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)
Royal Ascot – Wednesday
2.30 Queen Mary Stakes – Group 2 – 5f
- 15/17 winners won on their last run prior to racing in the Queen Mary
- Wesley Ward won the 2009, 2015 & 2016 renewals and saddled the runner-up in 2017
- Mick Channon and Richard Hannon also have strong records in this race
Considering Wesley Ward’s record in this race, the fact that he has said Chelsea Cloisters is the best ever two-year-old he has brought over to Royal Ascot suggests that we could be treated to seeing a superstar in the making today. An eight-length winner at Keeneland on debut certainly suggests that she could prove tough to beat, although it is worth noting that the win came on the dirt track so she will need to prove she can also handle the turf.
Shades Of Blue won what looks to be an above average maiden over course and distance in early May, finishing over a length ahead of Queen Of Bermuda (who has won twice in impressive fashion since) and a further length in front of Come On Leicester (also an impressive winner next time out). A repeat of that performance would put her right in the mix here and she looks a decent alternative to the favourite.
The fact that So Perfect could only manage fourth last time out does not bode well for her chances here considering the race stats above, however that race came over six furlongs (won by the re-opposing Servalan) and she had earlier won on debut over the minimum trip so is better judged on that effort, while Kurious, Kodyanna and Little Kim all won last time out and look open to further progression so aren’t dismissed for place purposes.
Shades Of Blue 9/2 (PP)
3.05 Queens Vase – Group 2 – 1 mile & 6 furlongs
- Mark Johnston has won 7 of the last 17 winners
- Aidan O’Brien has saddled 4 winners since 2010, Sir Michael Stoute has saddled 4 winners since 1998
- 10/14 winners were beaten in either a Group or Listed race prior to running in the Queens Vase
- 20/23 winners came from the first 4 in the betting
The head of the market for this years’ renewal of the Queens Vase is dominated by Aidan O’Brien, with all three of his runners currently sat in the top four of the betting. Based on recent form you would have to say that Southern France would be the stable’s best chance as he arrives here having won his last two, both on good-to-firm ground, with the latest coming at Listed level.
That said, Nelson is already a dual Group 3 winner and Kew Gardens has also been competing at the highest level so it could be argued that both should find today’s race a little easier – providing they have the stamina to see out the longer trip.
Stream Of Stars beat a couple of subsequent winners when improving to win a decent-looking maiden over twelve furlongs last time out and is ridden by Frankie Dettori so looks to be the most likely of John Gosden’s two runners to get involved.
Mark Johnston’s record in this race cannot be ignored although Lynwood Gold has already raced three times this season and was behind the re-opposing Jeremiah last time out, while the stables other runner Kings Proctor has been well beaten in all four runs this season despite recording finishing positions of 2232.
Stream Of Stars 4/1 (B365)
3.40 Duke Of Cambridge Stakes – Group 2 – 1 mile
- Sir Michael Stoute has saddled the winner of this race 4 times
- The fave or 2nd fave has won 9 of the 14 renewals since the race was upgraded to a Group 2 race
- 0/10 winners carrying a 5lbs Group 1 penalty
- French-trained runners and runners with a previous victory at Ascot are worthy of a second glance
Hydrangea won the British Champions Fillies and Mares Stakes over twelve furlongs here at Ascot last October, meaning that she has to carry a Group 1 penalty for today’s race – a penalty which has proven too much for the last ten runners carrying the extra 5lbs. Furthermore, she has only managed one win from six over a mile and three of her four career wins have come with cut in the ground so, despite being a dual Group 1 winner, she looks vulnerable to me.
Promising Run won twice at Newmarket earlier in her career but in the last couple of seasons has done all her winning abroad, returning to Ascot twice without success. She is proven at this level and also over the trip but I’m not convinced she will be winning here.
Unforgettable Filly won the Group 2 German 1000 Guineas in June 2017, has two wins over today’s trip and three wins on good or better ground, so at first glance it’s a little surprising to see odds of around 25/1 available for the Hugo Palmer trained four-year-old. That said, her last three runs since winning at Dusseldorf have been disappointing and in truth she would need to show vast improvement if she were to again win at this level.
