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Friday, 14 December, 2018

Questions answered: big views on the hot talking points

Ribchester fancied to win the Queen Anne Stakes
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Ribchester and Churchill: day-one Royal Ascot bankers or vulnerable?

Fran Berry, jockey 
Very much bankers. It’s very hard to see past Ribchester in the Queen Anne, which I think lacks strength in depth this year. His run at Newbury will have put him spot on. It will be interesting to see the Churchill/ Barney Roy rematch but I expect Churchill to confirm the form. I don’t think the ground suited him at the Curragh last time but he still won with plenty in the tank.

Peter Chapple-Hyam, trainer 
Bankers I reckon. Ribchester looks to have little to beat in the Queen Anne, in which Dave Simcock’s Lightning Spear is guaranteed to be placed but seldom wins. In the St James’s Palace, I’m a big fan of Barney Roy and the hill will help him, but the stiff mile will also play to Churchill’s strengths, and I expect him to confirm the form.

Niall O'Reilly, Betfair Sportsbook odds compiler 
I wouldn’t be wanting to weigh into either at their odds at the moment, although both obviously are the most likely winners. I’d prefer to back each-way against them with Mutakayyef looking a big price in the Queen Anne at 12-1 and Barney Roy a fair price at 11-4 in the St James’s Palace. It appeals to me as an each-way double too.

Jamie Osborne, trainer 
Churchill is vulnerable to Barney Roy if that horse relaxes better early on. The danger to Ribchester is himself – it is a stiffer mile and he needs to relax better.

David Simcock, trainer 
I’m hoping Ribchester will be vulnerable as we’ve Lightning Spear against him. Ribchester was impressive in the Lockinge but it’s unlikely he’ll get the same scenario in the Queen Anne. I’m sure Lightning Spear can get closer to him on better ground at a track that suits. Churchill is a banker. He was good at Newmarket but was more impressive when ridden less aggressively at the Curragh. 

The Prince of Wales’s Stakes looks pretty open – who’s your pick?

Fran Berry, jockey 
There’s no standout this year so I would have thought So Mi Dar represents a bit of value. She looked a quality filly last year and was a bit unlucky last time in France so I would expect there to be more to come. Although she has missed her prep I would still think she’ll be in the mix if it’s quick ground.

Peter Chapple-Hyam, trainer 
It’s an open race this year but if Jack Hobbs misses it for the Hardwicke then I would expect his stablemate So Mi Dar to take the beating. I know she’s not run yet this year but John Gosden is a master at getting fillies ready for these races, as he showed with The Fugue in the same contest a few years ago.

Niall O'Reilly, Betfair Sportsbook odds compiler 
I’ve backed So Mi Dar, who I think is still value. I think Ulysses is a poor price on what he’s achieved, while both Highland Reel and Jack Hobbs have the Hardwicke as an option, making them risky betting propositions. Either way this trip is short of their best for me. So Mi Dar looks a very likely runner with her ideal conditions so I’m happy to take her against the field.

Jamie Osborne, trainer 
I think the value is Highland Reel at 8-1. He is a proven Group 1 horse who doesn’t miss a beat and there are less question marks about him – he looks great value.

David Simcock, trainer 
There is a question mark over whether Jack Hobbs will be as effective over a mile and a quarter and while Ulysses was very good when beating Deauville at Sandown, I don’t think that’s Group 1 form. The one I like is Cloth Of Stars as he has improved this year. He seems to be able to get the job done and beat a really solid horse in Zarak last time.

Order Of St George for a Gold Cup double or can he be slain?

Fran Berry, jockey
I think he’s opposable this year. I think it’s going to be a good renewal of the race with the likes of Big Orange in there and I think the French horse Vazirabad is an exceptional stayer. I rode against him in the French St Leger last year and the turn of foot he showed to go past us was very impressive.

Peter Chapple-Hyam, trainer
My heart says Big Orange but my head says Order Of St George. I would love to see Michael Bell’s horse win it as he was most impressive at Sandown last time and he would have a chance on fast ground. Aidan [O’Brien] will have his horse spot on again no doubt but the French also could get involved so it’s looking like a great race.

Niall O'Reilly, Betfair Sportsbook odds compiler 
He’d be my idea of the banker of the week. I’d have a small interest each-way in Simple Verse, who would have a big chance if she gets the trip, although I find it hard to see anything beating the favourite.

Jamie Osborne, trainer 
I think Order Of St George is going to be tough to beat but Big Orange will give him a lead to the furlong-pole.

David Simcock, trainer 
He was impressive last year and his season revolves around this race. Last autumn he came back to Ascot for the Long Distance Cup but he’d had a hard race in the Arc. There are some who can give him a race and we’ve the great old soldier Sheikhzayedroad, who we know stays and goes on any ground. But it’ll be difficult to trouble Order Of St George.

Who do you like in the Group 1 sprints at the meeting?

