Top tipster Simon Rowlands has two selections on Wednesday at Royal Ascot, live on Sky Sports Racing, as the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes takes centre stage.
Following the red-hot competition of the opening day at Royal Ascot, Wednesday’s card boasts quantity to go with the quality in most areas.
The Group One Prince of Wales’s Stakes (3.40) is the feature, for which there is a select field of five, including raiders from Japan, Ireland and France.
Japan has been doing well on the international stage in recent times and is represented by last year’s Japanese Derby winner Shahryar, who also won the Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan last time in a bunched finish.
Shahryar is good, just not a superstar, and he also has to cope with the shortest distance he has encountered in over a year here, on a firm surface and with the possibility of a steady pace.
Ireland is represented by globetrotting State of Rest, winner at the top level in the US, Australia and France before finishing a slightly unlucky third to Alenquer in the Tattersalls Gold Cup back on home soil at the Curragh last time. Again, though, he appears to be good rather than exceptional.
Grand Glory, the sole female in the field, is flying the flag for France. She won a Group One in her native country last year but is perhaps better reflected right now by ready victories this season in a listed race and a Group Three.
I have just one of the five rated above 120 and up to the standard usually required to win this prestigious contest. That is not the 2020 winner Lord North (who was one place behind State of Rest at the Curragh and is seemingly not quite as good as he was), but Bay Bridge, who comes here on a roll of five successive wins, the latest in scintillating fashion in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown.
He crushed the smart Mostahdaf by five lengths that day, running some eye-watering late splits, including a sub-25 second last quarter of a mile that was almost 10 lengths quicker than par for the circumstances. I initially wondered if Bay Bridge really was value for all of his wins: he was, and quite a bit more besides, too!
There might have been a slight doubt on the ground with Bay Bridge, but official descriptions are not always accurate, and times suggest his last two wins have come on “good” and something a shade faster than that.
Bay Bridge can go from near the front, and he can come from behind. The common theme is that he keeps on winning, and that Sandown effort shows he is more than ready for this challenge. Any odds against is worth an interest.
Looking for each-way value in Hunt Cup
The Group Two’s look trickier. I backed Katey Kontent ante-post for the Queen Mary (2.30) on the back of a surprisingly good time performance when winning at Windsor last time, but am hopeful rather than confident now that 21 have been declared and she and US hotpot Love Reigns have been drawn alongside each other in stalls six and five.
The dozen runners in the Queen’s Vase (3.05) look much of a muchness on what they have achieved to date, and with considerable uncertainty regarding which of them will, or will not, be suited by stepping up to an extended 14 furlongs with a sharp bend shortly after the race start.
Saffron Beach would be the likeliest winner of the Duke of Cambridge Stakes (4.20) were it not that she carries a 5lb penalty, while the obvious alternative, Mother Earth, ran uncharacteristically poorly last time. No bet.
You are likely to need a fair amount of luck to go close in the Royal Hunt Cup (5.00), and I would not be backing anything at a shorter price. Rebel Territory looks worth a small each-way punt at bigger, however, after his win on that same Sandown card as Bay Bridge and in a notably useful overall time.
He gets a 5lb penalty, but that looks scarcely enough given that he accounted for a well-handicapped rival in Ouzo, the pair several lengths clear. There are others with quite strong claims in a field of 30, but arguably none with stronger.
The nicely progressive Rebel Territory goes from stall 19 and can be expected to arrive on the scene later than most, if he gets the gaps.
The Windsor Castle Stakes (5.35) could be draw/pace-dependent, given there are 24 youngsters declared in it at various stages of development. Little Big Bear (drawn in two) is probably the “right” favourite but a few others are not far behind him on form. I intend keeping my powder dry.
Simon Rowlands’ selections
3.40 Royal Ascot – BAY BRIDGE (2pts win)
5.00 Royal Ascot – REBEL TERRITORY (0.5pt each-way)