Day One – Tuesday 19th June 2018
Queen Anne Stakes (Class 1) (Group 1) (1m)
The Queen Anne of course kicks off Royal Ascot of 2018 and it’s a Group 1 contest that’s ridden over the distance of one mile. It’s a competitive renewal this year and it’s see’s Rhododendron head affairs for the all conquering partnership of Aiden O’Brien and Ryan Moore following her success in the Lockinge at Newbury. She’s likely to be a tough nut to crack again here and is a worthy solid favourite trading at a general 11/4.
Benbatl is next up in the market for Saeed bin Suroor and Godolphin and he comes here off the back of a very profitable campaign over at Meydan in Dubai winning several big contests. He was also a Royal Ascot winner last year when landing the Hampton Court stakes and can be found trading at around 5/1 to make it another win at the Royal Meeting this time around.
French raider Recoletos comes here bang in form following two victories from two starts this term including a Group 1 the last day in the form of the Prix d’Ispahan. If turning up in the same form of that victory he’s likely to give a very bold showing. Olivier Peslier takes the ride on him and he can be found trading at a general 6/1.
The one i’ll be siding with here is BENBATL for Godolphin and Saeed bin Suroor. He’s been in great form over in Meydan winning some top class contests. The French master Christophe Soumillon takes the ride and despite Rhododendron being a solid favourite I like the chances of Benbatl at the prices.
BENBATL – (5/1) (E/W)
Jockey: Christophe Soumillon
Trainer: Saeed bin Suroor
1st: Benbatl (5/1)
2nd: Recoletos (6/1)
3rd: Rhododendron (11/4)
Coventry Stakes (Class 1) (Group 2) (6f)
The Coventry Stakes is where i’m going to turn my attention to next which is the second race of the meeting and this particular contest is a Group 2 affair that’s ridding over a distance of six furlongs.
As you may of expected it’s another Ballydoyle contender that heads affair this time in the form of Sergei Prokofiev for the powerhouse set up. He’s stepping up in trip here but looks potentially to be the real deal, he comes here off the back of a couple of impressive victories and looks to be a real progressive type for Aiden O’Brien.
Calyx is next up in the market for John Gosden and Frankie Dettori carrying those famous Prince Khalid Abdullah colours and this Kingsman colt was mightily impressive on debut absolutely hacking up at Newmarket. If stepping up again here he could put in a very bold showing and could literally be anything, he’s a general 3/1 shot. It’s 12/1 bar these two.
The one I will be going with here is the Ballydoyle charge SERGEI PROKOFIEV. I think there’s a lot more to come from this one and I’ll chance him just to get the better of the John Gosden charge and give Aiden O’Brien another Royal Ascot winner.
SERGEI PROKOFIEV – (9/4)
Jockey: Ryan Moore
Trainer: AP O’Brien
1st: Sergei Prokofiev (9/4)
2nd: Calyx (3/1)
3rd: The Irish Rover (12/1)
Kings Stand Stakes (Class 1) (Group 1) (5f)
The Kings Stand is the third race on the first day of Royal Ascot and it’s another Group One affair which this time is ridden over a fierce five furlongs and this year it’s thrown up a real cracker of a renewal.
It see’s the renewed rivalry of the outstanding sprinters that are Lady Aurelia and Battaash as they both currently battle it out for favouritism at the top of the market as both currently trade generally at around 9/4.
Lady Aurelia comes here having not won since winning this in impressive style last year, she was narrowly beaten by Marsha in the Nunthorpe at York and was then disappointing at the Breeders Cup. She finished second on her comeback run but Wesley Ward is likely to have got her primed for this at a course she really does come alive at. A bold showing is likely and John Velazquez is back on board.
Battaash comes here on the back of a win on his reappearance at Haydock the last day where here beat Kachy and Washington DC into the placings who he re opposes again here. He seemed to get a little bit worked up on that occasion and slightly missed the break but he did win quite nicely in the end. If handling the preliminaries here he’s sure to go very close here and give the American a lot to think about.
Godolphin are represented here by Blue Point following the back of an International Campaign throughout the spring, he’s a smart sort that has the ability to compete at this level and can be found trading at general 8/1. Kachy also lines up here for the Tom Dascombe yard and he’s in good form, finishing third behind Battaash the last day at Haydock before an impressive win at Chester’s May Festival the time before. Ballydoyle and Aiden O’Brien are once again represented by Washington DC who has proven he can mix it in top sprinting contests many a time in the past and can be found trading at around the 16/1 mark.
