Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival 2018 - York - Day 4 by Lewis Wheatley
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24th August

After a magnificent day on Thursday, Friday has been another stellar day of racing, with Stradivarius gamely landing the Triple Crown bonus in the Lonsdale Cup despite not being at his best, and Battaash bombing out again in the Nunthorpe even though he was very calm and collected in the prelims, but never the less the Nunthorpe was yet another nose bobbing finish like 2017, with 40/1 shot Alpha Delphini somehow getting the verdict over 14/1 shot Mabs Cross

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As many of you readers will know from yesterday's blog, I managed to nab 18/1 Mabs Cross last night with Bet365 and at 15:37 I felt like I had been shot in the chest. Mabs Cross was flying home, passed Battaash in the process and looked as if she was just getting up at the right time, but it was not to be, I mean, even the bookies were betting 1/2 Mabs Cross had got up! I thought at the absolute very least we were going to get ourselves a dead heat, but a massive well done to team Bryan Smart and connections with Alpha Delphini who was very game to hold on. 

Moving onto Day 4, the final day of the 2018 Ebor Festival, the highlight of the day is the race for the handicap experts and beer drinkers on course, the 1m6f Ebor Handicap, but I won't be looking into that race too much here nor have a bet, I'll be here all night studying and will still most likely get it wrong! 

I have two selections who I think will run blinding races, those coming in the brace of Group 3's, the 1:50 Strensall Stakes over a mile and the 3:00 City Of York Stakes over 7f. 

In the 1:50, I can't for the life of me understand how Threading is an 8/1 shot to land the Strensall for Britain's new most winning trainer, Mark Johnston from down the road in Middleham. A very smart filly, twice a winner at York, who romped to success over this course in May which saw her get supplemented for the Group 1 Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot, and she proved to all of us exactly why her connections had such lofty ambitions with her, running a blinding second to Alpha Centauri who has won 2 Group 1's since to make herself a 4 time Group 1 winner and that to me is by far the best form on offer here. Lord Glitters has done nothing but improve since joining David O'Meara and has acquitted himself well in both the Queen Anne and Sussex Stakes, which gives him obvious claims back down in grade, but for me he seems to run some mighty races but never seems to get his head in front, finishing second four out of his last 5 races and I just think 15/8 is a bit too skinny. Last year's winner Mustashry can't be discounted easily either. Sir Michael Stoute's charge won a Sandown Listed race on return LTO and is an absolute must for any shortlist. 

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Moving on to the 3:00 City Of York, which sees my nap of the day in action, Expert Eye. This horse firmly got himself back in the groove when winning the Group 3 Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot this year and confirmed that form when excellent 2nd in Sussex Stakes and is the one to beat here. 

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My bets:
1:50 - THREADING E/W - 8/1
3:00 - EXPERT EYE - 6/4


Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival 2018 - York - Day 3 by Lewis Wheatley
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24th August

After a poor day punting wise on day one at York, Ladies' Day has once again been my lucky day like so many other times over the years on the Knavesmire with Sea Of Class showing all her class to comfortably land the Yorkshire Oaks for birthday boy William Haggas, and Lah Ti Dar picking up exactly where she left off before her setbacks earlier in the season, romping home to a 10 length success stepped up to 1m4f in the Sir Henry Cecil Galtres Stakes, making herself the new 2/1 favourite for the St. Leger at Doncaster next month. 

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Moving on to day three, where it's all about the sprinters, with the 6f Gimcrack for the 2yo's and the Coolmore Nunthorpe, where Battaash is the very hot favourite, but most eyes most probably will be on Stradivarius, who attempts to land the £1m Triple Crown bonus after his successes in the Ascot Gold Cup and Goodwood Cup already this campaign. I can't see John Gosden's stayer coming across major trouble, and the bookies also share that same view, pricing up the son of Sea The Stars at around the 4/11 mark. 

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The admirable Red Verdon looks next best, and should be able to be had at a nice e/w price for any of those looking for some value in the race. 

Next up after the Lonsdale is the Gimcrack itself for the 2yo's. This looks an extremely hot race with so many previous winners in the contest and it will be very easy to back the loser here with so many boasting solid claims. Those that make the shortlist for me are:

1) Chuck Willis. A stylish winner at Ayr and had the reopposing Emaraaty Ana half a length back in third when second in a Newbury Listed race over 6f. He is obviously open to more improvement and at a big price can't be underestimated.
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2) Legends Of War. An impressive winner of his maiden before finding his opponents in the July Stakes too hot to handle. He was all out when landing a Newbury minor event last time out and needs improvement back up in class here but with the week John Gosden and Oisin Murphy are having, it wouldn't be surprising if he was to run a big race representing big connections. 

3) Shine So Bright. Victory at Nottingham on racecourse debut was full of promise and has since done himself proud running good races in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot and the Richmond Stakes at Goodwood. That Coventry form has since been franked by Advertise who confirmed his form with Sergei Prokofiev when winning the Group 1 Phoenix Stakes last time out.
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4) Space Traveller. The favourite. Richard Fahey's colt showcased an impressive turn of foot when winning at Doncaster and Hamilton last month. More improvement will certainly be needed but he's an unknown quantity with just two starts under his belt and represents the yard of last year's winner. 

