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ITV Racing Tips – Royal Ascot Day 5 Selections For Saturday

Royal Ascot concludes on Saturday, with another seven races of competitive action, all of which will be screened live on ITV. GG editor Joe Napier picks out four big fancies across the card to get stuck into.

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3.05 Royal Ascot – Hardwicke Stakes

One of three races in which Aidan O’Brien sends out a strong favourite. Continuous showed significant improvement in the second half of last season, winning the St Leger and finishing fifth in the Arc, so has to be enormously respected as a potential Group 1 prospect over this 1m4f trip now. However, he took some time to warm up last season, including when relatively well-held at this meeting a year ago, and is opposable after 265 days off.

The selection against him is CANDLEFORD, whose three runs over course and distance have seen a second past the post (disqualified for jockey weighing in light) when clearly not the finished article at three, a wide-margin winner of the Duke Of Edinburgh two years ago, and a close third in the Group 3 Cumberland Lodge Stakes at the end of that season.

Since then, he has kept improving with age, winning Listed honours at Windsor last season, and doing so again when conceding weight all-round for a successful raid at the Curragh last month. The runner-up looks a progressive filly who has won a Group 3 since, so that form looks useful and he may be capable of even better back at this track.

Hardwicke Stakes (Group 2)
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3.45 Royal Ascot – Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Stakes

Khaadem provided an 80/1 bolt from the blue last season, but the same connections also have MITBAAHY representing them this year, and it is the younger horse who gets the verdict to do the business for Charlie Hills and Jamie Spencer this time around.

This is a very open renewal of this Group 1 and the son of Profitable may be peaking at just the right time to take advantage. He was eighth in the 5f King’s Stand last season, but the balance of his form in the last two seasons suggests 6f is now what he wants, as exemplified when he belted home from miles back to win the Group 2 Greenlands Stakes at the Curragh last time out.

He had previously come up narrowly short twice at Newmarket this season, but that track does not traditionally suit hold-up horses, whereas Spencer knows exactly how to navigate a passage from the rear at Ascot. Expect him to be played late, but successfully, to give Mrs Fitri Hay back-to-back wins in this contest.

Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Stakes (Group 1) (British Champions Series)

4.25 Royal Ascot – Jersey Stakes

River Tiber and Haatem are by far the likeliest winners and set a formidable standard in this Group 3 after chasing St James’s Palace winner Rosallion home in the Irish 2,000 Guineas. The former gets 3lb from the latter due to Haatem’s win in the Group 3 Craven Stakes prior to the Classics, but they are skinny enough in a big field in which a dangerous, unexposed type could well be lurking.

The most obvious of those profiles belongs to NEVER SO BRAVE, who has a stone to find on form so far, but has run in four good races, winning two and finishing second twice. Those runner-up efforts came as a juvenile when he twice chased home winners in novice and maiden company who would win Group 1s by the season’s end (Ancient Wisdom and Vandeek), while he has put those defeats behind him at three, breaking his duck at Thirsk in routine fashion before an easy handicap success off 94 at Chester.

The second that day was last next time out but that can be excused on account of soft ground and a wide draw at Chester, and the form can therefore be viewed positively via the third, who has won since. Sir Michael Stoute’s charge is almost certainly a Group horse waiting to happen and while the stable’s top horses sometimes take a while to develop, Never So Brave does not look like he will have to wait long to feature highly at this level.

Jersey Stakes (Group 3)
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5.40 Royal Ascot – Golden Gates Stakes

Hand Of God is an unusually short price here, as although a 3lb rise for his latest win at Sandown is lenient enough, the form is distinctly questionable even if 1m2f should suit. This is therefore a good race for value.

I expect there may be money around for PALACE GREEN in advance of the off, with Richard Hughes’ charge impressing in both starts so far this term. He was an extremely well-supported favourite at Kempton when blowing away his rivals by five lengths to get off the mark. The fourth, beaten 9 ½ lengths off level weights, has won since and is now rated 85, making Palace Green’s mark of 90 here look appealing.

He also sprinted into contention on his most recent run at York as if he was all over the winner, only to fade badly late on over that 1m4f trip. That handicap had been won in the previous two renewals by horses who went on to Group 2 and Listed wins respectively, and while he only finished third, he should be capable of a lot better back at 1m2f and could develop into a similarly talented performer.

Golden Gates Stakes (Handicap)
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