3.05 Ascot – 1pt win Air Force Blue @ 7/1 (general)
3.05 Ascot – 1pt win War Department @ 9/1 (various)
3.40 Ascot – 2pts win Meccas Angel @ 13/2 (general)
5.35 Ascot – 0.5pts win Areen @ 16/1 (general)
2.55 Thirsk – 0.5pts win Old Man Clegg @ 9/1 (general)
8.45 Beve – 1pt win Paddy’s Rock @ 13/2 (BetFred, BetVictor)
Total staked 6pts
3.05 – Coventry Stakes
Just because it’s Royal Ascot, it doesn’t mean we’ll be going mad with our staking plan, but Tuesday looks the easiest day for punters in truth, and there are a few bets to be had. The market leaders in the Coventry look ripe for taking on at the early prices, and I’m surprised how big Air Force Blue is in the betting. He was Aidan O’Brien’s first 2-y-o this year to win on debut, and he looked pretty smart in beating a pair of next-time-out winners. He didn’t win by far, but was simply tiring late on as lack of fitness told, and that masks his superiority. He looks just as good as Jim Bolger’s Round Two, and is open to more improvement than most in the field. I’d have made him favourite, and in identifying dangers, it’s one who has a similar profile I’d want to save on. War Department has also won his only start, and while that came at unfashionable Leicester, William Haggas’s colt looked out of the top drawer as he scooted clear of a fair field. With the pair priced up at 7/1 and 9/1 respectively, we can afford to have a point on each.
3.40 – King’s Stand Stakes
I’ve been an avid follower of Meccas Angel for some time, and am adamant that there isn’t a better 5f sprinter than her in Europe. She was breathtaking on all four domestic starts in 2014, and improved again when winning a Group 3 at Longchamp on her return. The going was officially good to soft there, but she ran the trip in a spectacular 55.2 seconds, which means either the going was incorrect, or she is rocket propelled. I’d plump for a bit of both, and it should be noted that she was lumbered with a penalty there, meaning that she was actually conceding weight to most of her rivals, whereas she will be receiving 3 lb from all but two of today’s runners. The form of that race has worked out superbly, and she should be rated the pick of these if the margins are taken at face value, which seems a perfectly reasonable approach. She wasn’t extended to score there, and really does look a cut above the standard in this division. The worry for some is the ground, as she’s been kept to good or softer to date, but two of her most impressive wins have come when the ground has ridden faster than advertised, and that sparkling time at Longchamp isn’t one of a “mudder”. She rates my nap of the week.
5.35 – Windsor Castle Stakes
Not a race for the faint of heart, but one who is underestimated by the market is Areen who was impressive on debut at York before ruining his chance by ducking left out of the stalls in the National Stakes at Sandown. That effort, when he seemed to fight Jamie Spencer’s attempts to cut across to the rail, is easily forgiven, and he will have learnt a bit from the experience. Had he come here straight from York, he’d be half the price he is now, and this powerfully built juvenile looks a natural for a race of this nature. It’s hard to tell how good some of the opposition is, so we’re cutting our stakes down to the mimimum, which will still ensure a healthy profit if he justifies the faith.
2.55 – 7f Handicap
A risky one, but the best of these on the figures is Old Man Clegg, as he showed when runner-up to Birdman over C&D in April. That form is absolutely solid (well handicapped winner has won off much higher mark since), and Mick Easterby’s gelding is thrown in off a 2 lb lower mark now. The worry is that he’s failed to fire in three starts since, but Spittin’ Mick won this race last year, and a return to this venue may well spark a revival. The bottom line is if he runs to the same level again, he wins, so it’s worth risking half a point at the general 9/1.
Rory & David