Moving on to the feature of the day, the Group 1 Coolmore Nunthorpe Stakes over the flying five furlongs. Battaash is a strong 8/11 favourite as it stands and I will not be taking those odds, I would much prefer to find some e/w value even if Battaash seems like a dead-cert and printing money, but that is never going to be the case in these Group 1 sprints, they can all beat each other and Battaash has form for getting lit up in the prelims and blowing his chance much like last year, and if you go all in on his price even after his demolition job at Goodwood, you have to have his pre-race behaviour in the back of your mind. Personally I am going to support my local yard in this race, Michael Dods, who is having a very good season this season and saddles up Mabs Cross

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trained just 15 minutes down the road, she herself having an ultra consistent season. She won the Group 3 Palace House at Newmarket at the beginning of her campaign before improving to run a cracker for third in the King's Stand at Royal Ascot. She finished third last time out when favourite in the Flying Five at the Curragh but in a lucky race for her trainer after winning the race twice with Mecca's Angel, she will have plenty of support in York with not very far to travel and that could play into her hands at a massive 18/1. 

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My tips: 
2:25 - Stradivarius - 4/11 - race to watch 
3:00 - Shine So Bright - 4/1
         - Chuck Willis E/W - 12/1
3:35 - Mabs Cross E/W - 18/1

Thank you all for reading. 


Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival 2018 - York Racecourse - Day 2 by Lewis Wheatley
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23rd August
Ever since I first started going racing back in 2012 (Frankel's Juddmonte International was my first for those who don't know), York has become an annual trip for me to the Ebor Festival and will forever be one of my favourite racecourses that I will attend till my dying day. I've seen some excellent racehorses since that unforgettable first day in 2012, in victory and in defeat, personal favourites being (Excluding Frankel of course) St. Nicholas Abbey, Declaration Of War, Trading Leather, Al Kazeem, Australia, Golden Horn, Postponed, Highland Reel, Ulysses and Churchill. 

I was again present for yesterday's festival opener hence why I didn't quite get round to doing a blog, but again the officials of York Racecourse put together a magnificent racecard stacked with class and arguably managed to attract a field of top class thoroughbreds that can quite comfortably make the Juddmonte International the race of the year, with Coral Eclipse winner Roaring Lion, 2000 Guineas winner Saxon Warrior, King George & Prince Of Wales' winner Poet's Word, St. James's Palace winner Without Parole and Irish Derby victor Latrobe all runners. 

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Roaring Lion absolutely roared to success however, absolutely demolishing his rivals in a performance that was the second longest winning margin since 2012 when Frankel won by 7 lengths. Once again the Coral Eclipse form was the key race in determining the winner on the Knavesmire after Ulysses won last season for the most successful trainer in the history of Royal Ascot, Sir Michael Stoute. 

It was a shocking day for me on a punting side of things, so probably a blessing I didn't share those tips with you all, unless you all took the same selections as I did, which were Persian Moon at 11/2 in the Acomb, who finished third, Cross Counter who was beaten ever so narrowly by fellow Godolphin horse Old Persian in the Voltigeur and Poet's Word, who finished second in the Juddmonte, as well as an e/w play on Without Parole who I thought would bounce back from his disappointment at Goodwood on a less undulating track with Frankie back in the saddle and a new trip that could easily have suited him best and shocked everyone. But it was a great day none the less and I have always said, backing any winners is always a bonus considering how hard I think it is to back winners at  York compared to other tracks. 

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Moving on to Day 2 however, I do hope I can have a better day betting wise, a day which I have tend to do well on over the years funnily enough, that being Ladies' Day. 
First up, which is usually the DBS Premier Yearling Stakes, has been swapped with the Group 2 Lowther Stakes, my lucky race over the years and this year I'd like to think I have backed the winner yet again. My selection for the race is Angel's Hideaway for John Gosden, Frankie Dettori and Cheveley Park Stud. Angel's Hideaway has shown plenty of promise so far this season, breaking her maiden at Haydock before finishing fourth in the Albany at Royal Ascot, behind Fairyland who re-opposes but I will explain why I have stuck with the Gosden filly shortly. Angel's Hideaway was no match for Pretty Pollyanna next time out at Newmarket but she has since won the Group 1 Prix Morny which makes it very good form. 

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Last time out Mr Gosden's filly got back to winning ways when landing the Group 3 Princess Margaret Stakes on King George day at Ascot, a race which has produced winners of the Lowther before. She did hang to her right in that race but that doesn't mean she will be guilty of doing that again here, though I will be worried if she starts heading towards the Grandstand bars a furlong and a half out. With both her and Fairyland racing off a mark of 105, there is still plenty of improvement in them both but with Aidan O'Brien's currently worrying stable form, I do feel Angel's Hideaway can reverse the form with Fairyland and give John Gosden another big race winner on the Knavesmire. 

My second bet of the day is my NAP of the day. Sea Of Class in the Darley Yorkshire Oaks. The William Haggas filly has improved with every run this season, landing back to back Listed races at Newbury before completing her hat-trick in the Darley Irish Oaks, swooping late to nab English Oaks winner Forever Together even though she did travel extremely well through the whole race. With just four runs under her belt and already the best horse in the race on ratings, she has a lot more to come and I think it will take an amazing performance to stop her. In this field though I highly respect quite a few of her opponents and would be foolish if I didn't say I was worried one could beat her. Arguably her biggest threat in the field is going to be Laurens, who has an amazing story behind her and will be extremely well supported at her local track being trained just down the road at Karl Burke's. Signing off last season with Group 1 success in the Fillies' Mile, Laurens returned to action this season over C&D to finish second in the 1000 Guineas, before landing back to back French Group 1's, even if they were by the narrowest of margins. 

