @ 7.413/2 Royal Ascot 14:30

Back Cannock Chase @ 4.3100/30 Royal Ascot 15:05

Back Bright Approach @ 10.09/1 Royal Ascot 15:45

Back Ifwecan @ 32.031/1 Royal Ascot 17:00

Back Venezia @ 21.020/1 Royal Ascot 17:35


Like yesterday, I am going to go through the races in chronological order, which is just as well as I struggled to come up with a catchy intro today and it is easier to format this way.

But I will make sure that the boys in the office who are unfortunate to have to sub this copy put my main fancy in the headline.

Ramble over, so let's crack on.


Royal Ascot 14:30 - Mukhmal

I am keen to take on the The Great War in the Norfolk.

I don't tend to take any notice of market weakness, but I just wonder whether Aidan O'Brien has his usual array of juvenile stars this season, at least at the moment anyway.

Because in years gone past, I would have expected an unbeaten winner of his coming into what looks a substandard Norfolk to be an odds-on chance. His War Envoy could only finish ninth in the Coventry and he didn't even have a runner in the Queen Mary on Wednesday.

And what concerns me slightly is that The Great War is fitted with a tongue tie here, so I am guessing that he has been making a noise in his races, or when working since. Perhaps not ideal.

So I am happy to take him on with Mukhmal, whose stable saddled Jungle Cat to run an excellent third in the Coventry on Tuesday.

Mukhmal looks a speedier type judging by the way he bounced out from the widest draw to make all in the Lily Agnes last time.

The form is only shaping up to be ok - though the runner-up finished a fair seventh in the Windsor Castle - but it has worked out a lot better than The Great War's two victories, and at odds of 7.413/2 or better in the opener he strikes me as a very fair bet.

Straight after the Chester win, this race was nominated as his next target by connections, so they think they have a fast one on their hands.


Royal Ascot 15:05 - Cannock Chase

Cannock Chase is expected to take all the beating in the Tercentenary Stakes at 15:05 and I think there is some mileage in him at odds of 4.3100/30 or bigger.

I wouldn't pay too much attention to the fact that he is being stepped up in class when handicaps were still a viable option off a mark of 97; in fact, you have to see it as a positive.

Hillstar actually won the King Edward VII Stakes here last season immediately after being beaten in the handicap won by Cannock Chase last month, and the manner in which he won at Newbury - crucially on fast ground - suggests that the selection is more than ready to step up to Group 3 company. And there is nothing currently rated higher than him in here which scares me at all.

And I suspect that the stable know what they had after Newbury, too. Indeed, straight after the race, Michael Stoute's assistant, Owen Burrows, said: "Ryan said we want to look after him because he's pretty smart. This race always throws up decent ones and they looked a nice bunch."

Burrows did also mention that very fast ground would be a concern, so hopefully the showers that are forecast on Thursday do materialise. In any case, breaking news that the course are going to water to the tune of 4mm tonight is further music to my ears.


Royal Ascot 15:45 - Bright Approach

Bright Approach looks very backable at odds of 10.09/1 or bigger in the Ribblesdale at 15:45

You have to respect the market leaders and form horses Inchila and Vazira, but I think there is a lot of improvement in Bright Approach, who comes here fresh after sidestepping the Oaks.

The form of her Newbury maiden win couldn't have worked out better - the second and fourth have won listed races since and the third won her maiden by seven lengths - and I don't think that we saw the best of her when she was third at Chester last time.

Firstly, I don't think she was at home on the track and, secondly, it was reported that there were signs of her coming into season afterwards.

She is a half-sister to the stable's 2m winner Nichols Canyon, who also won at Ascot, and I think 1m4f on this more conventional track will see her progress a good deal.


Royal Ascot 16:25

I can't have Leading Light on my mind at around 2.47/5 for the Gold Cup at 16:25, and I will personally be laying him Win and Place at that price. And probably to a fair chunk, too.

But I am not going to come on here and tip you odds-on pokes. The problem is that I think this race has a lot of depth to it and there are loads of alternatives.

I thought I had seen the Gold Cup winner when I was at Ascot in April to see Tac de Boistron hose up in the Sagaro, and if there is any significant rain about on Thursday, then I would be all over him at any double-figure prices.

But I can't tip him at the moment with the ground riding on the fast side, so I will sit this one out.

From a personal point of view I hope that Michael Owen and Betfair co-founder Andrew Black's Brown Panther wins - and I am betting Great British Racing (GBR) does, too. Who knows, "Bertie" Black could be the sport's new poster boy, if it does.

Or would GBR pick the other one?


Royal Ascot 17:00 - Ifwecan

The Britannia at 17:00 looks the hardest race of the week to solve to date. A 30-strong field full of largely unexposed 3yo handicappers does not make winner-finding easy.

But I am going to side with Ifwecan at odds of 32.031/1 or better.

I am sure that many will think that he left any chance he had of winning this race behind when upped 10lb for his five length win at Musselburgh, as he rather showed his hand there. But without that rise he wouldn't have got in here, and I reckon that he is a massive price to follow up.

He was highly-rated as a juvenile, when he won his maiden here on fast ground, but he didn't progress as expected and ran poor races on his first two starts this season.

But he bounced back to form in no uncertain terms at Musselburgh last time, where a key to the improved performance could be the fact that he was fitted with earplugs to keep him calm.

If that is indeed the key to him, then I expect another bold bid from the front. At one point last season, the stable viewed him as a Group horse.


Royal Ascot 17:35 - Venezia

The day doesn't get any easier with the King George V Stakes, and I am going for another big outsider in Venezia. Back him at odds of 21.020/1 or better in the finale.

He has just been touched off in a couple of 1m2f Newmarket maidens this season, form which already gives him a fair chance.

But this lightly-raced colt promises to improve for the step up to 1m4f, as befits a son of Galileo, and everyone knows how valuable Oisin Murphy's 3lb claim in. He is worth a small-stakes punt in what is obviously a devilishly difficult race to end the day off.

Be lucky.


Recommended Bets

Back Mukhmal @ 7.413/2 Royal Ascot 14:30
Back Cannock Chase @ 4.3100/30 Royal Ascot 15:05
Back Bright Approach @ 10.09/1 Royal Ascot 15:45
Back Ifwecan @ 32.031/1 Royal Ascot 17:00
Back Venezia @ 21.020/1 Royal Ascot 17:35


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