Former Talksport presenter Charlie McCann previews Saturday’s cards at Ascot and Haydock with six to follow.
It is 14 years since Frankie Dettori rode all seven winners on today’s Ascot card and whilst there will not be a repeat of the Italian’s magnificent 7 this afternoon I consider Poet’s Voice (4.15) to represent excellent value in the feature QEII Stakes which has been slightly devalued by the absence of antepost favourite Canford Cliffs.
StanJames.com 2000 Guineas winner Makfi is likely to go off around evens and many will consider him a certainty given he easily disposed of the brilliant mare Goldikova at Deauville last time. That was a visually stunning display although I am convinced that the mare failed to give her running on the very soft ground.
Makfi had previously finished down the field over today’s C&D when disappointing in the St James’s Palace Stakes at the Royal meeting, and whilst connections suggested the colt was suffering from a throat infection at the time I would be loath to back the French raider at the forecast price given that unhappy experience.
Rip Van Winkle is bidding to become the first horse since Rose Bowl in 75/76 to win this great race back-to-back but he didn’t look to be crying out for a drop back in trip when well held by stablemate Cape Blanco in the Irish Champion Stakes over 10f last time. Indeed he hasn’t won at a mile since the corresponding race last year and he is readily overlooked.
Poet’s Voice was a juvenile I had plenty of time for last year but was a major disappointment in the first half of the season. I think Godolphin have found the key to the colt who has been held up in his last couple of starts and put up a cracking performance when turning the Celebration Mile into a procession at Goodwood last month. The time was excellent in the circumstances (soft ground) and I think he is peaking at the right time.
Queen Elizabeth II Stakes: (place terms: 1/4 the first 3); prices from StanJames.com
9-4 Rip Van Winkle
13-2 Poet’s Voice
14 Hearts Of Fire
33 Red Jazz
125 Air Chief Marshall
Frankel (2.30) is 6/1 favourite for the 2011 2000 Guineas and Derby with StanJames.com and cannot be opposed in the Royal Lodge Stakes. At this moment I favour Godolphin’s Saamidd for next year’s 2000 Guineas but I would not put anyone off having an antepost wager on the Henry Cecil-trained Frankel for next year’s Derby even at this stage.
Fellow Evertonian Martin Dwyer has had his season prematurely curtailed due to injury (unlike our side who haven’t got out the blocks yet) and I know he was looking forward to riding Theyskens’ Theory in the Fillies’ Mile. Champion jockey Ryan Moore takes over in the saddle and he is likely to try and make it a true test although White Moonstone (3.05) has got to be the recommendation after her brilliant win in the May Hill at Doncaster earlier in the month.
Unbeaten in three starts White Moonstone is currently 8/1 with StanJames.com for both the 2011 1000 Guineas and Oaks and those prices will contract if the Godolphin filly maintains her unbeaten record this afternoon.
The card opens with a 21-runner handicap over the round mile and luck in-running will play a big part. Sajjhaa will have her supporters after her recent Bath success but I hope on the revised terms Forest Crown (1.55) can return to winning ways having not had the run of the race last time.
The big betting race of the day is the Challenge Cup over 7f. Last weekend’s Ayr Gold Cup winner Redford is reunited with Frankie Dettori and the additional furlong will not trouble the Dandy Nicholls trained five-year-old. He looks to have a tremendous draw in stall 28 but he has never been the most consistent of animals and preference is for Mia’s Boy (3.40) who has been given a mid-season break and thoroughly deserves to win one of these valuable handicaps. His jockey Adam Beschizza is very good value for his 5lb claim and the yard had a welcome winner at Folkestone earlier in the week.
Antigua Sunrise (2.05) is a horse who had promised much but failed to deliver before a facile success at York last time and a 4lb rise in the weights doesn’t appear too harsh. Paul Hanagan takes over and the likelihood of soft ground at Haydock is no concern.