ROYAL ASCOT 2019 PREVIEW
Author: Jordan Yates
Image: Jordan Yates
Graphics: Logopit Plus
Norfolk Stakes (Group 2)
It’s the Norfolk Stakes that kicks things off on the third day of the Royal Meeting a Group 2 affair that’s contested over five furlongs. It’s the market leader that I really like here and that’s the Paddy Twomey trained SUNDAY SOVEREIGN who’s due to be ridden by Billy Lee. Recently purchased by King Power Racing he made a mighty impression on his latest outing when dismantling a novice event at Tipperary and I think there’s a lot more to come from this two year old by Equiano. That dominant success also came on soft going and the way he put the race to bed that day rightly propelled him to the top of the market here.
There’s various options that stand out as each way alternatives to the favourite here, A’Ali ran a good race in defeat on debut last time giving the impression that he will come on a lot for it. He’s the mount of Frankie Dettori for Simon Crisford. Joseph O’Brien’s Air Force Jet got a form boost on the back of Southern Hills win in the Windsor as he got the better of that rival on his latest outing. He could also put in a bold showing.
WIN: SUNDAY SOVEREIGN (9/4)
Hampton Court Stakes (Group 3)
The second race on Day Three is the Hampton Court Stakes which is a Group 3 contest that’s ridden over just shy of a mile and two furlongs and I’ve sided with another King Power horse here this time in the form of FOX CHAIRMAN for Andrew Balding and Silvestre De Sousa. He made a fantastic start to life when bolting up in taking style on debut at Newbury before going on to finish third at Chester in the listed Dee Stakes. As is the case with many at Chester he got no luck in running that day and was badly hampered in the small run in, but then still ran on well. With a clearer run today I expect him to come on again and put in a bold showing in this particular affair.
There’s a lot of classy sorts in the line up here, King Ottokar’s recent form was given a boost yesterday following the win of Dashing Willoughby. Also the likes of Sangarious and Roseman will prove to be popular each way selections with punters. Aidan O’Brien is represented by Cape Of Good Hope who’s won a listed contest at Epsom before finishing fourth in the French Derby, that’s possibly the strongest form in the contest and he’ll be a big player here under Ryan Moore.
WIN: FOX CHAIRMAN (4/1)
Ribblesdale Stakes (Group 2)
Moving onto the Ribblesdale Stakes which comes up at 3.40 and this particular contest is a Group 2 over just shy of a mile and four furlongs and it’s race I’ve actually had two bets in. It’s a very similar theme as it’s another King Power I’ve sided with firstly in the form of QUEEN POWER this time for Sir Michael Stoute and again under Silvestre De Sousa. She was last seen when just doing enough at Newbury in a listed race when she got going quite late but then put the race to bed nicely. She shaped as if she’ll come on once again from that outing however, and I think she can put on a very big showing here under the champion jockey. It’s one of the horses that was behind her that day that I’ve had as an each way alternative here and that’s STAR CATCHER for John Gosden and Frankie Dettori. Sporting the Oppenheimer silks she made a big impression when bolting up on debut at Newbury and ran a solid race in defeat last time in said listed contest. I think she has the potential to be a very decent filly and we could well see some of that potential showcased here.
John Gosden has several others in the line up who all hold viable chances also these come in the form of Fanny Logan, Shambolic and Sparkle Roll. William Haggas also sends Frankellina here who aught to have a lot more to offer and will be looking to bounce back from a slightly underwhelming showing when she was sixth in the Oaks. A lively outsider could well be Joseph O’Brien Irish Raider in Altair, she’s one to keep an eye on.
