Friday 23 June 2023

Royal Ascot Day Five: Saturday 24th June 2023 - Al Our Pal in Group 1 Feature

It has been an incredibly hard week for punters at Royal Ascot. Unperturbed, we go again on the final day during which we see the last of the eight Group 1 races of the meeting.

We begin with a juvenile contest that has given us Maybe, Churchill, Pinatubo and Point Lonsdale.

2.30 Ascot (Chesham Stakes – Listed Race) – PEARLS AND RUBIES

By whatever metric I chose to look at, the only horse that kept coming near the top consistently was Pearls And Rubies and she is therefore the sensible play.

The fillies could dominate in this seven-furlong juvenile event, with Content definitely next best on my list which means Aidan O’Brien really does have a bit of a grip on the event. It should be noted that three of the outstanding winners of this race we mentioned above were trained by O’Brien too.

3.05 Ascot (Jersey Stakes – Group 3) – ENFJAAR 

I do love the Jersey Stakes and though I’m sure the stats back up why the race remains a Group 3, in truth it often takes a Group 1 performance to win it.

Part of the reason for that is that this is a race for three-year-olds. At this stage of their careers, they may still be finding themselves and perhaps haven’t learned to sprint yet or stay a mile. The seven furlongs of this event is ideal for some of them.

Mr O’Brien features again with The Antarctic who can go well, as can the filly Olivia Maralda though many are questioning the well-being of Roger Varian’s runners.

Covey is the one for money. There is a little of the ‘Frankie factor’ at play there, but he is on a four-timer. A big step forward is needed from that horse to leave behind his rating of 100 and an even bigger one is needed from Enfjaar. I think it’ll come.

Assuming the Varian runners are OK – he’s had a good winner and a couple of seconds this week – Enfjaar can remain unbeaten and show his class. He was imperious on his second start at Chelmsford and while the opposition wasn’t up to scratch, he was in a different league and could be heading to the top.

3.34 Ayr (Land O’Burns Fillies’ Stakes – Listed Race) – NYMPHADORA

We pop up to Ayr for one on Saturday where I like the chances of Nymphadora in the Listed race ahead of the hot pot Royal Aclaim.

Amazingly, the thrice-raced three-year-old filly was sent off favourite for the Nunthorpe last year but she’s now had six runs overall and she simply isn’t at that level.

She is rated 105 now and while she can still climb above that, Nymphadora has risen steadily to 101 and she has plenty of speed.

3.40 Ascot (Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Stakes – Group 1) – AL SUHAIL

This is another good renewal of the Group 1 six-furlong sprint, renamed this year yet again.

Kinross will once again have his supporters and he is a classy horse, though it remains true that he has looked more impressive when the ground has been softer than it is out there.

Highfield Princess was only just denied in King’s Stand on Tuesday and goes again. She’ll most certainly go close if she shows no ill effects.

Sacred was beaten only a length in this race last year and made an excellent start to this season in her prep at Lingfield, winning a Group 3 easily. She may be the one, but there is that niggling thought that she prefers a seventh furlong to truly show us her best.

Overseas raiders Artorius and Wellington are both classy types. They each have doubts though and may well be over bet come the day.

This all leaves us with Al Suhail. Godolphin have not had a good week and there have been questions asked about the form of Charlie Appleby.

In truth he’s had recent winners, some wide-margin ones too, while the stats actually tell us that many of those defeated are barely running below expectations.

Al Suhail is now consistent hitting the 116-120 sort of mark and he’s only just learning to sprint. A classy seven-furlong horse previously, he is showing more speed at six and this is a trick Charlie Appleby has used before, most notably with last year’s 1-2 in this race Naval Crown and Creative Force.

4.20 Ascot (Hardwicke Stakes – Group 2) – PYLEDRIVER

We’ve arguably seen better and deeper Hardwicke’s, but there is still some serious quality in this race.

Changingoftheguard and Grand Alliance renew rivalries, while Deauville Legend is a classy four-year-old but he may be more of a stayer and could be starting slowly in advance of another Melbourne Cup campaign.

Hukum was the ante-post favourite but we all know he’s better on softer ground, with Free Wind now challenging him for favouritism. She’s improving well but she is also arguably a tad better with juice in the ground.

The one people may have forgotten is Pyledriver. William Muir & Chris Grassick’s star hasn’t been seen since winning the King George over this course and distance last season. He is pure class and will head back to the Group 1 next month.

5.00 Ascot (Wokingham Stakes – Heritage Handicap) – KHANJAR

We’ll see another swashbuckling Wokingham here with 28 of them bombing up the straight six furlongs.

Orazio is the genuine favourite, but while he can improve he could be vulnerable to a horse laid out for this race a little more which brings in Khanjar.

William Haggas’ four-year-old was climbing the ladder last year and was sent off a confident favourite in the Ayr Gold Cup. It didn’t work out for him there, but after a nice prep at Hamilton recently he should be spot-on now and may outclass them off 97.

5.35 Ascot (Golden Gates Stakes – Handicap) – ZIRYAB 

The 1¼-mile Golden Gates is very competitive, but really in terms of potential and therefore having weight in hand there are few in the field as exciting as Ziryab.

The Gosden runner was second to Mostabshir at York where he finished ahead of Kathab and New Business, who has won since and is now rated 87 and climbing.

Ziryab himself won very smoothly next time out to prepare for this and he may be hard to catch having just scraped into the race at the bottom.

6.10 Ascot (Queen Alexandra Stakes – Conditions Race) – TYPEWRITER

The closing marathon race brings together the young and the old and that is providing us with our betting angle.

Stratum is a lovely horse for sure, as is Chester Cup winner Falcon Eight. Typewriter however is a four-year-old who is creeping closer to the sort of form needed to beat them. As the younger horse, he could improve past them now while Dawn Rising may want the ground a little damper.

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