Tomyris and Wilamina both won Group 3 races last time out and could prove good enough to get involved today, but in a race with no stand out option I’m happy to take on the field with Aljazzi who has posted all three career victories over a mile trip and was less than a length away from Qemah when second in the Duke Of Cambridge Stakes over course and distance last season. A reasonable enough third on seasonal re-appearance should see her fully fit for a big run here.
Aljazzi 9/2 (sky)
4.20 Prince Of Wales Stakes – Group 1 – 1 mile & 2 furlongs
- 27/31 winners came from the first 4 in the betting
- 14/21 winners won on their last run prior to racing in the Prince Of Wales Stakes
- Proven Group 1 winners have a good record in this race
If the early betting is correct then this should be a slam dunk for Cracksman. She has won all three prior races over a ten-furlong trip, one of which came over course and distance when beating the re-opposing Poets Word by seven lengths in the Group 1 Champion Stakes last October, and if arriving anywhere near that level of form she won’t be beaten here today.
Poets Word has made the frame in seven from nine over today’s trip but is yet to win at Group 1 level and has also been beaten by Hawkbill at Meydan earlier in the season, albeit over a longer trip than they encounter today, so could find himself out of the placings with only seven runners declared.
Hawkbill has won at the highest level and although is better known for excelling in softer conditions his last three career wins have come on good ground. A Group 1 winner over ten furlongs in 2016, he would perhaps prefer a couple of extra furlongs to really get going but nevertheless looks to be a decent option for the runner-up position behind the favourite.
Desert Encounter and Cliffs Of Moher have both come up short at the top level and although are decent horses in their own right they don’t look capable of overturning Cracksman.
Cracksman 4/6 (PP)
5.00 Royal Hunt Cup – Handicap – 1 mile
- 28/32 winners have been aged 4 or 5 years old
- 14/19 winners finished either 1st or 2nd earlier in the season
- 12/25 winners came from the first 4 in the betting
- 8/11 winners carried 9stone plus
Over thirty runners to get through and plenty in with chances. I’m happy to keep stakes low and stick with two who I have backed before. Seniority won for us last week, beating Via Serendipity who came out and won over the weekend. His last three wins have come on the all-weather but he does have a turf victory on good-to-firm ground to his name from earlier in his career and arrives here in top form so looks worth chancing despite carrying a penalty.
The second I will be following is Raising Sand who is two from two over course and distance, has made the frame in four from five at Ascot and is three from seven over a mile trip. He should arrive here in peak fitness following his seasonal re-appearance in May and will appreciate the step back up to a mile.
Seniority 10/1 e/w (coral – 6 places)
Raising Sand 20/1 e/w (B365 – 5 places)
5.35 Jersey Stakes – Group 3 – 7 furlongs
- 5/6 winners had previously placed in one form of the Guineas
- Last time out winners and prior Listed winners have strong records in this race
- Aidan O’Brien & Sir Michael Stoute have both won this race 3 times
A decent looking contest to finish day two of Royal Ascot! James Garfield began this season with a battling victory in a Group 3 race at Newbury, finishing ahead of the re-opposing Expert Eye, and has also raced with credit at the highest level since. The form of his Group 2 Mill Reef Stakes victory last season has also been franked with the second (Invincible Army) and third (Nebo) winning subsequent Group 3 races.
Headway struggled in the 2000 Guineas but was fantastic on the all-weather in the Spring Cup at Lingfield in March, coming from last to first to win with ease. Lake Volta finished third in that race but arrives here in good form having put in a commanding victory at Listed level earlier this month. Walk In The Sun is unbeaten in two over seven furlongs but both came on an all-weather surface so has to be taken on trust that he will act on turf, while Tabdeed is also unbeaten in two, both coming on turf, but both coming over six furlongs.
Society Power has now won his last five and just got up in the final stride to beat John Gosden’s Emraaty last time out. It would be no surprise to see another big run from both and I can see Emraaty reversing that form, while Purser also hails from the Gosden stable and also arrives in great form having beat the re-opposing Symbolization in May before a Listed success in May.
