It’s Royal Ascot : if you fancy a flutter here are SAM HOSKINS’ FIVE TO FOLLOW - a winner each day?
Kennet Valley Thoroughbreds syndicate. Here he shares with Marlborough News Online his ‘Five to Follow’ for Royal Ascot - a horse for each day of this prestigious meeting (June 16-20) which this year has attracted a truly international entry. As ever, watch what the coming rain might do to their chances:
MAKE BELIEVE, St James’ Palace Stakes (Group 1), Tuesday. 4-1.
The St James’ Palace Stakes promises to be one of the races of the meeting with the dual Guineas-winning Gleneagles taking on the Andre Fabre pair of Territories, who was second to the former in the English 1,000 Guineas, and Make Believe, who won the French 2,000 Guineas at Longchamps a week later. With Gleneagles having had two hard races, I am inclined to side with Make Believe who was so impressive at Longchamps and who would not be running unless his masterful trainer thought he would go very close indeed.
CANNOCK CHASE, Prince Of Wales’ Stakes (Group 1), Wednesday. 12-1.
Cannock Chase goes into Royal Ascot this year as almost a slightly forgotten horse, but I still haven’t quite erased the memory of his superb Tercentenary Stakes (Group 3) win over this trip at this same meeting last year. He has had two relative warm-up runs in unsuitable conditions and they will have put him bang on for this whilst making him an interesting each-way betting proposition at the same time. He could very easily go an easier route than this but Sir Michael Stoute clearly thinks he is up to ruffling the feathers of the likes of market leaders Free Eagle and The Grey Gatsby.
FORGOTTEN RULES, Ascot Gold Cup (Group 1), Thursday, 11-4.
The Ascot Gold Cup is hotting up well with many eventualities possible in advance of this centrepiece race of the whole meeting. The most fascinating variable to consider for this race is that of the ground because if ever the ground ended up on the soft side of good, then it would heavily favour the Dermot Weld-trained Forgotten Rules, who is unbeaten in four starts including a Punchestown bumper on his debut last spring (!) and the Marco Botti-trained mudlark Tac De Boistron. Whilst the likes of Mizzou and Vent De Force represent the improving four-year-old generation form, I can’t help but think they will have their work cut out to beat Forgotten Rules, who has the world at his feet and will be very hard to beat as long as the ground is no faster than good.
ERVEDYA, Coronation Stakes (Group 1), Friday, 7-2.
Ever since the Aga Khan’s Aliysa was disqualified in the 1989 Epsom Oaks, his distinguished green colours with the red epaulettes have become a rarity on British racecourses. However, when they do turn up, they invariably go very close and I suspect this will be the case for his superstar three-year-old filly Ervedya, trained by Jean-Claude Rouget in Pau. She was scintillating in the French 1,000 Guineas last month and I think she can reverse Marcel Boussac form with the likely favourite Found.
POSTPONED, Hardwicke Stakes (Group 2), Saturday, 4-1.
Trainer Luca Cumani has a strong hand at Royal Ascot this year and I suspect he will hit the target at least twice - one of whom could be Postponed (don’t ask me who the other will be though!) Postponed was highly progressive at three-years-old last year and has run two decent races so far this term - coming third in the Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup at The Curragh last time behind the wonderful Al Kazeem over 10 furlongs which is shorter than ideal. He steps up to 12 furlongs here and with his newfound positive tactics, he might just lead them a merry dance and finish off a good week for his smooth Italian handler.
Our Kennet Valley Thoroughbreds (KVT) syndicates are represented on Thursday at Royal Ascot with MAXWELL in the King George V Handicap for Andover-based Ralph Beckett. Maxwelll has won his two starts to date including an impressive victory at Salisbury last time.
He promises to be suited by the step up in trip in the King George V handicap and whilst the form of his Salisbury race hasn’t worked out great, he could give us something to shout about granted a good draw and some luck in running!
One of our other stars, TULLIUS, bypasses Ascot for a tilt at the Coral Eclipse (Group 1) on Saturday, July 4 at Sandown. However, he needs some softer ground to increase his chances..