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Her connections seem quite bullish about her chances being stepped up to 1m4f and she is in receipt of lumps of weight from Coronet just like Sea Of Class which might well eliminate some competition and give her more of a chance of running a good race at the trip. I am not discounting Coronet though, as she is one of the horses on my list of dangers. Ribblesdale winner last season as well as second to Enable in this exact race, Coronet is no pushover and she has proved that all this season, landing the Betfred Middleton Group 2 here at the Spring meeting and was not disgraced when third in the King George to Poet's Word. The last horse I would like to give a mention to is Irish raider Eziyra. 

The Dermot Weld filly boasts form figures of 1/2311-1 and is a very smart performer showing a nice turn of foot to land the Ballyroan Stakes Group 3 on her seasonal return to go with her two Group 3 wins at the back end of last season. At a mark of 107 she isn't completely out of this especially in the e/w market at around 10/1 and although that improvement will be needed, there is no reason to suggest that the improvement isn't there. I also find interesting the fact William Buick has been booked to ride and he has enjoyed a stellar season thus far, as opposed to a young Irish jock from Mr Weld's yard to take the ride. 

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Moving on to my final bet of the day, I am all in on Lah Ti Dar in the Sir Henry Cecil Galtres Stakes. This daughter of Dubawi and Dar Re Mi, Lah Ti Dar looked destined for the top when landing her Newbury maiden and a Newmarket Listed race. She unfortunately missed the Oaks when  a well backed and deserved ante-post favourite so this run here will be her much belated third start. If she can retain the ability she had before her setbacks earlier in the season, which is highly likely, she will take some stopping up in trip. Sun Maiden will be her main danger if she can reproduce her form from her third place finish in the Ribblesdale at Royal Ascot but she did disappoint in the Gordon Stakes at Glorious Goodwood last time out. 

My bets:
1:55 - Angel's Hideaway - 2/1
3:35 - Sea Of Class - 11/8
4:15 - Lah Ti Dar - 1/1

Thank you all for reading my thoughts on day 2 at the 2018 Ebor Festival and I very much hope you can back a few winners along the way. 


Lewis Wheatley Royal Ascot 2018 (Races in focus and fancies):

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With the world's biggest race meeting just around the corner, Royal Ascot, starting in little over a week, where we will see some of the best racehorses from all over the globe collide for Group 1 honours and to see who really are the best horses in thed world. I put out a poll quite some time ago asking what the readers would like to see, and although I will grant every single wish before the season is out, in this blog I am going to be looking into some of the best races of the week, my fancy for said race and hopefully I will be able to point you in the direction of some winners. 

Day One:

Day one of Royal Ascot, for which I will be present, is arguably the best day's racing of the full week, with Group 1 races starting us off right from the get go, with the Queen Anne Stakes over the straight mile for the 4yo's and upwards starting us off. This race tends to always attract plenty of international interest, with previous running's seeing the likes of Animal Kingdom, Able Friend and Tepin take their chances in most recent years. 

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Queen Anne Winner 2016 Tepin 

This year's doesn't look to have that international feel compared to previous years, though Bill Mott does plan to send his Grade 1 winner Yoshida over after his win on Kentucky Derby night at Churchill Downs. Currently the market leader at this time of writing is Rhododendron. Housed at Team Ballydoyle, 

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Leading Queen Anne Contender Rhododendron 

Rhododendron looks set to come to the Queen Anne next after an excellent gutsy performance last time out at Newbury to land the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes. This is a filly I have always had a lot of time for, and was on her big time ante-post when she finished second in the 1000 Guineas, and she's had her fair share of problems since, so it would be really nice if she could notch another Group 1 victory so quickly after the Lockinge, but it won't be easy. The stiff uphill mile of Ascot looks to be right up Benbatl's street, who is still a good price at 5/1 for a race Godolphin have done so well in over the years. He comes to Ascot on the back of an impressive victory at Meydan in the Group 1 Dubai Turf. This race promises to be another great face off between Coolmore and Godolphin, Galileo and Dubawi, and hopefully it sets the taste buds going for a great week of racing. 

Moving on to another outstanding Group 1 race on the first day of Royal Ascot, the St. James's Palace Stakes is the next race I have picked out to put under my spotlight. Won last year by Barney Roy, the St. James's Palace is usually where we see all three of the top Guineas winners collide (English, Irish and French) but it is unlikely we are going to see a mouthwatering clash such as that again this year, with English 2000 Guineas winner Saxon Warrior set to run next in the Irish Derby at the Curragh and the French 2000 Guineas winner not even entered. John Gosden's Without Parole is the current market leader and with his unbeaten record still intact after three consecutive victories, he warrants respect at the top of the list and many of us still don't know exactly what he is capable of. 

Tip Two Win ran an absolute corker when second to Saxon Warrior at Newmarket and his connections firmly believe that was no fluke, so he is a very interesting candidate and it'll be interesting to see what kind of support he generates over the next week. Aidan O'Brien's representatives US Navy Flag and Gustav Klimt are decent yardsticks too though the latter has been disappointing since his victory at Leopardstown before the 2000 Guineas. It was that exact race where US Navy Flag finished last on his seasonal pipe opener too but he has since finished improved to finish second in the Irish 2000 Guineas so I would expect to him to be carrying the flag for Team Ballydoyle in this race. 

Ken Condon's Romanised, who actually won the Irish 2000 Guineas, is still at 7/1 and I'd expect to see his price tumble over the coming days considering he already has the form in the book, and I'm surprised he is still that big considering how visually impressive his win was at the Curragh, sitting last halfway, coming through nicely to hit the front late and then run on well to land the spoils. This year the St. James's Palace is probably more open than it has been for some years and it's going to take a very good horse to come here and get in the money. 

