Our Man at HQ gives us his best bets for Royal Ascot this week
After landing the Oaks on Taghrooda earlier this month, jockey Paul Hanagan will be hoping to strengthen his allegiance with premier owner Sheikh Hamdan with even more success at Royal Ascot this week. The opener on Tuesday is the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes where he rides Soft Falling Rain for Mike De Kock. He has been working the house down lately on the Limekilns with other Hamdan trained horses from various yards in the town. It’s been a real team effort in getting him ready for this and I hear that connections are expecting a huge run so he looks tremendous each-way value.
The second race on Tuesday is the Coventry Stakes where the owner jockey combination team up with Adaay which is trained by William Haggas. This son of Kodiac has won his two starts to date and possesses a potent turn of foot. I saw him striding up the Limekilns the other day and he has thrived since winning at Yarmouth and will take all the beating.
The Roger Varian trained Perfect Heart, who runs on Tuesday in the 5.00 Ascot Stakes over 2m 4f, looks to be worth a bet on day one. He hasn’t been seen on the track since bolting up at Doncaster in April as connections were keen to take care of his handicap mark for this event. His last two wins came with cut in the ground, so with conditions in his favour and the shrewdies from the yard making him their Nap of the week, he can continue his winning ways.
Haggas saddles Mukhadram on Wednesday in the 3.45 Group 1 Prince Of Wales Stakes. Second in this race last year, he then went on to be placed in the Coral-Eclipse and also in this year’s Dubai World Cup. He is in the form of his life coming into this and is another with a massive each-way chance.
James Fanshawe runs Hors De Combat in the Brittania Stakes at 5.00 on Thursday, he won nicely last time at Newmarket on his favoured fast ground and looks to be really well handicapped. I was on hand at the Albahatri gallop on Saturday to witness the finishing touches to his preparation and he is in rude health. As the week progresses, the ground will come right for him and he looks like being his trainers best chance at his lucky Ascot.
Charlie Appleby has a great chance on Friday in the 2.30 Albany Stakes with Bitter Lake. This daughter of Halling was in an uncompromising position with two furlongs to run. She then switched to challenge and showed a devastating turn of foot to put the race to bed. One of the best judges at the yard was telling me it’s their best bet of the week.
Also on Friday, Sir Michael Stoute saddles Cannock Chase in the 3.45 King Edward VII Stakes. An impressive winner of the traditionally strong London Gold Cup at Newbury, I have kept a close eye on his gallops since, and trust me when I say, he is a typical Stoutey Group horse in a handicap.
On Saturday Sheikh Hamdan has Aljamaaheer in the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee trained by Roger Varian. With rain softened ground keeping him off the track, he hasn’t run since finishing an eye-catching third in the Abernant Stakes in April. This horse can be a hand full but to keep him focussed I heard that connections could be putting a pair of blinkers on him, so in an open looking race he is well worth a look.