Tomorrow marks the start of Royal Ascot, arguably the best week of Flat racing all year. On the opening day, there are three Group Ones to feast on. The Queen Anne is the curtain raiser where we will see some of Europe’s best milers do battle.
Godolphin’s Dubai Turf winner Benbatl looks to give Saeed Bin Suroor an eighth win in the race. French raider Recoletos who is two from two this term will be seeking to secure a second victory in four years following Solow success in 2015.
Favourite for the race is the Aidan O’Brien trained Rhododendron, who won the Lockinge Stakes on her most recent start and with the assistance of Ryan Moore in the saddle she will prove very difficult to beat.
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The Coventry Stakes looks full of future winners and the comment “has potential” is applicable across the board. The horse I like in the race is Sergei Prokofiev, the son of Scat Daddy is one of the most experienced horses in the race and Aidan O’Brien’s colt will take all the beating.
The King’s Stand looks to be a match between Battaash and Lady Aurelia, both are Group One winners over the minimum but preference is for the latter. Lady Aurelia has won at Royal Ascot for the last two seasons including when landing this race last year, whereas Battaash’s only real flop came at the Royal meeting in 2016 when he finished a disappointing twelfth of twenty-two in the Windsor Castle.
It took U S Navy Flag five attempts to get his head in front last season and following three winless runs so far this term, team Ballydoyle will be hoping last year’s Champion two year old can claim the Group One St James’s Palace Stakes. If he’s to win, he’ll have to thwart the challenges of Irish 2000 Guineas winner Romanised, English 2000 Guineas runner-up Tip Two Win and the very smart Without Parole.
Roger Teal’s Tip Two Win, seems to be the overpriced horse among the above contenders, much like when he was a 50/1 shot in the English 2000 Guineas. The son Dark Angel has some of the best form on offer and looks sure to be battling for victory.
The final two races on Tuesday are the Ascot Stakes and Wolferton Stakes, Willie Mullins looks to have a very strong hand in the Ascot Stakes with five of the twenty-strong field. Chelkar is the pick of Ryan Moore who has partnered all three of Mullins’s previous winners and the Azamour gelding who hasn’t been seen for 603 days is by far the most intriguing horse in the race.
In the finale, sixteen horses go to post and it looks like a really competitive affair. Many will be rowing in behind Mirage Dancer who was third over the course and distance at last year’s royal meeting and following an impressive listed victory at Goodwood most recently Sir Michael Stoute’s colt looks the one to be with.
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