Andy Stephens advised backing King's Stand winner Blue Point at 8-1 on Tuesday when his £20 column made a profit and has five fancies for Wednesday.
Cracksman is top of the bill in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot on Wednesday and if he is in the same form as the last time he ran over a mile and a quarter at the track, when trouncing the opposition in the Champion Stakes, then we could be in for an exhibition.
However, swimming against the tide can be rewarding and in my book there are enough negatives to take on the supposed odds-on “good thing” on day two of the meeting.
The only race I will not be having a bet on is the Queen’s Vase, which tied me up in knots, although there is still time for me to be seduced by the potential of Steam The Stars. Here goes:
2.30 Royal Ascot: Kurious each-way at a general 16-1
I love Wesley Ward’s forthright views and he clearly believes Chelsea Cloisters is going to provide him with a fourth Queen Mary triumph.
However, she’s defensively priced up, at about 9-4, and remember Ward was similarly confident about his seven juveniles last year - and they ended up finishing 0602700, with all bar one going off at a single-figure odds.
Happy Like A Fool started 10-11 for the Queen Mary and fared best of the Ward raiders, but she was no match for Heartache.
History might just repeat itself because the speedily bred Kurious, who runs in the same silks as Heartache, created quite an impression when zipping home on her debut at Sandown this month.
Timeform observed that her trainer, Henry Candy, has had just five previous winning juvenile debutants in the past five seasons. They include subsequent Group One winners Limato and Twilight Son, plus another of them won a fillies' Listed race on her second start.
3.40 Royal Ascot: Arabian Hope at 12-1
Hydrangea, the general 7-4 favourite, seems bound to be sharper for her reappearance run but it is curious to see her sticking to a mile, given her best efforts have been up to a mile and a half.
Also, had she been flying at home, she would surely have taken her chance in a Prince of Wales’s Stakes that lacks depth, having still been entered at the five-day stage. Aljazzi, runner-up last year, may well be the one to take advantage but she‘s no bigger than 5-1 and, at the prices on offer, Arabian Hope makes more appeal at 12-1.
Saeed Bin Suroor’s filly is unlikely to lack for fitness, despite having been off more than eight months, and she has her optimum conditions - a straight mile and decent ground.
She chalked up four wins last term but her best effort was when a close third behind Roly Poly and Wuheida in the Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket. A repeat of that effort will put her bang in the picture.
This revolves around Cracksman, but there are enough doubts to take him on even after John Gosden and Frankie Dettori dominated day one.
He was at least a stone below his best when all out to beat the 110-rated Salouen at Epsom last time and, even if you accept the various excuses made afterwards, he is reappearing pretty quickly given how hard he had to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
My other concern is that he hits the ground hard and this will probably be the quickest ground he has encountered. Treve and A Shin Hikari have been turned over at odds-on in the race in recent years, too, so let’s examine the alternatives.
Eminent and Hawkbill ran way below-par last time. The former’s best efforts remain when dictating the gallop, while Charlie Appleby has already said the latter, blinkered for the first time, will be ridden positively. Even if both are back in good heart, they may compromise the chance of each other.
Poet’s Word seems honest enough but he lacks a bit of wow factor and 7-2 looks plenty short enough; Cliffs Of Moher has not gone on since finishing runner-up in the Derby and Royal Julius simply looks out of his depth.
That leaves us with Desert Encounter and, in the circumstances, last year’s Coral-Eclipse third - when he finished ahead of Cliffs Of Moher and Eminent - looks well worth a play at 50-1.
Habitually held up, I can see Jamie Spencer riding him to pick up some pieces late on but, with a strong pace on the cards and several of his rivals having questions to answer, the race might just fall into his lap.
He has his optimum conditions, boasts winning form at the track and should be spot-on after his encouraging third to Poet’s Word in the Brigadier Gerard last time. And, like they say, you should never be afraid of one - even if that one is Cracksman.
5.00 Royal Ascot: Raising Sand at 25-1 with Bet365
You can, as usual, make a case for plenty in the Royal Hunt Cup but I’m surprised Raising Sand is as big as 25-1.
His trainer, Jamie Osborne, won with a similar sort in Field Of Dream in 2014 and I like the fact that Jamie Spencer will be on the six-year-old’s back for the first time.
Spencer won the Royal Hunt Cup aboard Cesare in 2006 and still has few peers in these big-field handicaps, as he showed at the meeting last year when he guided Con Te Partiro (25-1) and Bless Him (20-1) to victory.
Raising Sand is already a two-time winner over a mile at Ascot and has run other cracking races in defeat at the track, with an end-to-end gallop and plenty of cover suiting him ideally. He was considerately handled when down the field on his return in the Victoria Cup but it should have blown away a few cobwebs and this almost certainly represents his Cup final for the year.
5.35 Royal Ascot: Tabdeed at 20-1 with with BetVictor and Coral
Emaraaty looks the right favourite after being touched off at Goodwood last time off a mark of 109 and I’ll probably look to have a small saver on the Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned colt at the 5-1 available.
The one who jumps off the page at the prices, though is Sheikh Hamdan’s “second string” Tabdeed, who looks well worth a play at 20-1.
He looked a smart prospect when beating the more experienced Yafta (now rated 105) by more than two lengths on his debut over 6f at Leicester in August and confirmed that impression when bolting up on his return under Dane O’Neill at Nottingham.
The step up to seven furlongs seems certain to suit - he’s been strong at the finish of his races and his dam is closely related to Derby runner-up Walk In The Park - and O’Neill should fancy his chances of a first win at the meeting since Muhaarar demolished his Commonwealth Cup rivals in 2015.
For what it is worth, Adaay was Sheikh Hamdan’s perceived first string that day.
Andy Stephens' How to bet £20 on day two of Royal Ascot:
2.30 Royal Ascot Kurious: £2 each-way at a general 16-1
3.40 Royal Ascot Arabian Hope: £2 win at a general 12-1
4.20 Royal Ascot Desert Encounter: £2 win and £1.50 each-way at a general 50-1
5.00 Royal Ascot Raising Sand: £2 each-way at 25-1 with Bet365
5.30 Royal Ascot Tabdeed: £2 win and £1.50 each-way at 20-1 with with BetVictor and Coral
The five selections in Option One in a 30p each-way Lucky 31 plus a 20p Win Patent on:
2.30 Kurious (16-1)
3.40 Arabian Hope (12-1)
5.30 Tabdeed (20-1)