NAP Lady Aurelia 7/4 (Whill) – Ascot 15:40 – 2pts win Lost -2pts
NB Without Parole 3/1 (Whill) – Ascot 16:20 – 2pts win WON +6pts
3B Benbatl 5/1 (Boyles) – Ascot 14:30 – 2pts win Lost -2pts
Lucky 15 (PP) – 1.5pts total win -0.85pts
NAP 13/8 Lost
NB 11/4 WON
3B 5/1 Lost
Sergei Prokofiev 11/4 – Ascot 15:05 3rd
Royal Ascot – Tuesday
2.30 Queen Anne Stakes – Group 1 – 1 mile
- 20/26 winners were aged 4
- A Godolphin runner has won this race on 8 occasions
- The winner tends to come from the first 4 in the betting
- 13 of the last 15 winners had previously won a Group 1 race prior to winning the Queen Anne
A fantastic line-up for the first race of Royal Ascot 2018 sees fifteen scheduled to go to post for the Queen Anne Stakes, a Group 1 race that takes place over a mile trip. The current favourite is Rhododendron, one of two Aidan O’Brien runners, who was last seen winning the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes at Newbury. A four-year-old, dual Group 1 winner who is versatile with regards to conditions and trip, she fits the key stats for this race and on paper looks a worthy favourite, yet I can’t help but feel she could prove vulnerable.
Benbatl won at this meeting last year and also brings Group 1 winning form to the table having won the Dubai Turf at Meydan by over three lengths when last seen. A winner on debut and when last returning from a break, the 80-day gap between races shouldn’t be a concern and he looks to be a big threat to the favourite especially given the Godolphin record in this race.
Recoletas wasn’t disgraced when fourth in the Champion Stakes last October, finishing behind three subsequent Group winners, and arrives in great form having won two from two so far in 2018. Five of his six turf victories have come in softer ground conditions but he has won one on good ground so it would be no surprise to see a big run here.
Given the key race stats it is likely that the winner of the opener will come from one of the above three. That said, I have been watching the progress of Century Dream quite closely and although this will undoubtedly be his toughest test to date he was an impressive winner of a Group 3 race earlier this month, beating True Valour and Sovereign Debt (who have won at Group 3 and Listed level respectively since), and has won five from six over trips of around a mile. Both jockey and trainer are in excellent form and have teamed up for three wins and a placed effort from five in the last twelve months so I’m hoping that we see a big run from Century Dream.
Benbatl 5/1 (Boyles)
Century Dream 28/1 e/w (Whill – 4 places)
3.05 Coventry Stakes – Group 2 – 6f
- Aidan O’Brien has won this race 8 times (3 times with supposed 2nd or 3rd string)
- 33/34 winners won on the last run before the Coventry Stakes
- The winner tends to come from the first five in the betting
- Unbeaten horses (particularly once raced) have a good record in this race
Given the manner of his two turf victories to date, coupled with stable form in this race, Sergei Prokofiev looks a worthy favourite for the Coventry. A four-length victory at Listed level on his last start, following up on a seven-length victory on turf debut, he may not have beaten much in terms of the opposition but nevertheless has been impressive, travelling well and finishing his races off really strongly. On this evidence the step up in trip shouldn’t be too much of a problem and he could take all the beating.
Aidan O’Brien also runs The Irish Rover who improved for the step up to six furlongs, beating a decent yardstick in Barbill (who re-opposes today) by over two lengths. Given Ryan Moore’s presence on the favourite it would appear The Irish Rover is the stable second string, however with the stable having won this race on numerous occasions with a bigger priced option it would be foolish to discount The Irish Rover.
Calyx ran with his head cocked to one side for the first half of his debut but still travelled strongly and pulled away nicely when asked, finishing five lengths ahead of a last-time-out winner in second and the third a further six lengths behind. He should have learnt a lot from that and he looks the most likely to give the favourite something to think about.
Others to consider at bigger prices include I Am A Dreamer who is two from two since stepping up to six furlongs and Ninetythreetwenty who is unbeaten in two career runs including when beating the re-opposing Cosmic Law on debut. Both would need to improve to beat the market principles but could outrun their odds and potentially sneak a place.
Sergei Prokofiev 11/4 (coral)
3.40 Kings Stand Stakes – Group 1 – 5f
- 12/13 winners won or placed 2nd on their last run prior to racing in the Kings Stand Stakes
- The Temple Stakes winner (Battaash) has followed up in the Kings Stand Stakes 6 times since 1990
- 17/18 winners had previously won a Group 1 race over 5 furlongs
- Respect 3-year olds
This race promises to be an exciting dual between the Wesley Ward trained Lady Aurelia and Charlie Hills’ Battaash.
Battaash finished ahead of a number of today’s rivals (Washington DC, Kachy, Mabs Cross) when winning the Temple Stakes on seasonal re-appearance in May and although all of these rivals are proven over the minimum trip and are excellent runners in their own right it is difficult to see any of them getting turning the tables. A winner of five of his last six, including the Group 1 Prix De L’Abbaye he would likely be an odds-on shot were it not for the presence of Wesley Ward’s runner.
Lady Aurelia is unbeaten in two over course and distance, winning the Queen Mary Stakes in 2015 and following up with victory in this race last year, beating a top-class field by three lengths. She runs well fresh and her trainer always targets the Royal meeting so despite the opposition she looks tough to oppose.
A final mention goes to Blue Point who is yet to fire in 2018 but is proven at Group 3 and Group 2 level and has an excellent record at the course having won two and placed once from three prior runs. He is yet to taste victory at the highest level but would be a danger if re-discovering some of his best form from the last two seasons.
