Alex Hammond Blog: Royal Ascot selections and one to watch on the Roodee this Saturday | Race News

Sky Sports Racing presenter Alex Hammond has returned from a trip to Wales and has his eye on Royal Ascot as well as Chester action this weekend.

After a run of dismal form, I don’t seem to have lost the ability to find a winner or two, and right now my confidence is reasonably high. We know in horse racing that it’s best not to be overconfident, but hopefully the race will continue until at least Royal Ascot.

Royal week itself is busy for me, and there’s also a lot of preparation to do outside of the races with five fancy outfits to find, and for a girl whose casual outfit is the default, I need all the help i can get!

Let’s put that on the back burner for now because I wanted to point out a horse that won in style recently that I think you should put in your tracker.

dark change seems to have an affinity with Ascot and his five races there have resulted in three wins – he hasn’t been dishonored by defeat either. I could imagine him racing in the Victoria Cup, but the poor draw cost him that day, so I returned to Nottingham this weekend.

Sure enough, the first day of my vacation at home and he went home. Now he’s teetering on a note that might sound like he’s been knocked out Royal Hunt Cupso I keep everything crossed, he gets a run.

I’m afraid he hasn’t eluded anyone else either and is already Sky Bet’s 10/1 second favourite. He is progressing at a breakneck pace, however, and he looks like a band performer in the future for trainer Charlie Hills.

No Moore opens the door to others in Chester

I won’t be immersing myself too much at Ascot just yet, so let’s expect a busy race weekend. I leave for Chester on Saturday for the Roman feast live on Sky Sports Racing and I can’t wait to be back on the Roodee.

There are no riders from Aidan O’Brien’s stable and Ryan Moore is also in action elsewhere, so everyone had a chance to get in on the act!

Few coaches have regained form recently as well as Tim Easterby. I was in the Sky Sports Racing studio on Thursday as the Yorkshire maestro dispatched a hat-trick at his most successful track, Ripon.

He spoke to us afterwards and gave a positive mention to Boardman that runs in functionality ICM Stellar Sport Handicap in Chester on Saturday.

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Boardman wins in 2021 at the Dante Festival in York

Now, if you look at Easterby’s strike rate over the past two weeks, you might not be blown away. He sends loads of runners and that slightly dilutes those numbers.

However, at the time of this writing, five of his last fourteen runners have won, with all five coming from eleven runners over two days at Ripon.

He has three runners at Chester, two of them in this handicap. Despite the drop in disability, Devilwala is a big-money underdog but remember he finished 2 ¾ lengths behind St. Mark’s Basilica when he was fourth in Dewhurst in 2020 and was not disgraced when he was fourth in Craven 2021.

Things have regressed since then and he has to prove it on his recent form, but if the move to Easterby sparks a revival he can’t be completely brushed off an 81 rating.

This is his fourth start for the stable and he faces one of his easiest tasks yet considering the noble company he has kept. It’s the kind his trainer excels at, and Boardman may have the most to fear from the inside.

Falcon Eight and Frankie Dettori win the 2021 Chester Cup
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Falcon Eight and Frankie Dettori win the 2021 Chester Cup

Despite this, Boardman appears to hold the greatest chance for the yard. When I Googled “tight left-handed racing circuit” hoping to find a sporting comparison for Chester’s unusual layout, Chester Racecourse was the first thing that came up in the search.

However you describe it, the tight nine furlong oval fits Boardman well (maybe with a name like Boardman I should compare the track to a velodrome, and maybe that’s not no coincidence that, like his namesake, he runs in yellow!).

The equine Boardman was not helped by the draw at the May Festival, but with a near-perfect draw in two on Saturday he should have more options.

He needs to challenge for a career high here after wins at Haydock and Thirsk this season, but he looks as good as ever and it’s not an impossible task.

Fools rush objects to finishing a spot ahead of Boardman at the May meeting. He represents Hugo Palmer who got off to a good start at Manor House Stables (former base of Tom Dascombe).

Like the favourite, he also doesn’t look thrown in the weights but should run well.

Tomfre didn’t do as well in this race earlier this month. It drops slightly in weight, but the drying conditions seem to go against it.

Azano will aim to take them forward and trainer David O’Meara’s horses ran well. I never seem to get any runners from this yard, so I’ll leave that out of my calculations.

It can be supported by Mykonos Saint John who has already won from the front and clinched pole position. It will, however, have to be lively from the gates.

Oh it’s us was a star for Richard Hannon and the nine-year-old has now earned more than £727,000 for his relationships over an 86-run career.

He likes it around Chester and is well disabled too, so write him off at your own risk. I imagine the team dreads the day of his retirement. He shoots well in 3.

Chester wouldn’t be Chester without a Gabrial or two and Gabriel Le Fil won here a few times. He’s not too handicapped these days, but a wide draw in nine didn’t help his cause.

thought of love is reasonably difficult to assess as he did most of his shopping in Italy. It has plenty of weight and a wide draw.

spirit of light hasn’t raced those hills too many times either, but he’s with a very capable trainer in Ian Williams, so he’ll win races. He was backed up by one of the worst draws in 10.

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Hugo Palmer admitted he was spoiled for choice in the three-year-old sprint division after Flaming Rib’s win at Chester on Friday.

The only other horse in the lineup is Humanitarian who won over a mile, a mile and a quarter and a mile and a half for former trainer John Gosden. He’s drawn in 11 of 11.

In summary, Boardman is Sky Bet’s 9/4 favorite and rightly so.

Oh This Is Us is one for the 8/1 shortlist, but I’m quite tempted by 1/25 by the way. Devilwala since Sky Bet offers 5 places. He will win races this season, I’m sure, but whether it will be Saturday remains to be seen.

Baldness is worth keeping aside

If you look at Chester’s all-time stats, Andrew Balding is the manager you’d want to have on your side. Numerically it has not had the most winners, that distinction is held by Richard Fahey with 150 winners.

However, Balding’s stake level profit is £70.60, the only manager to generate a top five profit.

He sends three riders from his base in Hampshire and will be disappointed if the van returns to Park House Stables without a winner on board.

Whist Ryan Moore temporarily wore the “King of Chester” crown at the May meeting, Franny Norton hopes to reign supreme with five Roodee-only rides.

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Ryan Moore admitted he was still confident his Cleveland mount would win the Chester Cup after his eighth victory of the week over the Roodee.

His stats show you the veteran driver has celebrated 141 winners on this tricky circuit over more than 1,000 races, 73 more wins than his closest pursuer Richard Kingscote.

Granted, he’s had more years to rack up those numbers, but it’s still impressive. So he has the experience, and the best of his rides seems to be the two riders Mark and Charlie Johnston in the last two races.

Sharp Combo departs at 4:55 p.m. and should appreciate the increase in travel and Fairmac runs in the last at 5.30pm and if Franny can get him to the front of pit 4 it may take a little while, although Andrew Balding may have something to say about that while he runs Fox Teumessias which holds very strong claims.

Vazire and mind blender are the other two runners for Balding, with the latter holding the best chance of the duo.


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