Updated: Jun 16
14:30 - Queen Anne Stakes
The Queen Anne is the opening race of this year's Royal Ascot. 11 runners head to post for the 1 mile race where the going is currently Good to Firm.
Palace Pier is the 4/9 favourite, 24 hours before the race. He's rated 125 and is by far the superior horse in the race having won 8 of his 9 career races. The one loss came on soft ground. Conditions should suit and it's hard to see past him.
With that being said, I'm going to look each way.
Sir Busker is one of my favourite flat horses in recent time. The 5 year old won the Silver Hunt Cup at Royal Ascot in 2020 with a brilliant late rally on the near side rail. This horse has an abundance of talent and jockey Oisin Murphy knows everything about him. This is his second Group 1 race and the biggest step up of his career. In his first Group 1 race, he came 3 lengths behind Palace Pier to finish 4th at a huge 66/1. He then came 3rd in the Queen Anne Trial behind Oh This Is Us and Prince Eiji. Oh This is Us has done wonders and boosted the form strongly after winning the Cazoo Diomed Stakes at Epsom Downs recently.
Sir Busker usually turns up on the big day and they'll have him ready to go here. Oisin Murphy discussed Sir Busker in a Royal Ascot preview with the Next Gen Racing team and said "I sat on him recently, he's as good as ever... Really on the ball and looks great. He loves Ascot and we think he's going to run well"
I'd love Sir Busker to win here, but I don't think anything has a chance beating Palace Pier. That being said, currently at 25/1, I think Sir Busker can run the race of his life and place in the Queen Anne Stakes.
SIR BUSKER (E/W)
written by Charlie Sharp
15:05 - Coventry Stakes
All the talk in this years Coventry is about the American raider Kaufymaker. Wesley Ward's charge deserves a tonne of respect as the unbeaten two year old aims to keep their 100% record in tact. Of course she has a massive chance but there's two things that makes her difficult to side with. First off, knowing how good the US form is is so hard to tell and with the course being watered will this ground be to her liking? I think it'll be a case of the horse either dominating in convincing fashion or failing in equally as impressive style. Either way I have my eye focused elsewhere.
The horse that's attracted plenty of market support is Dhabab who was a convincing 2 length winner on debut. Of course Rob Havlin deserves to keep the ride but I have to admit that I'd be more convinced if Frankie was onboard, especially here at his beloved Ascot. Dettori instead climbs aboard another Gosden runner in the form of Tolstoy. He was a less convincing winner but showed plenty of battling qualities to get up close home. Very green on debut he should come on leaps and bounds for that performance and at around 10/1 looks a decent price for punters looking for an each way bet.
All that being said however I'm going to be siding with the powerhouse stable of Ballydoyle and Aidan O'Briens The Acropolis. He improved markedly on his first effort to win in very dominant fashion last time out and showed plenty of tactical speed to quicken well and assert close home. I actually feel he could potentially be a Guineas horse next year and a step up in trip will see him progress further but I was so taken by his latest success I'd be foolish not to side with him especially at generous odds.
THE ACROPOLIS (E/W)
written by Rory Paddock
15:40 - Kings Stand Stakes
Battaash has had to play second fiddle to Blue Point in this race on a couple of occasions, but without that rival to challenge last season he made no mistake, breaking well and making all the running, winning by over two lengths and looking in complete command throughout. He's clear on official ratings and boasts an exemplary record on first run of the season so if fully recovered from an injury suffered over the winter he should prove tough to beat.
Winter Power finished last season with victory in a Group 3 race at Newmarket and proved she had trained on as a three-year-old with a convincing three length victory over subsequent Listed winner Atalis Bay at York last month. She gets plenty of weight from the favourite and looks the most likely to capitalise should Battaash fail to fire.
Others worthy of mention include Liberty Beach who was third in last years' renewal and arrives here on the back of a Group 2 success in the Temple Stakes at Haydock last month, while Que Amoro won first time up last season and got to within a length of Battaash when second in the Nunthorpe at York last season.
written by Dean Kilbryde
16:20 - St James Palace Stakes
Battleground brings Group race form into the race from last year, winner of a Group 2 at Goodwood before finishing 2nd in a Group 1 at the Breeders Cup. His only outing this season saw a late gamble and he went off favourite for the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket. He looked in need of the run and unsuited by the track that day and can go well here. His trainer Aidan O’Brien has won this race eight times in the last 21 years.
Bullace is an improving colt from a decent yard finished 3rd behind a couple of other runners here at Sandown. Has a good attitude but needs a fair bit of improvement to figure?
Chindit – 5th in the 2000 Guineas a race that is often a good guide for this race. That race developed on the other side of the track that day, but he still finished well. He has some good form and cannot be ruled out, he is still improving.
Highland Avenue is untested at this kind of level, he was second to Mostahdaf last time beaten 1/2L but is 3lb better off today and will be better on this faster surface. Is drawn out wide which is a negative but capable of Group race form but maybe not today.
Stablemate of Highland Avenue, La Barossa looks the second string on jockey bookings. Second in the Craven at Newmarket before disappointing in the Irish 2000 Guineas on soft ground which he has run poorly on in the past. Underrated here but may be better at 7F.
This will be the last time we see Lucky Vega on a racecourse and is off to take up stud duties after this race but brings some smart form. 3rd in the 2000 Guineas before a 4th in the Irish equivalent on very testing ground. Has some very high-class Group 1 form and deserves to win one. Jessie Harrington does well with her raids here.
Trained by master trainer John Gosden, who has won this three times in the last seven years, Mostahdaf has done very little wrong but still needs to make further improvement to compete with the main protagonists.