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Sergei Prokofiev a star n the making 

The final race of day one I would like to delve into contains my nap for the week as of this writing. Sergei Prokofiev is 2/1 to give Team Ballydoyle victory in the Group 2 Coventry Stakes over 6f for 2yo's. Second on debut at Dundalk, this son of Scat Daddy swiftly broke his maiden at the second time of asking at Navan just 12 days later, absolutely hacking up by seven and a half lengths, stretching right away from his opposition in what was an absolute rout. Last time out at Naas in the Rochestown Stakes, again Sergei Prokofiev was in a league of his own, notching victory again, this time by a four lengths, with all roads now leading to Royal Ascot. He is still available at 2/1 though I'm pretty sure that won't last long and for those of you who don't think that is too short, I'd encourage you to get on now because he is ground versatile, the trip will not be a problem whatsoever and I expect him to be a lot of punter's nap's for the first day and his price will plummet yet again. It will take a good one to beat him that is for absolute certain. 

Day Two:

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Cracksman should take a staring role on day 2 

Moving onto day two, where the highlight of the day is the Group 1 Prince Of Wales's Stakes over 1m2f. Won last year by the globetrotting sensation that is Highland Reel, the Prince Of Wales's tends to always be won by an extremely good horse and it is always a red hot renewal year in year out. This year, Cracksman will be a very very strong favourite especially on the day, and is still very easily backable at 5/4 at the time of writing. He was sensational in his seasonal return in France in the Ganay and he showed tremendous fight and guts to get up on the line at Epsom to win the Coronation Cup. He is extremely quick at 1m2f and if you need proof of that just watch what he did in the Champions Stakes in deep ground on Champion's Day last season. If you not fancy jumping on the Cracksman bandwagon and would like some e/w value, look no further than Hawkbill. My original e/w play in the race was going to be Lancaster Bomber, as tough and versatile as they come and the G1 Tattersall's Gold Cup winner, but he's now sadly been ruled out due to injury, so I now look at Hawkbill as a horse who can get in the money at a big (ish) price. His last win came over 10f back in July 2016 in the Coral Eclipse but he has been strictly campaigned over 12f pretty much ever since, posting some top class efforts at the highest level, including the Dubai City Of Gold Stakes and the Dubai Sheema Classic on Dubai World Cup night. I don't think dropping back to 10f will be an issue after so long at the extended 12f and if the ground is fast, he most certainly has a chance of keeping Cracksman honest and running a good race into the places, especially with the plan to be positive right from the get go. 

The second race of the second day at Royal Ascot I have a fancy in is the Queen's Vase. Ran over a marathon 2m for years, it has now been dropped in trip to 1m6f and has been used as a good St. Leger trial in the past, like when Leading Light won the final Classic in 2013, and last year's Vase winner Stradivarius going on to place at Doncaster. It's well known that Aidan O'Brien has a good record in this race in the past and this year providing he saddles him up I look forward to seeing Southern France over this sort of trip. 

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Ballydoyle's big hope in the Queen Vase Southern France 

He was an unraced two-year-old last season and you could have put that down to a couple of different reasons. One, he may have been a bit backward, or maybe they just didn't want to muck about with him at 7f/1m all season when they knew fine well all he wanted was a trip. He finished second over 10f at Navan on his eventual racecourse debut and broke his maiden tag at the second time of asking at Leopardstown over 12f, beating stablemate Cypress Creek by two and a half lengths. Just 6 days later he was out again, this time winning over 1m5f on fast ground, which says a lot about his stamina and willingness to keep going, hence why I think he'll take some stopping in this race and relishing his next step up to 1m6f. 

Day Three: 
Day 3. Arguably one of most racegoers favourite day's to be at Royal Ascot, Ascot Gold Cup day, which has seen some massive results over the years like none other than stayer supreme Yeats' record FOUR Ascot Gold Cup successes and Estimate's success for the Queen just a few years ago. 

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                                                                         Order of St George Day   

Moving straight on to the action, actually one of my favourite races of the whole week has always been the Ribblesdale for the fillies over 1m4f, which usually sees a rematch between many from the Epsom Oaks. The entries this year include Wild Illusion, Lah Ti Dar, Magic Wand and Bye Bye Baby. With Lah Ti Dar's participation very much still in the balance, I think the best horse in the race especially on Epsom form is Wild Illusion for the boys in blue, who've been flying as of late. Wild Illusion was just outstayed by a better filly in the Oaks but being back on a sounder surface which Ascot promises to be should see her find that bit extra to be the victor. Her stamina really is no issue whatsoever and with the price tumbling right from 8/1 into 11/4 it's clear I am not the only one who strongly fancies this filly for this. 

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                                               Wild Illusion a leading fancy for Lewis in the Ribblesdale 

To the big race of the day, the Ascot Gold Cup, we are set for another mouthwatering renewal like previous years with so many in the race with leading credentials. My ante-post bet is Order Of St George, who has been foot perfect so far this season, and is a previous winner, as well as a short head runner-up, so I think he is a very safe bet if you are in need of a winner. However, Stradivarius and Vazirabad won't make things easy in the absolute slightest. Stradivarius furthest trip to date is 2m where he finished third to Order Of St George in the Long Distance race on Champion's Day, going down only a length, so he has to prove he stays the trip, but if he does, he's a very, very live threat, but you do have to worry being by Sea The Stars if this isn't stretching him maybe a little. Vazirabad though doesn't really have anything to stop him, as he has won over 2m4f in the past at Chantilly, he stays all day, and is a horse very easy to like, so he'll have his suitors. He has won races all over the place at the highest level and he is more than capable of winning this, so Order Of St. George will have to be on his A-Game. 