Aidan O’Brien runs two – St Patricks Day (his first run in the UK after leaving Bob Baffert) and Could It Be Love (a 33/1 2nd in the Irish 2000 Guineas in May).
With over twenty runners scheduled to go to post and many arriving in excellent form this looks a bit of a lottery of a race. Emraaty looks a worthy favourite but the price isn’t overly enticing and as such I will be keeping stakes low and having an each way punt on both James Garfield and Purser.
James Garfield 14/1 e/w (PP – 5 places)
Purser 14/1 e/w (PP – 5 places)
NAP Sun Maiden 11/4 (B365) – Ascot 15:40 – 2pts win
NB Key Victory 5/1 (sky) – Ascot 15:05 – 2pts win
3B Vintage Brut 5/1 (sky) – Ascot 14:30 – 2pts win
Royal Ascot – Thursday
2.30 Norfolk Stakes – Group 2 – 5 furlongs
- 8/15 winners went off as favourite or second favourite
- Look for horses that have only raced over the minimum trip, unless they are trained by A O’Brien
- 15/24 winners were unbeaten (7/12 winners had won on their sole start prior to the Norfolk Stakes)
- Only 3 winners since 1991 that had lost on their previous start
Shang Shang Shang won at Keeneland on debut, beating a subsequent winner by over two lengths, and as has already been noted in earlier previews Wesley Ward always sends his strongest horses to Royal Ascot so it would be no surprise to see a big run from his two-year-old – although his team have disappointed somewhat so far.
Rumble Inthejungle battled well to record victory on debut and that race has produced a couple of winners since. With the trainer in great recent form and the trainer/jockey partnership at a 31% winning strike rate in the last 12 months Rumble Inthejungle looks over-priced at around 16/1 with 3 places available and I think has the ability to run in to a place.
Vintage Brut is unbeaten in two, both victories over the minimum trip, and won at Listed level last time out beating the re-opposing Koncheck and Kinks in the process. A seven-length winner on debut, he would perhaps prefer some cut in the ground but would be dangerous to all if proving as effective on the forecast fast ground and as such I am happy to take a chance on him stepping up in class and handling conditions.
The other I think could make his presence felt is The Paddocks who won over six furlongs last time out, beating Blonde Warrior who has won since. The step back to the minimum trip would be a concern but he’s open to improvement after just the one run and isn’t discounted in an exciting opener to Royal Ascot day 3.
Vintage Brut 5/1 (sky
3.05 Hampton Court Stakes – Group 3 – 1m 2 furlongs
- 5/18 winners had previously been beaten in the Dante, 7/8 winners had been beat in a Group race prior to running in the Hampton Court Stakes
- 12/18 winners finished in the first 3 last time out
- 12/14 winners came from the first four in the betting
- Fillies have a poor record in this race
Crossed Baton had won three in a row before finding things tough in the Dante last time out, eventually finishing seventh of nine. Given John Gosden’s recent form and his excellent showing at Royal Ascot so far this week it would be no surprise to see his runner bounce back to form here.
Key Victory was impressive when beating stablemate Old Persian in a Listed race at Newmarket in May and although only mid-field in the Prix Du Jockey Club on latest run he is expected to do better here today with good-to-firm ground in his favour.
Nordic Lights was unbeaten going in to the Dante and although could only finish fifth he ran well enough to suggest he would be winning again soon, while Vintager was only two lengths behind Without Parole when third in the Heron Stakes last month and rarely runs a bad race. He steps up in trip today and posted his only career victory on soft ground but is a battler and deserves to take his chance back at Group level.
Key Victory 5/1 (sky)
3.40 Ribblesdale Stakes – Group 2 – 1m 4 furlongs
- 8/10 winners had previously won at either Group or Listed level
- 15/19 winners had won at least one of their last two starts
- Godolphin have had 5 winners and 3 seconds from 13 runners in this race
- 7/16 winners have been Irish-trained
Wild Illusion looked to be travelling strongly in the Oaks and was right up there with a couple of furlongs to travel before being readily picked off by Forever Together, although was still three lengths clear of third. He had earlier finished fourth in the 1000 guineas in what was his seasonal re-appearance and was a Group 1 winner in France on his final run of 2017 so it’s no surprise to see her towards the head of the market especially given Godolphin’s record in this race.
