Royal Ascot Day Four Tips: Salt Island is a tasty price and Dashing Star can sparkle

Tony has four plays for Friday at Ascot
Tony has four plays for Friday at Ascot

Fresh from picking out the 20.019/1 BSP Trip to Paris on day three, Tony Calvin is here with four big priced selections for Friday's action...

"The case for him is simple. He is 1lb lower than when a good fifth in this race last season and ran a very encouraging race when a one-and-three-quarter length second to Watersmeet at Newmarket on his comeback run. With Moore replacing a 5lb claimer I expect him to reverse placings with the winner on 4lb better terms and go close here; 1m4f on fast ground in a strongly-run race are ideal conditions."

Back Dashing Star at 15.014/1 in the 17:00

Wesley Ward unveiled a monster when his heavily-backed Acapulco ran away with the Queen Mary on Wednesday - the huge juvenile dwarfed her rivals in size and ability, and looked more like a four-year-old by all accounts - and to be fair to the US trainer he did tell everyone beforehand how much he rated her.

I posted his bullish pre-race comments here - and that apparently led a few of you to ignore my 33/1 selection and back the winner! - so I will do the same with his two runners in Friday's opener, the Albany Stakes at 14:30.

On his 11-and-a-quarter length Keeneland winner dirt winner Laxfield Road, he said: "Six furlongs might be a little tough though you don't know until you put them in the gate. She'll be showing the way. If the track is fast she'll be tough to catch. If I was going to lean in one direction I see Back At The Ranch catching her at the finish line."

And on that Belmont winner Back At The Ranch: "In her first race at Keeneland she got completely left at the gate, Joel (Rosario) rushed her off her feet and she got a little late the last part. She came back and vindicated herself. In her breezes at Arlington, she sat behind another horse and came running. Really looking for a big effort."

So for in-running players it looks like Laxfield Road leads and Back At The Ranch will be held up, but it is clearly a total guessing game with these turf debutantes - paddock inspection will be telling - and I prefer to back Our Joy at 14.013/1.

Keep stakes small though, as this is a very competitive race full of unknowns.

That said, I expected Our Joy to be among the first three or four in the betting, as her debut effort at Sandown was full of promise and the horse that beat her a short-head, Kassia, finished a good fifth in what is probably an exceptional Queen Mary on Wednesday.

If you start slowly over 5f at Sandown then you are always on the back-foot and Oisin Murphy gave the newcomer time to find her stride, and never once went for the whip, even though he was only just inched out after staying on powerfully.

She can be expected to improve significantly for the run and she has the pedigree too, being a Kodiac half-sister to Xtension, who was a Group 2 winner, Coventry runner-up and Guineas fourth for the stable before being sold to race in Hong Kong, where he won a Group 1.


***


Stravagante looked something special when winning an Epsom handicap last time, and it is no surprise that his trainer ups him in class to the Group 2 King Edward VII Stakes at 15:05.

To cut to the chase, I think that he will win, and win well. That Epsom victory may have only come off a mark of 89, but it is significant that he is following in the footsteps of Conduit, who won that handicap (off just 85) before winning the St Leger and Breeders Cup Turf just a few months later.

However, he did get beaten in this race in the interim! But I think odds of around 3.412/5 are fair in a sub-standard renewal of this race. He does meet some unexceptional horses for the class of this race, though I saw more promise in Ol' Man River's Dante run than most and they stick a tongue tie on him here.

To re-iterate, I think Stravagante will sluice up. But I am not going to tip him at the price. It is not what the column is all about, unless I think he should be considerably shorter. And it is pushing it a bit to suggest that he should be a 6/4 poke.


***


It is not often that I play at the top end of the market, and I was also tempted by Lucida at 4.57/2 for the Coronation Stakes at 16:20, as I think she should be favourite.

She was arguably unlucky to get picked up by Legatissimo in the Guineas first time up, and that is the strongest form on show here. She should be shorter than 7/2 but whether there is much mileage in the price given she faces at least four rivals you can solidly put up against her is debatable.

If in doubt, sit it out. No bet. But if you wanted to stick Stravagante and Lucida in a double, I wouldn't deter you.


***


I put up Salt Island at a price on Racing UK a couple of weeks ago at Haydock - my ugly mug is back on screen on Sunday morning - and his tame effort really disappointed me there.

But apparently the ground rode a lot more testing than the advertised good there, and I was surprised to see this fast-ground lover available at 40/1 with some firms, and 50.049/1 on the Exchange. Consider me in at those odds in the new Commonwealth Cup at 15:40.

The stable have already been among the winners with Dutch Connection this week, and if you go back and look at Salt Island's previous third to Adaay at Newbury - he would have bustled up the winner with a better passage, and Adaay is a single-figure poke here - then he appears a massive price on his favoured ground.

The stable have always thought the world of him. Mind you, he will need to be as good as they think, and then some, as this new race looks an absolute belter.


***


Given that he is ridden by a certain Ryan Moore, I am very surprised that Dashing Star is available at 15.014/1 to win the Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes at 17:00.

Granted, I suspect Moore would have rather had been riding Willie Mullins' Sempre Medici, who was a reserve and didn't get in the race, but Dashing Star is an able deputy.

The case for him is simple. He is 1lb lower than when a good fifth in this race last season and ran a very encouraging race when a one-and-three-quarter length second to Watersmeet at Newmarket on his comeback run. With Moore replacing a 5lb claimer I expect him to reverse placings with the winner on 4lb better terms and go close here; 1m4f on fast ground in a strongly-run race are ideal conditions.


***


On official ratings Moore has an excellent chance of winning the Queen's Vase at 17:35 on Racing Post Trophy runner-up Aloft. But I think odds of around 2.56/4 are little short of a joke, to be honest.

I am going to take a flier on a far more exposed filly rated 24lb his inferior in the shape of Vive Ma Fille.

She was giving Tommy Docc 12lb when picked up late by that horse last time but I think the key to this filly improving enough to be competitive here is the step up to 2m, which shouldn't come as such as a surprise given that she made her debut over 1m4f at Lingfield in March.

She has been crying out for a greater test of stamina and her stable has won five of the last ten runnings of this race. At odds of 40.039/1, I am willing to chance a few quid of old "Braveheart" doing the business again.

I can never read the stable - many of their runners are so in and out, formwise - but I am happy to play at big prices.


Recommended Bets
Back Our Joy at 14.013/1 in the 14:30
Back Salt Island at 50.049/1 in the 15:40
Back Dashing Star at 15.014/1 in the 17:00
Back Viva Ma Fille at 40.039/1 in the 17:35

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