Day one of Royal Ascot has a very strange feel about it with no crowd and no morning attire, however these five horses all represent great betting value.
1.50 Ascot (Queen Anne Stakes – Group 1) – MOHAATHER
This is a very competitive Queen Anne Stakes. There may be no obvious superstar, at least not one we know of yet, but many seem capable of running to a similar ability while improvement can come from the likes of Skardu, Terrebellum and most of all from our overpriced selection.
After winning last year’s Greenham in good style, Mohaather was a genuine fancy for the 2000 Guineas but suffered a setback. Having reappeared after that on totally unsuitable heavy ground in the QEII here, Marcus Tregoning’s colt proved his worth with a good fifth.
Now fully fit and with conditions to suit, the obvious visual clues he provided with taking wins in the Horris Hill and Greenham aligned with the form he has with strong yardsticks such as Hello Youmzain, King Of Change and Veracious, he would appear to be ready to run to the required level to take a Group 1.
Last year’s St James’s Palace winner Circus Maximus remains strong but might now want to go up in trip to be at his very best, while Billesdon Brook can up her game again to get involved. Mustashry completes the shortlist but it could be very germane that Jim Crowley has sided with our horse.
2.25 Ascot (Ribblesdale Stakes – Group 2) – FRANKLY DARLING
John Gosden has such a great stranglehold on these big fillies’ races. As well as having trained major stakes winner such as Enable and Taghrooda, he gets plenty in this sort of race including last year’s winner Star Catcher and Oaks scorer Anapurna.
With Frankly Darling apparently being ahead of Franconia in the pecking order and having seen what she did in the Abingdon Stakes on Saturday, allied with the stable having Lingfield Oaks Trial winner Miss Yoda in this line-up as second choice, it seems the daughter of Frankel is well set up to land this event, perhaps en route to Epsom.
Trefoil should run well without being good enough to win, while I also have similar sentiments about Aidan O’Brien’s Passion who is turned out quickly.
3.00 Ascot (King Edward VII Stakes – Group 2) – MOHICAN HEIGHTS
Aidan O’Brien has two big hitters in what is an unsatisfactory running of the King Edward VII on paper, both current Derby fourth-favourite Mogul (Ryan Moore) and Arthur’s Kingdom (Frankie Dettori) looking capable of landing what is now a fully-fledged trial for Epsom.
However, under his third jockey in three starts and in his third lot of racing colours, David Simcock’s Mohican Heights may well just announce himself on the Derby scene too.
A very good winner on debut last year at Leopardstown for Fozzy Stack, this son of Australia was promptly bought by Qatar Racing and sent to Simcock in Newmarket. When reappearing in a Listed race in August, he easily swept aside his field over a mile in great style and was then put away for the year.
His turn of foot was excellent in both races and there is clearly a lot more to come, but considering he is by Australia out of a Shirley Heights mare it seems all of that was a bonus and he is capable of great things over this mile-and-a-half.
Andrea Atzeni’s mount should be a very good price with Mogul expected to be odds-on, but he may yet prove to be the best of this particular bunch.
3.35 Ascot (King’s Stand Stakes – Group 1) – EQUILATERAL (*place only)
Even taking into consideration the fact that the wonderful Battaash is often a few pounds below his best at Ascot, he still comes out comfortably on top on private ratings here.
To be brutally honest, I hope he smashes the field as he still gets a bad time of it from some social media commentators, however he is no price at all without Blue Point in the field and he cannot be classed as a betting prospect.
With three places to fight for the place market is alive and, given the prices quoted for the fairly solid but not spectacular Glass Slippers and Liberty Beach, the circa 12/1 about Equilateral looks an absolute steal.
At his best he has already run well enough to be placed in this sort of race anyway, so given that conditions are fine for him, he is getting better all the time and as sprinters so often do will be dragged along by a quality field to reach his best form, he is a fair alternative to Battaash and could run a mighty race.
4.10 Ascot (Duke of Cambridge Stakes – Group 2) – JUBILOSO
Many a punter has made hay already with Sir Michael Stoute’s four-year-old handicappers this season, but improving horses at that age is not restricted to the lower ranks for the master of Freemason Lodge Stables.
Just as he did with another Juddmonte filly in the shape of Sun Maiden, Stoute can coax a few more pounds out of last year’s Coronation Stakes third Jubiloso and if he does it should be enough to take this race, Ryan Moore is on board too who is just the right man for the job.
John Gosden’s recent all-weather Listed race scorer Nazeef is next on the list as her own improvement can continue too and she has the benefit of race fitness, while Magic Lily remains a class act but has to give weight away to the rest of the field and that should just about be enough to stop her.
Franky Dettori takes the ride on the French trained filly Wasmya and that partnership will be of interest, however it would be no surprise to see Jubiloso go on to score at the top level this year in something like the Falmouth Stakes with this race being a great starting point.