Lady Aurelia 7/4 (Whill)
4:20 St James’s Palace Stakes – Group 1 – 1 mile
- Every winner since 1992 has been 9/1 or less in the betting
- Aidan O’Brien has won 7 of the last 18 renewals (6 of which contested the Irish 2000 Guineas)
- Horses that failed to finish in the first 4 of any 2000 Guineas race have poor records in the St James’s Palace Stakes
- 14/23 winners ran in both the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket & the Irish 2000 Guineas
The St James’s Palace Stakes is a Group 1 race for three-year-old colts, over a race distance of a mile, and is usually contested by runners that have already raced in the 2000 Guineas, Irish 2000 Guineas or the Poule d’Essai des Poulains.
The Irish 2000 Guineas winner Romanised won on debut but had threatened to become a shade disappointing before the step up to a mile saw a commanding victory at The Curragh. His trainer has only had 4 winners from over 100 runners in the last twelve months but based on the Guineas performance you would have to think that if he turns up in similar mood then he would be in with a decent chance of following up here.
Aidan O’Brien saddles three runners, all of whom finished behind Romanised in the Irish 2000 Guineas, finishing second, third and fourth respectively. All three have won over shorter trips but are yet to taste victory over a mile, yet all three again have the potential to get involved, especially considering the stable dominance of this race. Of the three, US Navy Flag is the preference of Ryan Moore but it is Gustav Klimt who would be my preference of the trio as I think he is the most capable of further improvement.
Tip Two Win was a solid second behind Saxon Warrior in the 2000 Guineas and could improve for that run (his first in eight months) although his trainer is yet to saddle a winner at Ascot so he would have to break a thirty-six race losing streak to emerge victorious here.
Wootton was unbeaten in his first three starts before a flat performance when fourth on good ground at Longchamp when last seen and given that the front three have all disappointed since he arrives here with a bit of a point to prove.
With question marks over all of the above, we turn to our selection Without Parole. He was a little workmanlike when winning the Heron Stakes at Sandown in May but got the job done in the end and the good-to-soft ground was definitely against him that day. His first run on turf, on good-to-firm ground, produced a six-length victory in commanding fashion and with similar conditions forecast today I think there is more to come from the unbeaten John Gosden three-year-old.
Without Parole 3/1 (Whill)
5.00 Ascot Stakes – Handicap – 2m 4f
- The last 9 winners all won at odds of 12/1 or less
- 20/28 winners came from the first five in the betting, although the favourite doesn’t have a great record
- 13/16 winners came from stables who are primarily known for jumps racing
- 15/19 winners were aged 4 or 5, although the last 4 years have seen Irish horses aged 7+ win this race
Willie Mullins has won three of the last six renewals of this race and runs five, all of which are prominent in the early betting, in an attempt to emerge victorious again. Stratum is the early favourite and had looked an exciting recruit to the stable having moved from John Gosden last season, winning his first race over hurdles with some authority and following up with a decent second behind subsequent Supreme Novice Hurdles third Mengli Khan, before disappointing when last seen at Ballinrobe in May. A winner over ten fiurlongs when racing on the flat, it remains to be seen if his stamina will last this trip but he looks an interesting prospect all the same.
Whiskey Sour won his last two on the flat (in the Summer of 2017) and has had a productive spring over hurdles with placed efforts in some strong races at both Cheltenham and Punchestown. He has done the majority of his winning on ground with some cut but did win over hurdles on good-to-firm ground last summer so could make his presence felt.
Chelkar, Merie Devie and Lagostovegas are the other three runners for Willie Mullins and in truth all have the ability to get involved if arriving on a good day.
This looks to be a tough race to be overly confident in any selection but I’m happy to have an each way play on Dubawi Fifty who has made the frame in nine from thirteen, winning five, and has the in-form Silvestre De Sousa in the saddle, a jockey with a 40% winning strike rate in the last 12 months when riding for Karen Mclintock.
Dubawi Fifty 12/1 e/w (coral – 5 places)
5.35 Wolferton Stakes – Listed – 1 mile & 2 furlongs
- 13/17 winners have been aged 4
- 18/23 winners had raced no more than twice in the season prior to this race
- 10/13 winners came from a single figure draw
- Sir Michael Stoute has sent off six favourites in this race – all have lost
- John Gosden has won three of the last 7 renewals
Laraaib won his first three races, all over a ten-furlong trip, before finishing last season with a decent placed effort at Group 3 level in ground less than ideal. Returning in a Group 3 in May, he again had to deal with softer than ideal conditions but still managed to finish a respectable second, finishing ahead of the re-opposing Fabricate in the process. Trainer Owen Burrows has been quite bullish about his chances here and given that he should get ideal conditions today I am expecting the four-year-old to add to his previous course and distance victory here today.
Mirage Dancer won a Listed contest by three lengths last time out and on that basis alone deserves a mention, although that did come over twelve furlongs rather than the ten he encounters today and his trainer hasn’t had much luck in this race down the years.
In contrast, John Gosden has a great recent record and saddles both Monarchs Glen and Muntahaa. Of the two, preference would be for Monarchs Glen as he is proven over the trip and has Frankie Dettori on board who has won three times previously when riding the four-year-old.
Big Country and Sharja Bridge are two others that would have to be considered for each-way options in a competitive race to end day one of Royal Ascot.
Laraaib 13/2 (PP)
19/6/18 PROFIT/LOSS: +1.15pts
JUNE PROFIT/LOSS: +40.15pts
HISTORIC & ROLLING RESULTS (all updated at the end of each month)
2018 PROFIT/LOSS: +60.26pts
2017 PROFIT/LOSS: +76.17pts
2016 PROFIT/LOSS: +237.55pts
PROFIT/LOSS SINCE JAN 2015: +671.94pts