Our tipster Jones Knows has five bets for Thursday at Royal Ascot. Watch every race live on Sky Sports Racing.
The Norfolk Stakes (2.30) has a very nice shape to it for an each-way attack as there are holes in the market leaders in a race that can provide a bit of a shock winner.
The Antarctic is short on what he has achieved in two wins in Ireland. This full brother to Battash – supremely talented but not exactly straightforward – has been asked to work very hard in both his wins without putting any daylight between him and his rivals.
Of course you have to respect he’s trained by Aidan O’Brien, who is working at a 48 per cent strike rate with his two-year-olds this season but he’s way too short in the market.
Of the two at the head of the betting I’d rather back Walbank in a match race as the form of his Ascot second is red hot. Yet, he doesn’t set an unreachable level of form for the field to aim at, so I’m going in double-handed with Bakeel (10/1 with Sky Bet – Bet Here!) and The Ridler (33/1 with Sky Bet – Bet Here!).
I was taken with Bakeel’s attitude at Ascot when taking the scalp of the well-backed Whistle And Flute on his debut.
He looked a very professional customer and although this race is run over the minimum trip, horses that win the Norfolk Stakes do tend to end up performing well over further in time.
Reckless Abandon, The Lir Jet, Sioux Nation and Perfect Power all went onto mark their mark over six furlongs or further.
Bakeel looks a similar type that should relish six furlongs and I’m expecting him to be flying late to get fully involved in the finish for trainer Andrew Balding who has trained three two-year-old Royal Ascot winners in the last two years.
Richard Fahey also knows how to ready one for Royal Ascot, with this race profitable for followers of his yard.
Perfect Power landed the spoils last season at 14/1 and Ventura Rebel went close when finishing second in 2019 at 16/1.
This year he relies on The Ridler, who is another who should be flying late to hopefully trouble the judge. Paul Hanagan probably left his run too late when powering home for a close-up third at Beverley in a race that wasn’t run to suit. The winner Chateaux did the form no harm by finishing fourth in the Windsor Castle on Wednesday.
Ascot’s stiff finish should be right up this horse’s street and yes, he’s still got to show the form required to be competing at this level but Fahey is a dab hand at improving his young horses run-by-run and I’m happy to take a wild price with each way stakes in mind.
My two main theories on the Britannia Stakes (5.00) – a big-field charge for three-year-old milers – revolve around backing horses that require a patient ride over the stiff Ascot track and those that are drawn middle to high, where the pace looks the hottest.
Jimi Hendrix (22/1 with Sky Bet – Bet Here!) ticks both the boxes in that regard for Ralph Beckett. He showed a tremendous late turn of pace to mow down the leaders in a decent race at Nottingham and should appreciate the stiff nature of Ascot.
Whoputfiftyofyou (6/1 with Sky Bet – Bet Here!) has been well found in the market for Clive Cox but he simply has to be backed in any staking plan on the race.
The form of his strong staying performance at Haydock has been franked already with the third Outgate winning at Chester and the second Mighty Ulysses finishing third in the Group One St James’s Palace Stakes on Tuesday.
If he’s in the same mood and gets the gaps to unleash his finishing kick then he’s going to go close.
I also want to bank on Harrow (50/1 with Sky Bet – Bet Here!) bouncing back for Balding at a monster price as there is untapped potential there back at a straight mile.
He was unsuited and had excuses at Chester and Sandown where his form nosedived at pattern level.
However, back in a handicap at a course which should suit, I’d be hopeful of him returning to his two-year-old form of his third to Modern Games in the Tattersalls Stakes at Newmarket and when beaten Ever Given at Doncaster.