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Hawk’s 2014 Royal Ascot – Day One Preview and Selections

June 17, 2014

It’s here – one of the world’s biggest racing festivals, Royal Ascot. Sadly, we’re not trackside this year, but we do get to enjoy it from the comfort of our apartment in Hong Kong.

I love doing the form for Royal Ascot, and this year particularly I’ve been following it much more closely, so hopefully we can find a winner or two.

Hong Kong punters get to bet on the first and last days this year. Local punters love a favourite so sadly we might be taking severe unders here on some horses, like Toronado and Kingman. Nevertheless, hopefully there is a split in the other races, particularly the Ascot Stakes.

Despite only being able to bet on the first and last days, I’ll put up a preview – or even just selections – each day.

Here is my preview of Day One:

GROUP 1 QUEEN ANNE STAKES (1m)

The traditional opener to Royal Ascot, it always intrigues me that what could be considered the best race is the first of 30 races over five days. Obviously, Frankel’s romp of two years ago is still fresh in our minds, but it is a race which consistently holds up.

This year’s edition may not be as strong as always, but there is a very worthy addition to the honour roll in TORONADO. This day 12 months ago, he was just beaten in a messy St James’s Palace Stakes by Dawn Approach, before turning the tables in the Sussex Stakes. He failed in the Juddmonte International Stakes, and has not been seen since. He makes his seasonal reappearance here, and can take the next step.

The two main dangers look to be SOFT FALLING RAIN and VERRAZANO. Soft Falling Rain is enigmatic but on his day, he’s a tough hardy miler who can match it with the best. I favour him slightly ahead of Verrazano, Aidan O’Brien’s former American colt who will be much improved for a first-up third in the Lockinge but, according to my American friends, lacks a bit of ticker. Watching some of his replays, that definitely seems to be the case, and if it gets into a scrap here you wouldn’t want to be on him.

Next best ANODIN, who finished a close up second to Cirrus Des Aigles last start in the Prix d’Ispahan, and MULL OF KILLOUGH.

8 – TORONADO
7 – SOFT FALLING RAIN
10 – VERRAZANO
1 – ANODIN

GROUP 2 COVENTRY STAKES (6f)

Juvenile form is tough to follow anywhere in the world, as horses can jump out of the ground and improve significantly from one start to the next, but British juvenile form seems even tougher. Still, there has to be a winner somewhere…

I was really taken with ADAAY’s two wins, but particularly his last win at Yarmouth, beating Windsor Castle Stakes runner Mind of Madness. He really quickened nicely last time out, and to me he looks to have the traits necessary to salute here. Sheikh Hamdan seems to be going through something of a resurgence at the moment, and Adaay can continue that rise.

THE WOW SIGNAL was another to catch the eye on debut, winning by nine lengths, although the second horse didn’t look to be pushed out entirely. Still, The Wow Signal looks to have an abundance of speed – just like his sire Starspangledbanner – and who knows what improvement he’ll have in him going into his second start.

Next best KOOL KOMPANY – unbeaten from three starts – and WAR ENVOY, who goes in as Aidan O’Brien’s sole entrant. Given Ballydoyle has won two of the last three editions, worth keeping an eye on.

11 – ADAAY
15 – THE WOW SIGNAL
12 – KOOL KOMPANY
16 – WAR ENVOY

GROUP 1 KING’S STAND STAKES (5f)

The King’s Stand Stakes feels a bit empty with no runners from Australia after Zoustar’s injury. In fact, it feels a bit flat with no Hong Kong runners either.

Still, there has to be a winner and I’m convinced if all goes to plan, that winner will be SHEA SHEA. He was arguably unlucky not to beat Sole Power last year, while his only other 5f run in England saw him finish a half length behind roughie Jwala in the Nunthorpe Stakes. He was slightly disappointing in the Al Quoz Sprint last start, but that can be attributed to jockey error as much as anything else. Hopefully Christophe Soumillon can atone here.