Day Four:
With Ladies' Day just gone by on Thursday, the four-legged fillies take centre stage on Friday with the G1 Coronation Stakes over 1m for the 3yo's and the Albany over 6f for fillies who you're probably going to see back in the Coronation Stakes the following year! However, in recent years Ascot have introduced a 6f Group 1 for three-year-old sprinters, the Commonwealth Cup, which has seen some excellent winners ever since the first day the race was ran. 

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                                                        Fairyland can blaze a trail to Albany glory  

My first race of the day with a serious selection in on Friday comes in the Albany Stakes, where I strongly fancy Fairyland to get favourite backers off to the best possible start for Team Ballydoyle. A comfortable two-length winner of her debut over 6f at Navan on good-to-yielding ground, she quickly backed that up 3 weeks later on the Curragh when again comfortably seeing off her opposition, this time on much faster ground, getting shaken up slightly and quickly going clear to win. I think she's a very smart filly in the making and providing she goes through this nicely and makes another solid impression she'll be a dangerous filly over the second half of the season and getting people excited about the Guineas next season. 

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                       Sioux Nation bids to give Ballydoyle back to back victories in the Commonwealth Cup 

In the Commonwealth Cup at 3;40, we have another what looks to be like another hot renewal in the 3yo 6f sprinting division, where I strongly fancy Sioux Nation to give Aidan O'Brien another victory in this race after Caravaggio's devastating performance last year. Sioux Nation knows how to win at the Royal meeting, winning last season's Norfolk impressively over 5f and has form at 6f too so I don't really think there is a lot you can crab him for. He's on a hat-trick after victory in his last two starts and being Aidan O'Brien trained he's bound to be a popular choice to find plenty of punters a winner or dig them out of a hole. On a side note though, I really think Sands Of Mali is overpriced for Richard Fahey. An impressive winner of York's Gimcrack Stakes last season, he proved he was a very good colt in the making because it's extremely tough to win well at York and although things didn't go to plan in the Middle Park or at the Breeders Cup, he has still proved he is a classy individual who can't be discounted regardless of a couple of unfortunate efforts at the highest level. He has won his last two starts, the Group 3 Prix Sigy on very testing ground on his first start of the season and then at Haydock in the Sandy Lane Stakes so I'll be very surprised if he is the price he is now on the day. 

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                                                        Lewis goes for Threading in the Coronation Stakes 

In the Coronation Stakes I'd actually like to throw in an e/w curve ball for many who will probably be scratching their heads who to back over Alpha Centauri and Clemmie, and that e/w curve ball is Threading from Mark Johnston's yard who has been smashed in from 33/1 to 12/1 already without me saying a word! She was extremely impressive when routing her opposition at York over a mile at Listed level in the middle of May and its clear she's a lot classier than to be racing at Listed level and Mark Johnston has always done well at the Royal meeting in the past. She ran to 108 that day at York which was the same level Alpha Centauri ran at when she won the Irish Guineas so that goes to show how close they are and what an open race it is going to be. 

Day 5: 

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                     Aussie raider MERCHANT NAVY hoping to follow in the footsteps of Starspangledbanner

The fifth and final day of the greatest flat meeting in the whole world, many will be reminiscing in what has been a tremendous week of pulsating action seeing the best horses in the world take each other on and I'm particularly looking forward to one race on Saturday, the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, which sees Harry Angel meet the thunder from Down Under now housed in Ballydoyle, Merchant Navy. Merchant Navy had a very high level of consistency when in Australia and looks all set to also renew rivalry with Redkirk Warrior who beat him on his final start in Australia but on British soil and now in the care of Aidan O'Brien he'll overturn that form. Whilst in Australia I remember Merchant Navy as an 18/1 shot in the Group 1 Coolmore Stud Stakes sitting round out the back and coming from the clouds to land the race in a scintillating performance, and he made a solid impression on his first start in Ireland on fast ground, maybe slow into stride and moving right but he stuck on well at the end to score and he can only build on that this time out. Harry Angel is a good horse in his own right and has been in great form so things won't be easy but I'll be rooting for one of my favourite horses in Ballydoyle today. 

In the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes over 1m4f, Sir Michael Stoute boasts an incredible record in this race and he'll be looking for another win in the shape of Crystal Ocean who is a worthy favourite. He won the Al Rayyan Stakes at Newbury extremely impressively even if he was supposed to win like that. He has a very consistent record in Class 1 races and this is another Class 1 I expect him to excel in. You can easily make cases for Barsanti though, who has course and distance form and is very consistent like Crystal Ocean too, but I also like Defoe who has been brilliant to watch over the last season or so who will relish being back at 1m4f after finishing third in the 10f Tattersalls Gold Cup which is probably too sharp for him. 

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                                                                               Crystal Ocean

Unfortunately, that is the end of my blog and main fancies for Royal Ascot next week, I hope you've really enjoyed the read and I'd love to hear your feedback if you are able to on social media. I will list my week's bets I've talked about above in listed format below to be extra clear on my selections. Hope you all have a great week and good luck!

