** Hugh recorded a +282pts profit for 2017 with a return on investment of 1.46, his highest ROI ever. **
Updated 18:30, 19/06 - all bets for Wednesday's racing are online.
Please note, Hugh's column for Royal Ascot on Thursday will appear here on Thursday morning.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but the Queen Mary Stakes on day two at Royal Ascot (2.30) features a clash between a highly-touted Wesley Ward filly and a Clive Cox runner who was very impressive on her debut, and I’m hoping history will repeat itself again, with SHADES OF BLUE looking an excellent each-way bet against the favourite.
Last year the Clive Cox filly Heartache was supported from 8-1 into 5-1 and readily beat the Ward-trained Happy Like A Fool, who was sent off at odds on. Ward’s Chelsea Cloisters has been well talked up in the build-up to this race, but that was very much the case with Happy Like A Fool last year, too.
Chelsea Cloisters won her only outing by eight lengths and clearly merits plenty of respect, but Shades Of Blue could hardly have created a bigger impression when making a winning debut at Ascot last month.
She was held up racing keenly off what wasn’t a strong pace, had to wait briefly for a run as the pace increased, but found plenty to surge through in the final furlong.
Her winning margin was relatively narrow, but that was more a product of the way the race was run, and she left the impression she would have won by a wider margin had the race been run at a stronger gallop (strongest at the finish and took a remarkably long time to pull up).
The placed horses, Queen Of Bermuda and Come on Leicester, were both heavily backed beforehand and they have both franked the form, Queen Of Bermuda winning twice and Come On Leicester once, on each occasion in convincing style and in a good time.
Cox said after the Ascot race that Shades Of Blue would head straight to the Queen Mary, and she looks to have strong credentials.
In the Duke Of Cambridge Stakes (3.40) TRIBUTE ACT might seem one of the first to be crossed off the list on the face of it, rated at least 7lb lower than all her rivals, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see her take a big step forward here and she makes a little each-way appeal.
Her career to date bears one striking resemblance to that of Ribbons, who raced for the same owner/trainer combination. Both finished second in the 1m fillies’ handicap run over today’s course and distance on Victoria Cup day, and Ribbons won the Group 1 Prix Jean Romanet on her next start.
Indeed, trainer James Fanshawe has a tendency to run a progressive filly in that race, having had three previous runners in that handicap. Permission, who was runner-up in the race last year off a mark of 88, Spirit Raiser, fourth off a mark of 80 in 2015, and Alsace Lorraine, who won it off 92 in 2010, all went on to win at Listed level.
Of course, progressing from finishing second off 90, as Tribute Act did, to being a contender in a Group 2 event would be quite a leap, especially as she is 7lb worse off with the winner Urban Fox here, but Tribute Act was better than the bare result in a slightly messy race that day, left with too much to do in a race where the field briefly split into two groups.
With Lincoln Rocks and Billesdon Bess in the field, plus Hydrangea running over 1m having won over 1m4f at this meeting last year, there should be a good gallop on here, and that might bring about the necessary further improvement for Tribute Act to make an impact.
The big betting event of the day is the Royal Hunt Cup. I’m not going to put up a selection in the race, partly because my interest in the contest is totally focussed on Raising Sand, who I part-own, and I’ve always said I’m not going to go down the avenue of tipping horses that I have shares in.
That said, he’s the only horse I’ve backed in the race and we’re very hopeful, even though his best form (including when he was third to Accidental Agent and Lord Glitters last year) has probably come on much softer ground.
I’m sure he’s capable of winning a big handicap when everything drops right, and his jockey Jamie Spencer has a remarkable record in 1m handicaps here (since the course was relaid he’s 13-55, 23.6%, +89.5 pts, with an actual over expected winners figure of 2.3).
I’ll be at Ascot tomorrow, so Thursday’s column will appear on Thursday morning rather than Wednesday evening as a consequence.
Hugh's Best Bets (scale 1-5 points):
2.30 ROYAL ASCOT, WEDNESDAY, QUEEN MARY STAKES
2pts each-way SHADES OF BLUE (6-1 bet365, Coral, Ladbrokes, William Hill, 11-2 Betfred, Bet Victor)
3.40 ROYAL ASCOT, WEDNESDAY - DUKE OF CAMBRIDGE STAKES
1pt each-way TRIBUTE ACT (20-1 general)
Hugh gives a daily indication of when the column will be published via Twitter.com (username is HughRacing).
Hugh recorded a +281pts profit for 2016 with a return on investment of 1.44, his highest ROI ever. You can view his monthly figures by clicking the links below:
2017 results ROI 1.46 +282pts
2016 results ROI 1.44 +281pts
2015 results ROI 1.34 +207pts
2014 results ROI 1.32 +199.79pts
2013 results ROI 1.32 +210pts
2012 results ROI 1.31 +222.65pts
2011 results ROI 1.28 +302.64 pts
2010 results ROI 1.23 +324.79 pts
2009 results ROI 1.26 +500.36 pts