Royal Ascot continues with more top class competitive action on Wednesday including the fiercely contested Royal Hunt Cup. Kevin Blake has a trio of tips to consider...
"This stiff, strongly-run mile promises to really suit him and a mark of 98 still looks fair. He also looks to be drawn close to the main pace in the race."
By the time the action kicks off on day two of Royal Ascot, this column will hopefully have made a strong start to the meeting. Whether it has or hasn't, one thing for sure is that it is a long week at Royal Ascot and there are plenty of punches to be thrown before the final bell on Saturday.
This day two card isn't one of the more appealing ones of the week from a betting perspective, but I have found a handful of appealing prospects that will hopefully represent us well.
Strong travelling filly could get dream run
The first race of interest is the Queen Mary Stakes (14:30) for the fastest two-year-old fillies in the land. It has been a happy hunting ground for Wesley Ward over the years, with him having won it four times in the past. He looks set to have a big contender in Twilight Gleaming.
Being very much a European-bred filly, it remains to be seen if she has the imposing physicality that many of Ward's American-bred two-year-olds have become known for at this meeting, but she is sure to know her job extremely well and based on her winning performance at Belmont is likely to show plenty of early pace.
However, one that may fly under the radar is the Stuart Williams-trained Desert Dreamer. She has looked particularly fast in winning both her starts at Newmarket, travelling very strongly indeed in traffic and showing a fine turn of foot when getting room. A race like this over a stiff five furlongs where the pace is fierce from the outset promises to suit her well.
While it would be preferable for her to be drawn closer to the main pace which is primarily in high stalls, she should be able to get plenty of cover and will hopefully get a decent tow from her draw. It wouldn't at all surprise to see her run a big race.
Longer trip and faster ground to suit Irish raider
The Queen's Vase (15:05) represents a very strong test of stamina for three-year-olds at this stage of the season and one that I feel will be particularly well suited by it is the Aidan O'Brien-trained Kyprios.
The son of Galileo is certainly bred for stamina being a full-brother to the two-time Irish St Leger winner Search For A Song and the recent Chester Cup winner Falcon Eight and he has very much shaped as though stamina will be his forte from the very outset of his career.
He showed that he has the sort of class required for this race when winning a strong conditions race at Cork earlier this season despite the mile-and-a-quarter trip looking plenty sharp for him. While he was a little bit disappointing in the Lingfield Derby Trial last time, he didn't seem to be in love with the undulations of the track and may not have responded to first-time cheekpieces as hoped.
The cheekpieces have now been removed and with this longer trip and firmer surface appealing as being very likely to suit him, he could well outrun his odds and get involved in the finish.
Astron can be King in Royal Hunt Cup
The final race of interest on the day is the Royal Hunt Cup (17:00) and the one I'm siding with is the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Astro King.
The four-year-old is still relatively unexposed having had just six starts. Both his runs this season have suggested he has the class to win a race such as this and that the specific demands of this race will play to his strengths.
He came out on top in a strong handicap over an extended mile at Nottingham on his seasonal reappearance, battling well to get the better of Finest Sound by a short-head. His next run came in the Thirsk Hunt Cup where he seemed unsuited by a more restrained ride from a poor draw over a sharper course and distance, finishing strongly in the final furlong for a never-nearer third.
This stiff, strongly-run mile promises to really suit him and a mark of 98 still looks fair. He also looks to be drawn close to the main pace in the race.
All told, Astro King looks to have a great chance.
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