2:30 - BENBATL E/W - 5/1
4:20 - ROMANISED E/W - 7/1
3:05 - SOUTHERN FRANCE - 11/4
4:20 - HAWKBILL E/W - 10/1
3:40 - WILD ILLUSION - 5/2
4:20 - ORDER OF ST. GEORGE - 15/8 & VAZIRABAD E/W - 5/1
2:30 - FAIRYLAND - 5/2
3:40 - SIOUX NATION - 4/1 & SANDS OF MALI E/W - 15/2
4:20 - THREADING E/W - 12/1
3:05 - CRYSTAL OCEAN - 11/10
4:20 - MERCHANT NAVY - 7/2


New Lewis Wheatley Blogs - Can Saxon Warrior genuinely win the Triple Crown?

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May 12th 2018

The question on many people's lips right now is 'Can Saxon Warrior seriously be the one who can win the Triple Crown and beat Nijinsky's record of 48 years dating back to 1970' and the answer is a most definite yes in my eyes. Camelot came ever so close to completing the feat in 2012 and probably would have done so had he found the gap sooner and obviously the Godolphin situation wasn't ideal either, but Saxon Warrior gives Team Ballydoyle another chance to correct what maybe should have happened back in 2012 and he is very much on the path to doing just that. 

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Brilliant in the 2000 Guineas, Saxon Warrior sat off the pace and when asked to quicken he just started to motor like no other horse in the race, came to the leaders in a matter of strides, led coming out of the dip and there was no stopping him from there on for the Racing Post Trophy winner. It was an incredible performance considering many were writing him off after Aidan's comments earlier in the week about him growing into a monster and will relish a step up in trip as the season goes on which is the exciting part because you can just imagine him cruising around Epsom. Many may still try to crab his Epsom chances with the fact he is a big horse and maybe he could struggle with the undulations of the downs but he is a very well balanced horse who just seems to have everything in abundance, plus his pedigree holds plenty of optimism for 1m4f.

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Though Saxon Warrior could easily have headed to Royal Ascot for the St. James's Palace on the 19th June, his most obvious next race will now be the Derby itself on the first week of June for which he is already a very short favourite and it will take a good horse to stop him. I can see Ryan Moore adopting similar tactics to those at Newmarket, settling him in mid-field just cantering his way round and doing a Camelot-esque performance making smooth progress coming down the hill and quickenening off Tattenham Corner, go past the pacemaker and show his superiority to the line. He's a horse who only does what he has to do though it seems, he probably isn't going to win by 10 lengths, but I really up to now can't see him getting turned over at Epsom either, which means all roads lead to Doncaster. 

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As we all know, Saxon Warrior already has Group 1 winning form around Doncaster which as we all know is a long, flat galloping track especially in the straight, and that will help him a lot should he come to Doncaster at the end of the season with the Triple Crown very much still on. Saxon Warrior has already had an outing at York Racecourse this season too, another helpful experience for what lies ahead for him, coming around a left-hand bend and setting off up a long half-mile straight run to the line, so it's obvious that Team Ballydoyle really do fancy him for the Triple Crown and are getting as well prepared as they possibly can after 2012 which will have broke their hearts. The Triple Crown would just be the icing on the cake for all of Aidan's achievements along his career and he still has so many years ahead of him. He will have so many more Triple Crown opportunities in years to come and it would surprise me if the master can't pull off this feat before too long, and he couldn't ask for a better candidate than Saxon Warrior in 2018. 

Image result for Saxon Warrior 2000 guineas


Guineas Ante-Post Focus

19th April 2018 

Over the coming weeks I will be taking a look at some of the biggest and best races over the Spring/Summer and looking into Ballydoyle's chances in those races before providing you with a tip that will hopefully see you win some money. 
This week I will be taking a look at both the QIPCO 2000 & QIPCO 1000 Guineas on the Rowley Mile in the first week of May. Winner of both races in 2017 thanks to Churchill and Winter, Aidan O'Brien boasts a very strong record in the first Classic of the season and promises to send yet another strong team to try and further enhance that record. 

2000 Guineas
Team Ballydoyle's biggest hopes seem to be spread out across three horses, which are Saxon Warrior (4/1F), Gustav Klimt (5/1) and U S Navy Flag (14/1).

Saxon Warrior brings the best form into the race should he run. This son of Deep Impact was a gutsy winner of the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster at the back end of last season, seeing off Roaring Lion by a neck in good-to-soft ground. Making smooth headway inside the final 2f, Roaring Lion went with and headed Saxon Warrior inside the final furlong, and although being slightly hampered in last 100 yards, Saxon Warrior gamely stuck on to get his head back in front to land the final Group 1 of the season. He will benefit a lot more from faster ground this season which he didn't get at Doncaster and he should get further too. As we all know, the Racing Post Trophy is seen as a big Derby Trial nowadays but it remains to be seen whether he will see out the full 1m4f. He should have enough speed to run a big race in the 2000 Guineas and he is the deserved favourite. 

Gustav Klimt is next and is generally valued as a 5/1 shot after winning the Leopardstown 2000 Guineas Trial off a 300 day lay-off from the G2 Superlative Stakes over 7f at Newmarket in July of last year. After finishing fifth on debut at the Curragh over 6f, Gustav Klimt is now seeking a fourth win in a row in the 2000 Guineas back at Newmarket next month. Chasing the leaders throughout, Gustav was slightly hampered and lost his place 2f out, but after switching left and making significant headway again, he ran on gamely to win by a head, showing a lot of class of determination in the process. Course winning form isn't essential in the 2000 Guineas, as the last two winners have both come to Newmarket for the first time to land the first Classic of the season. Gustav Klimt has won on the July Course which may give him a slight advantage of knowing how to handle the undulations of an up and down track like the Rowley Mile and he has to have a massive chance of putting that experience to good use and winning a third 2000 Guineas in four runnings for Team Ballydoyle. 

