Royal Ascot 2019

A dedicated page for Royal Ascot 2019. For the purposes of this page, P&L will be based on either 1pt win or 0.5pts each way…. however will not form part of the main blog P&L unless they are also on the main daily page.

Royal Ascot – Thursday

2.30 Norfolk Stakes – Group 2 – 5 furlongs

  1. 8/16 winners went off as favourite or second favourite
  2. Look for horses that have only raced over the minimum trip, unless they are trained by A O’Brien
  3. 16/25 winners were unbeaten (8/13 winners had won on their sole start prior to the Norfolk Stakes)
  4. Only 3 winners since 1991 that had lost on their previous start

It was hard not to be impressed with how Sunday Sovereign dispensed of his rivals at Tipperary earlier in the month, winning by seven lengths on fast ground. He had earlier beaten Arizona by three lengths on yielding/soft ground and sets the bar pretty high for the opener today, especially when considering Arizona’s performance here on Tuesday.

Wesley Ward won this race with Shang Shang Shang last season so I would expect Maven to be high on the shortlist for a number of people – considering the way he won his debut race he could prove to be the main threat if handling the switch to turf.

Expressionist won a novice event over course and distance on debut and the third from that race has won twice since so he rates as a decent each way shout for an in-form stable.

Selection: Sunday Sovereign 15/8 (sky – money back if 2nd, 3rd or 4th)

3.05 Hampton Court Stakes – Group 3 – 1m 2 furlongs

  1. 8/19 winners had been beaten in a Group race prior to running in the Hampton Court Stakes (5 of which were beaten in the Dante)
  2. Only 1 winner from 19 since 2000 carrying a penalty
  3. 13/15 winners came from the first four in the betting
  4. Fillies have a poor record in this race

King Ottokar beat subsequent Listed winner Raise You on debut and returned this season with a decent victory at Newbury in April. Following this he was sent off joint favourite in the Chester Vase when last seen, but was no match for Sir Dragonet and tired towards the finish, eventually finishing fourth of seven. Based on that effort the step back to ten furlongs looks a positive and if the ground stays soft he would have optimum conditions for a big run.

Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore teamed up for victory with Hunting Horn in this race last season and look to have a good chance of following up with Cape Of Good Hope who has had two decent runs so far this season, winning a Listed contest over todays’ trip in April (beating Cap Francais) before a commendable fourth of fifteen in the Group 1 Prix Du Jockey Club at the beginning of the month. The concern I would have is the ground, as he has only won on fast ground and has never encountered anything worse than ground described as good.

Fox Chairman was denied a clear run at a crucial stage at Chester last month, but stayed on well to take third behind Tuesday’s St James’ Palace Stakes winner Circus Maximus, and had earlier beaten a couple of decent yardsticks when winning a Newbury maiden by four lengths on debut. Both runs came on ground with some cut so the conditions won’t cause a problem and with a clear run this time out he could prove tough to beat.

Selection: Fox Champion 9/2 (sky)

3.40 Ribblesdale Stakes – Group 2 – 1m 4 furlongs

  1. 9/11 winners had previously won at either Group or Listed level
  2. 16/20 winners had won at least one of their last two starts
  3. Godolphin have had 5 winners and 4 seconds from 14 runners in this race
  4. 8/17 winners have been Irish-trained

Another race where Aidan O’Brien has an excellent record, winning the race three times in the last five years. He runs Fleeting who won a Group2 last September and was only just over a length behind Anarpurna in the Oaks when last seen.   

Queen Power should relish this step up in trip based on the way she finished off her race over ten furlongs last time out, winning a Listed contest with Star Catcher back in third. She is expected to handle the softer conditions and can add another winner for the season for The King Power Racing team.

John Gosden runs four with the aforementioned Star Catcher looking to be the best chance of the quartet. Proven on soft ground and only a half-length behind Queen Power when they met last time out, she has a definite each way chance.

