Neil provides us with his best bets and tips for Wednesday’s race meeting at Royal Ascot on 15/06/2022.
Royal Ascot Best Bets 15/06/2022
Race1 QUEEN MARY STAKES (Group 2) – 15/06/2022
No3 DRAMATISED (Each Way)
Trainer: Karl Burke – Jockey: Danny Tudhope
Few fillies have taken out a race at a Grade 1 track as authoritatively as DRAMATISED on her debut on the Rowley course at the end of April. The daughter of Showcasing landed some good bets by a wide margin, and has to be afforded maximum respect for a trainer whose horses are right in the zone.
Richard Hannon assures me that MIAMI GIRL is way better than she showed when down the field in a Listed race at York, and should be judged on her convincing debut success at Newmarket. That mesmerising effort, if repeated, would make her much the same filly as Dramatised, and yet she is a 33-1 roughie.
LOVE REIGNS has blinkers added as she tries to remain unbeaten for US trainer Wesley Ward. She trotted up on her debut at Keeneland and put in some solid fast work at Chelmsford, the base for Ward’s horses during their stay over Ascot week.
Others that have earning chances at elevated prices are the Mark Johnston-trained QUEEN OF DEAUVILLE and hat-trick seeking MARIA BRANWELL.
Prediction: 1st DRAMATISED, 2nd Miami Girl, 3rd Love Reigns, 4th Maria Branwell
Race 2 QUEEN’S VASE (Group 2) – 15/06/2022
No3 BALTIC BIRD
Trainer: John Gosden – Jockey: Frankie Dettori
This wouldn’t be the warmest Queen’s Vase in recent years, with a weaker Irish contingent than is usually the case. It could be left to BALTIC BIRD to put his best foot forward for the formidable Gosden/Dettori combo. The Frankel colt greatly impressed when opening his account at Yarmouth, will enjoy the extra yardage and with just three races under his belt holds scope for more progression.
ELDAR ELDAROV has Dubawi and Sea The Stars on either side of his chart and is a fascinating contender in pursuit of a hat-trick. He was well on top at the end of his recent Newcastle race, and is heading in the right direction for trainer Roger Varian.
HAFIT and NAHANNI have prospects of heading the market, but while the former has had his share of chances and squandered them, Nahanni needs to prove his stamina capabilities after finishing seventh to Desert Crown in the Derby, even though William Buick seems to prefer his chances.
Prediction: 1st BALTIC BIRD, 2nd Eldar Eldarov, 3rd Nahanni
Race 3 PRINCE OF WALES’S STAKES (Group 1) – 15/06/2022
No1 BAY BRIDGE (Nap)
Trainer: Sir Michael Stoute – Jockey: Ryan Moore
The unrivalled feature of Day 2 has cut up all in favour of the exciting BAY BRIDGE, who when extending his winning sequence to five in a runaway Brigadier Gerard Stakes success at Sandown showed he is the real deal. His training has not been without the occasional hiccup over the last year or so, but like all very good horses these haven’t been sufficient to stop him stamping his authority when visiting the racecourse.
Aiming to extend the growing domination of Japanese horses on the world stage, SHAHRYAR returns from a short break after thwarting Yibir in the Dubai Sheema Classic. The son of Deep Impact is near the top of the tree in his homeland, is a proven traveller and can give the favourite something to think about from what could turn out to be an uncontested lead.
LORD NORTH was a spectacular winner of this in 2020, and though twice beaten by Alenquer during 2022 numbers a dead-heat with Panthalassa in the Dubai Turf in between those efforts, meaning it would be dangerous to rule him out.
STATE OF REST and GRAND GLORY do not possess the aura of their foes but must also not be dismissed lightly, especially the latter who has impressed in back-to-back successes at Longchamp and gets a new pilot in Mickael Barzalona.
Prediction: 1st BAY BRIDGE (Nap), 2nd Shahrya, 3rd Grand Glory
Race 4 DUKE OF CAMBRIDGE STAKES (Group 2) – 15/06/2022
No5 MOTHER EARTH
Trainer: Aidan O’Brien – Jockey: Ryan Moore
The much travelled MOTHER EARTH could prove the answer to one of the trickiest races on the Day 2 card. Since her defeat of SAFFRON BEACH in the 1,000 Guineas last year the daughter of Zoffany has maintained a consistent thread of form that’s taken her to France, the United States and Hong Kong. She slightly underwhelmed behind Baaeed in the Lockinge, but on the balance of form has more going for her than the rest, and now has blinkers added. Saffron Beach herself ran well to trouble the judge in the Dubai Turf in March and should finish close to where Mother Earth does. However, her penalties mean she is conceding 5lb to the selection. BASHKIROVA displayed an impressive turn of foot to get the job done in the Princess Elizabeth Stakes at Epsom to suggest she’s progressing at a rate of knots. This is a quick turn around for her however, and at a lofty price the German filly NOVEMBA could squeak into the frame.
