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Day 2 Royal Ascot 2024 Preview: Watch Out For Johnson-Houghton Juveniles

After a good day on Tuesday of each-way thievery and Rosallion being our highlight on the opening day, we now roll on to Day 2. The race remains very competitive, and I think there could be a boilover in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes.
Royal Ascot

2.30 Queen Mary Stakes – Betty Clover EW / Xanthe EW

This is a tough opener to Day 2 at Royal Ascot, but I do like a few fillies. My main fancy in the race is Betty Clover for Eve Johnson-Houghton. I put her up when she won the Listed Marygate Stakes at York last time out, running on well in the closing stages. She’s already got a nice bit of experience. I think the stiff track at Ascot will suit her well. Connections are no strangers to doing well in two-year-old races at Royal Ascot, and I can see her going well here.

The other horse I like in the race is Xanthe for Richard Hannon. This daughter of Earthlight won over this course and distance on her debut, and her dam actually won this race, so it’s in her pedigree. I think by running here on her racecourse debut, connections clearly had Royal Ascot in mind. At a nice double-figure price, she has to make my shortlist.

3.05 Queen’s Vase – Illinois (Win)

Illinois is one of my strongest fancies of the day. I thought he ran ok at Lingfield when he finished second in the Derby Trial behind Ambiente Friendly, who ran well at Epsom. The son Galileo has an excellent pedigree, being from the family of Danehill Dreamer, and should be fine with the extra couple of furlongs. Furthermore, he’s got a good draw in Stall 5. The draw has been key in this race over the years, with the top three in last year’s renewal all being drawn low. Aidan O’Brien has won this race seven times in his career, and I think he’s got an excellent chance of winning it again.

3.45 Duke Of Cambridge Stakes – Rogue Millenium / Royal Dress EW 

Rogue Millenium did us a nice favour by winning this race last year for Tom Clover. Since then, she has joined Joseph O’Brien and was a bit unlucky when she finished third at the Curragh after being squeezed out. I think she’ll come on for that run, and this drier ground will also help. With her stamina for further, you know she’s going to battle to the line and put up a valiant display.

I also have to have a saver on Royal Dress. She was incredibly unlucky not to win at Epsom last time out. She was denied a clear run on several occasions, and I think she would have won easily, granted she got a clear passage. The daughter of Blue Point has improved this season since wearing the hood. You could maybe argue that her best form has come with some ease in the ground, but at the prices I have to keep her on side, as I don’t think we’ve got to the bottom of her.

4.25 Prince Of Wales’s Stakes – Alflaila EW 

Auguste Rodin is probably the one to beat, with the ground likely to be in his favour, but at the price, I don’t think he’s the most trustworthy, and therefore I’m happy to take him on.

The one I think is interesting is Alfaila for Owen Burrows. Despite the fact that he will be making his seasonal reappearance here, he’s got a great record when fresh. He’s won on his last two returns after long layoffs, which included a Group 2 success at York last season. We last saw him finishing fifth in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown, where Auguste Rodin got the better of him. However, if you go back and watch the race, you’ll see that Jim Crowley gave him too much rope, and nothing was able to come off the pace, so you can mark up that performance. If Owen Burrows has this son of Dark Angel ready to go, he could be one that goes under the radar.

5.00 Royal Hunt Cup – Wild Tiger EW / Tempus EW 

You often need a group horse to win this, and Saeed Bin Suroor could have the answer again with Wild Tiger. The five-year-old gelding is undefeated in his three starts in Britain and has won both his starts in handicaps this year. The last time we saw him, he eased to victory at Goodwood and powered away from his rivals. Saeed Bin Suroor’s last two winners in this race both wore headgear, so Wild Tiger wearing cheekpieces isn’t a negative. It looks like he’s still on an upward curve, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he went close.

The other one I like is Tempus for Archie Watson. He is very well handicapped now, and he wasn’t disgraced in last year’s renewal when he finished seventh off a 13lb higher mark. It’s interesting to see connections reaching for the first-time blinkers that might perk him up a bit. He’s got plenty of form on the straight course at Ascot, and he’ll also like the ground.

5.40 Kensington Palace Stakes – Aurora Dream EW / Vetiver EW

This is a tricky race, but I do like two in this race. The first of them is Aurora Dawn for Ed Walker. She was unlucky the last time we saw her, when she finished sixth at Goodwood. The four-year-old filly never got a clear run and finished with a lot of running. She could get the same problem here, but she looks like a horse who is still progressing, and I want to keep her on side.

Vetiver is the other horse who completes my shortlist for Andrew Balding. She has been a little disappointing in 2024, but she won a Listed race at Carlisle last year and finished fifth in the Balmoral Handicap at Ascot on Champions Day. I just think back into this grade against the fillies’ she has a chance. At around 25/1 at the time of writing looks worth a go each way.

6.15 Windsor Castle Stakes – Shadow Army (Win) / Pont Neuf EW 

We have another two-year-old race to end the card, but I really do like Shadow Army. I put him up at the Dante meeting in York when he won for Richard Fahey and showed a good attitude. I’ve already mentioned that Richard Fahey does well with his two-year-olds at Royal Ascot, and maybe this could be the best of them.

I also have Pont Neuf on my shortlist for Eve Johnson-Houghton. He’s been impressive, winning at Kempton and Salisbury, and his latest run has been well-franked. Connections have won this race in the past with Chipotle, and I wouldn’t be surprised if history repeated itself here. 

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After a good day on Tuesday of each-way thievery and Rosallion being our highlight on the opening day, we now roll on to Day 2. The race remains very competitive, and I think there could be a boilover in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes.
Read also...