It’s back! The indulgent racing buffet that is Royal Ascot begins on Tuesday, featuring no fewer than three Group 1’s. We kick off immediately with the Queen Anne, a very high-class event indeed:
2.30 Ascot (Queen Anne Stakes – Group 1) – MODERN GAMES
This really is an exceptional race. Front-runner Mutasaabeq is not one to be allowed an easy lead, while Chindit managed second in the Lockinge Stakes. The three that the opener should concern however are Native Trail, Inspiral and Modern Games.
Inspiral will be many people’s idea of the winner. The Frankie factor may destroy her price, but she is very classy indeed, won at this meeting on her seasonal debut last year and gets the handy 3lb sex allowance. She is awesome and will win Group 1’s, but she may be vulnerable against the very best after a such a long time off.
The Godolphin pair are her dangers. Native Trail was a 2000 Guineas runner-up, a good Irish Guineas winner and a rock-solid Eclipse third last season. He is ready to rock and roll now and would win many a renewal of this event.
Modern Games is seen as being slightly ahead of him in the pecking order and it could just be that, while others may get past him in Britain later on, his match fitness could play a crucial role and he may be very tough to get past.
3.05 Ascot (Coventry Stakes – Group 2) – ASADNA
Racing Twitter has become the cesspool that other parts of that platform often are this week, some comments concerning spectacular 12-length debut winner Asadna.
Many feel that you can’t go to Ripon and then win a Coventry, but that means some are willing to back a course or a reputation rather than use stats, facts, figures and logic.
George Boughey’s colt was genuinely awesome on debut and may just be too good for these racing down the stands side. On the other side, Aidan O’Brien’s River Tiber is a big danger of course while Brucanero Fuerte and American runner Fandom are also of interest.
3.40 Ascot (King’s Stand Stakes – Group 1) – HIGHFIELD PRINCESS
Another hugely fast and furious King’s Stand is on offer here. There may not be much between Twilight Gleaming, Coolnagatta, Marshman and Cannonball, while Manaccan has a strong place chance.
The two stand-outs for me where the fillies Dramatised and Highfield Princess.
Karl Burke’s Dramatised was outstanding at Haydock in the Temple Stakes and of course will improve. She’ll need to take a very big step forward to beat Highfield Princess however, assuming she is at her best.
The triple Group 1 winner was penalised in the Duke of York last time but ran a stormer in second. Fully ready now, she will be hard to catch under Jason Hart.
4.20 Ascot (St James’s Palace Stakes – Group 1) – MOSTABSHIR
Chaldean and Royal Scotsman will be fancied by many given their Dewhurst and 2000 Guineas form. Paddington too was impressive in the Irish 2000 Guineas last time and seems to be improving. We may need to look elsewhere, however.
Maljoom was unlucky last year, while the likes of Palace Pier and Without Parole showed that you don’t need to be a Guineas horse to win this.
Not every three-year-old miler is ready for the Guineas and it’s true what they say about the Classic being like the final run of the two-year-old season; they need to be race-hardened to win.
That’s not the case so much at this time of year and others improve to get involved which is where Mostabshir comes in for the same trainer(s) responsible for Palace Pier and Without Parole.
After an excellent debut win, Mostabshir was given a trial which didn’t go well. After some rest, he turned out at York last time where he utterly demolished his opposition for John & Thady Gosden. The form of that race has also been backed up.
He looked every inch a Group 1 performer to me that day and he can improve enough to get past what for me, haven’t been the best three-year-olds so far.
5.00 Ascot (Ascot Stakes Handicap) – BRING ON THE NIGHT
I wouldn’t put you off a couple of bets in this highly competitive 2½-mile handicap. Willie Mullins’ Bring On The Night is the ultimate selection as it is genuinely hard to ignore his chances.
He was favourite for this race last year when he was narrowly beaten by Coltrane, very well fancied for the Gold Cup this week, and though we’ve not seen him since he remains well handicapped under Ryan Moore.
He is a short price though, so if you want a recent race-fit and solid stayer Law Of The Sea could be one to concentrate on. He was an unlucky loser in the Chester Cup and handled fast ground well last time.
5.35 Ascot (Wolferton Stakes – Listed Race) – KING OF CONQUEST
I went through various metrics looking at this field, some factual and some subjective including form, comparative form, ratings, rate of improvement etc.
After all of that I still got Highland Avenue top of my list, very narrowly from King Of Conquest. While James Doyle can get on the right one for Godolphin now and again, it’s interesting that Buick stays on King Of Conquest and it’s hard to know how fast he is improving after four wins in a row.
At the advertised prices, you could back both of Charlie Appleby’s runners and you may not go far wrong. Francesco Clemente, Poker Face, Cadillac, Royal Champion, Bolshoi Ballet, Saga and Buckaroo are all close in an intriguing race.
6.10 Ascot (Copper Horse Handicap) – RULING DYNASTY
For most of the media and punters heading into this week, this race has been all about Willie Mullins. He runs Vauban who could be very well handicapped, while he also jocks up Frankie Dettori on Absurde.
Both should go well, but the fast-improving and lightly raced Ruling Dynasty represents another major chance for Charlie Appleby to score and his price is tempting.