Alan Thomson, the former Racing Editor at the Daily Record, puts up five tips on Saturday at Royal Ascot. View selections below.
NO HERETIC (5.35) can bring the curtain down on another wonderful Royal Ascot fixture by landing the Queen Alexandra Stakes over a marathon 2m 5f trip.
There isn’t a classy type in the lineup like last year’s impressive winner Simenon but No Heretic boasts some rock-solid handicap form, albeit over a truncated distance. He was third to classy Sir Graham Wade and Nanton in the Ladbrokes Mallard Stakes at Doncaster’s St Leger meeting and went down in a blanket finish to Highland Castle and Handsome Man at Newmarket a fortnight ago.
If his fuel tank empties in the home straight, the horse to cash in may well be Nicky Henderson’s Courtesy Call. He was last spotted landing a Taunton novice hurdle and his runner-up effort behind Irish raider Domination over 2m2f at Newmarket last September reads well. French stayer Shahwardi, racing in the Tony Bloom colours, is another of interest after chasing home Simenon in this event 12 months ago but the seven-year-old was tailed off in an admittedly much better race at Longchamp on his latest appearance. Chiberta King, winner of a 2m 3f novice hurdle at Newbury, is another worthy of consideration.
The Hardwicke Stakes over 1m 4f is always a hot betting heat and EKTIHAAM (3.05) may hold all the aces. After finishing third to Al Kazeem and Thomas Chippendale in the Bet365 Gordon Richards Stakes at Sandown, the subsequent step up to 12 furlongs for the first time proved a masterstroke as Ektihaam spreadeagled his field over course and distance, thumping Thomas Chippendale six lengths. Thomas Chippendale and Noble Mission finished one-two in the King Edward VII Stakes last year but have been slightly below par and Mount Athos may emerge as the biggest threat. Although this trip is on the short side, Mount Athos is a classy type and was unlucky not to land the Melbourne Cup. Sir John Hawkwood is progressing steadily in handicap company and there could be more to come, despite the rise in grade.
There are some popular sprinters going to post for the Group One Diamond Jubilee, none more so than HAWKEYETHENOO (3.45). The seven-year-old is right at home on the hallowed royal turf and a big run is anticipated by the Jim Goldie team. Strictly on the formbook, Hawkeyethenoo has something to find with Society Rock on their running in the Duke of York Stakes at the Dante fixture when Hawkeyethenoo finished fourth to Society Rock, who was conceding 5lb. They meet at level weights here. However, Hawkeyethenoo had Society Rock in arrears when pipped by Maarak in the Qipco Champions Sprint in October and the easy Victoria Cup winner never runs a bad race at Ascot. The Scottish raider looks the each-way value.
The traditional Wokingham Stakes cavalry charge is yet another big betting affair and Kieren Fallon’s mount GABRIEL’S LAD (4.25) remains open to more improvement. Despite having Epsom Dash hero Duke of Firenze back in fifth when winning a Class 2 sprint over course and distance last October, he meets that rival on 3lb better terms. Gabriel’s Lad proved his wellbeing when chasing home Hamza at Newmarket last month and has been nudged up only a pound by the handicapper. Rex Imperator hosed up at Windsor off an identical mark last year and William Haggas will have taken encouragement from the four-year-old’s recent second over seven furlongs at Doncaster when leading over a furlong out.
The opening Chesham Stakes is for juveniles with stout staying pedigrees and a tough seven furlongs should bring out the best in SOMEWHAT (2.30). Mark Johnston’s Dynaformer colt hosed up by seven lengths at Musselburgh when backed into odds-on favourite on his sole start last Friday.
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