Expect another reshuffle in the Royal Ascot line-up next year. Last weekend’s Saturday card was particularly badly affected by the changes made for this year’s meeting and the indications from Ascot are that a rethink is likely before the 2019 fixture.

Nick Smith, Ascot’s director of racing and communications, has already admitted to the Racing Post that “a few tweaks may be needed” following the disquiet expressed about the closing day card this year, and with Hong Kong punters joining in the fun next year to create an ‘Ascot World Pool’ it is unlikely the course will want to put on an unattractive betting card like Saturday’s again.

A couple of contests for two-year-olds, a Hardwicke Stakes and the normally wide-open Wokingham Stakes both featuring red-hot favourites and the anomaly that is the Queen Alexandra Stakes traditionally closing out the meeting was the worst day’s fare at the Royal meeting in recent times.

Ascot weren’t to know when the decision for the changes were made that Crystal Ocean would scare off the opposition in the Hardwicke or that the putative handicap snip Dreamfield would skew the Wokingham market so markedly, but moving the Windsor Castle Stakes for juveniles to Saturday in place of the Wolferton Handicap ensuring two races for two-year-olds on the day always looked a strange choice.

The introduction of a Saturday Royal Ascot meeting in 2002 was an immediate success and the crowd for the final day is always the highest of the week but it appears the track are in danger of taking that large crowd for granted. But it’s not just about the racegoers – the TV audience figures for Saturday stack up well and on occasions have recorded the highest audiences of the week in recent times.

The reasons given for the switches included a better balance of races on both straight and round courses along with the moving of the Queen’s Vase to Friday when the Village Enclosure isn’t in operation and it “was considered to be a more suitable environment for the three-year-olds, without a crowd where the stalls are positioned”.

The Royal meeting has mostly navigated changes with aplomb in recent years since the debacle of the re-opening of the track in 2006 and the fiasco of many at lower levels not able to see the action, but this is one piece of tinkering that hasn’t worked and will be addressed before plans for next year’s meeting are announced.

Wednesday’s best bets

The crowd at the Kempton evening meeting will have one eye on the World Cup with Brazil playing a crucial match against Serbia. I think the Brazilians will have a tougher time than many expect and the 13-2 about their combative opponents is worth a punt if you fancy if you fancy a bet on the football.

On the track, the bet of the day is the Richard Hannon runner Sergio Leone (7.40) in the one-mile handicap for which they will be under orders just before half-time in the game in Moscow. The selection put up a disappointing show last time following a promising reappearance run at Lingfield in a race that has worked out well, but that was on turf and it’s likely he will be much more suited by the return to the all-weather. Sergio Leone seems certain to appreciate the step up in trip and should give backers a good run for their money in a competitive heat.

Beckhampton trainer Roger Charlton would not send many runners all the way to Carlisle but he should make the trip pay with Gavota (4.30) who has the form from last year to take this Listed prize. She was down the field in the Fred Darling Stakes on her return but looked in need of the outing that day and is taken to land this lesser contest having been granted this drop down in grade.

Carlisle 2.00 Lorton 2.30 Diva D 3.00 Paparazzi 3.30 Vive La Difference 4.00 Tor 4.30 Gavota (nb) 5.00 Final Treat

Salisbury 2.10 Dirty Rascal 2.40 Zac Brown 3.10 Oberyn Martell 3.40 Bombastic 4.10 Infrastructure 4.40 Fitzwilly 5.10 Thimbleweed

Worcester 2.20 Chase Me 2.50 Monbeg Legend 3.20 Cabaret Queen 3.50 Allez Karakoz 4.20 Rolling Maul 4.50 Ezanak 5.20 Balli Martine

Kempton 5.40 Noteworthy 6.10 Spirit Kingdom 6.40 Sporting Chance 7.10 Incentive 7.40 Sergio Leone (nap) 8.10  Eskendash 8.40 Knight Commander

Bath 5.50 Winged Spur 6.20 Fortune And Glory 6.50 Carrie’s Vision 7.20 Case Key 7.50 Volpone Jelois 8.20 Guild 8.50 Crystal Deauville


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