I am going to side with LADY AURELIA here though as I think she just loves this track and also has the three pounds off Battaash. As stated I believe Wesley Ward will have her in tip top order for this again and she should be going very close again.
LADY AURELIA – (9/4) Form: 1120-2
Jockey: John Velazquez
Trainer: Wesley A Ward
1st: Lady Aurelia (9/4)
2nd: Battaash (9/4)
3rd: Kachy (11/1)
(Credit: Equi Sports Photos)
St James Palace Stakes (Class 1) (Group 1) (1m)
The St James Palace Stakes is a Group 1 contest that’s ridden over a mile and sees some of the potential best milers around do battle. This year’s renewal however isn’t one of the better ones but it nevertheless still has thrown up a competitive affair.
It see’s Without Parole head affairs for John Gosden and comes here with an unbeaten record of three wins out of three. He won in emphatic style at Yarmouth on his second start before winning at Sandown in a Listed Contest the last day. He’ll apparently enjoy the surface a lot better here according to connections and can be found trading at the top of the market at around the 11/4 mark.
Tip Two Win is next up in the betting for Roger Teal and David Probert. This horse ran a mightily impressive race when last seen when finishing second in the Guineas behind Saxon Warrior and in front of Derby winner Masar. That is rock solid form and arguably makes him the one to beat here. He’s a general 11/2 chance.
Irish Guineas winner Romanised is next up in the betting at around the 6/1 mark for Ken Condon, a somewhat shock winner of that contest at big odds and he’ll be looking to prove that it wasn’t just a fluke and follow up here.
The Ballydoyle representatives appear once again to be US Navy Flag and Gustav Klimt who are 6/1 and 8/1 respectively and arrive here off the back of several solid efforts in top contests this season. Either of them are capable of winning this on their day it’s just trying to find when that it is may be the issue.
The one I like here comes in the form of WITHOUT PAROLE. He’s a Frankel offspring that looked mightily impressive when winning his penultimate start at Yarmouth. He was more workmanlike the last day at Sandown when taking a Listed Contest. There’s a lot of negativity surrounding this one and whether he should be favourite and I take all that on board, and do I need to have a serious word with myself backing this one against a whole host of Group 1 performers? Possibly yes. But I’m on the hype train and I genuinely think there’s a lot more to come from him.
WITHOUT PAROLE – (11/4)
Jockey: Frankie Dettori
Trainer: John Gosden
1st: Without Parole (11/4)
2nd: U S Navy Flag (6/1)
3rd: Tip Two Win (11/2)
Ascot Stakes (Class A Handicap) (Class 2) (2m 4f)
In a race of which Willie Mullins currently has five entered its another jumps trainers representative i’ll be siding with this time around and that comes in the form of David Pipe’s PERCY STREET.
This yard had a torrid time of it last season over the jumps but I think this one could outrun it’s massive odds of 50/1 here on the level. He’s actually won off this mark before all be it a long time ago in 2016 and has shown a decent level of ability of hurdles for Nicky Henderson. The ground is a slight concern and the trip is a bit of unknown but he has won off good ground before and raced over an extended two miles as well. He’s 50/1 and could be worth a few quid. Oisin Murphy takes the ride.
PERCY STREET – (50/1) (E/W)
Wolferton Stakes (Class 1) (Listed) (1m 2f)
The Wolferton Stakes brings things to a close on Day One of the Royal Ascot Meeting of 2018 and it’s a Listed Contest that’s ridden over a distance of a mile and two furlongs.
I’ve gone for two selections here as I couldn’t narrow it down to just the one and they are both running in the same colours so either of them could be rerouted. The first of these is MIRAGE DANCER for Sir Michael Stoute and currently down to be ridden by the talented James McDonald. This horse is strong travelling Frankel colt who powered away to win nicely at Goodwood the last day, I still think he has improving to come and could well put in a bold showing here.
The other one I like here also runs in the Prince Khalid Abdullah silks and that’s MONARCHS GLEN. He was poor when last seen in Meydan but I think a line can be put through that run as some horses just don’t take too it over there. Before that though last season he progressed nicely and ended the season with an impressive Group 3 win. Another one by Frankel if he can keep his cool and recapture that form of last season he could well be a player here. Frankie Dettori is said to ride for John Gosden.
MIRAGE DANCER – (8/1) (E/W)
MONARCHS GLEN – (12/1) (E/W)
DAY 1 NAP: Sergei Prokofiev (Coventry Staks)
DAY 1 NB: Lady Aurelia (King’s Stand)