Racing ambassador Nick Luck gives his thoughts on the finest five days of flat racing.
The finest five days of flat racing, from around the world, are finally upon us. It is of course Royal Ascot and there’s not much quite like it anywhere else on the planet. I’ll be bringing all of my selections to the fore right here in my daily blog.
Read on for Nick’s thoughts on all seven races from the opening day.
BAAEED is the best possible start to Royal Ascot from a purist’s perspective (2.30pm), and I’m afraid I can’t offer any cogent explanation as to why he won’t simply waltz home here at 1/5 from clearly inferior rivals. If pushed to give one to follow him home, I see some upside in thinking old Sir Busker might outrun his odds of 40/1 and pass a few late.
ROYAL SCOTSMAN might be the underestimated one at 9/1 in what looks an exceedingly good Coventry Stakes (3.05pm). Although I’d have preferred a more central draw, he looked a real professional at Goodwood, and travelled strongly enough to think that he can find good track position. He may be a shade overpriced based on his trainers, but Paul Cole used to knock out juvenile winners here as standard, and he hasn’t forgotten what a good one looks like.
MAN OF PROMISE warrants a small investment at 14/1 in a compelling King’s Stand (3.40pm). There will be nobody happier than me if Nature Strip and Golden Pal duke this out, but there’s nothing left in either price if you allow for the travelling unknowns with the former, and the knowledge that the latter will be on fumes in the final hundred yards. The selection and Twilight Calls are the others with genuine talent and Man of Promise is at double figure odds. He bounced off a huge performance when disappointing on World Cup night, but his earlier Meydan effort was spectacular and would make him of genuine interest on lively ground.
MY PROSPERO gets the nod at 9/2 in the St James’s Palace (4.20pm). Regulars will know my regard for Coroebus, but I worry about a horse with his necessarily hold-up style getting through traffic in this big field on the round mile to be taking odds-on. Therefore, I’d prefer to take five times the odds about the selection in the hope he might get first run. I’m fairly sure he wants this ground, and equally sure that his Sandown run was very good form.
MAKE MY DAY is an each way play at 20/1 in the Ascot Stakes (5.00pm). He’s on his third trainer, but he’s very low mileage and might just have found his ideal set up, as he’s not that quick, but wants decent ground. He’s acted well on the track, can move forward for the increase in distance, and gets cheekpieces for only the second time in his career (won the only other time). The rider is excellent and very patient, a particular virtue in this race.
TASMAN BAY has possibilities at 12/1 in an almost impossible Wolferton Stakes (5.35pm). He looked far from the finished article last year, but a ran a boat load of creditable races in defeat, notably behind Alenquer and Baaeed. He has been gelded in the interim, the stable had a winner the other day, and James McDonald will always be an asset on any horse in any race.
NOT SO SLEEPY is hardly in the improving category at the age of ten, but he’s the wrong price at 18/1 in the finale (6.10pm). I guess connections might pull him out if it gets really slick, but he might drift further if he runs, and I am unconvinced that the ground angle is really that big a deal. He’s just a real oddball of a horse that is still very well treated on the flat, we know he’ll stay really well, but equally we know he has some tactical speed.