Steve Hughes has selections for five races on the final day of Royal Ascot
A cracking finish in prospect to Royal Ascot, both with the weather and with a brilliant card, highlighted by the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes. I have suggestions for the final five races. Baghdad gave us a return on Friday by winning the last (advised 5/1).
Ascot 3.05: Urban Icon
A horse that has impressed me all season, but without winning can finally gain his just desserts here in Urban Icon.
Prepared for the 2000 Guineas, he was a good third on unsuitably soft ground at Newbury in his trial. He was then drawn on the wrong side for the big day itself at Newmarket when only eighth.
A mile possibly stretches his stamina and he again ran a cracker when just touched off by Space Blues at Epsom last time. A really good mover, this more conventional and straight track can see him turn the tables on that rival.
Ascot 3.40: Defoe
A quietly progressive gelding, Defoe landed his first Group 1 in the Coronation Cup at Epsom and the conditions of this Group 2 race means he escapes a penalty.
At his best previously with give in the ground, that Epsom win showed he handles sound conditions no problem, though the rain during the first half of the week will ensure there is no sting in the ground here. He has an excellent career win record of 8-17.
I expect this race to be run at a strong pace with the likes of Communique and Salouen in the field, and this should suit this hold up performer ideally.
Ascot 4.20: City Light & Lim’s Cruiser
This race is traditionally the most international of the whole meeting and two foreign raiders have attracted my attention here.
City Light was touched off by the narrowest possible margin in this last year by Merchant Navy and bids to make amends this time around. He is often slowly away, but provided he gets away reasonably in touch, a slow start might even be an advantage given Bound for Nowhere will surely blaze a trail just like last season. A flat out 6f is just what City Light wants, and something he rarely gets in his native France, hence his moderate win record. When he was fifth in the 6/1f Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville last season he tanked for most of the race before tiring, so he is definitely Group 1 quality, but needs the strong pace he will get here to show it.
Lim’s Cruiser is worth a small shot at a huge price. This Singapore challenger is being ignored by bookies, but that might just be a mistake. He is a hold up horse who won the 2018 Lion City Cup in his home county with a storming finish and just failed to follow up this year on his most recent start. He rarely gets to run on a straight 6f in Asia, but his natural running style ought to be perfectly suited to this track and I am sure he is better than his odds suggest.
Ascot 5.00: Bacchus, Spring Loaded & Summerghand
Three against the field for the Wokingham.
I am going to back last year’s winner Bacchus who bids to do exactly what he did in 2018 and that is win first time out. That was a deliberate tactic by connections last year, and was the plan again this year too. Indeed he won first time out in 2017 as well. From only a 3lb higher mark he has every chance of a repeat especially as he only has to concede 13lbs even to the bottom weight.
Spring Loaded would be my first choice in the race. He holds no secrets from the handicapper but has been meticulously aimed for this by small trainer Paul D’Arcy. He would not have been fully wound up for his run at Windsor last month, but this race is clearly his target. He was a fair ninth last year on what was his seasonal debut, but then won a valuable 5f pot here next time. A former Portland winner at Doncaster, he has been dropped a few pounds for defeats in unsuitable races and the booking of top claimer Dylan Hogan means he is actually well handicapped today.
Summerghand has been steadily improving and this 5yo may have more to offer yet. A prolific winner in lower grades, he favoured soft ground in the past, so two fine second places on fast ground this spring are worthy of merit. Trainer David O’Meara has his yard in much better form that last season, he is well drawn and jockey Danny Tudhope has been riding this straight track superbly this week.
Ascot 5.35: Corelli
This has been Frankie Dettori’s week and Corelli can finish the week in the perfect style for the Italian.
This race represents a huge step up in trip for the 4yo who has yet to race beyond 12f. However he has shaped like a stayer throughout his entire short career. He kept going strongly off his own fast tempo when just touched off by Baghdad on his return at Newmarket last month, form that read well after that horse won here yesterday.
He was winning over 12f last spring as a 3yo at Yarmouth on was galloping on strongly into third in Lingfield’s Derby trial last year. Frankie rides this track so well that he could coax that bit of improvement needed and it would be no surprise to see him wait in front and ride the others to sleep.
1pt each-way – Urban Icon – 3.05 Ascot – 9/1 general (most bookies 1/5 odds 1st 4)
1pt win – Defoe – 3.40 Ascot – 3/1 general
0.75pts each-way – City Light – 4.20 Ascot – 9/1 BetVictor (1/5 odds 1st 4)
0.5pts each-way – Lim’s Cruiser – 4.20 Ascot – 80/1 general (most bookies 1/5 odds 1st 4)
1pt win – Bacchus – 5.00 Ascot – 22/1 William Hill, BetVictor
1pt each-way – Spring Loaded – 5.00 Ascot – 16/1 Ladbrokes, Coral (1/5 odds 1st 6)
0.5pts each-way – Summerghand – 5.00 Ascot – 18/1 William Hill (1/5 odds 1st 5)
1pt each-way – Corelli – 5.35 Ascot – 5/1 general (Paddy Power 1/5 odds 1st 4)