2.30 Royal Ascot – NINE BELOW ZERO (nap)
The selection, trained by Ralph Beckett, is a son of Showcasing who made a winning start to his career in a 5f novice event at Salisbury last month (7/1 chance), recovering from an awkward to race in midfield and tanking along for the most part, shaken up to challenge over a furlong out and leading inside the final 100 yards, clearing away to score by 1½ lengths from Mokatil. He maintained his unbeaten record under a penalty in a similar event at Windsor 17 days ago (6/4 favourite), breaking well and disputing until taking over two furlongs out, shaken up approaching the final furlong and forging clear to score by 3¾ lengths from Midsummer Knight. He beat the second that day around the same distance he had done at Salisbury, but giving that rival 6lbs extra, whilst his debut win received a timely boost with runner-up Mokatil finishing fourth in the Windsor Castle on Tuesday. This colt has impressed with the manner in which he has travelled and finished off his races on both starts, sure to be suited by this track; no surprise to see this son of Showcasing provide his family with another high profile success at this meeting on the heels of Quiet Reflection (out of a half sister to the dam of last year’s Commonwealth Stakes heroine).
5.00 Royal Ascot – AFAAK (nb)
The selection, trained by Charlie Hills, is a well-bred son of Oasis Dream who shaped promisingly first time out when a running-on fourth in a 7f maiden at Newmarket’s Craven meeting in April, still looking rough around the edges but getting the job done when landing a 1m maiden at Thirsk the following month. He took another step forward when landing a 1m handicap at Doncaster earlier this month (12/1 chance), racing with zest towards the rear of the field, making good progress from the two furlong marker and staying on well throughout the final furlong to lead inside the final 50 yards and see off Mountain Angel by ¾ length. This colt has improved with each race so far in his short career, strong at the finish to make a winning start in handicap company in the same race won by last year’s winner Defrocked, winning in spite of rain-softened conditions rather because of them. A 6lb rise for that success doesn’t look punitive, open to significant improvement after just three outings and one try in handicap company (bred to be smart as the son of 1000 Guineas/Coronation Stakes winner Ghanaati); the type to be well suited by this sort of scenario, it wouldn’t at all surprise to see this son of Oasis Dream land the hat-trick in style here.
5.35 Royal Ascot – FIRST NATION
The selection, trained by Charlie Appleby, is a smartly-bred son of Dubawi who stepped up on his debut effort to land an 8.5f maiden at Wolverhampton last October, travelling best throughout and forging clear inside the final furlong to score readily. He shaped well on his return to action in a 10f handicap at Doncaster in April, travelling well but unable to match the finishing speed of Bin Battuta (solid form, pair nicely clear), but he ran too badly to be true finsihing last of 10 in a similar event at Newmarket’s Craven meeting next time out (raced freely). His latest outing came just nine days later in a 10f handicap at Sandown, close up from the outset and settling better, ridden and holding every chance over two furlongs out, sticking to the task well as he came home in second behind subsequent Listed runner-up Flood Warning. He looks to have been saved for this particular event since then, hailing from the stable that supplied the 2015 winner of this race; has long appealed as the type to improve further still once tackling this sort of distance (half brother St Leger winner Mastery and 12f Group 2/3 winner Kirklees among others) and no surprise to see this son of Dubawi in the thick of the action come the business end of matters here.