FINDING the winner of the 27-runner Windsor Castle Stakes (5.35pm) is no easy task as triumphs by horses priced at 100/1, 33/1, 20/1 and 14/1 in four of the last six renewals prove.
Richard Hannon and Aidan O’Brien are the obvious places to start and the former saddles four, while the master of Ballydoyle relies on just a couple of bullets. However, the bookmakers know full well where we punters start and end our searches in races of this nature, so it’s therefore no surprise that four of the six runners in question are amongst the top five in the betting. It’s clear to see why the Hannon-trained Anticipated heads the betting at 9/2 with Ladbrokes as he’s unbeaten in two starts to date including an impressive win over course and distance. He’s been chosen by stable jockey Richard Hughes over Steventon Star, but apparently there is little between the two.
The Ballydoyle pair both have similar profiles with Joseph O’Brien seemingly preferring the chances of Wilshire Boulevard, allowing Ryan Moore to step in aboard Fountain Of Youth. Both are progressive, but don’t look out and out speedballs and are short enough because of their connections.
The race hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for Hannon and as Irish raiders also have an equally bad record, it seems sensible to look further down the list for our selections.
Strike The Tiger pulled off a major shock four years ago when winning for US trainer Wesley Ward, who is back again this year with another team of speedy two year olds. Ogermeister was obviously hugely impressive on his only racecourse start to date, but this is a massive test for one so young and inexperienced.
Therefore, two that make most appeal to me at the prices are Northern-raider SLEEPER KING at around 16/1 and John Gosden’s BEN HALL at 20/1.
Kevin Ryan saddled Hototo to land this prize 12 months ago. He looks to have another really nice type in Sleeper King, who stepped up from his debut to land a decent race at Musselburgh last time.
He seemed to relish the better ground and obviously came on bundles from a bold showing at York on his debut. He’ll need to step up again, but there is every chance he’s on the upgrade and I expect him to run well.
Ben Hall is another who seemed to relish the better ground and drop to the minimum trip on his second start. The son of Bushranger may not have beaten much at Haydock last time, yet he showed plenty of speed and also looks overpriced in a wide-open contest that looks a bookmaker’s benefit.
SLEEPER KING e/w 5.35pm Ascot
BEN HALL e/w 5.35pm Ascot