IT IS the calm before the storm this weekend as the racing world readies itself for Royal Ascot – five days of the best Flat racing in the world and featuring an incredible 18 Group races.
Preparation for the Berkshire phenomenon means tomorrow’s racing isn’t as strong as in previous weeks, but there are still some competitive looking races.
It’s COPPER KNIGHT, at 5/1 with 188BET, that has me excited in the Scurry Stakes (2.40pm) at Sandown, having seen the three-year-old make a phenomenal start to his career with Tim Easterby.
Formerly with Hugo Palmer, the son of Sir Prancealot has really impressed since being gelded and switching stables, winning his last two in style.
Those victories came over the minimum trip at Chester and York and there is reason to believe he has enough speed to overcome a poor draw in stall eight.
Fashion Queen is the obvious danger, having caused a shock when beating Brian The Snail and Ardad last time out, but that race fell apart and I think she was flattered.
BATTERED looks a typical William Haggas improver following a decisive win at York last month and I’ll be backing him to land the Randox Handicap (3.15pm).
He was beaten just over a length into fourth at Lingfield two weeks previous and there’s every reason to believe he will improve again, with the booking of Ryan Moore a positive.
Love Dreams could be a tough nut to crack having won his previous two starts at Pontefract and Hamilton. However, it’s his first appearance on the track in almost a year and that’s enough to put me off.
York’s June meeting gets underway today and all for a good cause too, with the two-day event labelled the biggest charity race meet in Britain.
In a bid to make sure it’s not the bookmakers who end up with the handsome donations, I’m putting up a pair of Hugo Palmer-trained horses who look ready to strike.
First up is MAZYOUN, who looks dangerous off bottom-weight in tomorrow’s seven-furlong handicap (2.20pm).
Palmer obviously thinks a fair bit of this horse, having thrown him into a maiden at Glorious Goodwood on his debut before progressing to finish second and third in highly valuable races at Doncaster and Redcar.
It’s been a slow start to his three-year-old career so far, with the son of Mayson unable to get among the places in any of his three starts this year, but there’s reason to believe that will change.
Palmer’s yard was a little bit cold in May, but a few winners this month suggests things are ticking again and Mazyoun is well-handicapped to pounce.
With the stable’s horses really finding their form, GULLIVER is another who could be about to recapture some of his two-year-old form in the Macmillan Charity Handicap (3.30pm).
He finished fourth to Group-placed sprinter Global Applause on debut over five furlongs at Sandown and went on to land a decent maiden at this track over six in October.
I’m happy to put a line through his last in the Craven Stakes, where he clearly didn’t get the strongly run mile, and he showed glimpses of a return to form when fourth at Windsor last time out.
That run will have put him spot on for this and he looks huge each-way value at 16/1.
Mazyoun e/w 2.20pm York
Copper Knight 2.40pm Sandown
Battered 3.15pm Sandown
Gulliver e/w 3.30pm York