ROYAL ASCOT PREVIEW

The year’s best flat racing meeting starts tomorrow and once again we are likely to have a feast of top class racing.  Ascot has become a very fair race track since the reconstruction and front runners do very well on the round course these days.  Also the track bias on the round to high number draws has been significantly lessened and generally speaking the races are won by the best horse in the conditions.

The going is expected to be good to firm (watering).

TUESDAY

The traditional opener is the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes (2:30 p.m. GMT; 1 mile straight) for 4yo+.  Nine of the last ten renewals have been shared among Saeed Bin Suroor (4); Sir Michael Stoute (3) and Aidan O’Brien (2 of the last 3) and this year should be no exception as Godolphin’s GLADIATORIUS (BANKER BET) has everything in his favour here and could romp the event.  He is currently the highest rated horse in the World after his impressive all the way win in the Group 1 Dubai Duty Free at Nad-Al-Sheba’s World Cup Day in March and comes in here as the race’s lone speed against lots of hold up horses.  Punters get off to a flying start here.

The Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes (3:05 p.m. GMT; 5f) has proven an embarrassment for the home sprinters recently as Australian sprinters have won 3 of the last 6 renewals (Choisir 2003; Takeover Target 2006; Miss Andretti 2007) and you can expect more of the same as the home contingent led by Amour Propre (very speedy all the way winner of the Palace House Stakes; big step up in Grade here) and Fleeting Spirit (goes well fresh; 3/4l 3rd last year) comes up against another high class Australian sprinter, SCENIC BLAST, who has won the same two Group 1 races in Australia won by  Takeover Target and Miss Andretti prior to their 2006 and 2007 successes.

The third Group 1 race for the opening day is the St. James Palace Stakes (3:45 p.m. GMT; 1 mile round) usually a consolation race for 2000 Guineas losers.  Aidan O’Brien has won 5 of the last 10 renewals and in Mastercraftsman, who romped the Irish 2000 Guineas, he has a high-class entry fully deserving of favouritism.  However, the Irish 2000 was run on heavy going and, although he was impressive in winning his only race on good to firm last year, there is a nagging suspicion that he will always be at his best with give in the ground.  This leaves us with the pair of Delegator and EVASIVE second and sixth in the English 2000 Guineas.  Delegator gives the strong impression that he will be even better at 7 furlongs and so the selection is EVASIVE who was beaten by Mastercraftsman by only ¼ length in the English 2000 despite the selection suffering a training setback (foot abscess) in early April and interference in the race itself.  He obviously has much more improvement in him at this trip than Delegator and is very much the value bet.

WEDNESDAY

The Group 1 race here is the Prince of Wales Stakes (3:45 p.m. GMT; 1/4m) and here TARTAN BEARER (BANKER BET OF THE MEETING) is a confident selection to give Sir Michael Stoute another big race winner and some compensation for losing last year’s Derby when taken miles wide and running green in the stretch. That was only his fourth career start and he has progressed from 3 to 4 winning a Group 3 at Sandown from Pipedreamer on return.  This is an absolute cinch!!

One of the two biggest gambling races for the meet and the season is the Royal Hunt Cup (Heritage Handicap) run over the straight mile (4:20 p.m. GMT).  The dogs have been barking for months about Jeremy Noseda’s unbeaten Forgotten Voice and it has been punted as if losing is out of the question.  But the so-called “experts” have failed to temper their enthusiasm with a few inconvenient facts.  Firstly, this will only be Forgotten Voice’s fourth lifetime start and so he is certain to lack the experience required for the hurly burly of this competitive 30 runner event.  Secondly, all his impressive victories were recorded on polytrack a surface for which he is bred being by Danehill Dancer out of the Spend A Buck mare Asnieres.  We all know Spend A Buck, winner of the Kentucky Derby on dirt at Churchill Downs but did you know that Asnieres is a half sister to Breeders Cup Classic winner Arcangues?  Did you know that Forgotten Voice is closely related to successful U.S. Sprinter, Keepers Hill?

Now that you know these facts, are you willing to take a short price around this horse’s first ever race on turf against 30 battle-hardened rivals?  No thank you very much and Forgotten Voice is my LAY OF THE MEETING. In what is sure to be a truly run race, a far better value bet is CADRE (nap) who is a lightly raced four year old open to plenty of improvement and who beat Tartan Gigha (went on to rout this class in a competitive handicap at Epsom) by 3 ¼ lengths before finding trouble in running and much better than the bare result when 2l 6th of 13 to Dunno in a Sandown mile race that is working out very well indeed.  He fairly flew in the final furlong of that race from a most unpromising position.

Run do not walk, to the betting windows and invest in the winning chances of CADRE until you hear a voice say “BET NO MORE!!”

THURSDAY

The meeting’s feature, the Group 1 Gold Cup (3:45 p.m. GMT; 2 ½ miles) is more competitive than usual as Yeats is getting on in age and Geordieland, a perennial bridesmaid, has his quirks, so it might prove profitable to have a flutter on Godolphin’s VERACITY who will get his ground and distance now after finishing third to Ask (subsequently won in Group 1) under unsuitable conditions.

FRIDAY

Friday’s Group 1 is the Coronation Stakes (3:45 p.m. GMT; 1 mile round) featuring the top class fillies who may not have been good enough to win the 1000 Guineas.  The British contingent is likely to be led by the impressive Fantasia but she looks to want further now and the 1000 Guineas 1-2 Ghanaati and Cuis Ghaire are sure to run well if turning up but the French trained REGGANE is highly thought of at home and one with plenty of potential.

SATURDAY

The meeting closes with the two big 6f sprints, the Group 1 Golden Jubilee (3:45 p.m. GMT; 6f) in which KING’S APOSTLE is taken to confirm his likeness for the course and his generally progressive profile and The Wokingham (4:25 GMT; 6f) where the draw will no doubt have its say but in which I am confident that JIMMY STYLES (NAP OF THE MEETING) has the class to win wherever he is berthed.

My best Yankee for the Meeting includes GLADIATORIUS (Queen Anne Stakes); TARTAN BEARER (Queen Anne Stakes); CADRE (Royal Hunt Cup); and JIMMY STYLES (Wokingham)

Good Luck!

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