Day two at Royal Ascot looks very hard from a punting perspective but that hasn't stopped our resident tipster Tony Calvin putting up six bets on the afternoon...
"You can easily argue that his form to date already gives him excellent winning chances but the step up in trip and the headgear angle makes him a decent bet here."
Wednesday looks a devilishly hard card but nothing comes easy in this game, and that is certainly true of the opening Queen Mary at 14:30.
With 22 runners, it wouldn't be the greatest surprise if they split into three groups here - you may have to get lucky twice in picking out the winner then - and this race really isn't my cup of tea if truth be told. And my betting in juvenile races at this meeting is strictly low-stakes stuff, anyway.
Hoping for a Quick start with Suzy
But my MO in 2yo races here is also, rightly or wrongly, to ignore all the talked-up (mainly by the trainer himself) Wesley Ward runners - and, yes, I know he has won three of the last six runnings of this race before you all kick off, and this year's representative seems another hottie - and his pillar-to-post Belmont winner Twilight Gleaming takes out a fair percentage of the market at a touch bigger than 3/1.
In addition to that betting angle, her presence in stall 20 can also help those drawn around her to be dragged into the race on her coat-tails, presuming she blasts off that is.
The two that I liked most here were Mas Poder, who ran a race full of promise when fourth to Nymphadora in the Marygate on her debut, and Quick Suzy.
I had a small nibble on the former at 25/1 ante-post but she is drawn in five (which means she has now drifted to a similar price on the exchange) and my guess is that this race will unfold middle to high, so my bet wheel has landed on Quick Suzy from trap 22 of 22.
This filly scores highly on form and on the clock, and the manner in which she went about winning her maiden by a wide margin, and when picked up late in a Group 3 by a newcomer last time, both over 6f, suggests to me that the return to 5f will really suit her.
This will clearly be the quickest surface she has raced on but her sire Profitable (who won a King's Stand here) has had a couple of fast ground juvenile winners this season and I am happy to take my chances at 14.013/1 or bigger given that she scores highly in all other departments.
And, as Gavin Cromwell showed at Cheltenham, his horses can flourish on the big stage. And flourish big.
Taipan looks a solid bet at the prices
In its own way the Queen's Vase at 15:05 is every bit as tricky, with so many unexposed 3yos stepping up to 1m6f for the first time.
Before I saw the revised betting, I thought Wordsworth, a full brother to the 2018 winner of this race, Kew Gardens, was just about the pick of the field but no way was I expecting him to be just a 3/1 chance on the exchange, and shorter still on the fixed-odds front.
My two against the field are Taipan and impressive Yarmouth winner Kemari, but the former is the more attractive bet at 13.012/1 or bigger on the exchange.
The Sportsbook's opening 16/1 on Monday morning about one of the form horses was huge, and he was quickly backed into 14s and then 10s, and I think he is still a bet at any double-figure odds on the exchange.
I know he has his stamina to prove, and he is largely bred along the lines of a 1m2f horse, but we know his sire Frankel is a big stamina influence and this horse's run-style has been screaming that a step up in distance is needed.
Basically, he does nothing quickly, but the manner in which he stuck on to finish fifth in the Derrinstown (I know the form is mixed but he had good subsequent scorers around him, with a Listed and Classic winner immediately ahead of him in third and fourth) and again when fourth in the Gallinule last time, a race in which he looked like falling out of the back of the TV 2f out, strongly hints that this extra 4f could see him take a big step forward.
And I can really see the first-time blinkers (though I accept the stable are a modest seven from 92 with this option in recent years) really suiting him too, as he looks a very lazy type.
Shane Foley admitted as much after he got the colt up close home to win over 1m at Naas on heavy ground on his debut at two ("gorgeous laid back horse....never travelled at any stage....lovely staying horse for next year.")
You can easily argue that his form to date already gives him excellent winning chances but the step up in trip and the headgear angle makes him a decent bet here. The fast ground is an unknown but the dam thrived on it.
He is the bet of the day for me at his current price.
Bowthorpe a very worthy favourite
I can easily see why Lady Bowthorpe is many people's idea of the banker (horrible word, but there you go) of the week, as she ticks every single box in the Duke Of Cambridge at 15:40. And I had every expectation that I would tip her for this race when doing an ante-post preview last week.
- Best form, and done it on the clock, too? Yes
- Proven on track and on the ground? Yes.
- In-form and improving? Yes
- Stable in rude health? Yes.
But for some reason I find myself more than willing to let her go untipped and unbacked, even though she is edging towards 2/1 on the exchange, though I certainly wouldn't be in a mad rush to take her on.
And I certainly would not deter you from supporting her at 2s.
O'Brien horse has a lot in his Armory
I bet I wasn't the only one shedding a filthy each-way tear or two when Addeybb came out of the Prince Of Wales's Stakes at 16:20?, at the overnight stage, making this a seven-runner race.
I would happily have backed Armory at 3/1 each-way myself with the dead eight, as I think he has a right chance of improving past the form horses, Lord North and stablemate Love, and holds massive top-three claims.
