The highly-anticipated Royal Ascot 2023 meeting concludes with a formidable day of racing. Here is my look at the three early closing races from the Saturday schedule along with my horse racing tips that stand out with two weeks left until these races are set to take place.
Artorius Targeting Pre-Ashes Win for Aussies
The first race is the 6F Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Stakes (15:40), a group 1 contest worth a guaranteed £1,000,000.
Like Tuesday’s Kings Stand Stakes this race has a real international feel about it with three Australian horses entered, an American possible, one from Hong Kong and plenty from the UK.
Highfield Princess, trained by John Quinn in Yorkshire, sets the standard for the home team but she also has an entry in the King Stand on the first day of the meeting for which she could possibly do the double as has been done several times before.
The best of the Australian trio may well turn out to be the Anthony and Sam Freedman-trained Artorius, a speedy four-year-old that raced over here last Summer showing smart form in finishing third in this race and the July Cup at Newmarket. He comes here having run twice in his native country winning a Group 1 at Randwick in March and would have to be on the shortlist.
William Haggas’s Sacred is an interesting runner who loves fast ground and will arrive in good form having won at Lingfield on his re-appearance but may find this a bit on the sharp side which may also be the case for the joint top-rated Kinross who’s yet to be seen this season and would prefer an extra furlong.
Likely to be a big field the most likely winner at this stage appears to be last year’s third, the Australian-trained Artorius.
ARTORIUS 1 point win @ 4/1 with William Hill promo code
Sir Michael Stoute the One to Back Here?
The 1m 4F Hardwicke Stakes, is a Group 2 contest that has gone to some smart horses over the years and is traditionally used as a stepping stone to the Group 1 King George and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes run over the course and distance the following month. Sir Michael Stoute has a good record in the race having won it a record 11 times and his representative is always worth looking out for.
His only entry this year round is last year’s Epsom Derby winner Desert Crown who was just run out of it in his re-appearance when going down by 1/2L to the similarly re-appearing Owen Burrows-trained Hukum in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown races. Both should step forward for that run with the extra quarter of a mile likely to benefit both. There shouldn’t be much between them with a slight preference for Desert Crown.
Charlie Appleby has been in the doldrums the past week or so with both his classic runners flopping at Epsom and he could saddle the 2021 Derby winner Adayar here who impressed when winning on his re-appearance from subsequent Group 1 winner Anmaat at Newmarket in May and if turning up here would be a danger to all.
Last year’s King George winner Pyledriver is apparently been trained for that race so we may not see him here whilst there has to be a doubt as to whether John and Thady Gosden’s smart filly Emily Upjohn takes this route. If she did she would a major player whilst her stable mate Free Wind would also have claims getting the sex allowance.
Westover was put in his place by Emily Upjohn in the Coronation Cup at Epsom on his re-appearance and has his quirks so is overlooked here.
If both Desert Crown and Hukum turn up here it will be an intriguing re-match between them although it does seem that Sir Michael Stoute’s charge is heading for the Prince Of Wales Stakes, a Group 1 on the Wednesday. Therefore their current value
HUKUM 1 point win @ 15/8 with Boylesports
Mr Wagyu Set to Step Up
The final early closing race on the last day is the 6F Wokingham Handicap betting which is most likely to have a maximum field of 28 spread across the straight course at Ascot. The draw will no doubt play a major part and with just one favourite winning (the well-backed Cape Byron) in the last ten years it pays to look at something at a nice price.
The current ante-post favourite is the Charlie Hills-trained Orazio who’s won two 6F handicaps this Spring rising some 13lb on easy ground and is a definite improver after just six runs.
William Haggas has his Montassib entered but he will be dropping in trip if taking up this engagement having shown his best form at 7F.
It’s quite rare for a three-year-old to get into the race nowadays, let alone win the race although David Evans’ Rohaan did just that two years ago, the first three-year-old since 1987. The only two three-year-olds likely to make the race are Andrew Balding’s Desert Cop and Richard Hannon’s Shouldhavebeenaring who would both hold claims if decided to take up this option.
Last year’s 4th Mr Wagyu always runs well at this time of the season and following a good third at Epsom at the Derby meeting and off of a 5lb lower mark looks the each-way value at this stage without knowing the draw.
MR WAGYU 1 point each way @ 16/1 with Bet365 bonus code (Paying top 4 places at 1/4 odds)
All odds are accurate at the time of writing.
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