Angus McNae
Angus McNae's Racing UK Blog
Saturday 14th June 2014

Racing UK

Five to Lay During Royal Ascot

With Royal Ascot on the horizon, I am busy formulating a few strategies for the week. Firstly, I need to make sure the top hat and tails are ready for ’s first broadcast from the Berkshire course on Tuesday.

The button holes need to be bought, and plenty of research needs to be done to find a few winners to keep us going here on the blog throughout the week.

As with Cheltenham, my initial thoughts are with finding a few horses to oppose at short prices.

The task is a tougher one than at the Festival, and I could end up with good deal of egg on my face but this game is about opinions and not sitting on the fence.

Queen Anne Stakes – Tuesday:

The opening race of the week is the Queen Anne Stakes and I will dip into the place market to lay Soft Falling Rain at around 2-1. The last time he ran at Ascot, admittedly on soft ground, he was trounced by Olympic Glory. Faster ground will suit him better but there are negative vibes flowing from the Mike De Kock team who have publicly said his preparation has not been ideal.

Last year after his successful campaign in Dubai he returned to action after a lay off at Newbury, where he finished second to Gregorian. He clearly needed that run after his break and it put him spot on for his next race, which he won at Newmarket. This time around he has also had a good time of it in Dubai, but with an interrupted preparation I expect a similarly rusty return to action in the UK. This being the case, in a very strong race he must be opposed in the place market.

There will be another day for Soft Falling Rain.

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St James’ Palace Stakes – Wednesday:

I am going to look at laying Kingman in the St James’ Palace Stakes. I’m going to apply minimal stakes because I am aware of just how much raw talent this horse has got. That talent is in my opinion allied to good ground or softer. He was sensational in the Irish Guineas on really soft ground, but however well the English Guineas is working out, he was not so good at Newmarket on decent ground. Equally, he was far from impressive on fast ground in the Solario Stakes at Sandown on quick ground.

He is a lay purely on the basis of the going and also because I fancy War Command to run a huge race. He does like fast ground, and most importantly he likes Ascot and he will give Kingman plenty to do under the conditions.

Of course I can see Kingman winning but with the sun high in the sky at the moment 6-5 looks a little short.

Prince Of Wales’ Stakes – Wednesday:

I think there is some mileage in opposing Treve here.

Don't get me wrong, I love this filly. I have visited her in Chantilly on two occasions while filming for Planet Turf and she is a class act.

There are a few reasons to oppose her on this occasion at odds of 8-11. I know that connections are not concerned about the ground, but surely fast going is going to mitigate her chances slightly – which might be just enough at odds-on.

She is by Motivator, whose progeny like cut in the ground, and her best performances have come on easy ground in France. She has also been trained differently this year and I am not sure her regime has suited her. Last year, she was brought along steadily all year peaking when winning the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe.

This year there appears to have been much more focus on readying her for her first race, which she lost out to Cirrus Des Aigles in the Prix Ganay. Fillies do not always respond well to being rushed, or indeed having hard races, and her response on Wednesday will be interesting.

I think 10-furlongs on fast ground will not suit her. She is a 12-furlong superstar on easy going. Thus, at the price of 8/11 there are reasons to oppose her, and if she wins, the damage will be minimal.

Ascot Gold Cup - Thursday:

Leading Light is too short at 7-4 in the Ascot Gold Cup. I am opposing him on the basis of the race being a deep renewal with a case to be made for the majority of the field.

Last year’s winner Estimate, the talented Brown Panther, the progressive Tac De Boistron and Champions Day winner Royal Diamond are just some horses who Leading Light will have to fend off.

In short, if you lay him at 7-4 you have got plenty running for you. He is also on the drift and was 6-4 a few days ago. He could easily go off at 11/4 or 3/1 providing us with a nice trading position.

Diamond Jubilee Stakes - Saturday:

Once again, the ground features as a major reason for my next lay and this time I am venturing into the place market to oppose Slade Power.

He is currently the 6-1 favourite. He ran in this race last year on fast ground and finished 7th to Lethal Force. If you look through his form, it is quite clear that he is much better on soft ground. He won the Qipco British Champions Sprint last October at Ascot, but that was on soft ground. Recently he won a Group Three at the Curragh on soft ground. He does have form on good ground and did finish third in the July Cup last year on a fast Newmarket surface, but he is much better with ease n the going. He could definitely finish out of the frame, which is why at that level I want to get stuck into him in the place market on the exchanges.

Those are some early thoughts on a few to be against at Royal Ascot. My day one Royal Ascot piece will be with you next week and I want to kick off the meeting with a strong 11-1 selection.