Selection: Queen Power 10/3 (PP)

4.20 Gold Cup – Group 1 – 2m 4 furlongs

  1. 7/17 winners have been trained by Aidan O’Brien
  2. 7 of the last 11 British trained winners had contested the Henry II Stakes at Sandown
  3. 19/24 winners had won earlier in the season
  4. 12/13 winners have gone off at 7/1 or less

Stradivarius won the Queens Vase in 2017 and followed up with victory in this race last season so arrives looking for a hat-trick of Royal Ascot wins. He has won his last six and boasts three wins from four at the course so is the one they all have to beat.

Dee Ex Bee is two from two this season, looking a high-class stayer in the making since stepping up to two miles. He has wins on heavy, soft, good and good-to-firm ground and also has a course victory to his name so looks the main danger to the favourite. I am not convinced he has the class to win, but he looks unlikely to finish outside the top three and would be my choice to follow home Stradivarius if playing the forecast.

A mention should also go to Cross Counter who was fourth in the King George V Stakes at Royal Ascot last season and came back the following month to add a course victory to his name. He beat Dee Ex Bee over 12furlongs in the August before finishing the season by winning the Melbourne Cup over a two-mile trip. With six wins and three places from nine career runs, he like Dee Ex Bee will make sure Stradivarius doesn’t get his own way and it seems unlikely he will finish outside the places.

Selection: Stradivarius 5/4 (BV)

5.00 Britannia Stakes – Handicap – 1 mile

  1. 5/20 winners went off as favourite but 3/10 winners went off at 20/1 or higher
  2. It has been 22 years since a last-time out maiden winner won this race
  3. 6/8 winners won a handicap last time out
  4. Jamie Spencer has a good record in this race (4 wins since 2003)

No selection

5.35 King George V Stakes – Handicap – 1m 4 furlongs

  1. 16/26 winners had not won as a two-year-old
  2. Sir M Stoute, M Johnston and J Gosden have good records in this race
  3. 5/13 winners had previously won a handicap at Sandown
  4. 28/30 winners won or placed on last run prior to this race

Sir Ron Priestley ran well in two races in 2018, finishing a close second then following up with a fair fourth behind Breeders Cup winner Line Of Duty next time out. He stepped up to 12 furlongs on 2019 return with a six-length demolition of rivals (beating the re-opposing Babbo’s Boy who has won twice since) before stepping up two Classes and winning by almost four lengths next time out. A progressive runner who has been well-placed by his trainer Mark Johnston, he looks to have an excellent chance today.

Selection: Sir Ron Priestley 13/2 (B365)

Royal Ascot – Wednesday 

2.30 Queen Mary Stakes – Group 2 – 5f

  1. 16/18 winners won on their last run prior to racing in the Queen Mary
  2. Wesley Ward won the 2009, 2015 & 2016 renewals and saddled the runner-up in 2017
  3. Mick Channon and Richard Hannon also have strong records in this race

Final Song showed a fantastic turn of foot to win a maiden over course and distance in soft ground by five lengths last month and that form was franked last week when the third from that race Star Alexander bolted up by six lengths at Bath. A similar run to what we saw first time out would make Saeed Bin Suroors’ runner very tough to beat.

Divine Spirit quickened clear inside the final furlong at Windsor on debut and the third that day followed up in similarly impressive fashion next time out. With Charlie Appleby continuing in fine form his runner could be a danger.

Flippa The Strippa won a hot novice race at Chepstow before following up in a Listed contest at Sandown nine days later. That looks to be decent, if not stand out form but the overall stable form has to be a concern.

Annas Fast and Kimari both hail from the yard of Wesley Ward and given his record in this race (and Ascot in general) all of his runners need to be taken seriously. Both runners won their respective debut races in convincing fashion but it is worth noting that these both came on dirt. That is not to say that they won’t act on turf but is always something worth bearing in mind.

