Royal Ascot Day 2: Selections Through the Card
Royal Ascot began with a bang yesterday and the action continues onto Wednesday with another excellent seven-race card which centres around the Group 1 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes. Check out our horse racing expert’s selections through the card on the second day of the Royal Meeting.
Love Reigns (2.30 Ascot) 10/3
Wesley Ward has landed the Queen Mary Stakes with some top-class fillies in recent years, and in LOVE REIGNS, he appears to have unearthed another superstar.
This daughter of U S Navy Flag went through the sales ring at €160,000 as a yearling, being the fifth foal out of a dam that has produced US Grade 1 winner Glorious Empire.
Sent off the 11/5F for a maiden at Keeneland back in April, Love Reigns absolutely annihilated her rivals with a superb front-running display – ultimately coasting home in splendid isolation to run out a ready nine and three quarter length winner.
That came over five and a half furlongs so dropping back slightly on this stiffer track looks a wise move, and some of these rivals could find it tough to live up with Wesley Ward’s charge from an early stage.
Yahsat looked desperately unlucky at York last time and whilst this is tougher she’s a very speedy sort who could provide the selection with the most to think about.
Eldar Eldarov (3.05 Ascot) 4/1
A tricky renewal of the Queen’s Vase is in prospect here, with the vast majority likely to have appreciated a slightly easier surface. That is a comment which could have applied to Roger Varian’s ELDAR ELDAROV, but he’s looked like a potential top-notcher in his two starts to date and is worth siding with to maintain his unbeaten record.
A hefty purchase at £480,000 for the burgeoning KHK Racing team, Eldar Eldarov is just the third foal out of All At Sea, herself a Listed winning daughter of three-time Group 1 winner Albanova.
Backed into 13/8 favouritism for a Nottingham maiden on debut in October, Eldar Eldarov justified those odds in fine style, pulling clear to score by 5l in a race that has worked out well since (second now rated 90).
Eldar Eldarov was once again well backed for a Newcastle novice on reappearance last month, and he once again landed the spoils, this time scoring a shade cosily having been merely given a wave of the whip by jockey David Egan. It was promising to see the third there, Honiton justifying favouritism at the weekend, and it was the run of a horse that will have no problem stepping up in trip.
The ‘could be anything’ horse in a field where we know plenty about the remainder, Eldar Eldarov looks the one to be with here.
Bay Bridge (3.40 Ascot) 11/8
Whilst the Japanese raider Shahryar is expected to provide the sternest opposition that BAY BRIDGE has faced, the New Bay colt has just looked an archetypal Sir Michael Stoute performer in his career to date and he can maintain his upward career trajectory with a first Group 1 success in Wednesday’s feature Prince Of Wales’s Stakes.
An unblemished 4-4 last season, culminating in a Listed victory at Newmarket, Bay Bridge improved significantly on anything he’d shown previously when running out a very impressive winner of the Group 3 Brigadier Gerard at Sandown on 4yo debut.
That performance rocketed Bay Bridge up to an official mark of 121, the highest in this lineup, and it’s notable that pilot Ryan Moore keeps the partnership intact. This really looks like his race for the taking.
Novemba (4.20 Ascot) 9/1
A wide-open renewal of the Duke Of Cambridge Stakes here. Saffron Beach hasn’t been seen since March, Mother Earth hasn’t looked at her best in two starts as a 4yo, Bashkirova is up in grade and has a quick turnaround from her recent Epsom win. Primo Bacio has been out of sorts for a while now, whilst both Kennella and Thunder Beauty look up against it at this level.
That leaves European raiders Sibila Spain and NOVEMBA, with a slight preference going to the latter, whose price is a little tough to fathom when considering that she comes out best at the weights.
Peter Schiergen’s filly burst onto the scene with an all-the-way success in the German 1000 Guineas last year, and she looked a little unfortunate not to follow up in the Coronation Stakes at this meeting afterwards, hitting a low of 1/2 in running before being reeled in late on.
That form has worked out exceptionally well since, and the heavy ground encountered that day wouldn’t have suited Novemba. She went on to finish not far behind the likes of Baaeed and Real World that season, which looks top-class form in the context of this race, and although only fifth at Baden-Baden on reappearance that run may have been needed. Likely to be able to race prominently, Novemba could be tough to peg back here.
Etonian (5.00 Ascot) 40/1
Interestingly, quite a number of horses towards the top of the market for this year’s Royal Hunt Cup are drawn low to middle, yet the likes of Excel Power (25) and Percy’s Lad (31) could ensure the pace is stand side, and if that is the case, ETONIAN looks well overpriced at his current odds.
Richard Hannon’s charge was once a high-class juvenile who had a couple of mid-100 rated rivals comfortably held in a Sandown novice on debut.
His form has admittedly nosedived since landing the Group 3 Solario Stakes at that track in August 2020, but Etonian is lightly-raced enough to bounce back and actually caught the eye on handicap/seasonal debut in Newbury’s Spring Cup.
A subsequent Group 1 Lockinge defeat is easily excused, and a weights drop leaves Etonian on a mark of 100 here, which is clearly workable on the pick of his form. Back on genuinely quick ground for the first time since his debut win, Etonian can be chanced at a huge price.
Little Big Bear (5.35 Ascot) 5/2
The Windsor Castle Stakes is admittedly never really the easiest of puzzles to decipher, but this year’s renewal could be a little different as LITTLE BIG BEAR has looked very useful in a brief career thus far.
This €320,000 yearling is really bred for a mile plus, being out of a 1m2f Listed winner, but his sire No Nay Never has evidently injected plenty of pace into this pedigree, and this colt has looked all speed so far.
After being nabbed late in a 6f Curragh maiden on debut in April, Little Big Bear dropped back to the minimum trip at Naas last month which clearly worked the oracle, with Little Big Bear streaking clear under relatively tender handling to score by 3l.
Rider Seamie Heffernan waxed lyrical about Little Big Bear after that success, and he wouldn’t have looked out of place in the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes later in the week, so should prove tough to beat in this seemingly weaker contest.
White Moonlight (6.10 Ascot) 8/1
Things didn’t go to plan for Saeed bin Suroor in last year’s Kensington Palace Stakes when his well-fancied Stunning Beauty was contentiously deemed a runner despite losing her chance at the start (blindfold removed late), but he can gain compensation in 2022 with WHITE MOONLIGHT.
This daughter of US stallion Medaglia d’Oro has a quite exceptional pedigree and she looked potentially top class in a pair of juvenile outings, building on a Kempton novice win when bolting up at Newmarket, comfortably seeing off the now 98-rated Arthurian Fable.
White Moonlight’s clearly had her issues since as she was off the track for an incredible 971 days prior to making a satisfactory reappearance when third in a Chelmsford novice just under a fortnight ago when attempting to concede 23lb to some useful 3yos.
Having travelled powerfully into that contest it shouldn’t inconvenience White Moonlight to drop back to a mile here, and an opening mark of 92 may well underestimate her. Danny Tudhope is entrusted with the ride.