Royal Ascot Placepot: Saturday June 23

Sea Moon is among our selections for the Hardwicke Stakes

Timeform's Keith Melrose provides a perm for the Placepot on the final day of Royal Ascot 2012...

"Sea Moon is a more reliable proposition for our purposes; as a St Leger third and Breeders' Cup Turf runner-up he's been there and done it..."

14:30 - As one of the first contests run over seven furlongs for two-year-olds in Britain, the Chesham isn't going to be easy whatever the approach. However, favourite Move To Strike looks a cut above what's normally required for this race - indeed, he's not far off the standard required to land your average Coventry Stakes. Furthermore, his form to date looks strong and he's bred to see out the extra furlong with minimal fuss. As a second option, the filly Lovely Pass looks to have sound claims. She's bred to be smart over this sort of trip and can be expected to make big strides from her debut, when she overcame palpable greenness to run out a comfortable winner of a Lingfield maiden.

15:05 - With the week John Gosden and William Buick are having, it would be no surprise at all to see the progressive Aiken go off favourite for the Hardwicke Stakes. That suits us fine, though, as fellow market leader at the time of writing Sea Moon is a more reliable proposition for our purposes; as a St Leger third and Breeders' Cup Turf runner-up he's been there and done it, while a listed win at Goodwood last month all but ensures his fitness. As a backup, Dunaden makes most appeal. He's becoming admirably consistent and this race is likely to pose enough of a test at the trip for the Melbourne Cup and Hong Kong Vase winner.

15:45 - We could try to be clever by selecting Society Rock, first and second in the last two renewals of the Golden Jubilee (now the Diamond Jubilee), but what's the point? We all know that, barring mishap, Black Caviar will win as she likes. Sit back and enjoy our first (and possibly only) glimpse of this outstanding mare as we coast through this leg.

16:25 - Put on the Imperial March, or something equally ominous: it's time for the Wokingham. A more difficult handicap you'll struggle to find, but mercifully Simon Rowlands has already mapped the pace for us on his blog. Simon's ultimate selection, Colonel Mak, is arguably an even stronger Placepot prospect than he is for win purposes, being on a mark that requires improvement but the veteran of many a similar battle to this race. Sticking with the lower-drawn horses, High Standing is now only 4 lb higher than when he won this race in 2009 and has looked on the way back of late. Finally as far as the low-drawn runners are concerned, there's still an air of unfinished business about Dash runner-up Desert Law, who'll probably be suited by another big-field scenario. However, just in case we've all got the pace angle horribly wrong King of Jazz is thrown in as a fail-safe. He's been improving for Michael Bell this year, third in the Victoria Cup here last time, and he'll have no trouble dropping back in trip.

17:00 - The Duke of Edinburgh Stakes is another difficult handicap, albeit one very different in nature. We start with Spanish Duke, who mightn't be the most reliable but looked back in the groove when an arguably unlucky third at Epsom last time and runs off the same mark today. French-trained Hammerfest could also be well handicapped, clear of the rest when beaten only a neck by subsequent Group 3 winner Usuelo at Saint-Cloud on his penultimate start yet in off a BHA mark of 96 on his British debut. Our third choice, Midsummer Sun, is simply unexposed and has valid excuses for failing to fire on his last two starts. He's perhaps a bit highly-strung, but if he settles in this big field he should be on the premises.

17:35 - The Queen Alexandra always provides something of a juggling act between ability and stamina, so we'll balance the two for our purposes. Where stamina's concerned, we can only plump for Bernie The Bolt. Although untried beyond two and a quarter miles, he's always looked the type who'll stay as far as you wish him to on the Flat and he can prove as much today. A couple of quiet runs over inadequate trips hopefully mark him as working back to form, too. As for ability, Petara Bay is the one who piques our interest. He's long established as a smart performer, winning a handicap from a BHA mark of 103 when last seen, while he's arguably unexposed as a stayer, fourth in the Northumberland Plate around this time last year on only his second start over two miles-plus.

Selections
14:30 - 4, 15
15:05 - 4, 12
15:45 - 11
16:25 - 6, 18, 25, 28
17:00 - 10, 12, 16
17:35 - 4, 10
= 96 lines

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