Royal Ascot day one selections

Royal Ascot starts with a bang on Tuesday, with three Group Ones and the Group Two Coventry Stakes on the opening card, followed by another four days of top-class flat racing through to Saturday.

Queen Anne Stakes (Group One) 8f

With no superstar miler emerging from any of the big European flat racing countries since Accidental Agent sprung a 50/1 surprise last year, I suspect we could be in for more surprises this time around in an open Queen Anne Stakes. Barney Roy has the back class to win this but whether he retains all of it after his failed spell at stud remains to be seen, and he’s been well found in the market. The favourite Le Brivido is easily dismissed as a ridiculous price based on what he’s achieved, but the favourite Mustashry certainly has solid claims and looks a very fair price to confirm the Lockinge form from last month. I’ve a soft spot for Olmedo yet 16/1 quotes are perfectly justified based on his recent form, which simply hasn’t looked like proper Group One standard. LAURENS is an unoriginal but very obvious value bet at 7/1, as she ran very well in the Lockinge and will improve for the run – her trainer seems to think so too. She’s nothing but consistent and I’m not sure why Ascot would be a problem for her, as we know she stays well. I’m backing two in the race and if we do get rain then Sharjah Bridge would come into equations, but the one I think that’s been underrated is 33/1 DREAM CASTLE for Godolphin. He won a weak Group One in Meydan before finishing last in the Dubai Turf, and on his European debut this season he hit the front only to be passed in the final furlong by better stayers. Dropping a furlong will certainly suit and, as there doesn’t seem to be an awful lot of pace in this race, I suspect his turn of foot could be sharper than most.

1pt win Laurens @7/1, 14:30 Ascot
1pt win Dream Castle @33/1, 14:30 Ascot

Coventry Stakes (Group Two) 6f

Picking two-year-old winners this early in the season is always tough, but it was hard not to be anything but really impressed by GUILDSMAN‘s romp at Sandown recently. He pulled further and further clear and looks a serious horse, so I’m quite keen on taking a chance on him at 7/1. I’m also keen on Golden Horde at a massive price of 33/1, as he was hampered on debut and won well next time out, but I’d be worried about the thundery weather forecast, as I’d imagine he wants it fast.

1pt win Guidsman @7/1, 15:05 Ascot

King’s Stand Stakes (Group One) 5f

All the pre-race chatter has surrounded last year’s 1-2, Blue Point and Battaash, and, while there’s no disputing their respective claims, this is a 5f sprint and anything can happen. MABS CROSS filled 3rd place last year before progressing past that form to beat Battaash and Blue point when finishing a nose-second in the Nunthorpe, before beating Battaash again when winning the Group One Prix de l’Abbaye on Arc day. She defied a Group One penalty to win first time out this season, and, while she couldn’t live with Battaash on fast ground last time out in the Temple Stakes, she is 5lb better off at the weights for the King’s Stand and will surely run a huge race with the rain that’s fallen over the last week very much to her liking. Soldier’s Call was a very good juvenile and finished ahead of Battaash at Longchamp, but he’ll have to have improved 12lb since the back end of last year to hold the form, which is enough to put me off. I’ve always liked backing American sprinters against Europeans as they’re generally better. and put ours in our place at the big international meetings. IMPRIMIS has looked excellent in two runs this year and has gone a little under the radar coming into Royal Ascot, such has been the fuss about the two at the top of the market. He won’t mind cut in the ground and 12/1 is very live for such an unexposed runner.

1pt win Mabs Cross @8/1
1pt win Imprimis @12/1

St. James’ Palace Stakes (Group One) 8f

Magna Grecia – who has been withdrawn – pulled muscles when so disappointing behind Phoenix Of Spain and Too Darn Hot in the Irish Guineas, which has to leave a question mark over that form, given Too Darn Hot himself had a dodgy preparation. Too Darn Hot can bounce back but he’s not as difficult to oppose as Phoenix Of Spain, who is clearly very good and a fair price as favourite. I’ve backed SHAMAN for France at a big price last week as his French Guineas second to Persian King reads like very strong form, so I suspect he’s been underestimated. That race was on slow ground and I find it difficult to believe that that’s what the horse wants as he’s by Shamardal, whose progeny always like it fast. He’s still widely available at 11/1 and I suspect that’s a snip of value.

1pt win Shaman @11/1, 16:20 Ascot

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