Sun Maiden was a runaway winner on her first run of the 2018 season, improving markedly from her Wolves debut last December. This is a big step up in class and I would normally suggest that it would be a tough ask to win but it was an impressive enough victory last time out to think she has a very good chance.
Perfect Clarity won her first two before being well beaten in the Oaks. Returning to her favoured fast ground should see a better run today and she is not without a chance for a place, while Aidan O’Brien has won this race twice since 2014 and saddles four in attempt to gain another Ribblesdale.
Sun Maiden 11/4 (B365)
4.20 Gold Cup – Group 1 – 2m 4 furlongs
- 7/16 winners have been trained by Aidan O’Brien
- 7 of the last 10 British trained winners had contested the Henry II Stakes at Sandown
- 18/23 winners had won earlier in the season
- 11/12 winners have gone off at 7/1 or less
Order Of St George won this race in 2016 and was only beaten by a mammoth run by Big Orange in the 2017 renewal, being denied by a short-head. A winner of five from six since (the only defeat was a 4th in the Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe) I feel it would take another amazing performance from one of his rivals for him to be beaten here today.
The most likely to put up that challenge is Stradivarius who was a length behind the favourite when third in the Long Distance Cup last season but was a commanding winner of the Yorkshire Cup on return this season and will prefer the forecast ground conditions given that the majority of his career wins have come on good or better ground. This will be his first attempt over the trip but he’s a hugely exciting prospect and looks to be improving all the time so looks a worthy alternative to the Aidan O’Brien runner.
Vazirabad won a Group 1 over this trip last year and has finished in the first two places in all of his last twelve runs (dating back to July 2016). He will likely be played late and could pick up the pieces if either of the tw market principles falter so looks a decent each way option for anyone wanting an each-way bet to nothing.
Vazirabad 13/2 e/w (PP)
5.00 Britannia Stakes – Handicap – 1 mile
- 5/19 winners went off as favourite but 4/10 winners went off at 20/1 or higher
- It has been 21 years since a last-time out maiden winner won this race
- Jamie Spencer has a good record in this race
Crack On Crack On and Completion finished first and second respectively in the Silver Bowl at Haydock in May and although both carry a couple of extra lbs today they both look to be progressing well and should be in the mix.
Sam Gold won well last time out and appears well regarded by connections but needs to prove he can also act on the forecast faster ground, so Corrosive could be a better option given the stable form and the fact that he arrives here having won his last three with two of these victories coming over a mile on good-to-firm ground (one of which was here at Ascot).
George Of Hearts was only a half-length behind five-time winner Society Power last time out, shaping like the extra furlong he encounters here will suit, and with Jamie Spencer in the saddle (who has won this race for the last two years) he will likely be produced late with a strong surging run. Given the size of the field he will need the gaps to open up at the right time but if getting a clear run will likely go close.
George Of Hearts 9/1 e/w (B365 – 5 places)
Corrosive 14/1 e/w (B365 – 5 places)
5.35 King George V Stakes – Handicap – 1m 4 furlongs
- 16/25 winners had not won as a two-year-old
- Sir M Stoute, M Johnston and J Gosden have good records in this race
- 5/12 winners had previously won a handicap at Sandown
Baghdad showed a great attitude to hold off stablemate Making Miracles at York last time out and is proven both on fast ground and over the trip, while Dubhe was an impressive winner at Sandown in April, beating Communique (who won next time out) by four lengths. Another tough handicap to decipher but both the above look to have great each way chances and are worth small plays against a competitive-looking field.