He blossomed at the back-end last season and he looked a tool and a half when brushing aside Sangarius in the Huxley Stakes at Chester on his reappearance, showing a change of gear that I think would serve him well in the top mile races, let alone over this 1m2f trip.
I was going to sit this one out but I wouldn't lay him at 5/2, so I am happy to stick him up as a bet at 4.57/2 or bigger. I reckon he could be the stable's top performer by the end of the season, and this quicker ground can see him to best effect.
One of the reasons I warmed to him, in addition to his potential, is that this could be a tactical affair in which a change of pace could be key. Sangarius is the only potential forward-goer that I can see in here and that tactic hardly worked for him at Sandown last time.
I think Armory is the quickest horse in here and I much prefer him to a possibly ring-rusty Love, and it is worth remembering Lord North, so impressive when winning this race last year, bled after winning at Meydan in March.
King can prevail in Hunt Cup but Ferry is also worth backing
I am all over Astro King at 9/1 each-way, six places in the Hunt Cup at 17:00.
Unfortunately, so were others on Tuesday morning, as he was cut in from 12s, but I am content, if not happy, to take the shortened price.
Now, like Taipan (though not as bad) he doesn't do anything quickly and he has been raised 9lb for a short-head win and a 3/4-length defeat in his two starts this season, but I reckon he has been crying out for a strongly-run 1m on a straight track, in which his rider can get him galvanized early.
His Nottingham defeat of Finest Sound and Nugget in April clearly worked out very well and I reckon he would have won comfortably with a better draw at Thirsk last time, as he got shuffled back early from a wide draw there and was immediately on the back foot in rear going round the bend.
He stays further than this but this will be a brutal test over 1m, as ever, and he has his ground, and hopefully he is drawn in the right place in 27, with pace around him, such as Maydanny in 24. And I believe this well-bred, lightly-raced Kingman colt is still ahead of his mark, having been raised 3lb for that Thirsk defeat.
Epsom supporters of Irish Admiral are on a retrieval mission after his costly blow-out last time and he may well confirm the abundant promise of his earlier York run over further, but I can't tell you just how much I deliberated about putting up Beat Le Bon win-only at 25/1+ on the exchange.
He finished last of 11 in the Group 2 Summer Mile at 33/1 on his only previous start at this track and he hasn't won for approaching two years now, but he could just be ready strike after a back-to-form run at Doncaster last time, a race in which he was only touched off by a neck by Stunning Beauty (runs in the last) after touching 1.222/9 in running, despite coming too late and never hitting the front any stage.
The handicapper thinks so, as he is 2lb well-in here, and all this horse's best form has come over 1m on quick ground and he is also 1lb lower than for his last win at Goodwood in August 2019.
He looks more like a 12/1 chance on form - until you see he is drawn in two, and that really looks a stinker of a stall.
Low really doesn't look the place to be here at all.
Granted, you are getting a bigger price to compensate for that seeming negative, and I was actually still tipping him at 9am on Tuesday morning, but I decided to ditch the tip at the last minute, for all I may back him (again) myself near the off, as I suspect he could even drift further on the exchange.
My re-write focused on replacing him with Grove Ferry at 12/1 each-way, six places, with the Betfair Sportsbook, despite the fact that he has yet to do it on fast ground.
But he is drawn in 30, he has been placed in both of his previous starts here, and he comes here on the back of a career-best win at Chester last time.
That form has worked out exceptionally well, with a host of winners coming out the race - even the last home, Ascension, bolted up at Newbury on his next start - so you have to draw the conclusion that he remains well handicapped off just a 4lb higher mark here.
And this is just his 12th start too, so hopefully that upward trajectory hasn't flattened out just yet.
Queen can be another Royal-themed winner
One 2yo bet a day is probably one too many for me, so I can let you work out the Windsor Castle for yourself, not least because the 28-runner Kindergarten charge at 17:35 looks impossible.
Good luck with that project if you are punting in it.
I was going to leave it there but I do think Caspian Queen is worth a small investment at 15.014/1 or bigger in the last at 18:10. I think you will get bigger on the exchange tomorrow.
James Doyle is going to have to weave some magic on the filly from stall 16 of 16 on the round course here but he didn't do too badly on her at Kempton last time, when forcing her up in the dying strides after hitting 110.0 in the run.
Now, she is untested over 1m, and she was plying her trade over 5f/6f for Richard Hughes last season, but she has looked a strong stayer over 7f on her two starts for her new handler this season and there could be more to come at this trip.
Her pedigree is more speed than stamina but Sepoy can get 1m+ performers - indeed he sired a Group 1 1m2f in Meydan earlier in the year - and she is worth chancing on a day where it looks wise to play small in the main.
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Back Quick Suzy in 14:30 at 14.013/1
Back Taipan in 15:05 at 13.012/1
Back Armory in 16:20 at 4.57/2
Back Astro King in 17:00 at 9/1 each-way, six places, with Betfair Sportsbook at 10.09/1
Back Grove Ferry in 17:00 at 12/1 each-way, six places, with Betfair Sportsbook at 13.012/1
Back Caspian Queen in 18:10 at 15.014/1