NOT for the first time, Tuesday looks likely to be the best day at Royal Ascot in terms of pure quality. The weather forecast is set fair for the week and the Coolmore and Godolphin battalions will try to repel the American invasion, led by sprint king Wesley Ward. Here’s a race-by-race look at Tuesday’s opening day of the royal meeting….
Queen Anne Stakes: No Tepin this year and this is a slightly less competitive affair than recent years. However it sees the champion miler elect, RIBCHESTER, try to back up his impressive victory in the Group One Lockinge. A big brute of a horse, he still looks to be improving. His career-best efforts have come on ground with some juice, so if it gets as hard as a road at Ascot that would be the only concern, but he should confirm his Lockinge superiority over Lightning Spear. If you’re looking for an each-way poke then OH THIS IS US might sneak into a place at a huge price.
Coventry Stakes: Wesley Ward’s Arawak, De Bruyne Horse and Denaar are all handy in the market but Aidan O’Brien has a wonderful record in this race and MURILLO looks to be his number one contender. He lengthened away from his rivals easily in a Tipperary maiden and will enjoy the extra furlong. Rajasinghe was impressive at Newcastle and could be in the each-way shake-up.
King’s Stand Stakes: Another Group One and this is all about flying American filly LADY AURELIA. Her jaw-dropping victory in last year’s Queen Mary was the highlight of the meeting and a similar performance will surely be good enough here, despite the absence of Frankie Dettori. She is drawn 18 of 18 but if she breaks sharply then she will take some catching.
St James’s Palace Stakes: A great shootout between dual 2,000 Guineas winner CHURCHILL and Barney Roy who chased him home at Newmarket. Richard Hannon is exuding confidence about gaining his revenge with Barney Roy but Churchill gives the impression there is much more to come. The confidence behind Barney Roy could actually push Churchill’s price out to something backable in the betting market. Ryan Moore rarely waxes lyrical about anything but he has been full of praise for Churchill. He’ll do for me. With eight runners, each-way backers might want to risk a few shillings on 66/1 shot Forest Ranger to fill third spot.
Ascot Stakes: Alan King holds a very strong hand here with three runners. OCEANE and Who Dares Wins both appeal and slight preference is for the former who ran a solid race last time and will relish the fast ground. He also has a real liking for the track and has form over 2m 4f.
Windsor Castle Stakes: Wesley Ward is double handed but I’m sticking with Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore and DECLARATIONOFPEACE who sauntered home in a Dundalk maiden and looks a likely type to step up considerably here.