It looks a strong European three-year-old crop this year, and a lot of English racing fans are convinced HOT STREAK will be their next star sprinter. His effort in beating owner mate Pearl Secret in the Temple Stakes was solid, and he quickened very nicely with two furlongs to go. I still would prefer to be on Shea Shea at this stage of his career, but Hot Streak could easily be king this time next year.

AHTOUG really improved into the later part of his Dubai campaign, pushing Shea Shea in the Meydan Sprint before finding only Amber Sky too good in the Al Quoz Sprint. He’s yet to race since, but if he runs to that form he’ll be right there at the finish.

Next best is last year’s winner SOLE POWER, while at 50/1, I could have something small on STEPPER POINT.

8 – SHEA SHEA
16 – HOT STREAK
1 – AHTOUG
9 – SOLE POWER

GROUP 1 ST JAMES’S PALACE STAKES (1m)

A mouthwatering clash between the English and Irish 2000 Guineas winners, while the rest of the field doesn’t look too shabby either.

KINGMAN won the Greenham Stakes by almost five lengths to NIGHT OF THUNDER, which is why it was such a shock when Night of Thunder managed to turn the tables in the English 2000 Guineas. Night of Thunder hasn’t raced since, but Kingman went on to win the Irish 2000 Guineas comfortably. The English 2000 Guineas form has also been proven with third-placed Australia going on to win the Derby.

I’m expecting Kingman to prove superior today over Night of Thunder, but hopefully we might see another clash like we did last year between Dawn Approach and Toronado.

For third, I’m going to throw in OUTSTRIP at a price. He was well beaten when last in the 2000 Guineas but is a better horse than he showed on that occasion. Next best WAR COMMAND, who can get up for fourth if he brings his best.

1 – KINGMAN
2 – NIGHT OF THUNDER
3 – OUTSTRIP
6 – WAR COMMAND

ASCOT STAKES (2m 4f)

A race which has been won by a mixture of jumpers and flat horses over the years. The most notable winner in recent years is Simenon, who after a failed jumping career stamped his flat credentials with a six length win in this race.

Tough to sort them out, but going with the lightly raced AGREEMENT, who seems to have struggled as a jumper and makes his debut for John Quinn here. It’s a very open race, though, and could also entertain PERFECT HEART, who looks to be heading higher, SURAJ, who was well beaten in this race last year but seems to be coming right down in the weights, and SIR GRAHAM WADE, who last year finished third to subsequent Gold Cup winner Estimate in the Sagaro Stakes.

16 – AGREEMENT
10 – PERFECT HEART
12 – SURAJ
1 – SIR GRAHAM WADE

LISTED WINDSOR CASTLE STAKES (5f)

Assuming Adaay holds up the form in the Coventry Stakes, I’m very happy to stick with MIND OF MADNESS. He stuck to his guns gamely when Adaay raced past last start, and was only beaten three-quarters of a length. I’d be surprised if he’s not there at the finish.

The logical danger is MERDON CASTLE, who was only beaten a half length by Kool Kompany last start, but I think another danger may be MUBTAGHAA, who quickened very nicely last time out to win and who I think is improving steadily.

Next best, at big odds, is COMMANDER PATTEN, who looks a tough customer who can stick around for a place.

18 – MIND OF MADNESS
19 – MUBTAGHAA
16 – MERDON CASTLE
5 – COMMANDER PATTEN

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Trevor Hawkins permalink
    June 17, 2014 12:28 pm

    Good grief – how quickly time passes.

    • June 18, 2014 2:45 am

      Had one bet – a Double Trio, costing me HK$160 – so about AUD$20. R3, my third selection won, my fifth selection finished second (at 100/1) and my second selection finished third. In R4, tipped 1-2-3 straight out. But I made the mistake, to make it cheaper, of banking two horses in the first leg – so they had to place! Needless to say, one didn’t. If I’d been willing to pay $160 more, I would have won $132k. So AUD$20 for AUD$20k.

      Date: Tue, 17 Jun 2014 02:28:23 +0000 To: andrew.hawkins21@live.com

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