Godolphin stole the show on day one of Royal Ascot with a memorable treble, culminating in Barney Roy’s impressive victory in the St James’s Palace Stakes. Day two looks set fair for more top class racing with some serious equine talent on display.
14:30 – Jersey Stakes
This race often goes the way of horses beaten in the mile Classics, and there a couple in here that fit that profile. Daban made an impressive start to her three year old career with a win in the Nell Gwyn where she had subsequent German Guineas winner Unforgettable Filly in behind. She then ran a blinder to finish a clear third in the 1000 Guineas after appearing not to get home, and the drop back to seven furlongs should see her go close, despite a three pound penalty. Dream Castle travelled beautifully in the Greenham before he was reeled in by Barney Roy and that form looks even stronger given what that rival did here yesterday. Things didn’t go Dream Castle’s way in the 2000 Guineas on his next start and he is another who should benefit from the slight drop in trip. If he settles the son of Frankel will be a danger to all, but a chance is taken on French raider LE BRIVIDO to come up trumps. He looked all over the winner in the French 2000 Guineas before he was nailed late on by Brametot. That rival then boosted the form by taking the French Derby, and if Andre Fabre’s chance acts on the quick ground, which admittedly is a concern, he is the one they all have to beat. Of the remainder it’s possible that first time blinkers will eek out some improvement from Whitecliffsofdover but they’ll need to after a disappointing defeat at short odds last time.
15:05 – Queen Mary Stakes
When Wesley Ward says he has something special, you sit up and take notice, and that’s exactly what he has said about his filly HAPPY LIKE A FOOL. Ward has made no secret of the regard in which he holds this daughter of Distorted Humor and she will take a lot of beating in this for a man who has won the last two renewals. Her biggest danger according to the market is Clive Cox’s Heartache, who could do no more than put six lengths between her and the rest of the field on her debut at Bath. That was an impressive victory and she represents a trainer who excels with his juvenile sprinters so has to be respected. Mrs Gallagher showed a determined attitude to win a hot maiden here last month and should improve from that outing. The third home that day Out Of The Flames has won easily since and reopposes again here and is one for the shortlist. Neola, Chica La Habana and Formidable Kitt are others to consider but they may be vying for the places if the American filly is as good as her trainer thinks she is.
15:40 – Duke Of Cambridge Stakes
The withdrawal of John Gosden’s Laugh Aloud has weakened the field slightly and French raider QEMAH (NAP) is fancied to reap the rewards. She won the Coronation Stakes at last year’s royal meeting and beat a high class field that day, though the ground was much softer on that occasion and a chance is taken that she’ll act on this quicker surface. Her trainer Jean Claude Rouget is in terrific form after a tricky start to the season and if she comes on from her reappearance at Lingfield like she is expected to do she’ll take a lot of beating. Last year’s winner and fellow French hopeful Usherette looks a big danger to the selection if returning to her best but there is a huge question mark over the ground despite her connections confident that it won’t be an issue. Mix and Mingle is two from two this season and had Qemah behind her on her latest start but benefited from a great ride that day and will do well to confirm the form with that rival here. Smart Call brings Grade One winning form from South Africa to the table and should improve for her debut effort for this yard last month on inadequate ground. Today’s conditions will suit her much better and she is a danger to all.
16:20 – Prince Of Wales’s Stakes
My Dream Boat sprung somewhat of a surprise to win this race last year at odds of 16/1 but it will be even more of a surprise if this year’s renewal doesn’t go the way of the market principals. HIGHLAND REEL brings top class form to the table and is at his best on this fast surface. His win in the Coronation Stakes at Epsom last time out was impressive and he has a fantastic chance of recording an incredible sixth Group One success. Jack Hobbs undoubtedly rates as the principal danger after he put up a lifetime best to win the Dubai Sheema Classic at Meydan. He had Highland Reel behind him that day, though the ground went against him on that occasion and the firm ground here may just catch out John Gosden’s rival over this shorter trip. Ulysses will be bidding to give Sir Michael Stoute a record 76th Royal Ascot winner and he made a pleasing return to action when landing the Gordon Richards Stakes at Sandown. It remains to be seen whether he can cut it at the very highest level and the same can be said of Roger Charlton’s Decorated Knight. Queens Trust relished the firm conditions when winning at the Breeders Cup, a piece of top class form, though she has to bounce back from her disappointing comeback run.
17:00 – Royal Hunt Cup
Portage took this prize last year for Godolphin and the boys in blue appear to have a strong hand once again. G K Chesterton looks the pick of Charlie Appleby’s duo on jockey bookings and won well at Epsom last time out whilst Sheikh Hamdan is another owner with a strong hand and saddles two at the top of the weights. That may just be too much of a burden to carry in such a competitive handicap and the market certainly agrees but Tabarrak in particular looks overpriced judging by his defeat of the useful Ennaadd in a Listed contest last time out. G M Hopkins took this race in 2015 and is back down to a winnable mark whilst Abe Lincoln, runner up in last year’s Britannia, has attracted huge ante post support for a man who knows how to ready one off a break in Jeremy Noseda. Bossy Guest, Banksea and George William are among a host of each way chances but FASTNET TEMPEST is given a tentative vote to come out on top. William Haggas’s four-year-old has gone from strength to strength this season and landed the Victoria Cup here in good style last month. He likes to come from off the pace so he’ll need some luck in running but granted a clear passage he’s sure to be involved at business end.
17:35 – Sandringham Handicap
The saying is you need to find the Group class horse in a handicap of this quality and RAIN GODDESS might just be the one. She ran a cracker when finishing fourth behind some talented rivals in the Fred Darling last time out and shaped as if this step up in trip to a mile will be right up her street. She has to carry top weight here for that performance but looks more than capable of doing so with more improvement to come. Really Special boasts some classy juvenile form and is a danger to all if she can bounce back from a slightly disappointing stint in Dubai. There was a lot to like about On Her Toes’ comeback run at York where she finished ahead of both Sibilance and Classical Times who reoppose here whilst Dancing Breeze looks fairly well treated if she can settle better than she has previously. Wesley Ward is best known for his juvenile speedsters so it’s interesting he has opted to bring Con Te Partiro over from America for this whilst Cheval Blanche looks capable of outrunning her odds if she can see out the trip.