As if the Wokingham Handicap were not challenging enough, the rain which changed the Ascot going from good-to-firm to borderline heavy in a matter of hours is a further complication when weighing up the biggest betting race of the Royal meeting’s final day.
King’s Lynn, in the Queen’s colours, is a slightly unexpected runner too, having finished seventh, on much quicker ground, in Tuesday’s King’s Stand Stakes. Whether he can run up to that form on this much softer going remains to be seen but 9-2 is no sort of price with so many strong alternatives available.
Fresh (5.00) could be the pick of them. He has twice run well over Saturday’s track and trip with cut in the ground, most recently when flying at the finish to pip Pendleton last month. He is 5lb better off with that rival here and is open to improvement with just nine races in the book.
Royal Ascot 2.30 Aidan O’Brien has not been firing in the winners at his usual rate this week and in-form Andrew Balding’s Masekela is an interesting alternative to likely favourite Point Lonsdale. He belied a pedigree that hints more at stamina than speed to win a six-furlong maiden first time up, recording a respectable time in the process, and could improve abruptly for this step up to seven.
Royal Ascot 3.05 Another race where the ground is a question mark for several of the principals, so Ace Aussie is an eye-catcher at around 16-1. Jessica Harrington’s colt was less than two lengths behind Poetic Flare, this week’s St James’s Palace Stakes winner, on his seasonal debut at Leopardstown. This stiff seven could be just what he needs.
Royal Ascot 3.40 Broome has come up short in five runs in Group One company to date but he was just a short head away from breaking his duck in the Tattersalls Gold Cup last time and is a stern opponent at a slightly lower level. This return to a mile-and-a-half will suit and heavy ground holds no fears.
Royal Ascot 4.20 Soft going is a big concern for Starman, who was a clear favourite for this race until the elements intervened. The connections of Glen Shiel, though, will have welcomed every drop and last year’s Champions Sprint winner, on similar going, must be a big runner at around 8-1. Dream Of Dreams, narrowly beaten in this for the last two seasons, is the obvious danger but he seems to have two ways of running at Ascot and Glen Shiel is nearly twice the price.
Royal Ascot 5.35 Highly competitive, but Foxes Tales is worth a second look with Oisin Murphy taking the reins for the first time. He was ill at ease on the track in a Derby trial at Chester last time but showed enough in his Newbury maiden to suggest that an opening mark of 93 could be generous.
Royal Ascot 6.10 Falcon Eight looked better than ever in the Chester Cup last time and a horse who was racing in Group One company four starts ago could easily outclass this field.