Strap yourselves in and don’t look back. Five days of drama, punting possibilities and fun are ahead of us, live on Sky Sports. Lewis Jones is here to guide you on a path to profit…
If Battaash is on song in the King’s Stand Stakes (3:20) the rest won’t see him for dust as he’s arguably the quickest sprinter we’ve had on these shores for many a year.
The ‘if’ is the key word in that last sentence.
Possessing a tendency to boil over in his races and generally just being a bit of a monkey, Battaash is a favourite backers nightmare who will lose them dosh over the long term.
With doubts about his place at the head of the betting, I’ve simply got to row in with the exciting LIBERTY BEACH (9/1 with Sky Bet).
Three-year-old fillies aren’t known for their ability to beat their elders at this time of the year but this one is a bit out of the ordinary in that she might just be a bit special.
Some will be put off by her win just nine days ago but horses with a win at Group or Listed level within the last 10 days to take on a Group One at Ascot are working at a 24 per cent strike rate. That gives me enough confidence in her to run her race and a stiff five furlongs looks to be her ideal scenario with last year’s win at Sandown her best career performance on the figures. Drawn next to Battaash, I’m hoping she can stalk the speedball before pouncing late.
The Queen Anne Stakes (1:50) is lacking a true Group One superstar which makes it a much more competitive race than the market suggests.
Races over the straight mile track at Ascot usually suit a certain type of horse with those possessing a liking for making their efforts from the back of field especially of interest. SPACE TRAVELLER (25/1 with Sky Bet) is a dangerous customer when getting that type of race scenario and he is the each-way play.
His win in the Jersey Stakes was an impressive performance last season as he came from an uncompromising position on the wing to roar past Space Blues, who went on to place in two Group One contests. In a normal year the Richard Fahey trained star would be a notch below what’s required but in an open year he can trouble the judge.
“We feel he’s creeping towards being a Group One miler,” Fahey wrote in his Sporting Life column. Let’s hope he’s right.
Those following the money in the opening Buckingham Palace Handicap (1:15) may cop a return as Daarik has a big engine for the dangerous Frankie Dettori and John Gosden combination. However, backing something shorter than 5/1 in a competitive big-field handicap isn’t a punting strategy that gets me excited. I’d rather play GLEN SHIEL (20/1 with Sky Bet – paying six places).
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Front runners aren’t usually suited to Ascot’s big-field test but with plenty of pace drawn around Glen Shiel, Hollie Doyle could be in the prime spot just off the speed.
Archie Watson’s charge showed a liking for the track when trading at 5/4 in running after hitting the front in the competitive Balmoral Handicap on Champions Day. He got swamped late by Escobar and Lord North that day but there’s no rivals of that standard in this field which bodes well for his chances off a similar mark.
Those looking for a strong win only bet to base their day around should look no further than NAZEEF (100/30 with Sky Bet) in the Duke Of Cambridge Stakes (4.10).
She outlined herself as a Group One winner in waiting when winning cosily at Kempton on her reappearance despite not really handling the tight track and being caught further back than ideal on a night where front runners were favoured. That beating of Group One filly Billesdon Brook, who goes in the Queen Anne, is form to take very seriously – a theory backed up by the quick speed figure of the race.
Nazeef can account for hype-horse Jubiloso, who was beaten at short-odds twice last season but apparently is working the house down at Sir Michael Stoute’s. That might be the case but it’s on the track where it matters and Nazeef looks the class act on this occasion.
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