Good Evening from the Major on the eve of the flat racing spectacular, Royal Ascot.
Admist the top hats, finery and plum accents, we are about to embark on 5 days of the finest racing in the world, full stop. There may be richer races in Dubai and Hong Kong but no-one can match the history and worthiness of our very own Berkshire track.
The Major visited Ascot earlier this year for Sagoro Stakes day, it was only the second time I have been, having previously been during last years Royal Ascot week. The new stand is immense and a credit to British racing.
To all those attending Ascot tomorrow, I wish you good luck, envy your good fortune and hope that the Majors tips strike home.
If you are going just tomorrow, you have arguably picked the best day of the week. Although there are a plethora of Group One races at Ascot later in the week, tomorrow sees the explosive Frankel reappear after his 1,000 Guineas win as well as Goldikova, the relentless French raider taken on Canford Cliffs, apple of Hannons eye and we may well find out who is the best miler of a strip of Berkshire track.
2.30 Queen Anne Stakes
What a way to kick the racing festival off. After the pomp and ceremony of watching the Queens carriage roll down the straight, the proper entertainment opens with what is race of the week for the Major.
The ground is a rare good to soft for Ascot, this could be influential. I think it is already having an impact on the betting.
For me, the best miler full stop is Canford Cliffs. He has a wonderfully explosive turn of foot and a great cruising speed. The ground is the only question.
That said the ground is not much more likely to suit Goldikova, the French wonder mare. Her record is insane, yet she is less likely to be at her best now soft appears in the going. She has only lost 6 races of 22 and just once has failed to place. Every none-victory came with good to soft or worse conditions.
Cape Blanco is one that will relish true good to soft ground. Even with softer conditions, the view has to be that he needs further.
Rio de le Plata owes a big race, he is probably in too rich company here but I have always suspected this formerly well-regarded Godolphin horse will eventually come good.
On balance, Canford Cliffs for the Major at 6/4. Goldikova won this so impressively last year beating Paco Boy. Richard Hughes knows all about Goldikova having been soundly beaten on Paco more than once. He knows what it takes to beat her and in Canford Cliffs he believes, and I am minded the same, he has the ammunition.
Let’s get the week off to a flyer. With the Queens colours being lowered by Pour Moi in the derby and a french flag flung over the victors neck as he trooped to the Epsom winners enclosure, we are due a slice back. Let’s send Freddy Head home empty-handed and with just a small note explaining that we are coming in September and bringing Workforce to claim the Arc!! I love racing, the heritage and story, few other sports offer us such riches.
3.05 Kings Stand Sprint
Well if that was not enough, why not follow-up with the Kings Stand Sprint, the 5 furlong sprint is furious and exhilarating.
The line up is as international as you can get. Overdose the Budapest Bullet, soundly beaten on his last start in Britain is a tasty 12/1 but too much has to be taken on trust.
Star Witness the Australian raider is favourite at 9/2 and is well fancied. The Aussies have a tremendous record in the Kings Stand and he has to feature on the short list.
A few weeks ago, the Major nailed Sole Power in the Temple Stakes at Haydock and that win was probably the best British springing form this year. 8/1 make Sole Power a decent each way shout as if he does not hit trouble in running, he will be finishing best of all. The faster the pace the better.
Kingsgate Native is a high-class entrant for Middleton Park, 9/1 is fair.
This is wide open and so the Major is willing to take a wild stab at Monsieur Chevalier. As a juvenile, Monsieur Chevalier was hugely impressive but he has clearly had his problems, missing all of last season.
On his return in average company he should beat, he ran into trouble and despite never threatening the leaders, had a satisfactory blow out staying on nicely in the final furlong. 25/1 makes Monsieur a superb bet – Bet365 and Boylesports are the only two bookies offering 4 places at quarter odds at the best price.
3.45 Ascot – St James Palace Stakes
Now it is simply absurd, three top class Group Ones to open the racing and here the superstar of his classic generation, Frankel looks to add to his hyper impressive CV.
If you were reading yesterday when guest blogger The Green Flash, put up his 2011 US Open Tips, you will have read the shocking news that I want to get Frankel beaten, is this possible?
My case is hardly bullet proof and a little based on gut instinct, but here we go.
No doubt, Frankel is a wonderful animal. As a juvenile he was awesome and making his debut in the 1,000 guineas, he ran a freak of a race, bursting from the stalls to blaze his own pace maker and destroy the field. It was a bizarre race to watch, he went off so quickly. Most of his rivals tried to stay close and could not. In the closing stages, opinion was divided, some believe he idled slightly but was fine, some like me feel he struggled to maintain the pace.
Crucially for the Major, Frankels time was not as phenomenal as the visual impression. He caught them out.
Frankel should win. 2/5 gives little room. Maybe I will regret this, maybe tomorrow night I will wonder why I didn’t back the banker that many believe Frankel to be. I just feel that he may be a bit temperamental and he is against top class opposition.
What do I think will win? Rerouted is 200/1 – Last time as Frankels pacemaker, he never got a foot in front! Remember that this horse has one a group 3 in soft ground and 200/1 looks big, if Frankel shoots off again, this one could finish closer than many think. Michael Hills will aim for a best finishing position if allowed.
The two I fancy are Grand Prix Boss and Wooten Bassett. Grand Prix Boss at 20/1 is a bit of an unknown quantity. If he has travelled well (Japan) then he could be better than many in this field and will come with a Far Eastern fan club. Of interest.
Wooten Bassett was a well used quality juvenile. While his reappearance run was poor, this is probably been the target and at 16/1 I give him an each way squeak.
Overall, I am going to risk Grand Prix Boss.
4.25 Coventry Stakes
This is the last race the Major is looking at on the opening day of Royal Ascot. It is a Group Two and worthy of a tip!
The Coventry Stakes is a high-class sprint race for two-year olds where a lot is taken on reputation, trust and breeding which are factors that provide more evidence than form at this stage.
Gatepost 8/1 beat a host of subsequent winners at York but there are so many smart prospects that I want a bigger price.
The ones that interest the Major are Brocklebank 20/1, Campanology 33/1, Italo 16/1 and Trumpet Major 14/1.
Rather than make a case, I suggest Italo at 16/1. This American raider made light work of a decent Longchamp field and although even more of an unknown quantity than most, will carry the Majors each way money.
Good luck for Royal Ascot