Royal Ascot - Day Two.
15:05 Queen Mary Stakes
The Queen Mary Stakes is a Group two and is a five furlong dash for two year old fillies, and with a field of this size it will be run at breakneck speed.
Wesley Ward has a fantastic pedigree for producing top class sprinters, and he saddles the short priced favourite Happy Like A Fool in this one. He has won this race for the past two years and has been extremely bullish about the chances of Happy Like A Fool. She apparently did some excellent work at the track last week with Jamie Spencer, and came out of it really well. Ryan Moore takes the ride, and although she is plenty short enough at a current best price of 5/4, it is difficult to see past her winning.
A horse that I think could go well at a decent price, is the William Jarvis trained Mrs Gallagher. She was very game in winning her only start to date, which was a nice looking maiden in which the second, third and fifth have all subsequently been in the winners enclosure. Silvestre De Sousa takes the ride again and he is right at the top of his game at present.
15:40 Duke of Cambridge Stakes
This is the second Group 2 race of the afternoon, and it's run over a mile for four year olds and upwards.
Qemah is a horse that I really like, and this Danehill Dancer filly won here at the Royal meeting last year, winning the Coronation Stakes (a Group 1) in fine style. That was on good to soft ground however, and she is an unknown quantity on ground with firm in the description. If she does handle today's ground then she will be very hard to beat.
It was difficult not to be impressed by the John Gosden trained Laugh Out Loud last time out at Epsom, where she won a Group 3 as easily as she liked. That was over nine furlongs, but a mile is perfectly fine for her, and she looks certain to be staying on very strongly at the finish, with the excellent James Doyle on top. She is right at home on good to firm ground, and to me she definitely looks the most likely winner.
Sir Michael Stoute runs Smart Call, and ten furlongs on good to soft ground was too much for her at York in a Group 2 last time out. The drop back in trip to a mile should suit, and although it can't be taken as a given, she has the look of a horse that will relish the quicker conditions. Therefore at a current price of 8/1, she has the look of a nice bit of each way value.
16:20 Prince of Wales' Stakes
The Prince of Wales' stakes is the only Group 1 race today, being run over ten furlongs, and it has attracted an excellent looking field.
Highland Reel is a very likable horse and has a superb record. He won two Group 1's last season, here and at Epsom, and looked a very classy horse. Both of these wins were over twelve furlongs however, and he does appear more at home over that longer distance. He was beaten both times he ran over ten furlongs last year, and there remains a niggling doubt that there may be one or two too quick for him in this field, especially given his short price.
Jack Hobbs is a super horse when on his game, as he showed by winning the Irish Derby in 2015 in fine style. He does seem a little brittle however, having had just the two runs last year, and I wonder if ten furlongs on quick ground in a race as good as this one, may just find him out.
Decorated Knight, trained by Roger Charlton, is a much bigger price at 8/1 but there is a lot to like about him. He was a super winner of the Tattersalls Gold Cup (Group 1) at the Curragh last time out, and although that was on yielding ground, he has proven himself to be just as good on firmer going. I have a feeling that Andrea Atzeni will track the likely leaders Highland Reel and Scottish, and then look to swoop past them with a superior turn of foot inside the final furlong. He may prove not quite good enough to do this, but I think he his better than a 8/1 shot to do so.
Ascot 15:05 - Happy Like A Fool - 3 points win @ 5/4 (Most firms)
Ascot 15:05 - Mrs Gallagher - 1/2 point each way at 16/1 (Most firms)
Ascot 15:40 - Laugh Out Loud - 2 points win @ 3/1 (William Hill, Betfred)
Ascot 15:40 - Smart Call - 1/2 point each way @ 8/1 (Most)
Ascot 16:20 - Decorated Knight - 1 point each way @ 8/1 (Most)