Prediction: 1st MOTHER EARTH, 2nd Saffron Beach, 3rd Novemba
Race 5 ROYAL HUNT CUP HANDICAP – 15/06/2022
No27 DARK SHIFT
Trainer: Charlie Hills – Jockey: James McDonald
The presence of McDonald on clear cut Nottingham scorer DARK SHIFT encourages me that the grey can take the spoils in the big betting extravaganza of the day. Dark Shift wasn’t beaten far on his previous outing in the Victoria Cup over the final seven furlongs of the straight mile, and had shown guts and determination to gain back-to-back triumphs here last autumn. With his impressive record at Ascot and off what looks a very fair mark he has to be taken seriously.
SYMBOLIZE wins prizes for consistency and has claims to break a sequence of three near misses, including when chasing home 124-rated Aldaary here. Upwardly mobile apprentice Harry Davies takes a more than useful 5lb off his back, to add lustre to his claims.
BLESS HIM is always at his beat coming off a strong pace and weaving his way between horses in a big field like this. Jamie Spencer takes the reins for the gelding’s sixth outing in succession, and will look to pounce late in the game.
CRUYFF TURN finished in front of Bless Him last time, has run into form at just the right time and needs to be included in all permutations for in-form trainer Tim Easterby.
One that would enter calculations if others drop out is FOREST FALCON, who destroyed his foes from the front in the Zetland Gold Cup at Redcar.
His inclusion is an unlikely scenario however, so others to throw into the mix are ASTRO KING and ESCOBAR, the latter being one that if it’s his day could swoop to conquer, as was the case when he plundered a valuable handicap here back in 2019.
Prediction: 1st DARK SHIFT, 2nd Symbolize, 3rd Escobar, 4th Cruyff Turn, 5th Bless Him, 6th Astro King
Race 6 WINDSOR CASTLE STAKES (Listed) – 15/06/2022
No12 LITTLE BIG BEAR
Trainer: Aidan O’Brien – Jockey: Ryan Moore
If Coolmore is to land one of the juvenile races this week then LITTLE BIG BEAR looks one of the operation’s best chances. He clocked a good time when smoothly landing the odds laid on him at Naas, having looked unlucky to be chinned on his debut at the Curragh. The son of No Nay Never could just be better than Listed class, and should attract plenty of on course support.
John Gosden won this in 2016, and elected to use the same Yarmouth race that horse debuted in to introduce FAR SHOT. The Kodiac colt encountered cut in the ground on that occasion, and needs to show he’s as effective on a surface that will have become pretty quick at this stage of proceedings.
One that could raise its game is WHISTLE AND FLUTE, who went out like a light after leading at Beverley only to produce a dirty scope which exonerates him. From the stable that bagged the corresponding race with Chipotle last year, he cannot be safely ruled out.
CHATEAU took advantage of Whistle And Flute’s bad luck in that Two-Year-Old Trophy and could show further progression, while US challenger SEISMIC SPIRIT has worked well since being stationed at Chelmsford, and as a product of the Wes Ward academy is impossible to leave out of calculations.
Prediction: 1st LITTLE BIG BEAR, 2nd Whistle And Flute, 3rd Far Shot, 4th Seismic Spirit, 5th Chateau
Race 7 KENSINGTON PALACE HANDICAP – 15/06/2022
No16 SPIRIT OF THE BAY
Trainer: Clive Cox – Jockey: William Cox
This has to go down as one of the trappiest puzzles to unravel of the entire week. Several go into battle with last time out wins next to their names, and while that doesn’t apply to SPIRIT OF THE BAY, this filly has very strong claims in her own right. She ended the 2021 campaign with a four-race winning sequence, and has done nothing wrong in taking home a cheque in each of her three outings this year.
FFION is a contender to have on your mind following her game delivery at Chester, which in some way made up for her barren 2021 campaign in which she found one to beat her on no fewer than four occasions. Now she has her tail up.
The Roger Varian-trained MOBADRA convincingly landed two of her three starts last season and would trouble the best of these if ready after a near seven month absence.
IMPROVISED and HAZIYA are others capable of making an impression, and need including in any exotic permutations.
Prediction: 1st SPIRIT OF THE BAY, 2nd Ffion, 3rd Mobadra