Selection: Final Song 9/2 (sky) money back if 2nd 3rd or 4th

3.05 Queens Vase – Group 2 – 1 mile & 6 furlongs

  1. Mark Johnston has won 7 of the last 18 renewals
  2. Aidan O’Brien has saddled 5 winners since 2010, Sir Michael Stoute has saddled 4 winners since 1998
  3. 10/15 winners were beaten in either a Group or Listed race prior to running in the Queens Vase
  4. 21/24 winners came from the first 4 in the betting

Aidan O’Brien sends Western Australia in his bid for a sixth Queens Vase victory since 2010. He has decent form to his name, ending 2018 by finishing less than a length behind Magna Crecia and Phoenix Of Spain in the Futurity before stepping up markedly in trip and securing victory over 13 furlongs last time out. I have to say I am not convinced he looks the most likely to follow up and its worth noting that the trainer has won some big races with his supposed 2nd or 3rd string both here at Royal Ascot and elsewhere in the last few years.

Jalmoud is two from two since switching to turf, the latest of which came at Listed level in France when beating a couple of runners who have gone close at Group level since. Prominent in the early markets and proven both good-to-soft and faster ground, he looks to have a good chance of at least a top three finish.

Mark Johnston knows what type of horse is needed to win this race having won it seven times in the last eighteen years so both his runners warrant respect, with Themaxwecan preferred to Nayef Road.

Ultimately, this is not a race I would be too interested in. Most runners are unproven in soft ground and most are attempting this type of trip for the first time so there are simply too many unknowns to be confident in any selection. An each way selection based on the fact that I feel he is a progressive horse and may cope better than most.

Selection: Jalmoud 6/1 e/w (PP)

3.40 Prince Of Wales Stakes – Group 1 – 1 mile & 2 furlongs

  1. 27/31 winners came from the first 4 in the betting
  2. Only 1 winner since 2000 started at odds of over 8/1
  3. 15/22 winners won on their last run prior to racing in the Prince Of Wales Stakes
  4. Proven Group 1 winners have a good record in this race

Both Magical and Sea Of Class are unbeaten over this trip and have Group 1 wins to their name. Magical is unbeaten in three so far this season, while Sea Of Class won four in a row and was only a short head away from victory in the Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe when last seen. To me they look to have this race between them, but both look pretty evenly matched and it would be no surprise to see them both tipped up across the national press. So… given all the above I think this could come down to who is the fittest on the day, and given that this will be the first run since October 2018 for Sea Of Class I have to side with Aidan O’Briens’ filly Magical.

Crystal Ocean is yet to win a Group 1 but is extremely consistent (has never finished outside the top 3 in 13 runs on turf). He will be there to pick up the pieces should either of the two market principals falter and adds further spice in to the mix.

Selection: Magical 2/1 (sky)

4.20 Duke Of Cambridge Stakes – Group 2 – 1 mile

  1. Sir Michael Stoute has saddled the winner of this race 4 times
  2. The fave or 2ndfave has won 10 of the 15 renewals since the race was upgraded to a Group 2 race
  3. 0/10 winners carrying a 5lbs Group 1 penalty
  4. 14/15 winners had earlier won a Group 2 or Group 3 race
  5. French-trained runners and runners with a previous victory at Ascot are worthy of a second glance

This looks a tricky race and as such I would urge anyone having a play to tread with caution.

Agrotera is a prior course and distance winner having won the Sandringham Stakes at last years’ meeting and she warmed up for this race with victory on the all-weather in April. A placed effort on good-to-soft in a Listed race in France and a close 2nd over course and distance in soft ground last May suggests that she won’t mind a little rain and with course form on her side she is definitely of interest for each way purposes.

Veracious placed in the Coronation Stakes here last season, has a previous Group 3 win over a mile and needs to be respected given her trainer has won this race four times, although has never raced on anything worse than good ground and finished behind Anna Nerium last time out. The Richard Hannon four-year-old has winning form on good, good-to-soft and soft ground and has improved with each run so far this season so should be capable of confirming the form with Veracious at the very least.

