I’m pretty much where I started when it comes to Royal Ascot punting. As usual the meeting has thrown up some special performances. Battaash and Stradivarius just keep showing up to thrill us. Based on their wins this week, neither look to have lost any of their brilliance.
Leopardstown will be the focus of this week’s piece. The maidens make limited appeal. I have have only managed three selections. Hopefully there is a winner or two in there. The ground is good. There is rain forecast but it looks like the ground will still be good come Sunday. The course has withstood an almighty drenching this week. Probably to do with the prolonged dry spell in the previous months.
Could be a water table thing. Often hear rustic types make mention of water tables. I haven’t a clue to be fair. Agronomy might as well be nuclear fission.
The Blue Wind Stakes is the feature. A New Dawn sets the standard. It’s not a dizzying one mind you. She disappointed in a Guineas trial at the track earlier this month, and has stamina to prove here. One Voice brings recent stakes form to the table. She was nabbed on the line by a stablemate in Navan last week.
I will take a chance on Yaxeni. This filly comes from the in form Ger Lyons yard. She looked one to follow when winning a maiden in Cork last August. That race isn’t working out particularly well. It would be folly to use Passion, who was making her debut for Aidan O’Brien, as a yardstick.
The manner of Yaxeni’s win was so taking though. She travelled kindly before finding plenty when wound up. I think she won quite snugly in the end. The ground was soft that day. It won’t be quick on Sunday though. The extra couple of furlongs she gets here promises to suit on run style and pedigree. With proven stakes performers and some promising maiden winners in opposition, we should get reasonable odds of return. I will have a reasonable bet.
The 7f handicap could become tactical. There is a big field but not a lot of obvious pace. Beckwith Place rates the selection. Any readers who got involved with him when heavily punted at the Galway Festival last year will not thank me for reminding them about that race. Despite a brutal trip he just failed to reel in none other than Make A Challenge.
We can’t use the extraordinarily progressive Make A Challenge as a form guide. Luckily the horses in behind have since given the form some substance. Beckwith Place failed to back up that Galway run in three subsequent runs. Not ideal.
It does mean that he starts this season a mere 2lbs higher than that Galway race though. He generally races handily. That should prove useful here, and can negate his relatively wide draw in stall 12. He is still relatively lightly raced, and has a good record fresh. If his trainer can get him back to something like his Galway form then he should win this.
A 1m 1f handicap closes the card. Lightning Amber will carry my cash. She proved a reliable sort in five starts as a juvenile. She must have had a problem last season as we only saw her once. That came in a Galway handicap at the fag end of the season.
She defied notable market weakness in running a good second. That race reads like solid form. She gets to race off the same mark on Sunday. Again I struggled to find obvious early pace here. The Lightning generally races prominently. She has obvious upside off the back of just six career starts.
Her trainer had another interesting, lightly raced stablemate entered for this race. It may be significant that he has chosen to rely solely on this filly.
I will pay to find out anyway.
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