Alongside my Which Bookie colleague, Will Smith, I will be looking through each race of each day of Royal Ascot this week – in search of some winners. There won’t be a bet for every race, but there will be opinions and some selections provided. My thoughts for the competitive Day One card are below.
Queen Anne Stakes (1m)
The Queen Anne Stakes is always a brilliant way to start the week and this year is no different. We get to see the superstar, Palace Pier, strut his stuff again. His connections will be hoping to right the wrong of last year’s QEII over the straight mile, with a convincing win against some of his old foes. In truth, there isn’t a horse in this line up that Palace Pier couldn’t beat, and that’s reflected in his price of 4/9. I would never be interested in touching anything of that sort of price, so will be taking this as a watching brief. I’ll be keen to watch how Lord Glitters fairs in the race he won back in 2019, but won’t be putting him forward as a selection.
Coventry Stakes (6f)
The Coventry Stakes is the first 2YO race of the week, and looks like a race full of potential superstars. All eyes will be drawn to Kaufymaker, for the Wesley Ward stable. She won very impressively over the extended four furlong trip on debut, and I would be slightly doubtful over whether she will be able to last out this longer trip. There are two I like in this race. Gisburn for Richard Hannon won very impressively at Newbury last time out and should improve for that effort. However, at the prices, I am very keen to select Vintage Clarets for Richard Fahey and Paul Hanagan. He has shown a combination of speed and guts in his last two efforts, and should be suited by this step up to 6 furlongs. At a price of 33/1 with Bet365 with 4 places, I’ll be backing him Each Way.
King’s Stand Stakes (5f)
This race is always one to get the heart rate going and sees the eagerly awaited return of Battaash. I think it’s as simple as it looks, if Battaash runs to form, he will win. There are people looking to take him on due to a combination of a lack of a recent run and also that the crowds are back – which may light him up. I think he is a better behaved character than he used to be, and I’d be surprised if he wasn’t to register back to back wins in the race. At 9/4 with Ladbrokes, he’s a bet for me.
St James Palace Stakes (1m)
A very tricky race which brings formlines from many different races to the table. The battle hardened Guineas winner, Poetic Flare, tops the betting – but this will be his fourth high profile engagement in six weeks. Highland Avenue has to prove himself at this level, while the likes of Battleground, Lucky Vega and Chindit have to reverse form with the favourite. If I was pressed, I would be siding with Lucky Vega Each Way in this contest, but I will be refraining from putting him up as I believe it’s so tight. Cracking race!
Ascot Stakes (2m4f)
A race that has now become synonymous with jumps trainers looking to find Royal Ascot winners, this year’s renewal sees a few interesting contenders for both Willie Mullins and Emmet Mullins. My eye has been drawn to MC Muldoon for the entire week since the declarations came out, with Ryan Moore an eye-catching booking. Stamina for this gelding is not assured given that he can be a free going sort, but he has more than enough ability to be getting involved in a race like this off a mark of 96. At a price of 9/2 with William Hill, I’m going to keep my fingers crossed for a Ryan Moore masterclass.
Wolferton Stakes (1m2f)
This Listed contest sees one of my favourites in training line up for the connections of last year’s St Leger winner. Patrick Sarsfield (NAP) has been a steadily progressive horse for the last year, and returned with a brilliant run in a Listed contest at the Curragh, when just losing out by a neck on the line. He was a Group 3 winner last year and placed in a Group 1 behind Barney Roy, so has strong form on offer for a race of this nature. At 4/1 with Bet365, he will be my best bet of the day.
Copper Horse Stakes (1m6f)
The finale on the first day is another competitive staying handicap. Saldier, for Willie Mullins and Ryan Moore, is a short priced favourite to deliver and on his best hurdles form – would have to have a massive chance. However, I am more keen on Arthurian Fable for Brian Meehan and Jim Crowley. Having been steadily progressive last summer, he scored at Sandown on similar ground to what he will meet tomorrow. After a good reappearance run and off a mark of 96, I think there is a lot of scope for him to run well. At a price of 12/1 with Paddy Power with 5 places, I will be backing him each way. I also wouldn’t put off anyone having a few quid each way on Sextant at a mighty price.