Tony Calvin has his top tipping hat firmly planted atop his head for day two of the Royal Ascot marathon with a pair to follow on Wednesday...
"Zhui Feng won this race last year, has course form figures of 312 here on fast ground in cheekpieces (he has improved for the headgear on his last four starts), and is a front-runner who will stay out of trouble."
I wouldn't back Wesley Ward's filly
Not so many bets to be had on Wednesday - that is probably a good thing - but obviously it's high-class fare all the way, so we better get stuck in.
Surprise, surprise, there has been a lot of talk about Wesley Ward's Chelsea Cloisters in the run-up to the Queen Mary at 14:30 and it is understandable given his record in the race.
He has won it three times in recent years, with Lady Aurelia no less in 2016, but they had 10/11 favourite Happy Like A Fool beaten last season, so this isn't a Ward benefit race by any means.
And, in any case, you are basically guessing as to how good she is. I don't know about you, but I haven't got a clue how good her Keeneland win in April was and we are being asked to back her at 9/4 in a 22-runner contest full of similar unexposed fillies that are very hard to get a handle on.
There is no stand-out filly here, on form or on the clock, so I am happy to pass. The one that most interested me was Jessica Harrington's Naas Listed race winner Servalan - and I also have a lot of time for the connections of Little Kim - but this is essentially a puzzle that baffles.
Hoping to strike Gold in the Queen's Vase
As hopefully you will know by now, I never put up anything that I have not backed, or will back, myself and I was struggling with the Queen's Vase at 15:05 until I came across the claims of Lynwood Gold.
Don't get me wrong, he has a lot to find with the form horses Nelson and Kew Gardens, and there are any number of potential big improvers likes Southern France and Stream Of Stars in here, but I think Lynwood Gold is very solid.
He took a big step forward over 1m1f on fast ground on his final start at two, and he hasn't had that surface again until now.
However, he looks like a horse who is going to outstay his pedigree and he probably ran well in spite of the soft ground (and he perhaps wasn't ideally positioned on the rail) when stepped up to an extended 1m6f at Doncaster last time.
That third to Diocletian off a mark of 97 suggested he got this trip well enough, and I expect him to be a more potent force on this better ground.
Mark Johnston may not be a fan of this race being run over 1m6f these days - not surprising given he has won it three times in the past - but I think he has a very credible contender at a price. He perhaps lacks the potential of some in here but he is the third highest-rated horse in the field and he is a bet at [21.0] or bigger win, and [4.5] or better in the place market.
He is the punt of the day and worth a good bet at 20/1+.
Urban Fox could snaffle a place or better in the Duke of Cambridge
I would have liked to have seen Hydrangea in the Queen Anne myself, but Aidan O'Brien has taken the unusual step of running her in the Duke Of Cambridge at 15:40 - she is only the third he has run in this race - and she is the obvious favourite.
The negatives for her are obvious - the 5lb Group 1 penalty and the quick ground - but she was followed home by seven Group 1 winners when winning the Matron Stakes last season and she will probably win if running up to that level after being thought to need the run badly on her Curragh return.
But she doesn't have that much in hand of Aljazzi and Arabian Hope at these weights, and I was tempted to put up Urban Fox each-way at a price.
She hasn't run a bad race in three starts on this track, and won on her debut for William Haggas on fast ground here in a good time last month, and isn't a bad price at around 14/1. But she does have a fair bit to find with a few of these, and I am happy to sit this race out.
I can't touch Cracksman at the prices
Ignore his Epsom run last time, and Cracksman wins the Prince Of Wales's Stakes at 16:20 by daylight.
Take his Epsom run into account, and he probably stills win this race by a length or so.
No way would I back him at around 4/7 though, given the way he travelled early doors in the Coronation Cup, and this has no-bet race written all over it.
However, I will admit to having backed Poet's Word at 9/2 each way, three places, earlier in the week, though I probably shouldn't admit that kind of thievery (and hopefully the mate who placed the bet for me doesn't get his collar felt by the bookie in question).
Plenty in Zhui Feng's favour
I am going to keep it simple in the Hunt Cup and have one small win-only bet on the exchange, and the pin has landed on the most obvious contender in the shape of Zhui Feng at [23.0] or bigger in the 17:00.
I say obvious because he won this race last year, has course form figures of 312 here on fast ground in cheekpieces (he has improved for the headgear on his last four starts), and is a front-runner who will stay out of trouble.
His two defeats here were by less than a length in 20+-runner handicaps, and he ran another stormer when just touched off over 7f here on his return.
He has gone up to a career-high of 108 after that reappearance run but he deserved it, and he is drawn right next to the far rail in two. He blasted home on the near side from stall 26 last year, but as long as he has a rail I am happy.
Everyone saw how unlucky Medahim was at Goodwood and he is a contender at around 25/1, but just the one bet for me.
No bet in the closer but Batt is a tempter
My first thought when looking at the 23-runner Jersey Stakes at 17:35 was: "You have to be kidding me." It is 4/1 the field in places, but I don't think any horse should be shorter than 7/1 myself, it is so competitive.
I was tempted by Another Batt at 40/1+, while thinking impressive Goodwood winner (and Sussex Stakes entry) Society Power was the most tempting towards the top of the market at around [14.0], but I simply think it is just a ridiculously difficult renewal to call and one that I am happy to leave untouched.
So, just the two bets for me tomorrow on what looks a very hard punting day. Best of luck.
Royal Ascot on Betfair - cash back, free bets and minimum bet limits
For Royal Ascot 2018, Betfair have a brand new offer. This means you can get money back as cash if your horse goes odds on in-play but ends up losing. This unique offer will cover all Royal Ascot races during the week (T&Cs apply).
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And Ascot sees the introduction of a new minimum bet limit of £500 for all Class 1&2 races, available to all customers. The guarantee will be available from 10am each day there are qualifying races, T&Cs apply.