Fran Berry, jockey 
I’m looking forward to seeing Lady Aurelia in the King’s Stand as she had a good comeback win. Caravaggio looks tailor-made for the Commonwealth Cup and will take all the beating. In the Diamond Jubilee, James Fanshawe’s The Tin Man has won over course and distance, something that will stand him in good stead.

Peter Chapple-Hyam, trainer 
Caravaggio will take all the beating in the Commonwealth Cup. In the King’s Stand, Frankie Dettori didn’t do a very good job of training Lady Aurelia last year so they’ve brought the proper trainer over this time and she’ll do for me. I like The Tin Man in the Diamond Jubilee as James Fanshawe’s horses were needing the run when he was second at York.

Niall O'Reilly, Betfair Sportsbook odds compiler 
That performance from Marsha at Newmarket was a huge run and she’ll be very difficult to beat for me. I can’t wait to see what Lady Aurelia does, though I’m starting to think she was flattered in the Queen Mary last year. Nothing jumps out in the Diamond Jubilee, although I’d be tempted to have a small each-way bet on Kachy at a likely big price if he shows up.

Jamie Osborne, trainer 
The Diamond Jubilee is too open to call but if Quiet Reflection flops again they will probably be asking Dougie Costello back! The Commonwealth Cup looks a match between Caravaggio and Harry Angel and I’m hoping Harry Angel wins for Lambourn. In the King’s Stand I like Marsha, trained by Sir Mark Prescott – one of the great trainers of slow horses.

David Simcock, trainer 
Lady Aurelia will grab the attention in the King’s Stand but I’ll side with Marsha. I was impressed with the way she carried a penalty to win on her comeback. If Limato gets his conditions and returns to his best he’ll have every chance in the Diamond Jubilee. I think the Commonwealth Cup will be between Blue Point and Caravaggio.

And who are your top two-year-old fancies?

Fran Berry, jockey 
I’m very much looking forward to riding Nine Below Zero in whichever race Ralph Beckett chooses to run him in. He was very impressive in carrying his penalty in a novice at Windsor last Monday, when he scored tidily. It’s not often that you can carry a penalty to such an easy win in these races and he did it exceptionally well in a race in which there were a few fancied runners.

Peter Chapple-Hyam, trainer 
I’m looking forward to seeing the Wesley Ward horses run – they add spice to the week – and I’ve been invited up to see them at the National Stud in the coming days. They tell me that McErin is a pretty big brute of a horse and he’ll take plenty of stopping in the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes.

Niall O'Reilly, Betfair Sportsbook odds compiler 
I still think the most impressive juvenile performance I’ve seen this year came from Rajasinghe at Newcastle. He’s probably not much value for the Coventry at 10-1, although I’m looking forward to seeing how he fares against horses from the bigger stables.

Jamie Osborne, trainer 
I’d fancy anything sent over by Jessie Harrington, another great trainer of slow horses.

David Simcock, trainer 
Brother Bear looks a worthy favourite for the Coventry. He has been very impressive on his two starts, winning a maiden then a Listed race on yielding. Of the fillies, I was quite taken with Ertiyad’s victory at Haydock on Thursday on ground she would have hated. She’s talented, has plenty of speed and on fast ground she’d be a live contender in the Albany.

Now the easy one . . . give us a winner or two in the handicaps

Fran Berry, jockey 
My own riding plans in the handicaps are a bit up in the air but one I would like to be sat on is Banksea in the Hunt Cup. He was most impressive when winning the Spring Cup at Newbury in April and that race has worked out a treat. Luca Cumani will no doubt have him spot on for the big day.

Peter Chapple-Hyam, trainer 
I hope to have three runners in the handicaps. Buckstay in the Wokingham, Classical Times in the Sandringham and Redicean in the King George V. They all have place chances but Redicean would need to be drawn one, two or three in his race on the round course, which must be the hardest to ride in the country if you’re drawn high.

Niall O'Reilly, Betfair Sportsbook odds compiler 
I thought Swiss Storm could be interesting in the Britannia. He was quietly fancied for the Guineas at the start of the season and at one point we had him favourite for the Greenham, so a mark of 89 could be lenient. Bravery also looks a big price in the Royal Hunt Cup at 33-1. He’ll be only 4lb higher than when beating Oh This Is Us in the Lincoln, which now looks strong form.

Jamie Osborne, trainer 
We’ve won three of these in the last ten years but sadly the plan we’d had for 50 weeks went down two weeks ago when the horse got injured. But Culturati, who won for Godolphin at Newmarket on Saturday after a long layoff, is in the Wokingham and I should think the handicapper would like to have another go at him.

David Simcock, trainer 
Amabilis in the Sandringham. She caught the eye winning at Chelmsford last time. She got a hike in the weights but was worthy of it and it guarantees her spot at the bottom of the handicap. Son Of The Stars in the Britannia. He looked pretty talented when winning his first two starts and just got beat in a handicap at Newmarket last month. It was a warm race and he’ll have learned a lot.

Ribchester looks to have little to beat in the Queen Anne

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