Dubhe 12/1 e/w (Whill – 5 places)
Baghdad 9/1 e/w (PP – 5 places)
Royal Ascot – Friday
2.30 Albany Stakes – Group 3 – 6 furlongs
- 10/16 winners won a maiden race last time out
- 8/16 winners had only raced once prior to competing in the Albany
- Mick Channon has a good record in this race
The betting market would have us believe that the Albany Stakes is likely to be won by one of the Aidan O’Brien duo Fairyland and Just Wonderful. Fairyland is unbeaten in two, following up a debut maiden victory with a comfortable two-length win at Listed level next time out, finishing ahead of stablemates Van Beethoven and Land Force, while Just Wonderful had to battle for victory but stayed on well and looks open to further progression given that was her first and only run to date. Both would have solid chances but u think this race is more open than the betting suggests.
La Pelosa won eased down by three lengths at Kempton on debut, beating Chaleur who went on to win next time out, and could be a danger if transferring that form from the all-weather to turf.
Main Edition is unbeaten in two, both over six furlongs, winning by over three lengths on both occasions. With The Johnston stable firing in the winners and James Doyle also in good form their runner looks the main threat to the two market principles.
Others to consider include Octave who finished five lengths behind Calyx (Coventry Stakes winner earlier this week) on turf debut but was still six lengths ahead of the rest and had earlier won on the all-weather, while Pretty Pollyanna won a maiden over six furlongs on debut and given the stats of the race looks a big price for a place.
Main Edition 13/2 (B365)
3.05 King Edward VII Stakes – Group 2 – 1m 4 furlongs
- 17/23 winners had won earlier in the season prior to winning this race
- Irish trained runners have only won 1 renewal in the last 43 years
- Sir M Stoute, M Johnston and J Gosden all have good records in this race
Delano Roosevelt was a bit below-par in the Derby but had previously ran some great races in defeat, following a maiden victory with results of 3222 across various Group races. He is again up against a couple of highly regarded stablemates in Rotropovich and Guiseppe Garibaldi but is the choice of Ryan Moore and the market suggests it could be his turn for victory today.
Wells Farhh Go was thrown in at the deep end for his first run of the season and could only manage sixth in the Dante but won two from two last season, getting up to win the Group 3 Acomb Stakes in the final strides from James Garfield. The first seven of that race have gone on to win since so the form looks strong and better is expected here providing he sees out this longer trip.
Old Persian has already won twice this season and finished ahead of the re-opposing Highbrow when second to stablemate Key Victory on his other run so far this season so would have to enter calculations despite Key Victory putting in a below par run yesterday.
Raa Atoll is proven over today’s trip having won well at Leicester last time out. That came on good-to-soft ground but he had previously beat the re-opposing Elector on good-to-firm ground over ten furlongs and finished ahead of a couple of subsequent winners when second to Nordic Lights on debut so with form over the trip and on the ground I think we could be looking at another Gosden/Dettori winner.
Alternative Fact looked a decent prospect last season but put in a disappointing run in France on return last month and arrives here with a bit of a point to prove. It will be interesting to see how he fares at this new trip but with the stable struggling for winners he may be best watched today.
Raa Atoll 5/1 (Whill)
3.40 Commonwealth Cup – Group 1 – 6 furlongs
- The Sandy Lane winner has gone on to win this race in 2 of the 3 renewals so far (won this year by Sands Of Mali)
Sioux Nation has won at the highest level, has a great record over the trip, won at the Royal meeting last year and all four of his career victories have come on good-to-firm ground so looks to have a lot in his favour. With Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore winning this race with Caravaggio last year and bagging a couple of winners yesterday I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sioux Nation go off as favourite and in truth looks tough to beat.
Sands Of Mali has won on both starts this season, beating Invincible Army, Emblazoned and Heartache in the Group 2 Sandy Lane Stakes when last seen. Invincible Army was only a nose away on the line and as a previous course and distance winner he could reverse that form today although they both look very closely matched.
Equillateral was an impressive eight length winner at Doncaster in May, beating Foxtrot Lady who has since won twice. Today sees a big step up in class but based on that performance last time out you have to think he’d be capable of getting involved. For me the biggest concern would be the trainer form given that Charlie Hills has only had one winner from forty runners over the last two weeks and for that reason I’m happy to look elsewhere.
