It could be worth taking a chance on the Richard Hannon-trained FOX CHAMPION in the Coventry Stakes (Royal Ascot 3.05), despite the son of Kodiac tasting defeat at Doncaster on his sole start. He went down by a nose after starting as the favourite that day but travelled supremely well and was just worried out of it by an experienced rival. The front two pulled six lengths clear of the third and even-money favourite New Winds, last of the five runners, won at [HaydockDoncaster on his next start.
Backing Hannon-trained juveniles second-time out, who were beaten on their debuts after starting as the favourite or second favourite, would have found 29 winners from 82 runners since 2015 (25% strike-rate) for a profit of £63.40 to a £1 level stake at SP (+£95.02 at Betfair SP).
I’m also going to back BLOWN BY WIND (stall 13 of 24), who is likely to cut out the running down the middle of the track. He won at Windsor on his debut despite running green and then perhaps found the race coming too soon when runner-up under a penalty at the same venue a fortnight later. He returned to winning ways over 5f here at Ascot before running well from a poor wide draw in the Listed National Stakes at Sandown. The step up to 6f will suit.
MABS CROSS (stall 8 of 14) will appreciate the very strong pace in the King’s Stand Stakes (3.40) and can cause an upset. The Michael Dods-trained filly has never finished out of the frame since her debut, recording form figures of 31111214 (5-8) and was less than a length behind Battaash at Haydock after her typical tardy start.
The 2m4f Ascot Stakes (5.00) has gone to Ireland in five of the last six years and three of the last six winners carried top weight of 9-10. Seven of the last nine winners had won on their most recent Flat outing, even if they had been mostly campaigned over jumps in recent years. Draw-wise, it has been an advantage to race wide of the inside rail on the round course here of late, with those drawn in stalls 1, 2, 3 or 4 in handicaps of 13+ runners winning just once from 84 starts over 1m2f+ since 2014.
The Willie Mullins-trained Whiskey Sour, runner-up in a Grade 1 novice hurdle at the Punchestown festival last time, is the obvious starting point. That run took his record for his current yard to 11114342 (4-8) but he’s not the biggest to be carrying top weight in such a demanding race.
John Quinn’s Look My Way (stall 14 of 20) won the Chester Plate (the consolation race for the Chester Cup) last-time out despite a tricky wide draw in stall 11. Several of the other high-drawn runners in that race have performed with credit since – seventh-home Euchen Glen (stall 14) was a close third at Haydock next time, 11th-placed Good Tradition was second over hurdles and 15th-placed Dominating was just touched off at Carlisle the other day. Look My Way now has form figures of 212831 (2-6) for his current yard, with the sole unplaced effort excusable as he was badly hampered when eighth of 22 in the Fred Winter. However, he hung badly to the left when winning over hurdles at right-handed Ludlow in January and his connections have kept him to left-handed tracks since. That tempers confidence slightly but he’s still worth a small bet.
Of more interest is COEUR DE LION (stall 10), who was second by a neck to Look My Way from a difficult draw in stall 12 at Chester when fitted with cheekpieces for the first time. Alan King has won with 15 of his 66 Flat runners over 1m3f or further this year (23% strike-rate), with those that finished in the first three on their latest outing weighing in with nine winners from 22 runners (41% strike-rate) for a profit of £10.85 to a £1 level stake at SP.
AUTOCRATIC has been called some names but probably just needs an end-to-end gallop and can be backed in the Listed Wolferton Stakes (5.35). His big-field record on fast turf or Polytrack reads 212 (1-3).
Fox Champion – Ascot 3.05 (0.5pts each-way, 40-1 Bet365 (1/4 1,2,3,4)), 40-1 Betfair Sportsbook (1/5, 1,2,3,4)
Blown By Wind – Ascot 3.05 (0.5pts each-way, 40-1 generally)
Mabs Cross – Ascot 3.40 (1pt each-way, 18-1 generally)
Coeur De Lion – Ascot 5.00 (1pt each-way, 7-1 Bet365, 13-2 generally)
Look My Way – Ascot 5.00 (0.5pts each-way, 18-1 Betfair/Paddy Power, 16-1 generally)
Autocratic – Ascot 5.35 (0.5pts each-way, 18-1 generally)