1.15 Silver Royal Hunt Cup
A consolation race which has no place at this meeting, whoever introduced it should be pilloried. Maydanny made plenty of appeal and could go through the grades this season, but I see greater early pace on the stands side and he could be drawn out of things. Sir Busker produced a rare rattle to score on his Newcastle reappearance and land a few bets in the process. A 4lb rise looks fair and he gets the verdict. Zhui Feng is a former Hunt Cup winner who has slipped to a fair mark. He is not quite the force he was but went well at Newmarket on his reappearance and should be able to secure the nearside rail. He might take a bit of passing on his side.
Selection: Sir Busker, Saver: Zhui Feng
1.50 Hampton Court Stakes
Juan Elcano brings the proven class to the table here after his fine 5th in the Guineas. He had a hard race there however and had the benefit of the favoured near rail, I think he could be vulnerable. First Receiver has been specifically prepared for this contest and had an ideal prep when sluicing up in his Kempton maiden. Connections are reportedly confident of a bold showing, but he has class to prove and he looks a short enough price. Kenzai Warrior was more than 10 lengths in arrears of Juan Elcano at Newmarket and is now 3lb worse off under his Group 3 penalty, but he utterly missed the break at HQ and made up encouraging late ground to catch the eye. His small, overachieving stable have already notched a big race win this season, perhaps they can make it two.
Selection: Kenzai Warrior each-way
2.25 King George V Stakes
Always a fine race and some really exciting handicappers on show. The market is headed by two at the bottom of the weights, but having contested poor races by comparison on their seasonal reappearances, I’m not that enamoured by the claims of Kipps or Win O’Clock, as well handicapped as they doubtless are. Hukum went in many notebooks when showing a devastating late burst to win a Kempton maiden in November. The form is nothing special, but the visual appearance certainly was and this half mile step up in trip promises to extract significant further improvement. He would not have been out of place in a Derby trial and is an exciting type. Arthurian Fable ran big in a hot handicap at the Guineas meeting and shapes as if certain to appreciate the extra 2 furlongs, he looks a danger to all with that under his belt.
Selection: Hukum, Saver: Arthurian Fable
3.00 Prince of Wales Stakes
A small but select field and a great chance for Japan to post a third Group 1 success. He sauntered home in the Hardwicke last season over 12 furlongs but looks equally happy at this trip and won’t mind the forecast rain. Coolmore had a strong hand for this race and the fact he is their only chosen representative smacks of confidence. There isn’t a great deal of pace on here and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Addeybb run a big race if he gets a soft lead up front as seems likely.
3.35 Royal Hunt Cup
A good renewal of the Hunt Cup with any number of potentially well handicapped contenders. Most of the fancied horses are drawn bang in the middle but generally a rails draw is a decent advantage in these big straight course handicaps. Sheikh Hamdan has an incredibly strong hand here, but despite sporting the 2nd colours I think Montatham might be the pick of them. He hacked up at Newmarket in his prep for this and seems to have been dealt a relatively kind 8lb hike in the weights for that easy win. Still unexposed after just a handful of starts he has pace to track from his low draw and looks a big contender. Qaysar knows how to win races and caught the eye with a power packed finish over 7 furlongs at the Guineas meeting, he may still be on the up and a mile may now be his ideal trip.
Selection: Montatham, Saver: Qaysar
4.10 Windsor Castle Stakes
This looks a strong renewal of the Windsor Castle, not least owing to the presence of a brace of American contenders from Wesley Ward’s stable. The Ward runners are to be respected as this meeting as they’ve had no hold ups with training or racing on the other side of the pond, however the threat of rain is a concern for these dirt bred horses and I’d rather side with the home team on this occasion. George Boughey isn’t a name familiar to most punters, but he has made a bright start to his training career from Shalfleet Stables and could post a first Royal Ascot win with Astimegoesby. He showed a good dose of both raw speed and tenacity on his Newmarket debut in what I suspect will prove to be a very strong contest and might be suited by the drop down to the minimum trip here.
4.40 Copper Horse Handicap
There’s a few in here that I’m keen to follow this season, Fujaira Prince and Selino both catching the eye repeatedly last season and promising to improve again in 2020; but with a fitness edge a clear vote goes to Collide. He is compelled to carry top weight here with his 5lb penalty for last week’s Newcastle win, but he coasted through that race against a decent standard of opposition, winning with stacks in hand and has fully earned the extra weight. An ungelded full brother of unbeaten St.Leger winner Logician, he will presumably one day end up at stud, but he has more wins to add to his CV enroute, a Royal Ascot win would certainly stamp his card.