Poetic Flare is running in his 5th race since Aprill 11th and his 4th Group One. Winner of the 2000 Guineas and beaten a short head in the Irish equivalent. Clearly has an iron constitution. Jim Bolger another who excels when crossing the channel. Has the best form in the race but is it one race too many?
Thunder Moon was Group One winner at 2, well fancied for 2000 Guineas and finished last, has been kept fresh for this but cannot be confident after the Newmarket performance. Mr Ascot Frankie Dettori is a very eye catching booking.
Whichever way you cut it it's an extremely competitive race in which the classic generation meets some rapid improvers. Poetic Flare will be bang there if non the worse for his multiple races as will Lucky Vega. If one of the improvers is to come through, I expect it to be Mostahdaf. However, I am going to go for Aidan O’Briens main runner Battleground, the money that came for him for the Guineas was incredibly significant and it’s easy to forgive that run due to the idiosyncrasies of the track and he has been kept fresh for this.
written by Steve Marriott
17:00 - Ascot Stakes
21 go at the time of writing in the Ascot stakes handicap. The Irish have a strong hand in this And plenty of dual national / flat trainers have thrown horses into this race.
Willie Mullins has a very good record in this race winning 4 of the last 9 renewals and is 3 strong handed in this race. Mc Muldoon is favourite for Willie and with Ryan Moore on board it has to be respected however Mc Muldoon has never ridden on good ground before only good to soft and the ground no doubt will be riding quick given the dry weather we have had. That would be a major concern and certainly worth taking on.
Cape Gentleman with Rachel Blackmore on board is interesting given the year she has had it would be a surprise for her to win on her Royal Ascot debut. Cape Gentleman has won the Irish cesarewitch so has won a big handicap on the Flat and won at Good at kempton in a hurdle race so speed shouldn’t be an issue.
The one I like is Coueur De Lion who won this last year and has gone close before. Ok is weighted a little higher than his victory last year but will certainly enjoy the conditions. Also with the Jockey taken 3 lbs of isn’t a mile away from the winning weight he was in this last year. At double figure odds and bookies some paying 6 / 7 places certainly worth a shot. Alan king had a very good Royal Ascot last year with a few winners so wouldn’t put anyone of and he knows how to target horses at certain races.
Another one at 100/1 price again only do it if you get 6 or 7 places but call me mad I think Island Brave could possibly sneak a place. Has won a class 2 handicap at 2m on good to firm ground so will maybe have those conditions. a 7lb claimer is on board pretty much puts Island brave at the bottom of the weights.
May seem a bit daft but genuInely believe if others falter Island Brave could sneak a place especially with some bookmakers paying out on the first six or seven.
COUEUR DE LION (E/W)
ISLAND BRAVE (E/W)
written by Luke Tucker
17:35 - Wolferton Stakes
This looks a typically tough and competitive renewal of the Wolferton and as Listed races go, one suspects in time, that this will turn out to be a strong race on the book. Patrick Sarsfield heads the current market and he made a pleasing comeback when second at the Curragh at the start of the month. Highly progressive last season and a winner at Group 3 level, it is easy to see why he is proving popular amongst the punters although he would have something to prove if the ground was any quicker than good. Despite the ground, trainer Joseph O'Brien has his horses in decent form now and a healthy deal of respect is afforded.
Felix had looked as consistent and progressive as anything on the All Weather circuit and his second in the Winter Derby at Lingfield was duly built upon when an excellent second in the Group 1, Dubai Turf last time. Gauging the overall strength or credibility of that effort is and does require a good deal of guesswork although finishing second behind a proven Group 1 horse (Lord North) has to be considered as his career best effort to date and a repeat may well prove good enough.
Solid Stone falls firmly into the stereo-typical ''Getting Better With Age'' type that Sir Michael Stoute is so famed for. Impressive when an authoritative winner at Windsor last time, he surely has more to offer although he will likely have to show it to land this.
Blue Cup has two ways of running and is something of a law unto himself. Impressive when hacking up at Epsom last time was once again preceded by him misbehaving during the prelims. This rather off putting pre race behaviour is nothing new as on all three starts this season he has managed to get himself extremely worked up and sweaty whilst making his way down to the start. Quite why or what causes this is anyone's guess though the hood (Used for the 1st time at Epsom) may at least enable him to keep enough in the tank for his races and this track looks almost certain to suite.
Euchen Glen deserves a mention on the back of his impressive victory at Sandown last time, the forecast quicker ground would be a concern although he could plug on into a place if they go quick enough up front. Forest Of Dean and Dawaam are others with chances if on a going day although after much agonising, the suggestion is that Blue Cup has enough raw ability to land this if behaving on his way to the start. For those unwilling to take the risk, Patrick Sarsfield looks the most likely of the market leaders and a big run looks on the cards from him.
BLUE CUP (E/W)
written by Chris Connolly
18:10 - Copper Horse Stakes
A staying handicap over one mile and six furlongs brings a close to proceedings on day one of the Royal meeting.
National Hunt trainers and dual purpose horses usually have a good record in these types of events.
Saldier has been well found in the market since his declaration, and he’s hard to get away from. Willie Mullins and Ryan Moore team up with the former useful hurdler.
One can’t help feeling that this is something of an afterthought following a particularly disappointing campaign at the highest level over timber.
His first run and victory in four years on the flat was nothing more than an exercise canter at Listowel as a prep for this. He has quite a lofty rating of 103 which may flatter him a little. He probably doesn’t represent great value currently, but there’s no doubt he’s the most likely winner.
Two horses that may represent some value for places are Arthurian Fable, who got bogged down in soft ground last time, but has some decent form prior to that. The distance is fine and if the ground is on the quick side he should go well.
Hochfeld is the other each way play. He will be staying on when others have cried enough. He has run consistently well for most part, and even though he’s probably in the handicappers grip, this test could eek a little more improvement.
written by Matt Polley