How to bet £20 on the final day of Royal Ascot: Get set for a Star performance

By Andy Stephens@StevoGG
Fri 23 Jun 2017

By Andy Stephens

Several track records have been broken at Royal Ascot this week but it seems unlikely the Diamond Jubilee Stakes on Saturday will produce another because none of the 19 runners are habitual front-runners.

Nominating what will make the running is a guessing game and, as a consequence, it could be something of a messy renewal where tactics play a bigger part than usual. That is not often the case in the big sprints, which are invariably point-and-run contests determined by being on the right part of the track and luck in running.

Limato, the favourite, is still the most likely winner because last season’s brilliant July Cup hero has speed to burn and went on to finish a fine second to Mecca’s Angel in the Nunthorpe.

He will have the fast ground he favours but the worry for those supporting him at a best price of 3-1 is that he ended last year with a below-par run and began the new one with the worst effort he has ever produced. There were mitigating reasons on both occasions - he returned home with muscle injuries after flopping in Dubai last time - but his supporters are banking on Henry Candy having him back on his A-Game.

The Tin Man, who can be too keen, will be unsuited by anything other than a flat-out gallop, while it surely cannot be a coincidence that Tasleet’s best efforts have both come on softish ground at York.

Dancing Star is chalked up at 20-1 and, with doubts about several at the top of the market, looks worth an interest.

She looked destined for the top when winning the Stewards’ Cup in good style off a mark of 102 last summer and her only subsequent run - when failing to make an impact in the Sprint Cup at Haydock - can be forgiven on account of the soft ground.

The good looking daughter of Aqlaam found 5f too sharp behind Marsha on her return in the Palace House Stakes but her latest effort, when touched off in a decent Listed contest at Windsor, was much more like it.

Dancing Star needs more again here but this will have been her first serious target and, as she usually races prominently, she should be well enough positioned if nobody breaks any speed limits early on.

Dartmouth edged out Highland Reel in the Hardwicke Stakes last year and, without that tenacious rival to beat this time, is hot favourite to successfully defend his crown and give The Queen another popular success.

However, ground conditions will be very different to last year and he again looked like a horse who does nothing in a hurry when scrambling home in the Yorkshire Cup last time.

For me, he is one to take on and that goes for two others who are prominent in the market in Wings Of Desire (first run since a miserable effort at York last August) and Idaho (very easy to back and never a threat on his return in the Coronation Cup).

I can see Idaho running much better this time but Highland Reel’s little brother is no bigger than 6-1 and one who makes much more appeal is Dal Harraild, who is dismissed as a 25-1 chance by Sky Bet.

That looks way too big because he loves fast ground, is proven at the track and has a really progressive profile. He obviously has more on his plate than when romping home in a Listed race over 1m6f at York last time but, officially, he is only 7lb inferior to Dartmouth and William Haggas’s horses have been running very well this week without quite hitting the target.

The Chesham Stakes was won by a heavily-punted Aidan O’Brien challenger last year in the shape of Churchill and it may be the same story this time because the master of Ballydoyle is represented by September, who was a runaway winner on her debut at Leopardstown.

That success was achieved on softish ground in a very slow time, though, and, for those reasons alone, she has to be a swerve at 5-4 in a 16-runner race where just about all the field have shown promise or are open to improvement.

I was tempted by another Haggas runner, Learn By Heart, a 28-1 chance owned by the Queen who shaped really well on debut at Newbury but Hey Gaman could be an even stronger contender.

The latter was well touted before his debut at Leicester and traded at the minimum price of 1.01 in-running on Betfair only to get mugged on the line by another promising rival in Westerland, who again takes his chance.

Bookmakers make Westerland the shorter of the pair in the betting but Hey Gaman should turn the tables and I’d imagine James Tate, his trainer, will advise Andrea Atzeni, who rides him for the first time, to count to ten before challenging.

Impressive Chester winner Khairaat heads the market for the Wolferton Handicap but he is up 13lb in a much deeper race. Also, for a horse who many believe could be a potential Pattern performer, it is interesting that Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum’s colt has no big-race entries.

By contrast, the strong travelling Scarlet Dragon does and he will do for me at 20-1. He thrived on his racing last year, seems in his element in big fields where you get a decent gallop and is only 5lb higher than when winning a really valuable prize in great style at Newmarket in October.

The bookmakers seem to have dismissed him because he lacks a recent run and comes from one of the smaller yards, but Eve Johnson Houghton’s team have been in great fettle this term and I would imagine this has been on his agenda for a while.

I fancy the Wokingham will be won by something drawn middle to high because there looks more pace on the stands’ side plus a greater number of plausible contenders.

The one who makes most appeal is Certificate, a class act in stall 18 who looks capable of defying top weight with David Egan taking 5lb off his back.

He has some rock solid 7f efforts to his name and shaped really well in a Listed contest at Haydock on his return behind Oh This Is Us and Absolutely So, who have both subsequently franked the form by running well or winning in Group company.

The manner in which he travels in his race suggests strongly that a fast-run six furlongs will be right up his street and is drawn next to in-form front-runner Munadeb.

Egan enjoyed a big winner at Ascot in May, from only two rides at the track, and hopefully he will sit in behind Munadeb before pouncing late.

If I’m wrong about the draw and the low numbers are favoured, then Amazour and Edward Lewis come right into the equation.

Finally, if in a hole by the final race of the meeting, the Queen Alexandra Stakes, I will be hoping Qewy can get me out of it.

The Melbourne Cup fourth, runner-up in the Ascot Stakes last year, stays all day and will have fresher legs than Thomas Hobson, who was such an impressive winner at the meeting on Tuesday.

How to bet £20 on the final day of Royal Ascot:

OPTION ONE

2.30: Hey Gaman £1.50 each-way at 16-1 with bet365 and Boylesports

3.05: Scarlet Dragon £2 each-way at a general 20-1

3.40: Dal Harraild £2 each-way at 25-1 with Sky Bet

4.20: Dancing Star £1.50 each-way at a general 20-1

5.00: Certificate £2 each-way at 20-1 with Boylesports

5.35: Qewy £2 win at a general 6-1

OPTION TWO

50p each-way Lucky 15

(average odds in brackets)

3.05: Scarlet Dragon (20-1)

3.40: Dal Harraild (16-1)

4.20: Dancing Star (20-1)

5.00: Certificate (16-1)

Plus £2.50 each-way on 5.00: Certificate at 20-1 with Boylesports

OPTION THREE

17p each-way Heinz and 31p each-way accumulator

(average odds in brackets)

2.30:  Hey Gaman (16-1)

3.05: Scarlet Dragon (20-1)

3.40: Dal Harraild (16-1)

4.20:  Dancing Star (20-1)

5.00: Certificate (16-1)

5.35: Qewy (6-1)

 

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