It’s the final day of Royal Ascot 2022 and to kick things off it’s the Listed Chesham Stakes (14.30), over 7f, for the juveniles.
Odds-on favourite in the build-up has been ALFRED MUNNINGS, for the Aidan O’Brien/Ryan Moore team and he looks ready made for this.
Not seen out until last month, he absolutely dotted up in a 7f Leopardstown maiden, producing a very promising effort in the process.
He looks sure to be able to build on that and the son of Dubawi is head and shoulders clear of his opponents as far as the bookmakers are concerned.
John and Thady Gosden have three of the next four in the betting, with Alzahir being the choice of Frankie Dettori. It’s not easy to rule out any of that trio, as we have little public form to go on.
However, for those not wishing to go odds-on Dark Thirty, who was a game 6f Newbury winner on debut, looks interesting at 18/1 now stepping up in trip.
At 15.05, it’s the same course and distance for the Jersey Stakes, a Group 3 for three-year-olds. Noble Truth was the easy 6l winner of a Newmarket Listed contest when last seen in April and this French Group 1 second from last year can go well. He’s a 9/2 favourite.
A firing Dubawi Legend would go very close here but since his 2l second to Native Trail in last year’s Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket, he has gone off the boil. Connections have now lowered their sights and it will be interesting if there is any market confidence behind him this time.
For a selection though, STAR GIRLS AALMAL looks to be a bit of value at 15/2. She was fourth, admittedly beaten over 6l, in the Irish 1,000 Guineas that has subsequently worked out well. That was an improved effort and this should be the sort of level where she really can have a big say.
The Hardwicke Stakes (15.40) is a Group 2 for older horses over 1m4f.
Last year’s Derby third, HURRICANE LANE, is the odds-on ‘jolly’. After that Epsom defeat, he went on to win both the Irish Derby and St Leger, while between the two he landed the Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris. He also went very close when favourite in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and has not been seen since.
Charlie Appleby’s Frankel colt has by far the best form on offer in this race and is expected to show that, with a superb record when fresh also a big positive.
It could certainly pay to look for some each-way value if you don’t want to go short and that might just come in the form of Solid Stone, who won the Group 2 Huxley Stakes over 1m2½f at Chester last month and is a consistent performer.
He’s a half-brother to the Ribblesdale second Field Of Miracles, which is run over this same C&D and he shapes as though he will get home over this far and possibly even improve a little for it. At 9/1, he looks sure to give a good account and be thereabouts.
The feature race on the final day is the Platinum Jubilee Stakes (16.20), a Group 1 over 6f.
Having run Nature Strip in Tuesday’s King’s Stand Stakes, Aussie Chris Waller has another very strong sprint contender with HOME AFFAIRS.
A three-year-old son of I Am Invincible, he has won four of his nine races Down Under and made the successful step up to the elite level when trouncing his field by 3l in last year’s Coolmore Stud Stakes (6f, good) at Flemington Park.
He returned there after a break in February and bettered that effort when dropped back to 5f, beating his aforementioned stable companion Nature Strip by a short-head. Perhaps he ran flat back at that venue in a Group 1 handicap when last seen in March but he’ll be fresh and ready for his first overseas race and looks likely to prove tough to beat.
Like Chris Waller, Wesley Ward has made the trip overseas with a select but strong team and Campanelle is a case in point.
She has a 5-8 career record and is already a dual Royal Ascot winner, having landed the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes (5f, good) as a juvenile, in 2020, before returning to win the Commonwealth Cup (6f, heavy) last year.
The latter win came after the intervention of the stewards, who considered interference by first-past-the-post Dragon Symbol to have been sufficient to cost Campanelle the win and so reversed the placings.
Beaten on her final two starts last season, she returned at Keeneland in April, winning the Listed Giant’s Causeway Stakes with ease, to get her back on track for a tilt at a Royal Ascot hat-trick. She’s a major player.
The Wokingham Stakes (17.00) remains a major conundrum for punters.
However, perhaps there may have been more light shed on it than ever this year, as the favourite Fresh has been touted in the build-up. James Fanshawe’s five-year-old was just pipped in this last year and, from 2lb higher, he looks to have a very similar chance. He wasn’t quite as good when finishing fourth here in last month’s Victoria Cup (7f) but the drop back to this 6f trip could be the key.
Last year’s winner Rohaan also returns and from 3lb lower and having Ryan Moore up, he has to be treated with plenty of respect, despite some indifferent efforts since.
However, I’m suggesting another who ran a cracker in this last year, when fifth, as an each-way play and that’s the David O’Meara-trained GULLIVER. He is just 1lb higher, often runs well in these big field sprints and is a working man’s price at 22/1.
The Golden Gates Stakes (17.35) is a 1m2f handicap for three-year-olds.
It’s no surprise that MISSED THE CUT has been put in as favourite after his demolition jobs in a Pontefract maiden and then a Salisbury novice event. He could be very well treated off a mark of 95 and I wouldn’t put anyone off if they fancy the favourite.
Phantom Flight would surely be a fair bit shorter than 11/1 is trained by one of the so-called ‘big names’ and if his handler James Horton’s runners were in a bit better form. However, if you look at his own CV, this is an improving colt who could be a bit of value.
The slam-bang finish to Royal Ascot 2022 comes in the form of the Queen Alexandra Stakes (18.10), a stamina-sapping conditions event over an extended 2m5f.
TRUESHAN bypassed Thursday’s Gold Cup to head for this and he really ought to be good enough to give favourite-backers a fabulous finale.
A high class stayer, he has won 10 of his 16 races and is handled by leading dual purpose trainer Alan King.
A stellar 2021 campaign saw him earn Group 1 wins in the Prix du Cadran and the Goodwood Cup before winding up his season with an Ascot win in the Group 2 Long Distance Cup.
He then picked up where he’d left off with a comfortable 3l success in the Listed Barry Hills Further Flight Stakes and should be spot on for this, where his penchant for a little ease in the ground may be less disadvantageous.
Wordsworth ran well over 2m here in April, in the Group 3 Sagaro Stakes and that looked like an Aidan O’Brien reconnaissance mission for a race such as this. He could be a big danger if seeing this out.
One other to mention is last year’s winner Stratum, trained by Willie Mullins. Mullins has won this race three times in the last decade and this nine-year-old, who has won in all of the three major disciplines in the sport, should not be taken lightly despite his poor effort last time out.