DAY FIVE (Saturday)
Royal Ascot’s finale is all about two of the best 6f sprints of the season -- the Group One Diamond Jubilee Stakes (3.45) and the Wokingham Handicap (4.20). But while I have a confident selection for the former, I will be burning midnight oil trying to find the winner of the latter.
SOCIETY ROCK won the Diamond Jubilee in 2011 and would have scuppered the mighty Black Caviar in last year’s renewal but for missing the break. He looked better than ever at York last time and will be hard to beat, although I can pass a strong word from Down Under about Aussie raider SEA SIREN, for whom Ryan Moore is a significant jockey-booking
The best I can do for the Wokingham at the time of writing (Monday) is to draw up a tentative shortlist of five -- DUKE OF FIRENZE, NOCTURN, REX IMPERATOR, GABRIEL’S LAD and KHUBALA.
I am fascinated to note that Mark Johnston has entered SOMEWHAT for the opening race of the day, the Listed Chesham Stakes, only seven days after his impressive debut. He could be the one to spike the guns of BUNKER, regarded by the Hannon yard as their banker of the week.
Johnston’s choice for the Group Two Hardwicke Stakes (3.05), UNIVERSAL, should not be under-estimated either. But I’m all over EKTIHAAM for this contest to complete a notable week for owner Hamdan Al Maktoum.
After the sprints, the meeting wounds up with the 12f Duke Of Edinburgh Handicap for older horses and the anomalous Queen Alexandra Stakes over the marathon 2m6f trip. Running plans are still up in the air as I write, although Frankie Dettori might be able to crown his comeback to the saddle in the former event on STENCIVE.