The live Channel 4 action kicks off with the Al Rayyan Stakes and the John Gosden four-year-old Eagle Top looks on paper to be the clear pick to land this valuable prize this term. The nose defeat to the smart Postponed in last year’s Group 1 King George over today’s trip makes him the obvious choice at the ratings and if he returns in a similar mood today would take all the beating, but there has to be value in taking on an odds-on horse that hasn’t won since June 2014 and especially when it has only in fact won twice in its entire career. The way Frankie Dettori’s mount ended last year’s campaign with some tame efforts, albeit in hot company, leaves a lot to be desired.
The value in this one may lie with David Simcock’s progressive four-year-old Carnachy at a still attractive each way price. The lightly-raced Mastercraftsman filly has never been out of the first two in five career starts and proved that she had trained on when blasting to a listed win in a stylish manner on her return. She looks a rapid improver so far and there is no reason to suggest she won’t keep on improving here today with champion jockey Ryan Moore in the saddle so she gets the each way nod here.
The other horse in the race who is not out of this at the ratings is Roger Charlton’s Ayrad. Looked a smart prospect when winning a listed race for the Roger Varian team last summer, but never kicked on from there. A solid third for the new yard on reappearance, however, has brought hopes of a revival, but she may once again have to settle for minor honours here.
CARNACHY (EACH WAY)
A tricky seven-runner handicap is the first visit to HQ in the live TV action.
Ralph Beckett’s Poyle Thomas is an interesting contender here as he was very progressive when last seen back in 2014 and was only just denied off a similar mark in his last race, but that was some two years ago now and that lengthy absence from the track raises major doubt as to him producing the improvement needed for him to land this. Karl Burke’s Intense Tango is a decent Mare who could play a part here after the five-year-old made the frame in each of her last two starts, the return to this trip should help, but may be vulnerable to a more progressive type.
The likely favourite is David Simcock’s Desert Encounter and he looks the rock solid selection in this field. The four-year-old only has five career runs to his name and has improved for every outing so far. He confirmed his well being when following up his first career win from last term with a 2 and 1/4 length success at Doncaster. The second place horse has come out and ran with credit in a hot race at York since to boost the form so a 7lb rise in the weights is unlikely to halt his progression here today and he gets the confident nod.
DESERT ENCOUNTER (WIN)
The Toronado Carnarvon Stakes is a listed contest over six furlongs and contains a field of exciting three-year-old sprinters. The Hannon team come here double handed with King of Rooks and Logout Island for a yard who have won this twice in the last five renewals, but both entrants this year come here with something to prove and are probably best watched today. Sylvester Kirk’s yard know the time of day when it comes to nurturing sprinters and their exciting colt Dream Dubai looks the pick of their two runners. The horse caught the eye when winning on debut at Lingfield despite obvious greeness before following up with a respectable second to the impressive Gifted Master in a Group 3 contest. That form looks solid in this field and he can definitely make the frame with plenty of potential for improvement, but he may once again have to settle for the runner up berth to one with more experience.
John Gosden’s Remarkable is one such horse who can land the spoils here. The smart-looking Pivotal colt has looked a different animal as a three-year-old and he left his maiden form well behind when he destroyed a competitive looking handicap field at Doncaster last month over today’s trip with something to spare last time out. He has progressed with every run so far and having won over both six and seven furlongs on good to soft and softer ground, he ticks all the boxes today to give the Cheveley Park Stud yet another exciting prospect for Royal Ascot. He also represents some decent value in the betting with Dream Dubai already looking short enough in the market.
REMARKABLE (E/W) – NAP
The King Charles stakes is a Listed contest over 7f and on paper this one looks to be a two-horse race. Mick Channon’s Scrutineer has two wins from his five career starts and having run well over course and distance to finish second in a decent handicap last time out means he is expected to improve once again, but he will need to.
Dragon Mall probably has the most improvement to find at the weights, but he still remains open to plenty of improvement for the David Simcock yard who do well with horses from three onwards. A better showing here can see him win down the line, but he will just be hoping for some place money today. Race Day for Godolphin rattled off a hat trick on the all weather last term, but now has it all to prove if he is as good back on the turf. The one they all have to beat, however, is Thikriyaat. The Sir Michael Stoute trained, Hamdan Al Maktoum owned three year old is still unbeaten in his two starts to date and there was a lot to like about his battling reappearance victory. He is clearly still learning his trade, but the form of his latest win has taken a big boost and he should win this in some style give the race doesn’t ascend into a tactical affair in such a small field, but he remains the confident pick.
The Group 1 Lockinge stakes is undoubtably the highlight of the day and it is one of the most competitive fields for a long time with no real standout favourite and wide open betting market.
