Racing tip of the day
Ian Brindle believes that the National Hunt trainers can enjoy another good day in the Ascot Stakes on day one of the Royal meeting.
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Lieutenant Miller 5.00 Royal Ascot
The Ascot Stakes is certainly not one of those races for the weak of heart as it produces demands on both sides of the equation.
Of its participants, it requires an ability to stay the extreme distance, while of punters, it requires a heady combination of guesswork and formbook appreciation to unearth the winner.
Those that have stuck with National Hunt trainers to the exception of the Flat boys have been on the ball more often than not in recent renewals with Willie Mullins, Nicky Henderson, Paul Webber, Suzy Smith and the Pipe family (David and Martin) all saddling winners.
Today the bookmakers believe that we may have a change to that roll of honour with Lady Cecil's Tiger Cliff put in as a favourite.
A winner at Newmarket in May, the four-year-old has shaped as if he'll stay further than the 1m6f he excelled over and it's fair to say that the handicapper hasn't been given too many opportunities to do his sums.
I was very taken by Well Sharp at York, and Jonjo O'Neill's inmate (who was third in the 2011 King George V Stakes behind Black Panther) is undoubtedly a class act on his day though the steadier of an additional 10lb might just be enough to stop him on this occasion.
Big Easy is fascinating on his first run on the level for Philip Hobbs. A winner of three races on the Flat in France - the six-year-old is better known in this country as a hurdler and landed a gamble at Cheltenham's meeting in April.
It isn't too often that you'll find Pontefract winners taking top rank at the Royal meeting but ignore your traditional prejudices of the West Yorkshire track and side with LIEUTENANT MILLER this afternoon.
Nicky Henderson's gelding was impressive in landing the Phil Bull Conditions Stakes last term (beaten the much vaunted Zuider Zee) and he proved that to be no fluke with a good second on reappearance at Newbury before obliging at Doncaster next time out.
Predictably he went up 7lb for that effort but this race looks very much to have been the aim as Graham Lee was booked for the mount and that penalty was enough to squeeze him in at the foot of the handicap.