WIN: QUEEN POWER (10/3)
EACH WAY: STAR CATCHER (15/2)
Ascot Gold Cup (Group 1)
The feature race on the card is of course the Gold Cup, a Group 1 race that has an illustrious back catalogue of winners and I believe that this year’s renewal will be won for the consecutive year in succession by STRADIVARIUS for Gosden & Dettori. I was at York the last day for his reappearance where he looked as good as ever claiming Group 2 success and I just find him really hard to oppose here. I’ve fell in love with him in truth be told in the last year or so, how he always seems to get the job done is an admirable trait to say the least and I think he fully deserves to be put in the bracket of the top stayers of all time. I suspect another bold showing is on the cards at a track that he’s become very accustomed too now.
I’ve also back one as an each way alternative here and that’s the Mark Johnston trained DEE EX BEE. He’s seemed to come into his own over these larger trips this season winning both of his starts in the Sagaro Stakes as well as the Henry II Stakes when last seen. He’ll have to take another sizeable step up if he is to feature here but there’s no telling where his limitations lie within this division and it would be no surprise to me should he run a big race here under De Sousa.
There’s several in the line up that currently serve as considerable threats to the market leader, the main one looks to be current Melbourne Cup winner Cross Counter for Charlie Appleby. Since his win down under he has since gone on to win a Dubai Gold Cup also and he looks an obvious key player here under James Doyle. Aidan O’Brien is represented by Flag Of Honour and Capri who are both smart on their day, however need to step up on current form. With a mention also going to the French raider Called To The Bar, who could prove a lively outsider under Maxime Guyon.
WIN: STRADIVARIUS (5/4)
EACH WAY: DEE EX BEE (7/1)
Britannia Stakes (Class 2) (Heritage Handicap)
The Britannia Stakes is the penultimate race on the card, it’s another fiercely competitive heritage handicap that looks incredibly tough from a punting perspective as you’d expect. I’ve decided to chance a couple here at decent each way prices, a couple of horses that I’ve been following this season and the first of these is KING ADEMAR for Martyn Meade. He arrives here still a maiden after four runs however his last two outings have both come at Nottingham where he’s finished second on both occasions. He has progressed with each run though looking a lot more the finished article last time, the first occasion he was touched off by King Of Change who since went on to finish second in the 2000 Guineas and the horse who beat him on the second occasion has since gone on to win also. This is pretty solid form and if progressing again here he could run a big race under Oisin Murphy.
My second selection here is actually another King Power horse funnily enough, I might have to see if I can get my hands on Leicester shirt for this afternoon’s racing. Anyhow, the selection is HERO HERO for Andrew Balding. I was at Chester the last day when he dismantled a field to shed his maiden tag with the absolute minimal of fuss. It’s likely he’ll come on again for that effort to and judging by yesterday’s results he’s also got a nice draw.
EACH WAY: KING ADEMAR (11/1) (E/W)
EACH WAY: HERO HERO (11/1) (E/W)
King George V Stakes (Class 2) (Handicap)
The final race on the card is another big competitive handicap in the King George V Stakes and I’ve once again had a couple of arrows here at decent each way prices and if you’ve been reading this preview from the start you won’t be at all surprised to see that I’ve backed FOX PREMIER for Andrew Balding, Silvestre De Sousa and you guessed it King Power Racing. If all goes to plan for my punts this afternoon they will name the Thursday at Royal Ascot “King Power Thursday” in years to come. The reason I’ve backed this particular contender though is because he comes into the race in fine form on the back of two nice victories, he was an expensive one to follow last term but has since rewarded his followers this time around. Both wins have been impressive and he consequently has an eleven pound rise but he could still yet have considerable progression.
The second selection in the race is Frankie Dettori’s mount that is QUESTIONARE who represents John Gosden sporting the Lady Bamford silks. He was last seen when finishing second at Leicester but if you watch that race back he perhaps should of got up close home as he stayed on very strongly in the closing stages and was just edged out of it. He’s a very unexposed sort and the yard have had some very decent one’s in these colours throughout the years and he could still prove a useful recruit himself.
EACH WAY: FOX PREMIER (12/1)
EACH WAY: QUESTIONARE (14/1)