Today's Follow The Money comes from the exciting first day of the Royal Ascot meeting.
We start with our negative in the 14:30 Queen Ann Stakes Group 1 over the straight mile, where Aidan O'Brien's US recruit Verrazano has drifted from 4.67/2 out to 6.05/1, with our recommendation a lay in the place market (top three) at 1.768/11. Formerly with Todd Pletcher in the States, the four-year-old colt did most of his winning over eight and nine furlongs on fast all weather surfaces. Because of this connections may have preferred this race taking place later on the card so that the ground could dry out from the current good. It was also noticeable that during his US career he didn't have to find that much for pressure for most of his wins and when he was asked questions he at times failed to find - so this competitive renewal may find him wanting in a finish. Timeform have him on the adjusted ratings at 137+, with the expectation that there is more to come after the Lockinge third (when given a hands ride only, maybe because he doesn't find when put under pressure), but with Toronado on 147, Soft Falling Rain (141) and Tullius (139) you have three on ratings to get Verrazano out of the places, plus some experience battle-hardened older horses on lower ratings.
Our first positive comes in the 16:25, the St James Palace Stakes over the round mile, where there has been strong support for John Gosden's Kingman in from 2.111/10 to 1.9520/21, taking over 75% volume of the market. Night Of Thunder may have beaten Kingman by half a length in the 2000 Guineas but the market is very much opposing a repetition. The general feeling was that Kingman just made his effort too early that day and showed his true form when picking up the Irish 2000 Guineas by five lengths three weeks later. The race make-up today looks very different with a smaller field and Kingman should get a good lead from Toormore, who could end up being his main opposition. Although some believe that Kingman would prefer more cut in the ground, the market is suggesting that this good ground will be perfect and he will be reversing that Guineas form with Night Of Thunder.
Our final positive comes in the 17:00, the 2m4f Ascot Stakes, for David Simcock's Ray Ward who has been backed in from 22.021/1 to 13.5. The son of Galileo has not won since his second and third career wins back in 2013, but seems to have been laid out for this race, after he proved that severe tests of stamina were in his remit when fifth to Leading Light in the Queen's Vase last year. The four-year-old has been given two runs this season, both over 1m4f, which have seen his handicap mark fall from 97 to 89 at the same time as getting him fit for this race. Simcock's yard has been in decent form for a while now and the market move certainly suggests that connections think they can go close in this competitive looking handicap.
Lay Verrazano to be placed @ 1.768/11 in the 14:30 @ Royal Ascot
Back Kingman @ 1.9520/21 in the 16:25 @ Royal Ascot
Back Ray Ward @ 13.5 in the 17:00 @ Royal Ascot