Hey Jonesy is a personal favourite who gives his all in every race – however both trainer and jockey have been struggling for winners and I feel he may struggle today.
Sioux Nation 9/2 (B365)
4.20 Coronation Stakes – Group 1 – 1 mile
- 10/15 winners finished in the top 6 in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket
- 1000 Guineas winners have gone on to win this 5 times race this century
- Irish 2000 Guineas winners have won this race 8 times in the last 31 years
- 15/18 winners went off at no bigger than 6/1 with 9/18 being either favourite or joint-favourite
Clemmie notched up a hat-trick of victories last season but failed to get involved on re-appearance in the 1000 Guineas last month. She should come on for the run and may well do better but I feel may still need another run before hitting top form again.
Alpha Centauri was only a neck away from victory in the Albany Stakes at last year’s Royal meeting and stepped up on that by winning the Irish 1000 Guineas at The Curragh last month, beating Could It Be Love who has since ran an excellent third in the Jersey Stakes earlier this week. That was her first run over a mile so she could yet improve further and with conditions again in her favour she is the one they all have to beat.
Billesdon Brook was a 66/1 winner of the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket, surging clear to win like an odds-on shot and beating Laurens in to second – who has since won two Group 1’s including the Prix De Diane at Chantilly last weekend. A similar performance would give her a good chance of following up here but I personally think she’ll be fighting it out for the minor honours.
The unbeaten Teppal won a Group 1 over a mile last time out and is another likely to get involved, while at a bigger price Threading has won three from five and was a runaway seven length winner in a Listed contest over a mile on good-to-firm ground at York last time out and cannot be dismissed for a trainer who has had twenty-seven winners in the last two weeks.
Alpha Centauri 7/2 (B365)
5.00 Sandringham Stakes – Handicap – 1 mile
- 17/22 winners had won earlier in the season
- Look for horses that raced in the Nell Gwyn Stakes and/or placed in the Pretty Polly Stakes
Agrotera was second to Dathanna on first run of the season but that was on soft ground and she improved on good-to-firm ground next time out, beating a subsequent winner and recent SimplyHorseTips NAP Four White Socks. There looks more to come from Ed Walker’s filly and a similar run would see her right in the mix.
Ceilidhs Dream won over a mile on penultimate run and wasn’t disgraced in the Musidora despite finishing sixth of seven last time out. The drop back in trip will suit and she looks to have a decent chance of making the frame at a decent each-way price.
Agrotera 7/1 (B365)
Cellidhs Dream 12/1 e/w (Whill – 5 places)
5.35 Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes – Handicap – 1m 4 furlongs
- 19/20 winners were aged 4 or 5
- Sir M Stoute and M Johnston have good records in this race
- 2nd, 3rd & 4th favourites have supplied 13 of the last 24 winners
Dash Of Spice was a SimplyHorseTips NAP last time out and duly obliged, making all and winning by six lengths over today’s trip. The fourth and fifth from that race have come out and won since so the form looks strong and although the 11lbs rise will undoubtedly make things tougher I feel there could yet be more to come andi’m happy to take a chance despite the relatively short odds considering the competitive nature of the race.
Thundering Blue has won four from ten on turf and was a ready winner at York on good-to-firm ground last time out. Proven at this level, he has a career high mark to contend with but has progressed well and this extra couple of furlongs could eke out further improvement so he isn’t taken lightly.
Top Tug was fourth in this race last season and takes his chance off the same mark this year. A decent second at Goodwood on seasonal re-appearance, he should be fully fit and raring to go and can make his presence felt, although may yet again find a couple too strong.
Count Calabash has won his last two, the latest over course and distance, and gets in at the foot of the weights. Eve Johnson-Houghton had a big priced winner on day one of the Royal meeting and looks to have another in with a live chance in today’s finale.