I Can Fly won a Group 2 race last summer and ran Roaring Lion to within a neck in the Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes over course and distance in the Autumn, but hadn’t looked the same horse in a couple of turf runs at Meydan then back at Newbury earlier this year. He got back on track with a decent 2nd at the Curragh last time out and should be primed for a decent run today.

William Haggas continues in fine form and runs Pretty Baby who is yet to finish outside the top two in seven career runs, posting five victories with the latest two being at Group 3 level. She looks comfortable on both soft and good ground and although is yet to attempt a mile trip her pedigree suggests the extra furlong should be within her reach.

Selection: Agrotera 7/1 e/w (Boyles – 4 places), Pretty Baby 9/1 e/w (PP – 4 places)

5.00 Royal Hunt Cup – Handicap – 1 mile

  1. 29/33 winners have been aged 4 or 5 years old
  2. 15/20 winners finished either 1stor 2nd earlier in the season
  3. 12/26 winners came from the first 4 in the betting (only 1 fave has won since 1996)
  4. 9/12 winners carried 9stone plus

Settle For Bay won this race last year and although hasn’t won since he has been racing in some tough races so although this is competitive it still rates as a drop in class and I would be surprised if he wasn’t involved at the business end of the race. He has won on ground with some cut, but it is worth noting that there haven’t been back to back winners of this race since the 1940’s.

Raising Sand has an excellent record at Ascot, with three wins and three placed from ten runs (and two wins from four over course and distance). He finished a creditable seventh in this race last season and although 3lbs higher today he arrives in better form, has winning form in soft ground and his trainer Jamie Osborne has a decent strike rate at the course so he is another with an each way shout.

Others worthy of a mention include the 2017 winner Zui Feng, Chief Ironside and Seniority, but for my selection I am going with Clon Coulis who races off the same mark as when winning a Listed contest over course and distance last summer, has won on both fast and soft ground and has Jamie Spencer in the saddle, a jockey who is excellent at threading a passage through a big field to grab victory in the last few strides.

Selection: Clon Coulis 22/1 e/w (Laddys – 6 places)

5.35 Windsor Castle Stakes – Listed – 5 furlongs

  1. Two of the last 4 runners up went off at 100/1
  2. 8/13 winners won at odds of 12/1 or more (12/1, 14/1, 16/1, 16/1, 20/1, 20/1, 33/1, 100/1)
  3. John Best has saddled a 100/1 winner and a 50/1 placed effort in recent years
  4. Mick Channon has a decent record in this race

There are plenty that could be considered in with a chance in the day 2 finale and the odds of recent winners goes some way to show how difficult it can be to find the winner. With this in mind I’ll be keeping stakes low and having a small each way on Summer Sands who placed in a hot-looking novice race at York on debut (three of the top five have raced since, all three won) and improved to beat the heavily fancied Oh Purple Reign on second run earlier this month. He showed a good attitude and battling qualities to fend off the challenge and on that basis should give another good account of himself here today. The forecast soft conditions are an unknown, as they are with many of the field, but breeding suggests he will handle it ok so gets an each way vote.

Selection: Summer Sands 14/1 e/w (B365 – 4 places)

Royal Ascot – Tuesday  

2.30 Queen Anne Stakes – Group 1 – 1 mile

  1. 21/27 winners were aged 4
  2. A Godolphin runner has won this race on 8 occasions
  3. Only 2 winners since 1995 have come from outside the first four in the betting
  4. 13 of the last 16 winners had previously won a Group 1 race prior to winning the Queen Anne

Mushtashry was in great form last season, posting victories at Listed and Group 2 level, before returning this season and stepping up again with a Group 1 victory when getting the better of Laurens in the Lockinge last time out. He travels strongly through his races, has a victory over course and distance to his name and also accounted for the likes of Le Brivido and Accidental Agent in the Lockinge so it would be a surprise where he not battling it out at the business end of this race. That said, he did have the benefit of race-fitness on his side so with the prospect of slightly slower conditions and at the age of six there is also a couple of negatives that need to be taken in to account.

