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Saturday's racing tips - 6/1 NAP can close curtain on Royal Ascot in fitting fashion

Jonathan Vine 21 Jun 2019
Cleonte (right) tries valiantly to catch Low Sun (left) and Uradel (centre) in last year's Cesarewitch.

Our expert takes a look through all of the races being staged on day five at Royal Ascot and selects a strong contender in the Queen Alexandra Stakes as his NAP of the day with Coral.

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5:35pm Queen Alexandra Stakes (Conditions Race) 2m5½f


Horses from National Hunt stables boast an excellent record in this race, so it's easy to see why Max Dynamite is the favourite. Willie Mullins' charge has taken part in huge staying handicaps all over the world, winning some big races over jumps too, but recent results suggest this likeable nine-year-old is well past his best.

Gordon Elliott has won two of the three previous runnings of this race and has a couple of arrows to fire, with last year's winner, Pallasator his most likely winner. Black Corton could strut his stuff at Royal Ascot for the first time and could mount a challenge, as could Sue Gardener’s Couer Blimey. Yet, a flat racer got the better of the jumpers in the Ascot Stakes earlier in the week and I feel the group of flat racers entered into this curtain closer are better than their National Hunt counterparts.

Coreli has been running well in big handicaps over a mile-and-a-half over the past six months and, even though this race is over a mile longer than any trip he's ever faced, John Gosden mustn't be worried about his staying ability. Lucky Deal is a hardy handicapper who shouldn't be ignored either, I just feel CLEONTE (NAP) has more class than any of his rivals on the level and boasts valuable course form to bolster his chances.

Andrew Balding's charge made the headlines during the Shergar Cup here at Ascot, edging out three rivals who all went on to win big staying handicaps later in the season. Despite that victory, Cleonte was an overlooked 25/1 shot heading into the Cesarewitch, but proved he could cut it at the highest level by finishing a very close third behind two of Willie Mullins' raiders.

On his first start of the new campaign, Cleonte finished just four lengths adrift of this week's Gold Cup runner-up, Dee Ex Bee in the Sagaro Stakes here at Ascot. Silvestre De Sousa's mount was then very well-backed heading into the Chester Cup, only to find himself too far back on testing ground as Making Miracle poured on the pressure and Cleonte was eased down late on as he finished a distant eighth.

This being a conditions race, Cleonte will carry just 9-2 into battle, despite being the second-highest rated horse in the field. Balding hasn't tasted success at this year;s Royal meeting yet, but Cleonte has the class and experience to claim victory in Ascot final race.


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Saturday's racing tips - 6/1 NAP can close curtain on Royal Ascot in fitting fashion

Our expert takes a look through all of the races being staged on day five at Royal Ascot and selects a strong contender in the Queen Alexandra Stakes as his NAP of the day with Coral.

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