Dash Of Spice 5/1 (B365)
Count Calabash 9/1 e/w (B365 – 4 places)
Royal Ascot – Saturday
2.05 Chesham Stakes – Listed – 7 furlongs
- 25/29 winners came from the first four in the betting
- 12/20 winners had won on their previous run – which was their only run prior to this race
- A O’Brien won this race in 2016 & 2017 and has won it 4 times in total
Mark Johnston has been in great recent form, posting twenty-nine winners in the last two weeks including two at Royal Ascot. He runs three in the race with preference for the once-raced Natalie’s Joy who hosed up by six lengths on debut at Goodwood in May, finishing very strongly and creating a lasting impression. I am not a huge fan of backing a runner at such a short price after just one run but she is the obvious choice based on her debut run and a similar display today would see her extremely tough to beat.
The biggest danger looks to be Nate The Great who also won well on debut, beating a subsequent winner in the process, and will have learnt a lot for the experience so is open to plenty of improvement.
Beyond Reason was a respectable second on debut, finishing behind the re-opposing New Winds, but improved second time out to win by four lengths. This victory came on the all-weather at Kempton but she showed enough on debut to suggest she will also win races on turf so is another who could capitalise if the favourite disappoints.
Natalie’s Joy 11/8 (PP)
3.05 Hardwicke Stakes – Group 2 – 1 mile 4 furlongs
- 4 year olds have won the last 10 renewals
- The favourite has won the last 8 renewals
- Sir Michael Stoute has won this race five times in the last 8 years and ten times in total
As the stats above show, Sir Michael Stoute usually has a decent horse lined up for this race and in Crystal Ocean has a runner who has won three of his last four, is unbeaten this season, is proven over the trip and will love the ground. He may not be much of a price but he will take some beating.
The most likely to challenge is Barsanti who has winning form over course and distance and will also enjoy conditions. He was only a half-length behind Idaho when second in this race last season but has been much more consistent than the Aidan O’Brien runner since and rarely runs a bad race so looks the most likely to chase home the hot favourite.
Crystal Ocean 8/13 (sky)
3.40 Windsor Castle Stakes – Listed – 5 furlongs
- Two of the last 3 runners up went off at 100/1
- 6/12 winners won at odds of 16/1 or more (16/1, 16/1, 20/1, 20/1, 33/1, 100/1)
- John Best has saddled a 100/1 winner and a 50/1 placed effort in recent years
- Mick Channon has a decent record in this race
Queen Of Bermuda was a decent second on debut, beating a couple of subsequent winners and finishing only a length behind Shades Of Blue who was third in the Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes earlier this week. She followed this encouraging debut up with a couple of impressive victories at Thirsk and Windsor respectively, finishing strongly on both occasions, and the fillies allowance she gets could help to make all the difference here today.
Wesley Ward had a frustrating start to this years’ festival but got a winner on the board on Thursday with Shang Shang Shang and has another exciting prospect here with Moonlight Romance who was an easy winner at Belmont last time out, winning by six lengths without her jockey having to do much more than enjoy the ride. She is another who gets a fillies allowance and she will be a big danger if handling the occasion and the much bigger field she encounters today.
Chapelli was a SimplyHorseTips NAP when winning last week, taking her tally to two wins from two, and looks to be progressing well. As alluded to in an earlier preview Mark Johnston’s runners have been performing very well so she not without a chance and does look better than a 33/1 chance, although I think on this occasion may find a couple too good.
Others to consider for place purposes include Junius Brutus and James Watt who bring decent form in to the race.
Queen Of Bermuda 7/1 (B365)
4.20 Diamond Jubilee Stakes – Group 1 – 6 furlongs
- Previous Ascot form has been a key factor in recent years
- 13/23 winners had previously won at Listed or Group level earlier in the season
- Only 1 winner since 1990 had not previously won over 6 furlongs & 13/16 winners had previously raced over 7 furlongs at some point in their career prior to winning this race
The Diamond Jubilee Stakes is the final Group 1 race of the five-day Royal Ascot meeting, gaining its Group 1 status in 2002, and for the last three renewals has been limited to horses aged four and over.
