Royal Ascot – Day 1 Preview

14:30 – Queen Anne Stakes

RIBCHESTER is fancied to join an illustrious roll of honour that includes the mighty Frankel and claim this Royal Ascot curtain raiser. His return to action in the Lockinge saw him stamp his authority over the miling division and he can provide his trainer Richard Fahey with a sixth Royal Ascot winner. Lightening Spear, third in this race last year, and William Haggas’s Mutakayyef pose the biggest threat to the selection. The former is set to encounter his ideal conditions here and deserves to win one of these big Group Ones, but he has finished behind Ribchester a number of times and it’s hard to see why that would change now. Mutakayyef was impressive when landing the Summer Mile here last season, albeit on the round course, and goes well fresh. He’s expected to do his best work late on and his trainer remains in flying form. Of the remainder, Ballydoyle’s decision to supplement Deauville catches the eye and a strongly run mile could well play into his hands.

 

15:05 – Coventry Stakes

Team Ballydoyle landed this contest last year with Caravaggio and MURILLO can land the spoils for the same connections this time around. He finished last of six on his debut but took a giant leap forward just 12 days later on his next start when hosing up in a Tipperary maiden. By last year’s winning sire Scat Daddy out of a 6f winning dam, he looks bred for speed and Ryan Moore aboard puts another tick in the box. Richard Hannon boasts a strong hand with both the unbeaten Denaar and De Bruyne Horse prominent in the market, and the latter’s experience will stand him in good stead here. Brother Bear has been impressive in his two starts to date whilst Arawak flies the flag for America and has to be respected. Romanised won a hot looking maiden on his debut and is one for the shortlist whilst Nebo is highly regarded by his trainer. At larger odds, Prince Of The Dark registered a very pleasing debut performance and can figure in what looks a wide open affair.

 

15:40 – King’s Stand Stakes

This year’s renewal looks a vintage one on paper with two fillies at the head of the market. Marsha was very impressive when landing the Palace House Stakes at Newmarket under a penalty and looks a typical Sir Mark Prescott improver. She will be very hard to beat, but it’s difficult to erase LADY AURELIA’S demolition job in the Queen Mary at last year’s Royal meeting from the memory. She trounced her rivals on ground that was softer than ideal on that occasion and although this is completely different task altogether, she could just be a superstar in the making. Her last start proved that she can settle and come from off the pace, which she may have to do again here with a lot of speed in the race. Provided that her last piece of work hasn’t taken too much out of her she can land this and give Wesley Ward his eighth Royal Ascot success. Clive Cox is a master with his sprinters and is doubly represented with Priceless and Profitable. The latter took this contest last year but there’s a slight suspicion he is better with some cut in the ground and Cox’s other runner is preferred. Signs of Blessing is another who would prefer some ease in the ground whilst Goldream is one who will love this fast surface and he can run into a place granted a clear passage.

 

16:20 – St James’s Palace Stakes

This really does look a two horse race between the first two home in the English 2000 Guineas, Churchill and Barney Roy. The latter was having just the start of his career that day and everything seemed to go wrong, pulling hard early on and becoming unbalanced heading into the dip. Despite his troubles he managed to get within a length of CHURCHILL, who got the dream run up the rail in a race that played perfectly into his hands. Whilst Barney Roy has been kept fresh for this race, Churchill went on to record a facile success in the Irish 2000 Guineas and has subsequently been sparkling on the gallops at Ballydoyle. It remains to be seen just how good the son of Galileo is as he rarely seems to win emphatically and it could well be that he will keep finding for Ryan Moore when the chips are down. It’s almost impossible to split the two, but Churchill gets a very tentative vote in what could be one of the battles of the season. The rest all have a mountain to climb on all known form with possibly Thunder Snow the best of that bunch.

 

16:55 – Ascot Stakes

This race has been dominated by National Hunt trainers over the last decade and this year could well see the same outcome. Alan King saddles three with Rainbow Dreamer the pick of the bunch at the foot off the weights, though his other runners Oceane and Who Dares Wins both hold place claims. Willie Mullins’s flat runners always demand respect but there are doubts as to whether Thomas Hobson will act on this quick ground whilst Magic Circle looks set to run a big race under the red-hot Silvestre De Sousa. Moorside boasts some classy form over shorter trips and is a danger to all if he stays this marathon trip but one who is sure to appreciate this test of stamina is BEYOND CONCEIT. Nicky Henderson’s charge has been holding his own in Grade One company over hurdles this Spring and also has some solid form on the flat to his name. This is just the type his trainer does well with and with the fast ground to his liking he can land this competitive Handicap.

 

17:30 – Windsor Castle Stakes

Wesley Ward saddles two unknown quantities in Nootka Sound and Elizabeth Darcy and both immediately go on the shortlist. They are likely to blaze a trail out in front like his two previous winners of this race, Strike The Tiger and Hootenanny. Nootka Sound is arguably the pick of that duo and Frankie Dettori’s mount is sure to be involved come the finish but a chance is taken on impressive maiden winner DECLARATIONOFPEACE. The expensive War Front colt beat a subsequent winner by six lengths last time out at Dundalk and could be anything. Simmy’s Copshop was expected to do better in Ireland on his latest start and he should fare much better here on this quicker surface whilst Marchingontogether won his only start to date in impressive fashion and can outrun his odds.

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