Turning to Laurens we find a four-year-old filly who is already a five-time Group 1 winner. She is as tough as teak and usually improves for her first run following a break so I think we can expect to see an improved performance now she has a run under her belt. She won’t want too much rain but has won on good-to-soft so should handle the forecast conditions and as she has also won over further we know she will be staying on strongly at the finish. Put simply, for me if she runs her race then its highly unlikely that she will finish outside the top three and although I am going for the win with my selection I will also be having a play on the place markets in the morning.

Mentions must also go to the Godolphin runner Barney Roy who is a prior Group 1 winner who acts in any conditions and Le Brivido who had no luck at all in the Lockinge but brings course from in to this race. I am not convinced he deserves to be a 7/2 favourite but as Aidan O’Brien’s runners usually use the Lockinge as a stepping stone towards this race his only runner warrants respect.

Selection: Laurens 6/1 (Sky)

3.05 Coventry Stakes – Group 2 – 6f

  1. Aidan O’Brien has won this race 8 times (3 times with supposed 2ndor 3rd string)
  2. 34/35 winners won on the last run before the Coventry Stakes
  3. Only 4 winners since 1983 have come from outside the first five in the betting
  4. Unbeaten horses (particularly once raced) have a good record in this race

Arizona deserves his place at the head of the market given his trainer record in the race and his impressive eight-length demolition of rivals at the Curragh last time out, although it is worth noting that he was three lengths behind the winner when second on slower ground on debut.

Looking towards the stats we have both Threat & Guildsman who both arrive here on the back of winning debuts and both feature prominently in the markets. Threat won a four-runner affair over the minimum trip at Newmarket and the two that have run since both performed with credit when each going down by just a neck. He could easily step up on that performance but stepping up in trip on forecast slower ground makes me think the price on offer is a little on the short side. In contrast, Guildsman was a very impressive 6 length winner over 6 furlongs in soft (good in places) ground and with both Archie Watson and Oisin Murphy in fine recent form their runner looks to have a great chance with both trip and conditions to suit.

Selection: Guildsman 15/2 (B365)

3.40 Kings Stand Stakes – Group 1 – 5f

  1. 12/13 winners won or placed 2ndon their last run prior to racing in the Kings Stand Stakes
  2. The Temple Stakes winner (Battaash) has followed up in the Kings Stand Stakes 6 times since 1990
  3. 17/18 winners had previously won a Group 1 race over 5 furlongs
  4. Respect 3-year olds

A fascinating renewal with the top three from last years’ race all returning to renew rivalries. It was Blue Point that emerged victorious last year, adding to his already impressive Ascot record, and although the majority of his career wins have come on fast ground he has won a Group 3 on good-to-soft.

The recent form of trainer Charlie Hills would have to be a concern, but his runner Battaash was in blistering from when retaining the Temple Stakes at Haydock on seasonal return, beating Mabs Cross by over three lengths, and as he has won on both good and soft ground there shouldn’t be any concerns over the weather.

None of the three-year-olds in this race have won a Group 1 over five furlongs but Signora Cabello win the Queen Mary last season and both Sergei Prokofiev and Soldiers Call have won good races in similar conditions to what is forecast for todays’ race.

Possibly not the most imaginative of selections but Battaash looked very impressive last time out and if arriving in the same form I think he has the beating of all his rival here.

Selection: Battaash 2/1 (B365)

4:20 St James’s Palace Stakes – Group 1 – 1 mile

  1. Every winner since 1992 has been 9/1 or less in the betting
  2. Aidan O’Brien has won 7 of the last 19 renewals (6 of which contested the Irish 2000 Guineas)
  3. Horses that failed to finish in the first 4 of any 2000 Guineas race have poor records in the St James’s Palace Stakes
  4. 14/24 winners ran in both the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket & the Irish 2000 Guineas

Phoenix Of Spain was last seen winning the Irish 2000 Guineas, an amazing performance considering it was his first run of the season, but has only won on good-to-firm ground and anyone looking to back the Charlie Hills runner should maybe wait to see how Battaash fares in the Kings Stand Stakes as his stables have struggled for winners in recent weeks.

