BILL ESDAILE PREVIEWS TOMORROW’S ROYAL ASCOT ACTION
THERE will be no Aussie invasion of Ascot tomorrow like last year with Black Caviar now happily enjoying her retirement.
The Diamond Jubilee Stakes (3.45pm) was one of the biggest stories at last year’s Royal meeting and, although there isn’t anything to get the news writers as excited this time, it promises to be a fascinating renewal.
The Aussie super mare was sent off at 1/6 12 months ago, but she gave her supporters plenty of worries in the final furlong when jockey Luke Nolen dropped his hands a few yards from the line.
Tomorrow’s event is much more open and Society Rock, the winner of this race in 2011, is the 7/2 favourite with Coral. James Fanshawe’s six-year-old is a proven Group One performer and is undoubtedly the most likely winner.
However, he’s pretty short now and he tends to win when you least expect it – his last three victories have been at 10/1, 10/1 and 25/1.
This race last year was an absolute disaster as he missed the break by about five lengths and then finished strongly to be fifth, beaten by only two lengths. His aversion to the starting stalls seems to have been solved, but that issue could resurface again and I’m just not willing to risk him at the current prices.
Gordon Lord Byron, next in the betting at 6/1 with Paddy Power, is greatly respected after his decent third behind Society Rock at York last time. He is also pretty short now, though, and I’m prepared to look elsewhere for some more value.
The Australian-trained Sea Siren is a general 8/1 shot, but she’s been beaten in her last six starts and I don’t think she’s anywhere near the best of the Aussie sprinters. I’d be happy to oppose her in a Sporting Index match bet with Gordon Lord Byron.
Maarek would be interesting at a huge price if the rain arrives. He disappointed at Cork last weekend but you can always forgive a sprinter one bad run. The best bet, though, is Jim Goldie’s HAWKEYETHENOO. Last season’s Stewards Cup winner has run some cracking races at this course in the past, including a comfortable win in the Victoria Cup two years ago.
That form is nowhere near good enough, yet we’ve seen time and again how handicap form stands up in Group One sprints in this country. My selection ran really well at York last time which should have put him cherry ripe for this and he is worth an each-way investment at 14/1 with Coral.
The opening Chesham Stakes (2.30pm) is always a competitive affair and it is very difficult to know who is top of the tree with these inexperienced two-year-olds.
Richard Hannon won the race two years running, in 2008 and 2009, and I fancy BUNKER to give him a third success in six years. This son of Hurricane Run was a ready winner of a Haydock maiden last month and he has reportedly been working very well.
There is nothing in the line-up that looks particularly worrying, although Jim Bolger’s Freedom Square may pose the biggest threat.
BUNKER 2.30pm Ascot (tomorrow)
HAWKEYETHENOO e/w 3.45pm Ascot (tomorrow)