Royal Ascot tips: Hugh Taylor’s selections for day five | Racing News


Hugh Taylor has four selections for the final day of Royal Ascot on Saturday – watch all seven races live on Sky Sports Racing.

Karl Burke’s two-year-olds have had a terrific week, and Motawahij looks overpriced in the Chesham Stakes (2.30).

He made a promising debut at Hamilton earlier this month, shaping in typical fashion for one sourced from the breeze-up sales, knowing his job but over-racing slightly and unable to go with a speedier rival, who subsequently ran creditably in the Coventry Stakes, finishing third of eight in the far-side group and 12th of 24 overall.

Burke has only had three previous runners in this race but one of them, Markyg, had a very similar profile to that of Motawahij, as he was a US-bred breeze-up purchase who also ran at Hamilton on debut (finishing fourth of six) before finding tons of improvement to finish third in the 2008 Chesham at 22/1. His two other runners produced a mid-division finish at 66/1 and, famously, Holloway Boy’s 40/1 debut win two years ago.

Bedtime Story is clearly the right favourite after doing well to overhaul her better-fancied stablemate on her debut at Leopardstown, and that looks the best form on offer, but Motawahij appeals as the best each-way alternative.

Middle Earth was a smart horse last year, but he shaped like a much-improved performer on his seasonal debut at Newbury, and, with a run under his belt and conditions in his favour, he looks to have a valid chance of turning the tables on St Leger winner Continuous – who is the only one of Aidan O’Brien’s 40 runners at Royal Ascot this week to be making his seasonal debut – in the Hardwicke Stakes (3.05).

On his seasonal debut at Newbury over 1m 4f, he wasn’t well positioned off a steady pace, especially considering his best form last year came over 1m 6f, but he produced a terrific, sustained burst of speed to run down King Of Conquest, who very much enjoyed first run on him and went on to win a Listed race in emphatic style next time.

Middle Earth’s closing sectionals that day were eye-catching to say the least – for instance, his final two-furlong time was much quicker than the impressive finish produced by King’s Gambit in the 1m 2f race, and he was also faster over the closing two furlongs than Elite Status in the 6f Carnarvon Stakes or Audience and Charyn in the Lockinge Stakes.

Those figures in isolation don’t actually mean much, as regular followers of sectional times will be aware that it’s not unusual for middle-distance races to produced faster finishing times than races over shorter depending on the respective paces of the races. However, they do highlight how fast he had to go to overhaul a smart rival (now rated 114) who himself was pulling well clear of the remainder.

Continuous is obviously the one to beat, having had Middle Earth over 15 lengths behind when winning the St Leger on softish ground, and if he returns at the top of his game, he’ll be hard to beat. O’Brien stated in a recent At The Races stable tour that they didn’t feel there was a suitable prep race for him and that he had been for two “away” workouts.

However, as well as the very different underfoot conditions, the fact that Middle Earth has had a run and shown what appeared to be much-improved form are plausible reasons for thinking it should be much closer between them this time.

Fivethousandtoone has run shockers in his previous three starts at Ascot, but they were in his pre-headgear days during a period when he was very much in the doldrums, and he’s no forlorn hope in the Wokingham Stakes (5.05) despite his big weight.

He has gone from strength to strength since headgear was fitted and was extremely impressive when overcoming a poor track position to beat Misty Grey, who won subsequently over course and distance in a lightning-fast time before winning a hot Class Two handicap at Epsom.

Fivethousandtoone (right) is Simon Mapletoft's 9/1 pick for Finals Day
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Fivethousandtoone (right) is Hugh’s pick for the Wokingham

With hindsight, Fivethousandtoone faced a very stiff task in the Duke Of York Stakes last time, especially as he raced away from where the contest unfolded, and he performed with plenty of credit in a hot race – six of the eight horses that beat him run in the Group One Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Stakes earlier on the card and he wasn’t that far behind them.

His style ought to lend itself well to the straight track here and he might leave his previous Ascot form behind in the headgear.

Primo Lara has improved significantly since being stepped up to 1m 2f, unsurprisingly given his pedigree, and he still looks a big player despite the 9lb rise for his latest win at York in the Golden Gates Stakes (5.40).

His dam was Listed placed over 1m 4f and 1m 6f, and having been handicapped on three runs over 7f, he has proved a different proposition over 1m 2f on his last two starts.

He came from last to first in great style, recording some fast sectionals, to win at Chelmsford on his handicap debut, and again impressed with the strength of his finish at York last time, having an ordinary field well strung out behind him.

That performance hasn’t been missed by the handicapper, but he started off such a lowly mark that he remains difficult to assess, and a truly-run, big-field race (which he hasn’t yet encountered) might see further improvement.

Hugh’s best bets (1 to 5 points)

2.30 ROYAL ASCOT – 1pt each-way MOTAWAHIJ

3.05 ROYAL ASCOT – 1pt win MIDDLE EARTH

5.05 ROYAL ASCOT – 1pt each-way FIVETHOUSANDTOONE

5.40 ROYAL ASCOT – 1pt win PRIMO LARA

Watch every race from Royal Ascot live on Sky Sports Racing on Saturday.



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