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HELICLOPTER SATURDAY; Aidan's speedster Caravaggio will see me upgrade to chopper for Ascot arrival.

Royal Ascot truly does mean something to everyone.

For the toffs it's about the Queen's hat colour and quaffing Pimm's.

For the rest of us it's about avoiding wee oinks spilling beer over you and seeing if you can get through the 30-race week with a profit instead of your house on the market.

Of course, you'll need to remortgage to pay for five days' admission. Even so, it's a week packed full of class.

Jump racing holds sway in the UK but if there is one week and one meeting that gets close, it's this.

Each day offers punting chances with the first focused on the shorties.

Ribchester and Churchill are the Tuesday hotpots and it's hard to get away from them.

Backing shorties at Royal Ascot hasn't been a disastrous plan, especially when the money is down for the Ballydoyle mob.

Lightning Spear is surely the only one who can get to Ribchester in the Queen Anne but he was thumped in the Lockinge and will need a change of ground to rattling fast to alter the result. He is an each-way cert to be in the places for money back.

Churchill might face a trickier task on the turning mile track but Barney Roy needs to find a JOE lot to catch the Guineas hero. If you can get 5/2 on the double it might be worth it.

The King's Stand has always been my favourite Tuesday race and I can see Signs Of Blessing giving French trainer Francois R o h a u t a scot a fantastic day out having come third in the Diamond Jubilee a year ago.

It's like Cheltenham in the Ascot Stakes with Willie Mullins holding the cards. I'd be all over Penhill if he comes over although Fitri Hay's Beyond Conceit is a danger for Nicky Henderson. Wednesday's highlight is the Prince of Wales's Stakes, which is wide open.

Jack Hobbs and Ulysses dominate the market but I wouldn't be against Highland Reel or even So Mi Dar if John Gosden throws the dice and gives him an entry.

The Royal Hunt Cup will be a beezer.

There is no greater sight than seeing a full field charging across the course down that straight mile. As usual, it's murder to figure out - even though favourite Fastnet Tempest did me a right turn in his previous outing at Ascot. At prices of around 8/1 he'll be hard to kick out of the four if taking this fixture.

However, it was interesting to note one of the game's shrewdest judges last week tipping up two of the Al Shaqab horses in Afjaan and El Vip. If I had to pick one it would probably be Willie Haggas' Victory Bond at around 14/1.

Thursday's Gold Cup is all about Order Of St George for Aidan O'Brien. Simple Verse, Big Orange and Torcedor are all worthy of each-way support but the favourite surely has that blend of staying ability and class.

American trainer Wesley Ward has done so much to extend the appeal of this meeting and his best chance of the week looks to lie with the talented McErin in the Norfolk Stakes.

Swiss Storm is getting some decent mentions for the Britannia and is a possible each-way bet. One who is not an each-way on Thursday is Alpha Centauri in the Albany.

Jessica Harrington enjoyed a brilliant season over jumps and this will be her Royal Ascot winner.

Aidan O'Brien's Caravaggio is a rocket and I'll back him regardless of price in Friday's Commonwealth Cup. There is no doubting Blue Point and Harry Angel are dangerous - they're the tricast.

But hopefully a bit of money will come for that pair and get me odds against on Caravaggio. If that happens and he wins, I'll be taking a helicopter to the meeting on Saturday - especially if the short-price Winter does the damage in the Coronation Stakes and completes a double for the master of Ballydoyle.

By the time Saturday comes, of course, the body will be almost broken and it may take another huge day of punting success to piece it back together.

Charles Hills' Magical Memory is worth a punt in the Diamond Jubilee. In the cavalry charge Wokingham I'll give another chance to Eastern Impact for Richard Fahey after he was narrowly done at Newmarket on 1000 Guineas day.

Once one of the jumps boys wins the Queen's Vase we'll be in bits. The top hats will be on the deck, the suit soaked in beer and the high heels in hands. Let's hope the wallet is intact.

" There is no greater sight than a full field charging down that straight mile

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FIRST OUT THE BLOCKS Caravaggio is the standout at Royal Ascot given his speed but there are plenty to back in an exciting week of action that will attract crowds (right) as well as the Queen (below right
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 18, 2017
Words:824
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