Royal Ascot Lays: Will to win may not be enough for fancied sprint handicapper

Royal Ascot action
A fast break will be crucial if Will To Win is to figure in his first race over five furlongs

It's day four of Royal Ascot and Patrick Weaver has unearthed three more place-lays for you to consider...

"An all-weather specialist with wins in small fields at Southwell, Lingfield and Wolverhampton, he looks a square peg in a round hole in this cavalry charge."

Sprint handicaps are not ideal for place laying but the opener over five furlongs has a prime candidate that ticks several boxes. Will To Win was 6/1 earlier in the week on our Sportsbook, but you would wonder why.

Simon and Ed Crisford's three-year-old is the only one of the 22 runners in the Palace Of Holyroodhouse Handicap that has not raced over five furlongs. The gelding has run exclusively over six and was beaten off a 1lb lower mark on his last start in March. An all-weather specialist with wins in small fields at Southwell, Lingfield and Wolverhampton, he looks a square peg in a round hole in this cavalry charge.

Given the quality of the opposition. Will To Win could well finish nearer last than first in the opening race of the day at 13:15.

The favourite Art Power gave subsequent Thirsk winner Electric Mistress 12lb at Newcastle and beat her five lengths. He won by the same margin at York last October and could well have been underestimated by the handicapper.

Electric Ladyland has a 5lb penalty for her short-head win at Goodwood on Sunday but that gutsy win is evidence that she is in the form of her life. Triple Spear has won three of six races over the minimum trip - his latest one, at Haydock, being a career-best that has earned him a 6lb rise.

Mighty Spirit recorded a fast time in defeat over Goodwood's downhill five last July. Golden Dragon ended last season with a solid effort in the Group 3 Cornwallis Stakes at Newmarket, finishing fifth only a length and a half behind the winner. He has gone up 9lb for that but is still in with a shout.

Never Dark was underrated by the handicapper ahead of his handicap debut. He made all at Kempton over five and has been put up 8lb for that run. Keep Busy has been placed in all her races over five furlongs. Some rain would help her cause, but whatever the weather she has more each-way appeal than Will To Win, the strongly recommended place lay.

Hard to justify Setarhe's odds

Roger Varian bids for his third Albany Stakes victory in seven runnings at 13:50. He won the prestigious fillies' Group 3 in 2014 with Cursory Glance and 12 months ago with Daahyeh. He sends Setarhe in to bat on Friday but it is an open race and she will need to improve to be placed.

She beat Cirrus, as the market expected, at Newmarket but there was nothing overwhelming about her victory and this is a lot tougher. The first division of Setarhe's maiden was won by Valpolicella and Rossa Ryan's mount is 12/1, double Setarhe's odds.

Wesley Ward will be hoping for a better showing from the ante-post favourite Flying Aletha than from his two also-rans on Wednesday. His filly made all for a comfortable win from stall one at Gulfstream last month. There's an extra furlong now and she has not been so fortunate with stall 3 in the centre of the track, rather than against the favoured stands' rail.

Mother Earth is related to several good milers, so it is understandable that she is seen as one of Aidan O'Brien's likelier winners. She was doing her best work at the finish for Wayne Lordan when second over five and a half furlongs at Navan. Ryan Moore will not be as sympathetic and with the extra 110 yards, she looks a safe bet to make the first three.

There are numerous winners in Golden Melody's immediate family, so it was no surprise that she quickened up well and soon put the race to bed on her debut at Haydock. James Doyle was keen to take the mount again, and his mount would have a good each-way chance.

I don't hold out much hope of Frankie Dettori's mount, Willabell, making the first three but Undertake and Dandalla would not need to improve to keep Setarhe from finishing in the first three.

Durston starts season on too high a mark

And so to the lucky last, which it will be if the David Simcock-trained Durston is unplaced.

The four-year-old won his first two handicaps off marks of 79 and 82. In the Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes he runs off 100. He got yanked up 6lb for his third in the Group 3 Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury last August, having been an unlucky loser of a Glorious Goodwood handicap off a mark of 88.

Had he had a run in the last 10 months, I might have thought twice about putting him up but it is a huge ask to win off such a high rating after such a long absence.

It strikes me that West End Charmer, his chief market rival, has far stronger claims. He made all in a fast time over a mile and a quarter at Newmarket two weeks ago and can run off a mark 4lb lower than his revised rating. He may not stay 12 furlongs but he should still run on well enough to claim a place.

Al Muffrih, Dal Horrisgle, Deja, Dubai Future, Good Birthday and Medal Winner are all several points shorter than they were when the Sportsbook for the race opened. I can understand the enthusiasm for Good Birthday, as Andrew Balding is in form, and his runner's third to Lord North in the Cambridgeshire has been boosted by that one's victory in a Group 1 on Wednesday. He may not turn the tables on West End Charmer who beat him at Newmarket but he is a better each-way bet than my lay Durston

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