Day one of Royal Ascot 2022 looks fittingly like an absolute bonanza.
No fewer that three of the seven races on Tuesday are Group 1 affairs, all of them containing at least one genuine potential superstar.
There are betting opportunities galore on the opening day as we attempt to go through the card.
2.30 Ascot (Queen Anne Stakes – Group 1) – LIGHTS ON (each-way)
It’s hard to believe that leading miler Baaeed has only been on the scene for a year. The Lockinge winner is tip-top class, there’s no doubt about that, and he’s certainly the most likely winner of the opener.
Naturally, he’s not a betting proposition at the prices but there is still an opportunity here by using Sir Michael Stoute’s mare Lights On.
She’s a five-time winner, including last time against Mutasaabeq and Alcohol Free, and she’s one that most definitely has more to offer.
Using one bookmaker as an example, she’s 28/1 in the win and each-way market with ¼ odds for the first two. She was also 11/2 for a place and 4/1 without the favourite.
With a theoretical £20 budget, should she finish placed we’d get £130 in the place market and £100 in the w/o favourite market.
I’m loathe to bet each-way, but a £10 e/w bet would land £80 should she finish second, not far behind the other two options, with the spectre of a shock win for a further £290 always being there so that’s the sensible play for a mare who may prove to be better at the weights than Real World, Chindit and Order Of Australia.
3.05 Ascot (Coventry Stakes – Group 2) – BLACKBEARD
I reckon Noble Style is the best around at this sort of trip, so his late omission is a big blow to the Coventry.
The action may be near the stands side in this renewal, where I expect to see Aidan O’Brien’s first string Blackbeard go very well indeed under Ryan Moore. He has experience having run three times already, we know he gets the trip and he’s full of class.
Blackbeard is the selection on merit, but I also expect plenty from Age Of Kings (second choice) who is the second string for the yard, strengthening confidence, while further back Persian Force can go well as can York winner Bradsell if he sees it out.
3.40 Ascot (King’s Stand – Group 1) – MAN OF PROMISE
American runner Golden Pal and Australian contender Nature Strip are top class and may yet be genuine Ascot superstars, but I’m willing to take them on in these conditions.
We should have a breakneck speed on here, one that may suit the closers as it did last year. One such runner may be six-furlong Group winner and improver Man Of Promise for Charlie Appleby and William Buick.
He was truly excellent in Dubai back in March, although he disappointed in the Group 1 on Dubai World Cup night, but his turn is coming at the top level.
Much like in the Coventry, his case is strengthened by the fact that another improver at this trip, Lazuli, has had this race as a target all year and yet William Buick ditches him to ride the selection and that could prove to be wise.
In their own back yards Nature Strip and Golden Pal have done nothing wrong at all, while Mooniesta looks too big a price for a place challenge.
4.20 Ascot (St James’s Palace Stakes – Group 1) – COROEBUS
Very strangely, I’ve read people knocking the 2000 Guineas form recently which I take to be them simply looking to cause upset in order to make a name for themselves.
In fact, the Guineas form is rock-solid and winner Coroebus can begin in earnest his likely summer challenge of Baaeed for top miler honours.
He has the class for this, we already know that, while getting away from Newmarket and going round a bend for the first time will also be in his favour. He has won without settling and turning the taps on at exactly the right time so far, but the turn here will help him do that and he should be hard to beat.
He’s not a big price, but he started off even skinnier so he may be creeping towards backable odds, especially for your multiples.
My Prospero is the big danger on paper, but it could be that his stablemate and German 2000 Guineas winner Maljoom is a better alternative.
5.00 Ascot (Ascot Stakes – Class 2 Heritage Handicap) – MARSHALL PLAN
I was at Newcastle when Marshall Plan so narrowly failed to overhaul Earlofthecotswolds on All Weather Championships Finals Day and let me tell you that, strangely for him, Frankie Dettori did not look happy when returning and I think more was expected of the Gosden runner.
Still, he’s improving overall and despite creeping up the weights without winning he still looks well handicapped to me.
I say that as the better all-weather form is still not valued highly enough. He was given 97 for finishing second at Newcastle but in reality, that was more like a 102-103 performance and he can get better yet.
In a tight race Rock Eagle, Bring On The Night, Coltrane, Pied Piper, Proschema, Going Gone and Arcadian Sunrise all showed up well on the numbers.
5.35 Ascot (Wolferton Stakes – Listed Race) – JUAN ELCANO
The Wolferton is a very tight race on paper this year and they’re going at least 7/1 the field at the time of writing.
Time to apply Occam’s Razor then; all things being equal, the simplest solution is best and last year’s winner Juan Elcano can do the job again.
Kevin Ryan’s five-year-old gelding has only had 13 runs and can outdo the mark he ran to in similar conditions twelve months ago. He’s also had a pipe-opener this time which will have blown the cobwebs away.
6.10 Ascot (Copper Horse Stakes – Handicap) – STOWELL
The Gosden team may yet land both staying handicaps on the card, the second with Stowell.
He was a pretty unlucky loser in the Group 2 Queen’s Vase here last year so we know he handles this track fine. He looks too classy to be running off 104 and he can see off the likes of Okita Soushi and Chester Cup winner Cleveland, while Bandinelli has more races in him but isn’t well off at the weights just now.