December 1, 2023

Royal Ascot sneak preview: Wednesday

Jack Hobbs is shortening into favoritism for the Prince of Wales's (Dubai Racing Club/Andrew Watkins)

Continued from Tuesday’s Royal Ascot forecast


Royal Ascot post times here

The Jersey (G3) is often a rebound spot for horses beaten in classics, and a trio of sophomores fitting that profile are prominent in the betting. Godolphin’s Dream Castle represents the Churchill form, having finished fifth in the 2000 Guineas, while Le Brivido nearly upset Brametot at 16-1 in the French equivalent at Deauville, and John Gosden’s filly Daban was third to O’Brien’s Winter and Rhododendron in the 1000 Guineas (G1).

Ward bids for his third successive trophy in the Queen Mary with Happy Like a Fool. Punters across the pond, mindful of how devastating Lady Aurelia and Acapulco were in this five-furlong dash, have already backed the Keeneland debut winner into favoritism. Stablemate Fairyland is under consideration too, but Ward hopes her Coolmore owners let her go in Friday’s Albany (G3) instead. The best-fancied among the home team is Heartache from the Clive Cox yard. Robert Cowell’s Chica La Habana, successful in the Hilary Needler in her unveiling, and Mick Channon’s Neola, second to the sidelined Main Desire in the Marygate, come next in the betting. Ger Lyons’ Treasuring, second to Declarationofpeace before beating the boys at Navan, is cross-entered to four Royal Ascot stakes, but the market hints this could be her spot.

[Monday update: Fairyland has been taken out, per Ward’s wish, and Treasuring is indeed confirmed.]

The Duke of Cambridge (G2) will be the stiffest test to date for Godolphin’s progressive class climber Laugh Aloud. The Gosden filly enters off commanding scores in the Princess Elizabeth (G3) and Conqueror, but now faces a couple of smart French raiders in defending champion Usherette from Andre Fabre’s establishment and Jean-Claude Rouget’s multiple Group 1 star Qemah. Laugh Aloud may have a threat closer to home in stablemate Persuasive, whose only loss was a second in last September’s Matron (G1). O’Brien relies on Somehow, convincing in the Dahlia (G2) earlier this term but now shortening up to a mile. The distance may also be on the sharp side for Sir Michael Stoute’s high-class South African Smart Call, winner of a Breeders’ Cup Challenge event at home before beating males in the prestigious J&B Met (G1).

[Monday update: Somehow and Persuasive were not declared at the final entry stage.]

The Prince of Wales’s (G1) could produce the most tantalizing clash of the meeting – if O’Brien’s world traveler Highland Reel and Godolphin’s Jack Hobbs both remain in this 1 1/4-mile prize rather than Saturday’s Hardwicke (G2). Highland Reel, who wired the Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1) as well as the Coronation Cup (G1) last out, will enjoy this firm ground compared to the yielding course he encountered when trailing behind Jack Hobbs in the March 25 Dubai Sheema Classic (G1). Stoute’s upwardly mobile Ulysses and Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) vixen Queen’s Trust; recent Prix d’Ispahan (G1) hero Mekhtaal; last-out Tattersalls Gold Cup (G1) scorer Decorated Knight; and last year’s upsetter My Dream Boat are among other notables in the mix.

[Monday update: It is game on between Highland Reel and Jack Hobbs. All of the principals stood their ground, the only absentee mentioned above being My Dream Boat.]

The final two races on Wednesday are both held over the straight mile – the Royal Hunt Cup, a heritage handicap, and the listed Sandringham Handicap for three-year-old fillies, where Ward has entered Con Te Partiro.

Continued in Thursday’s Royal Ascot forecast