The JBR touch of death put paid to the chances of Planteur before he even stepped into the stalls, as he got himself worked up very badly and sweated even worse. That made things so very difficult, but he then proceeded to pull hard during the race and gave himself little chance of getting home quickly enough to trouble those at the head of affairs, who had kicked for home before he had a chance. It looked as if he'd finish just a few length back but he understandably weakened and that was that. In all likelihood, he was not going to trouble the winner given how things panned out but a better performance should have been posted. Opposing the favourite was the right thing to do, but Farhh was the runner who should have won.
Man Of Action also succumbed to my jinx as he missed the break so badly, having seemed reluctant to come out, and you will never get away with that in a handicap containing rivals of immense ability. He gave away a number of lengths at the start and had to be rushed up to latch on to the field, which isn't one bit ideal and used up valuable energy. The fact that he galloped on so well at the end to be beaten by about the same amount of lengths that he gave away in the first place (despite SDS just nudging him out hands and heels in the last furlong) leads me to believe that he could have went close to winning and anyone who backed him each-way can feel very aggrieved to not pick up some place money at least. At the end of the day, it's just another hateful loser to add to the slate but he ran well and was justified as a selection.
-4.00pts on the day. Form of last 10 selections; 0-5-4-9-0-2-0-0-7-0 (0 winners & 1 place).
No raving from me today and although there's plenty of action at Ascot, I'm sticking to the handicaps. We'll need a hell of a lot of luck if we're to land on the right one but it's not as if we've got much of that lately and it's due to come our way before too long, hopefully now. Have a good one folks and the very best of luck.
It usually pays to side with those carrying lower weights in this massive-field handicap but I can't see one that's worthy of a bet at the prices and second top-weight, Piri Wango, is the standout bet in his bid to give Ger Lyons another Royal Ascot winner, having landed the Queen Mary back on '07. This 3-year-old will be just his fourth runner at the Royal meeting and strangely enough, he has not even taken a stride on turf in public to date, with each of his three career runs coming on the all-weather at Dundalk, over 6f, 7f & 1m. He should have absolutely no issue with the surface though and Lyons has gone on record to say that the running of him on the all-weather for each of his racecourse outings "was by accident, not design". This fellow has got plenty of solid form in the book, including on his last run when finishing 1.5-lengths behind yesterdays Group 3 Jersey Stakes winner Ishvana over 7f. It's clear to me that 7f is not his trip and he was ridden as such, having tried to take the field along at a real good gallop in order to draw the sting out of the speedy favourite, who finished second and has since won a good Haydock Listed race. The tactics didn't work, but he was giving 8lbs to the classy winner and it goes down as a career-best performance, despite the simple fact that it was in a race where he had to run over a trip that doesn't suit him. Previous to that, he won a handicap over a mile at Dundalk, in which he showed a willing attitude (visible on all starts) to fend off all comers, though that form doesn't have a lot of substance to it. He is at least progressing with each of his runs and I think that he'll prove better on turf, especially now that he'll be able to accept a lead over this straight mile (not too sure that he's fully suited to turning tracks). The main problem now is his handicap mark of 97, with only two horses managing to win this from that rating, or above, in the past ten runnings of the race. On the other end of the coin, there are a lot less runners with such a rating lining up in this type of race and from 55 runners rated 96 or higher in the past 10 years, 2 have won it and 9 have placed. Horses rated 95 or below have taken 8 of the last 10 runnings, with 21 places from 242 runners, so maybe favouring the classier type is actually the right thing to do. Piri Wango fits the bill there, as he is looked upon as a Listed/Group 3 horse by his trainer and holds an entry in a G3 next month. If Lyons is to be proved correct with that statement, his charge should be up to running very well despite his lofty mark and Frankie Dettori being booked to ride for the first time looks a solid indication as to their hopes, but at the same time I'm sure that Johnny Murtagh would have been on board again if he didn't have to jet back to Ireland in order to ride at Leopardstown. Frankie is a bit like us at the moment, as he's not doing finding winners (42 since his last win!) but he has had some close calls, along with some mistaken ones also. He's due one at least and looks to have picked up a nice ride. I usually favour those drawn at the higher end when punting on the straight course but most of the forward-going types seem to be positioned in the lower half and stall 8 mightn't be a bad place to run from. The stiffish mile will suit, but whether Ascot will is beyond me, though his sire has a solid record here in recent times, with 5 winners and 10 places from 45 runners, though none of the winners came from runners lining up to race beyond 7f. This fellow is bred to get a mile at the very least though and if good enough on the day, the trip won't be any sort of an issue. I get the impression that he is good enough to potentially win this and at the end of the day, he's incorrectly priced at around the 20/1 mark. The usual stakes will suffice, given the impossible nature of the race.
Luca Cumani was unlucky enough to have the runner-up in this race twice, in '08 & '09, with runners who weren't kindly treated at the weights and he looks to have taken no chances with the horse that he will be saddling up this time around. The well-related Commitment is the horse in question and although I don't believe that he has an ocean of the class factor, this race looks relatively modest even though a handicap good thing could be lurking in the mist. If there is one, I certainly can't find it and Cumani's charge is the most interesting to me at the prices, and in the circumstances. Usually, it's not a positive to come into this race on the back of a performance that seen you finish outside of the places (9 of last 10 winners finished in the first 3 last time out; 4 won) but this fellow ran in the valuable Edinburgh Cup up at Musselburgh and could have posted a much better finishing position if his jockey didn't ease him down once his chance of winning had gone coming up to the furlong marker. He has very few obvious excuses for that run, which was a disappointing one seeing as he was sent off as a 4/1 shot and coming into it on the back of a fine second at Newbury the time before (winner defied 9lb higher mark next time out; runs here off 84). Luca is a smart man though and if having a Royal Ascot chance with this fellow was one of the main targets at the beginning of the year, then you can be sure that he wouldn't have him coming into the race having to carry more weight than necessary. What I've just said could be a load of nonsense and he was running with the intention of winning in Scotland before coming to tackle this contest, but I'm rather mystified by the run and I just want something to cling onto. The main reason for that is due to how well he travelled and finished off his race over 1m 3f at Newbury on handicap debut the time before for which he was easy in the market. He and the winner were a long way clear of the rest, with Whipcrackaway back in fourth and he previously twice defeated Nicholascopernicus on his two outings before that race, easily as well. The straight form is excellent, as the last mentioned comes here vying for favouritism having won both of his starts since that race, after going up in trip. The literal form is not so excellent but I believe that my selection could be up to getting the better of him if getting everything to suit. Commitment will only be having his fourth run since being gelded and if forgiving his latest outing, he can be looked upon as a runner with a nicely progressive profile. His trainer said that he was a worrier before he was gelded, and still is a bit, but he is the type to improve for his experience and this one-time Derby entrant looks feasibly treated off 87. Darren Egan is booked to ride and he takes off the most valuable 5lbs in the country, as he's simply an excellent jockey. The problem is that he's an excellent jockey in sprints and I'm not sure whether he's quite at riding over middle-distance trips just yet but I suppose that he does need the rides in order to excel at what is a completely different part of the game and he gets that now. How his mount will handle the sizeable field is really worrying, as he may just shy away from the action if the going gets tough. Being drawn in stall 4 is a positive though and he should be able to get a nice position from there, one that will be keeping him out of the potential trouble that comes a horses way in a field of this nature. If he can get a trouble-free trip and a nice pace to aim at, a good run could be on the cards and he looks overpriced to win his first handicap.
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