1pt win Tepin @5/1, 14:30 Ascot, Tuesday

We’re set for a rare soggy start to Royal Ascot and the deteriorating going has had a big impact on the betting market for the opening Queen Anne Stakes, won last year by superstar miler Solow for France, in what’s possibly the race of the week.

A setback has prevented a defence of his crown, but we’re still treated to a top-class international renewal with runners from Japan, Ireland, France and America taking on the home team.

The betting market suggests Lockinge winner and champion two-year-old of 2014, Belardo, is the home team’s best chance as the soft ground is in his favour and he comes into the race in really good form.

The horse might be shy of top class, though, and he’s too inconsistent to be backed with any confidence at 9/2, so I’ll pass.

Lockinge third Endless Drama makes more appeal as he too appreciates softer ground and was making his first start in a year at Newbury – Belardo had run twice already – so is entitled to improve plenty and reverse the form.

I’d be keen to back him but 7/1 is probably too slim in a race as competitive as this as the two raiding fillies towards the top of the market, Ervedya of France and Tepin of the USA, have much the best form.

Ervedya has hardened to favourite as she’s already a Royal Ascot winner – she won the Coronation Stakes last year – and has won on soft ground several times in the past.

I just think her best form flatters to deceive and, when she wins, the margins are so fine that a lot has to go her way – a trait worth avoiding in favourites.

She was beaten by Amazing Maria at Deauville last year, who at 20/1 can be backed at five times the price in this, but, while on this ground I’d expect her to reverse that form, that Deauville defeat looks to have exposed her as shy of the very top class.

The best horse in the race is TEPIN, a favourite of mine who was advised at 11/1 when she demolished an extremely talented Grade 1 field featuring Esoterique and Mondialiste in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile, who has been persuaded by Ascot to make the trip over from the States.

She appears to be drifting in the market because of the soft ground and some doubts about her ability to handle the straight mile – American racecourses feature tighter turns more like athletics tracks – but I’m in no hurry to desert her.

Her Breeders’ Cup success came on dodgy ground and several other classy horses like Legatissimo and Golden Horn also got turned over on the card, whilst her prep race for that occasion – which she won easily – was run on soft.

I reckon she handles it, and the more she drifts the more appealing she becomes.

I honestly don’t know what to make of her being forced not to race on anti-bleeding drug Lasix and her not being allowed to race with her nose strap – perhaps the latter is the biggest kink in her armour as connections have said she can struggle with her breathing – but at 5/1 I think they’re more than factored in as negatives.

She’s the best horse in the race.

1pt win Tepin @5/1, 14:30 Ascot, Tuesday (SkyBet offer money back as a free bet if 2nd or 3rd)

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