The early favourite is three-time Group 1 winner Harry Angel who has won five of his nine career runs and placed second in three of the other four. He travels strongly through his races and always looks visually impressive, yet all four defeats have come here at Ascot so there has to be some worry that he will once again find himself settling for minor honours. Add to this the dip form for trainer Clive Cox and there is enough doubt there for me to look elsewhere for the winner.
Redkirk Warrior has won over distances ranging from five to ten furlongs but has looked his best over today’s six-furlong trip, winning three from five which includes a Grade 1 win over the re-opposing Merchant Navy in March. He hasn’t been seen since but has won on return from a break on four separate occasions and with the in-form Frankie Dettori booked for the ride he could give our selection the most to think about.
Merchant Navy has switched to Aidan O’Brien following the aforementioned defeat to Redkirk Warrior and was an impressive winner on stable debut beating Spirit of Valour, Tasleet and Brando who all set the bar pretty high having all won at Group level during their respective careers. He will need to improve again if he is to win today but it would be no surprise to see him run in to the places.
Bound For Nowhere and City Light both arrive in top form and are proven over the trip, while Librisa Breeze has a good record at the course and all three are respected despite the early markets suggesting they are all likely to be fighting it out for the places.
That said, for our winner we are turning to last years’ winner The Tin Man who boasts a record of three wins from six over course and distance and can be considered a six-furlong, fast ground specialist as he has won eight from eleven over this trip when racing on good-to-firm ground. This race has been his target for the season and a victory at Listed level in May, on first run for seven months, will have put him spot on for today so a big run is expected.
The Tin Man 8/1 (B365)
5.00 Wokingham Stakes – Handicap – 6 furlongs
- 16/19 winners were aged 4 or 5
- 11/16 winners had only raced once or twice in the season prior to winning here
Dreamfield was a six-length winner on debut which he duly followed up with victory over a furlong further in a conditions race that has produced two subsequent winners (one being Top Score who won twice at Meydan including one race at Listed level). Injury meant he missed the whole of 2017 but returned this year with a commanding win over course and distance in a race that has already produced three subsequent winners and I feel that this horse is a potential Group horse in the making and will be extremely tough to beat today.
Out Do attempts to gain back-to-back victories in this race having battled well for victory last season. He hasn’t won since and although had a couple of decent races in Meydan over the winter he hasn’t looked his best in two runs since returning to the UK and I feel may struggle today.
Victory Angel has disappointed on two previous runs at Ascot but has a decent overall record over six furlongs and has won twice when being ridden by Silvestre De Sousa. He was only a length away from the winner when fourth last time out and a similar run could see him in the places.
Others with each way claims include Mr Lupton, Gilgamesh and Growl although for our winner we return to John Gosden’s Dreamfield.
Dreamfield 7/2 (B365)
5.35 Queen Alexandra Stakes – Conditions Race – 2 miles 5 ½ furlongs
- Willie Mullins won this race in 2012 & 2014 and has had 3 placed efforts in the last 3 years
- 14/23 winners had previously raced at Listed or Group level on the flat
- 21/27 winners went off at 8/1 or less
Willie Mullins runs Merie Devie, Renneti and Thomas Hobson in attempt to continue his excellent recent record in this race and although it may seem the obvious choice preference would have to be for the market leader Thomas Hobson who won the Ascot Stakes at the Royal meeting last year before finishing second in this race just four days later. He arrives here this year on the back of six months away from the track but has run well fresh before and is partnered with Ryan Moore who rode him to victory in the Ascot Stakes last season so should take some beating.
Count Octave has done all his winning over shorter trips on the all-weather but has also put in some good runs in some strong races on turf (2nd to Stradivarius in the Queens Vase last year) so would have to be considered in with a chance if his stamina holds out over this much longer trip.
Pallasator has won at Group 3 and Group 2 level on the flat when racing for Sir Mark Prescott and has a recent Grade 2 hurdles victory to his name for Gordon Elliot so it would be no surprise to see a big run from the nine-year-old and he rates at the main danger to the favourite and looks a decent each way option at a reasonable price.
Thomas Hobson 6/4 (sky)
Pallasator e/w 9/1 (PP – 4 places)