With Royal Ascot peering longingly over the horizon, I took the opportunity on a sun-kissed Saturday afternoon on the Knavesmire to speak to four popular characters in racing about the action we’re set to see over the next week, and hopefully steer us in the right direction!
Giving their views are: ITV’s Matt Chapman, the legendary Derek Thompson, Racing UK’s Alex Steedman – fresh from riding in the York Macmillan Charity race, and finally Mr Monday Night Review himself, Adam Webb of the Press Association.
What is your Nap of the week?
Matt Chapman: “Daban (5/1, Weds: 2.30pm) in the Jersey. She ran a cracker in the 1000 guineas, gets a fillies allowance and is just an all-round good horse.”
Derek Thompson: “I can tell you I’ve been to Wesley Ward’s twice this week and I’m most impressed with the horses that he’s brought over, all nine look superb. However he does assure me that his horse in the Queen Mary is the one that is going to win, Happy Like a Fool (2/1, Weds: 3.05pm). But I do think America and Wesley Ward could have three, maybe four winners.”
Alex Steedman: “Caravaggio (Evs, Fri: 3.40pm) in the Commonwealth Cup, I think he’ll get the perfect toe into the race with Harry Angel and Blue Point, it’s going to be like relay racing, and Caravaggio can just pick up the pieces. It’s going to be beautiful to watch and I think he’s going to stamp himself as one of the best, if not the best sprinter around. I think he’s a superstar”
Adam Webb: “Crystal Ocean (3/1, Fri: 3.05pm). He ran really well in the Dante, and everything about that performance suggested a mile and a half on quick ground would be right up his street. He’s a half-brother to Hillstar who won the race in 2013 and I think he could be better than him over time.”
What is your Lay of the week?
Alex Steedman: “Order Of St George (Evs, Gold Cup). I think the Gold Cup is pretty stacked this year. I actually had a little bit each-way on Sweet Selection after she won the Sagaro Stakes even though she has a little to find. But I just think there’s plenty of strength in depth this year and I’m not convinced Order of St George is the same horse he was 12 months ago.”
Matt Chapman: “Lady Aurelia (11/4, King Stand Stakes). Just because she was an amazing two-year-old doesn’t mean she will be able to smash this lot at three.”
Adam Webb: “Thomas Hobson (3/1, Ascot Stakes). The price is absurd considering that it’s only due to his connections. He wants some cut in the ground, too.”
Which race are you most looking forward to watching?
Derek Thompson: “I’m looking forward to every race! Or if I had to pick, the one at the end of the week, because that means we will have been lucky enough to have seen every day in our top hats and tails, and do you know who the richest man in Newmarket is? The dry cleaner on Monday morning! It’s a heck of a week, the sun is going to shine, the Queen will be there and there will be something for everyone to enjoy!”
Adam Webb: “Commonwealth Cup! Caravaggio and Harry Angel both have the potential to be stars in the sprint division but I cannot get away from Caravaggio. In my short life time he could be one of the best sprinters I’ve seen and I cannot wait to see him on fast ground. Last year was a washout and for him to win the Coventry on that ground was astounding given his pedigree.”
Matt Chapman: “Churchill vs Barney Roy in the St James Palace. A chance for Barney Roy to at least give Churchill something to think about having missed the Irish Guineas, and hopefully that rest has helped him a little bit and we could see him turning the tables.”
Alex Steedman: “It’s got to be the Commonwealth Cup. It’s just got everything! Blazing speed, three very good horses and a stellar supporting cast. It will be exhilarating.”
And finally….Four winners to make up a Lucky 15?!
Matt Chapman: “Daban (5/1, Jersey Stakes), Ribchester (8/11, Queen Anne), Order Of St George (Evs, Gold Cup) and Winter (8/15, Coronation Stakes). They all win!”
Adam Webb: “Ribchester (8/11, Queen Anne) he’s the best horse in the race by a clear mile. Denaar (6/1, Coventry) has been impressive so far and looks a typical Richard Hannon two-year-old. Alluringly (3/1, Ribblesdale Stakes) will be hard to beat and her Oaks third is head and shoulders above anything the rest of the field has achieved so far. Wadigor (7/1, Duke of Edinburgh), Silvestre De Sousa has been provisionally booked and he has looked very progressive so far. He looks the typical clichéd ‘group horse in a handicap’.”
Derek Thompson: “We’re going to see stacks of good horses. John Gosden has a very strong team, Sir Michael Stoute is sure to be amongst the winners, but there is also that young fella called Aidan O’Brien who seems to be winning everything and of course his horse Order Of St George (Evs, Gold Cup) is the one they all have to beat in the showpiece, Thursday’s Gold Cup.”
“The boys also say this Caravaggio (Evs, Commonwealth Cup) is very quick; I was talking to one of the leading Ballydoyle lads and they reckon he should take some beating. Churchill (8/13, St James Palace) is very good and I’m looking forward to seeing him again and of course the Wesley Ward horse Happy Like a Fool (2/1, Queen Mary).”
Get your top hats and betting bank ready, it’s going to be a special week!