The Rest Of The Royal Ascot Card – Friday

2.30pm

We go again, and although I will happily admit that this is mentally exhausting, there are far worse ways to make a living. More two-year-olds for the Albany Stakes and “only” the 17 runners, so do shop around for extra places – I have never understood why you get the first four in a handicap of 16 runners or more – but not on any other race? “Only” eight of them won last time out, with  six arriving unbeaten, and with winners at odds up to 20/1 in the last decade, it’s out with the lucky pin! Fairy Godmother heads the betting but that may be in part down to the Aidan O’Brien factor, and although a clever winner of a Group Three at Naas last time out, she looks plenty short ugh to me for a race that hasn’t seen a winning favourite since 2019,  and I will go looking for an each way alternative once more. Mountain Breeze is the obvious danger but 7/2 is not big enough, so I will weigh in with Burning Pine in the hope that Wesley Ward works his magic. A one raced daughter of Nyquist, she made all to win by three and a half lengths at Keeneland over four and a half furlongs, but on breeding, she should have no trouble stepping up in trip.  I will stick with the theory that his pace-setters have more chance of lasting home on this ground than they have in recent years, and at 16/1, even if she gets collared late on, a top three (or possibly four) will do for me at that price.

Burning Pine each way 18/1 most bookmakers

3.45pm

Famous last words but I cannot for the life of me see why Irish 1000 Guineas third Opera Singer is ahead of 1000 Guineas winner Elamalka in the market here, despite Aidan O’Briens assurances that she will improve considerably for the race. That is the great unknown admittedly, but on form Roger Varian’s filly is entitled to come out on top, but I am opposing them both regardless! I will admit that French jockeyship left a little to be desired on Tuesday with Maxime Guyon and Mickael Barzalona choosing to race alone in the Queen Anne before finishing unplaced, and Alexis Pouchin getting trapped at a crucial stage in the St James’s Palace Stakes but I can but hope lessons have been learned and Maxime Guyon will get things right on board Rouhiya. A shock 31/1 winner of the French 1000 Guineas, her abilities appear to have been underestimated here as that was only her fourth start, with a fast run mile here looking to play to her strengths after she pounced late at Longchamp. The worry is, as always, the going for the French challengers who invariably race on a far softer surface, but she is yet another top-class Lope De Vega offspring, and their record on quicker ground is nothing to be sniffed at and at a double figure price, she represents each way value.

Rouhiya each way 12/1 Bet365

4.25pm

It’s time for one of my statistical analysis races (yawn) as I look to trap the winner of this fiercely competitive handicaps. Using the last 15 years (14 runnings) as our data, I was surprised to find that we haven’t seen a single winner drawn lower than 9 in that time, which makes little sense to me over a mile and a half, but does, in theory at least, get rid of almost half the field.  All bar one of those winners had finished in the first five last time out, all bar one were priced at 20/1 or shorter, all bar one were aged four or five, and all bar one came from the first eight in the betting (though be warned – I am having to use early prices, not SP). Using all those we come up with a shortlist of three – Deakin, Shadow Dance, and Ethical Diamond. Of those three, trained by Joseph O’Brien, Roger Varian, and Willie Mullins respectively, only Joseph has won this in the last 15 years when scoring with 9/1 chance Okia Soushi last year, and with that in mind, the son of Australia will do for me – each way, of course.

Deakin each way 8/1 888Sport.com

5.05pm

Handicaps restricted to three-year-olds are, by definition, a nightmare to solve with some at their peak last year, others to peak next year, some improving and some going backwards – it’s a case of guessing which fits in which group! Add in the fact that many trainers are mob-handed (the Gosdens have four runners entered, Andrew Balding three, Ralph Beckett, Richard Hughes, William Haggas, Aidan O’Brien, Roger Varian, Joseph O’Brien and Archie Watson two each) and you can understand why I approach this contest with trepidation. Amazingly we have seen four favourites and a joint favourite win in the last 10 years which comes as a surprise (two 33/1 shots as well though before anyone gets carried away), and I will be weighing in with a huge priced outsider each way to the smallest of stakes. Strutting is one of the Gosden quartet and will be ridden by Rachel King who returns to England for the week after moving to Australia with great success (including numerous Group One victories) 11 years ago. She got married on Sunday (congratulations) and can comfortably do the eight stone two the Frankel filly has to carry here, but what about the horse? Fourth last time out in Listed class at Goodwood and beaten less than two lengths at the line after weakening close home, she drops back from a mile and a quarter to a mile here which may suit admirably, but more importantly, she races off a mark of 83, but is due to go up to 91 for future contests. That suggests she is 8lb well in here which cannot be underestimated (though it has by the bookmakers), and if she gets a clear run we could land an each way touch, even if it is only a place.

Strutting each way 66/1 Paddy Power and Betfair Sportsbook

6.15pm

Only the four runnings of this five furlong handicap for three-year-olds but the one thing of note is the draw – so far the winners have been drawn 19, 24, 11, and 25 – so despite others suggesting differently, you have to wonder if a high draw is an advantage? One thing we can be certain of is there will be no lack of early pace, with some of the front runners better suited by a sixth furlong, and sure to tow them along at speed to draw the late sting out of any five furlong specialists. One of those seems likely to be the Gosdens Godolphin owned Dorney Lake, who made all to win by five lengths at Ljngfield last month, and makes his handicap debut off a mark of 90. He can go well under William Buick,  but the two stall could count against him, and I will be backing Dyrholaey instead. Trained by Archie Watson, who won this last year with Rhythm Hooves (12/1), the son of City Light has won all three starts, by a neck at Chelmsford, five and a half lengths at Wolverhampton, and a neck last time out at Newcastle. On breeding there is no reason why he cannot be just as effective on the turf, and coming out of the 26 stall off a mark of 90 and with James Doyle in the saddle, he has to be yet another suggestion with an each way chance.

Dyrholaey each way 10/1 Bet Victor, Ladbrokes, and Boylesports

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