John Gosden looks to have two live chances with Irish 2000 Guineas runner-up Too Darn Hot and Heron Stakes winner King Of Comedy. The former has been given time to recover from exertions but was unbeaten in four last season and has now had to settle for second in both runs to date this season, while King Of Comedy has won three from four and the race he didn’t win he still ran a decent second in soft ground (that race has produced 5 subsequent winners). Jockey bookings would suggest that Too Darn Hot is the most likely to gain victory but of the two I would slightly favour King Of Comedy.

The stats of this race will tell you that a horse at double-figure odds cannot win this race, yet Fox Champion would have to considered in with an each way chance at the very least given he has won his last three, including the German 2000 Guineas last month. The King Power Racing team have gone from strength to strength this season and at a bigger price I am happy to take on the stats with what I hope is a lively outsider.

Selection: Fox Champion 20/1 e/w (Sky)

5.00 Ascot Stakes – Handicap – 2m 4f

  1. The last 10 winners all won at odds of 12/1 or less
  2. 6/7 winners were trained in Ireland (Willie Mullins has won the race 4 times since 2012)
  3. 20/29 winners came from the first five in the betting, although the favourite doesn’t have a great record
  4. 11/12 winners came from stables who are primarily known for jumps racing
  5. 14/19 winners were aged 4 or 5, although the last 5 years have seen Irish horses aged 6+ win this race

Willie Mullins has an excellent record in this race and his runner Buildmeupbuttercup reverts to the flat after contesting the Mares Novice Hurdle at The Cheltenham Festival and A Grade 1 race at Fairyhouse earlier in the year. He won a bumper in soft ground at the course early last year and is partnered with Ryan Moore who has won this race for Willie Mullins three times since 2012 so one would assume that a big run can be expected.

Snow Falcon is a Grade 2 winner over both hurdles and fences so it is a bit of a surprise to see him switch back to the flat for the first time in almost two years. That said, his 2nd in the Irish Cesarewitch in 2017 suggests he is capable of a decent run on the flat and given the recent record of Irish trainers in this race he cannot be dismissed.

Mengli Khan looked destined for the top based on his first few runs over hurdles for Gordon Elliott, beating some decent yardsticks when winning Grade 2 and Grade 1 races in late 2017 before placing at both the Cheltenham and Punchestown festivals. He then began his chase career with a commanding ten-length victory but has since been beaten on five occasions and to me this looks more of a fact-finding mission.

If I am honest I don’t have a strong view on this race. If pushed I would play Willie Mullins runner purely because of his and Ryan Moores’ record in the race.

Selection: Buildmeupbuttercup 9/2 (BV)

5.35 Wolferton Stakes – Listed – 1 mile & 2 furlongs

  1. 13/17 winners have been aged 4
  2. 19/24 winners had raced no more than twice in the season prior to this race
  3. 10/14 winners came from a single figure draw
  4. Sir Michael Stoute has sent off 7 favourites in this race – all have lost
  5. John Gosden has won 4 of the last 8 renewals

Both Willie John and Addeybb showed plenty of early promise before coming up short in recent races and while they both have a bit of a point to prove at present they would both have chances if arriving on their ‘A’ game. Given the forecast conditions Addeybb would be the preference of the two but at the price I’m happy to look elsewhere.

Latrobe hasn’t looked the same since his Irish Derby win last season and both career wins have come on fast ground, while John Gosden has a stellar record in recent renewals but his runner Star Of Bengal has so far proved better on an all-weather surface and a draw of 15 further tempers enthusiasm.

Given all of the above I am happy to back two for this race. I think Elarqam is primed to run another big race following victory at Goodwood last time out and Mountain Angel, who has won on both runs this season, arrives here in great form and has a good record both over this trip and in conditions.

Selections: Elarqam 4/1 (B365), Mountain Angel 14/1 e/w (BV – 4 Places)