Royal Ascot 2018: Day 1 Preview, Tips

It's Royal Ascot 2018, the finest week in the flat racing calendar. The finest but, from a wagering perspective, very far from the easiest. It's a meeting which, as a consequence of one too many bloody reversals, I personally take fairly lightly, and the following ruminations should be consumed in that context.

As well as this post, you may also be interested in Andy's Royal Ascot Day 1 Trends.

2.30 Queen Anne Stakes (Group 1, 1m, 4yo+)

The Royal meeting begins with a bang. Actually, given its G1-G2-G1-G1 opening quartet of races, it begins with a two hour firework display of equine superstars. The grand overture is the Queen Anne Stakes, a test of speed, class and stamina up the straight mile course.

As was shown in this article on Ascot pace and draw biases, it is very difficult to lead all the way on the straight mile here. While those waited with have fared the best of the four general run styles over course and distance, it should be noted that a number of recent winners of this race were more prominently placed in the opening quarter.

Deauville looks set for a relatively uncontested lead and if the race is run at less than championship pace, it may again suit those near the fore. Deauville's stable mate, Rhododendron, will not be far away; after needing every yard of Newbury's round mile to collar Lightning Spear (re-opposes) in the Lockinge, she appears well suited to this stiffer task. The only reservation is that this will be the first time she's raced on a straight track, and her first visit to Ascot. Regardless, she will give those mythical favourite backers a run for their money.

More appealing, though undoubtedly more of a punt also, is BENBATL. Godolphin's four-year-old son of Dubawi, unraced as a juvenile, was asked to do a number of things he couldn't last year - run over a mile and a half, and race on heavy most notably. In between twelve furlong spins, he was dropped to ten furlongs at Royal Ascot and duly won the Hampton Court Stakes.

This season he had four runs in Dubai, all over nine furlongs, winning three of them including, most recently, the Group 1 Dubai Turf. The stopwatch boys have raved about his times in the Emirates so, if he's been well enough rested since returning to Blighty, Saeed bin Suroor may 'have it right back at ya, Charlie' in this prestigious heat. He's worth a go at 5/1.

It's a deep race, though, and the likes of overseas raiders Recoletos and Yoshida may be slightly longer prices than they ought to be. At huge odds, Century Dream has a strikingly progressive profile. This is a big ask of course, and there's a slight reservation about the ground, but he may well run better than his odds imply, albeit that that may not be good enough to nick a place or more.

3.05 Coventry Stakes (Group 2, 6f, 2yo)

Total guesswork here... Here's what I know:

- No Nay Never has started very well as a sire and represents the Scat Daddy lineage - numerous strong performers at this meeting in recent years.

- Peter May's figures have Cosmic Law and Sergei Prokofiev at the top, closely followed by the once-raced Indigo Balance.

- 13 of the last 16 winners had either one or two previous career starts.

- Once-raced debut winners have fared well, scoring in the Coventry in 2007, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014, and 2017.

- Those off the track for more than a month have done very well, in terms of wins and places to runners.

That leaves me with a shortlist of two - though neither with especially high speed ratings: Advertise and Getchagetchagetcha.

The former is trained by Martyn Meade, winning comfortably in maiden company at Newbury, a race which has worked out quite well so far. The latter comes from the Clive Cox speed camp, and won his debut at this track. That was over five furlongs on softish ground in a four-runner field, however, meaning he has a bit more to prove against conditions than the Meade runner.

I'll take a chance on another once-raced debut winner in the form of Jessica Harrington's Indigo Balance. He won a six furong Curragh maiden beating Decrypt, himself a subsequent winner.

In an open race where those at the head of the market - Sergei Prokofiev (Scat Daddy), Calyx (debut winner), Cosmic Law (No Nay Never), and The Irish Rover (No Nay Never) - all tick one box or another above. But in a race where guesswork is the order of the day, why not side with a couple of 'could be anything' blank canvasses at a price?

Advertise and Indigo Balance for small stakes.

3.40 King's Stand Stakes (Group 1, 5f, 3yo+)

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Back to Group 1 action, and a five furlong dash. There are some very fast starters in this field, perhaps none more so than the electric Kachy, whose performance when smashing his rivals by nine lengths at Chester had to be seen to be believed.

That was Chester, around the bend, and this is Ascot up the straight; that was a Class 3 and this is a Group 1: rapid he is, but I doubt he has the class of a number of these.

Lady Aurelia is also lightning from the stalls, and she comes here bidding to defend an unbeaten course record: she beat a field of 17 by seven lengths in the Queen Mary of 2016, and she beat the same size field in this race last year, prevailing again by daylight, three lengths on that occasion. The daughter of Scat Daddy will be very tough to beat if turning up in that sort of form. But she was beaten on her seasonal bow, albeit when very likely half-cooked and with this in mind. She's going to be a short enough price as the second most popular Lady on Day 1 of the Royal meeting, but I couldn't put you off her.