There looks to be four really solid contenders for the valuable British Champions Series prize today.
Richard Hannon’s hopes are pinned on the rejuvenated Toormore for the Godolphin boys in blue and he was only just touched off in the race last year by stablemate Night of Thunder and looked right back to his best when winning the Group 2 Sandown Mile on his reappearance last month putting Berardo in his place that day. But the horse hasn’t won at Group 1 level since his two-year-old campaign and even that was over seven furlongs. So he has questions to answer if he really can reach the peak in this company over a mile, and especially in what looks a hotter renewal this time around. He may find at least one too good once again this year.
Mahsoob is an interesting runner for the Hamdan Al Maktoum and John Gosden combination. The horse is a very lightly raced five-year-old who has won five of his seven career starts including his impressive Group 3 win at Newmarket latest. The horse hasn’t won over a mile since its debut win on the all-weather, but there has to be doubts over its stepping back in trip in Group 1 company and is it won going away last time out and has produced its best form over trips further than the mile.
Limato is another fascinating contender. The Henry Candy four-year-old has been top class for the yard thus far finishing in the top two in each of its nine career starts so far. He won a Group 2 at Doncaster in September over 7f before just failing to add a Group 1 at Longchamp when last seen. He has never been over the mile trip before and is therefore a bit of an unknown at the distance, but he improved for the step up to seven from six and hopes are once again pinned on the extra distance eeking out yet more improvement.
The one that they will all have to beat though is Clive Cox’s four-year-old star Kodi Bear. He has looked a star in the making over a mile for a while now and his back to back Group wins over a mile last season were in such a fashion that it has just been a matter of time before he would have his Group 1 opportunity. The margin of the double win last term by a total of over eight lengths was because of his taking turn of foot and he can put that to good use here today. A real chance of landing a Group 1 over a mile looks to be today and although he hung badly to throw away his chance in the Queen Elizabeth when last seen at Ascot in October a return to more testing conditions today give him the edge here and he gets the tentative each way nod.
KODI BEAR (E/W)
The sprint trophy is a tricky looking handicap contest over six furlongs and has a field filled with powerhouse stables eager to make the winner’s enclosure.
Sir Mark Prescott’s three-year-old Marsha looks an interesting contender as the filly has made the frame in each of her four career starts to date. Making her seasonal reappearance, the Acclamation filly holds Group 1 entries this season and her two wins last term alongside a useful third in a listed contest at Dundalk put her bang there in terms of form. Mainly campaigned on the all weather so the firmer ground is a complete unknown.
The in-form Richard Fahey stable line up with Mr Lupton here. The three-year-old gelding enjoyed a decent juvenile campaign as he landed a valuable sales race at Doncaster before finishing runner up in the prestigious two year old trophy at Redcar. He has a solid run at Hamilton under his belt to blow away the cobwebs and can definitely run a big race at double figure odds with Jamie Spencer booked to ride.
They may both have to settle for minor places, however, if the Richard Hannon representative Nisser can finally realise his potential this afternoon. The horse was highly fancied as a top prospect at two, but it failed to fire in its first two starts despite being favourite on each occasion. The three year old put the doubts to bed when impressively landing a decent race at Windsor and now stepping up to six furlongs for the second time, the Dream Ahead colt remains open to any kind of improvement and could yet be something special. If you look at his only other run at today’s trip each of the three horses that beat him that day have gone onto bigger and better things, that only raises confidence of a big run here, so he gets the confident nod.
The London Gold Cup over 1m2f is a wide open contest filled with progressive types.
Vivre Pour Vivre caught the eye when bolting up by some seven lengths under Ryan Moore last time out. That win followed up victory on reappearance to put the Ed Dunlop three-year-old right in the mix here for this open handicap, but the colt has been hammered with a 10lb rise by the handicapper and that may just be enough to anchor him here today despite retaining the services of Moore once again in the saddle.
Roger Charlton’s Imperial Aviator will likely be the worthy favourite for this one after impressing in his recent reappearance to win his maiden at Leicester and given the yard has tasted success in this one twice in the last five years including his superstar Al Kazeem, he merits all kinds of respect. The son of Paco Boy’s form received a boost when the horse he beat in that maiden – Ulysses -was a wide margin winner this week, but he may just have to settle for a minor role here today after switching stables since that maiden win.
Ger Lyons makes the trip over from Ireland with his potentially smart raider Spader. The horse was largely disappointing as a two-year-old and put away after July and only four runs, but he returned in style at Navan in April when smashing the field in a ten runner handicap to win by four lengths. The stable clearly hold him in high regard after that performance and the fact that they line up here means confidence is high in his chances here, so he gets the each way shout in a wide open field at a tempting double figure price.