The final Aidan O'Brien trained colt I expect to see lined up in the 2000 Guineas is U S Navy Flag. The Champion Two-Year-Old of the last season after winning both the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes and Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes, he without doubt brings the best form into the race as he has two victories on the Rowley Mile and he did beat Mendelssohn in the Dewhurst who has since hacked up in Dubai by 18 lengths and is very well fancied for the Kentucky Derby. The only worry about U S Navy Flag is the fact he is by War Front who unfortunately hasn't had a good record with his three-year-olds in Europe in recent years and he was very disappointing when finishing stone last in the Guineas Trial at Leopardstown behind Gustav Klimt, finding absolutely no extra when asked to go on, but that could have been the ground which was very testing. He is worth another chance on faster ground to tell us if he has trained on and hadn't done too much last season and at his current price, he will certainly have plenty of e/w supporters. If he bounces back at Newmarket, he will be a seriously formidable force but you can understand many punters reservations. 

My tip:

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Back Gustav Klimt at 5/1. I was very impressed with the way he came back from being hampered in the Superlative Stakes to win at Newmarket last season not to mention how well he travelled in his seasonal reappearance at Leopardstown, settling out the back quietly before making good progress approaching final furlong chasing the leaders before asserting nicely to go and win his race going away. His reappearance couldn't have gone any smoother and his connections will be delighted. He has a massive chance. 

1000 Guineas
Moving on from the 2000 Guineas, we move on to the following day, where the fillies have their chance to take centre stage, with the 1000 Guineas highlighting another great day's racing on the Rowley Mile. 

Winning with arguably his third string last season, Winter, who went on to be the star filly of the season, Aidan O'Brien will be looking to land his third 1000 Guineas in three consecutive seasons, but does have to deal with the unfortunate injury of Clemmie, who is now likely to miss the Newmarket showpiece and the two who I would like to focus on and highlight as the two leading fancies from Team Ballydoyle are Happily and September.

Beginning with Happily, the full-sister to past 2000 Guineas winner Gleneagles, Happily will be very well fancied to emulate her brother's success now especially with the absence of Churchill's sister, Clemmie. After finishing down the field on her racecourse debut, Happily won four of her next five starts, which included two Group 1 successes, firstly in the Moyglare Stud Stakes on Irish Champions Weekend and then the Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere, beating the colts from the back of the field, coming through nicely at the finish. She was very disappointing at Del Mar, finishing last of fourteen runners at the Breeders' Cup, but I think you can forgive that run and put it down to a very long season. I would strongly fancy her to put that run right behind her at Newmarket and bounce back to her very best and have a great chance of landing the first fillies' classic. 

Moving on to September. By Deep Impact based in Japan, September is a filly I've loved since day one when she hacked up by five and a half lengths at Leopardstown. She was my banker of the week in the Chesham where she impressively came upsides and scooted past her rivals to win, beating Nyaleti by two and a half lengths, putting herself on the map as one of the leading two-year-old's of the season. Things went slightly downhill from there, managing only fourth in the Gr2 Debutante at the Curragh where Magical beat Happily, she then chased home those rivals again in the Moyglare, which in fairness had turned out to be decent form. September then ran a screamer when only beaten a nose at Newmarket in the Group 1 Fillies Mile, beaten by Laurens who is clearly a top class filly. On her final start, September ran another great race for third at the Breeders' Cup in the race where she was expected to fall short again to Happily. I really think she has an amazing chance of giving Aidan a third consecutive 1000 Guineas and I would absolutely love to see her do it. 

My tip

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I think this 1000 Guineas is going to be very tight and the two Ballydoyle fillies will definitely not be far away from each other and the winner will depend on what the ground is like. With Happily's only run on fast ground resulting in her bombing out at Del Mar after a long season, it's clear as day her best form does come on a softer surface whereas September prefers it rattling fast, though she has won on yielding ground. This is going to rather look like I'm letting my heart rule my head but I really do think September can win the 1000 Guineas, and if the ground does turn out to be on the fast side which is tends to be at Newmarket in May, that is only going to boost her chances even more. Her run behind Laurens over C&D ws outstanding and if she can reproduce that I think she has to be very close in there, but you can't also discount Happily bouncing back to form and you'd have to respect she has held September in the past but on softer ground, so I'm going to stick firm with my selection and that is to back September at 7/1 most definitely to place in the 1000 Guineas but I also strongly fancy her to win it. 

By Lewis Wheatley For Lewis Wheatley Blogs 9th April 2018

Ballydoyle Horses To Follow 2018/19:
With the new flat season starting to kick into gear, I have prepared a list of horses reigning from the world renowned Ballydoyle Stables who I think you ought to keep your eyes on over the upcoming season and those who will have big hands to play at the big Summer and Autumn Festivals. Starting with the Juveniles, I will look into yet another strong team of two-year-old's for Team Ballydoyle and some of the less exposed three-year-old's going into their Classic seasons. So without further a do, here we go. 

1) UNNAMED (Galileo x Butterfly Cove)

A full-sister to Group 1 winner's Ballydoyle & Misty For Me, this (so far) unnamed daughter of Galileo is bred in the purple and will be one of the many regally bred fillies in the Ballydoyle yard this season. All being well, I'm sure Aidan will target races like the Prix-Marcel Boussac and that calibre for this filly who could follow in the footsteps of Ballydoyle who also won this race herself in her two-year-old career.

2) UNNAMED (Galileo x Magic Tree)

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Another very well bred daughter of Galileo, this filly is a half-sister to the ultra-consistent former Coral Eclipse winner, Mukhadram. If she is anything like her half-brother, she will be a very high class filly and will hold her own very well in races of the highest level.

