Royal Ascot isn’t really the place to go hunting for doubles and trebles but, frankly, we couldn’t resist the prospect of a large return for a small outlay. We have, however, listened to our inner voice and included singles this week, just so a decent-priced winner doesn’t go unbacked.
In the Duke of Cambridge Stakes (3.40), we like Usherette, whose sole defeat in six career starts came in the Prix Rothschild at Deauville last August. Andre Fabre’s filly reversed that form with Amazing Maria when staying on well to beat Arabian Queen in the Dahlia Stakes, over 1 mile furlong, on the Rowley Mile Course at Newmarket on May Day and a repeat performance could be good enough.
In the Royal Hunt Cup (5.00), Portage won over course and distance on soft going last summer and, although 15lb higher in the weights this time, subsequently ran creditably in defeat off his revised mark in the Irish Cambridgeshire at the Curragh and the Cambridgeshire proper at Newmarket. He proved his well-being when winning a Listed race, over 1 mile 2 furlongs, at the Curragh on his reappearance 11 days ago. A 5lb penalty for that success makes life more difficult, of course, but he hasn’t done much racing for a four-year-old and may still be open to improvement.
In the Sandringham Handicap (5.35), Persuasive won at Chelmsford two weeks ago in the style of a rapidly improving filly and can maintain her 100% record. The daughter of Dark Angel takes another step up in class off an 8lb higher mark, but she still falls into the ‘could be anything’ category after just three starts and could easily be up to the task.
Her sole turf win came on good going but if, like many of the progeny of Dark Angel, she is fully effective on soft ground, she must take some beating.
Selections: Ascot 3.40 Usherette, Ascot 5.00 Portage, Ascot 5.35 Persuasive, 1-point Win Patent