3) UNNAMED (Galileo x Night Lagoon)

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A half-sister to 4 time Group 1 winner Novellist, who as a three-year-old, won the Grand Prix De Saint Cloud in France before romping away with the King George at Ascot and closing out his career back on home soil with success in the Grosser Preis Von Baden-Baden. This filly will be stamina laden and a filly who will come into her own certainly as a three-year-old. 

4) LAND FORCE (No Nay Never x Theann) 

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Purchased at Goff's Orby for 350,000 euros, this son of freshman sire No Nay Never is a half-brother to Grade 1 winner in the United States on turf, Photo Call, who most famously beat Queen Anne heroine Tepin. I have heard some really good things about the first crop of No Nay Never and hopefully this young fella will be one of the best of the crop.

5) UNNAMED (Dubawi x Sky Lantern)

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By leading sire Dubawi and the first foal out of QIPCO 1000 Guineas heroine Sky Lantern, you would be silly not to be jotting down this colt in your notebook's this term. I genuinely can't remember the last time Coolmore invested in any of Dubawi's crop until this season which says a lot and I think with his pedigree you would be forgiven for expecting some big things from this colt. 

1) AMEDIO MODIGLIANI (Galileo x Gooseberry Fool)

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By the best stallion in the world, Galileo, Amedeo Modigliani is very much an unknown quantity coming into this season, and has almost halved in price for the Epsom Derby in June. Third on racecourse debut behind Gustav Klimt at the Curragh, Amedeo followed that up breaking his maiden over a mile, quickening up nicely to go past his nearest challenger and scoot clear to win by upwards of five lengths. He's entered in the Guineas, but it remains to be seen whether he does indeed go down that route. The Irish Derby Trial route of the Ballysax and the Derrinstown seems the most likely, Chester will be given thought I'm sure but Ballydoyle is blessed with having so many hopefuls they can spread them out leading up to June so keep your eyes peeled. 

2) U S NAVY FLAG (War Front x Misty For Me)

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Winner of the G1 Middle Park and G1 Dewhurst at Newmarket at the back end of last season, it's without doubt that U S Navy Flag was the Champion 2yo of the season. The form in particular of the Dewhurst has turned out to be top notch too, where U S Navy Flag cosily saw off Mendelssohn who hacked up in the UAE Derby by 18 1/2 lengths and goes to Kentucky as a leading candidate. Of course the major question mark is War Front 3yo's in Europe don't exactly have a very good record, so it's understandable many will fear this son of his will not train on at 3, but there is no doubting his form coming into this season and being out of one of Aidan's finest ever racemares, he might have a chance of doing what other sons of War Front were not able to succeed. You'll see this guy at Newmarket for the 2000 Guineas. 

3) ST PATRICK'S DAY (Pioneerof The Nile x Littleprincessemma)

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A full-brother to American Triple Crown hero American Pharoah, St. Patrick's Day has quite interestingly been moved from the Bob Baffert stable to Aidan O'Brien for the upcoming turf season. In two starts,  St. Patrick's Day finished second at Del Mar over 6f before following up over C&D the next time out, and it's worth noting that both of those starts came on the all-weather, so obviously connections feel he has what it takes to act on turf considering his dirt pedigree. It will be really interesting to see what happens this coming season with him and what sort of plan is in place, but one thing is for certain, if all goes well, I will fully expect him to see him part of a very strong Breeders' Cup team in November, and he could be perfect for a whole range of different races, maybe, finally, the long overdue Breeders' Cup Classic?

4) DIFFERENT LEAGUE (Dabirsim x Danseuse Corse)

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Another new recruit into the Ballydoyle ranks this season, Different League makes the move from France and former trainer Mathieu Palussiere. Different League kicked off her career with a hat-trick of wins at Lyon Parilly, Angers and then raiding Royal Ascot when at 20/1, springing a little bit of a shock to win the 20 runner Albany Stakes (Group 3). She then took a break of almost two months until she was seen finishing third in the G1 Prix Morny at Deauville, losing out only to two fine Karl Burke trained two-year-olds Unfortunately and Havana Grey. Her last start of the season came in the Cheveley Park when she went down just a length and a quarter to now stablemate, Clemmie. It seems that Different League acts on all kinds of ground and has won over two distances, and I'm pretty sure Aidan will carry on to push those boundaries and hopefully see her develop into a top Group/Grade 1 class miler. 

5) THE PENTAGON (Galileo x Vadawina)

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Last season's Tyros Stakes winner at Leopardstown over 7f and G1 Racing Post Trophy third, The Pentagon is a colt I'm excited to see this season up in trip. He drifted like nobody's business on Racing Post Trophy day when he was beaten by a much better Saxon  Warrior, but it's worth noting he wasn't really beaten all that far and he's the one who is going to have a lot more options at 3. I think this son of Galileo is stamina laden and is made for middle distances, and I think you'll see him take in some Derby trials before having a crack at Epsom himself for sure along with Amedeo Modigliani, but I genuinely think his long-term target is going to be the St. Leger at Doncaster, the final classic, over 1m6f and that is where you will see just how much stamina I think this guy possesses. 

That is it for my Ballydoyle horses to follow this season. Hopefully my selections are less obvious than maybe the horses you were expected and are under the radar to yourselves. All these selections have been added to my tracker's and hopefully you do the same. I will continue to update the form figures as the season goes on and hopefully I'll have a list that has proved to be very successful come the Autumn. Thank you all for taking your time to read. 

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