Battaash is perceived to be Lady A's main rival, this fellow having been a new man since suffering the misfortune of decoupling after fluffing his lines in the 2016 Windsor Castle at the Royal meeting. He's not returned to this piste in the interim so there is something of a leap of faith required to back him at around 9/4, for all that when he's good he's very good. He was generally very good last season, in fairness, and his narrow last day triumph can probably be marked up a jot. Still, of the pair, I'd rather be in Wesley's corner and that of his marauding mare.

The quest for a value loser is not always in vain in this race - as Choisir, Equiano and Goldream have all reminded us since 2003. In that spirit, and although I don't especially fancy him, Washington DC advertised his outside chance when chasing Battaash home at Haydock last time. The five-year-old son of Zoffany has only won once over the minimum since his juvenile season; but then, way way back in 2015, he did win the Windsor Castle from 26 rivals. He's quirky and a late runner, and it is hardly in his favour that Ryan Moore has plumped for a thrice-beaten-this-season stable mate upon which he doesn't wear the Coolmore silks; but 16/1 might just make the frame for the ever more accomplished-looking Donnacha O'Brien.

But, actually, the more I look at it, the more I think LADY AURELIA will win.

4.20 St James's Palace Stakes (Group 1, 1m, 3yo)

My heart is screaming for the underdog, Roger Teal's Tip Two Win. Not only trained by one of the sport's lesser-known names, he is ridden by one of the more under-rated jockeys in the weighing room, David Probert (who just happens to sport the liveries of this 'ere website on his breeches). It would be spectacular for Roger and David, not to mention owner Anne Crowley, if he could prevail.

Having finished closest to Saxon Warrior in the 2000 Guineas, he has a legitimate chance, too. That followed up solid two-year-old form and helped sandwich a brace of lucrative victories in Doha around the turn of the year. Sure, he hasn't the progression of some of these but he has the most in the book of all of them. Come on David!!!

OK, partisanship aside, the most exciting horse for neutrals is probably Without Parole. Trainer John Gosden has brought this fellow along slowly, shunning the bright lights for wins at first Newcastle (actually, that was under the bright lights, last December!) and then Yarmouth, before raising his sights a touch in the Listed Heron Stakes.

That trio of wins are only mildly interesting in or of themselves, but the manner of victory, particularly on Without Parole's second start, has flagged him as a colt of rare potential. The problem for would be backers of a horse stepping up to Group company, not to mention Group 1 company, for the first time is that his price suggests he's already an established top tier performer. As such, fully cognisant that it may end in tears, I want to try to take him on.

Romanised, another from an unfashionable stable - this time that of Ken Condon, bounded forward from his 2018 bow to put the Irish 2000 Guineas field to the sword in convincing manner last time. As a two-year-old, he ran second to Masar, form which obviously looks oodles better in light of the latter's resounding Derby success. He, like Tip Two Win, is more exposed but has achieved more.

French raider Wootton is also a very interesting contender. Unbeaten in three going into the French 2000 Guineas, he was two lengths fourth there. He didn't get the run of the race off what looked steady fractions, and he ought to be suited by a quicker tempo this time. However, whether he wants fast ground remains to be seen. Trainer Henri-Alex Pantall is 0-14 in Britain and Ireland since 2013, including unplaced runners at 5/2, 5/1, 7/1 twice and 8/1.

And what of Gustav Klimt? Like his namesake's paintings, this fellow has always been more impressionist than lifelike when it comes to top class winning form, though it should be remembered he was Saxon Warrior's better-fancied stablemate in the lead up to the 2000 Guineas, and he did run third in the Irish equivalent. Progressive as a juvenile it is starting to look as though he hasn't improved from two to three as much as others in the line up, though he retains the scope to bounce back yet.

This is a truly fascinating clash of established form versus unexposed early-season three-year-olds, and it is hard to choose between them. What is for certain is that my heart says Tip Two Win; but one rarely needs to invest capital where one is already emotionally in the game. Thus it becomes a choice between the unexposed sorts Without Parole and Wootton. The former may be the pick for all that I don't want to back him at the price. Indeed, I'm not betting in the race: it's too difficult with not enough meat on any wagering bone to justify a punt.

5.00 Ascot Stakes (Class 2 handicap, 2m 4f, 4yo+)

Twenty older horses, many of them used to facing obstacles rather than morning suits, and the first of the week's near impossible handicap puzzles. A trend may be our friend in the circumstances, so here are three:

13 of the last 16 were won by a predominantly National Hunt stable, including the last eight

10 winners since 1997 (92 runners) won last time out, for a LSP of 19.50 points

The best win and place strike rates were achieved by horses returning from an absence of 14-60 days

That leaves five, though there is a strong possibility that bubba was lobbed with bathwater in the above. Did I already mention I find this meeting tough?

No matter, for our shortlist looks promising, as follows: Whiskey Sour, Look My Way, [White Desert, Sam Missile], Garo De Juilley

Outsider Garo De Juilley has not been seen on the level since notching a four-timer in France in the autumn of 2015. The last of that quartet was in a big field mile and a half Saint-Cloud handicap, where as far as I can tell he carried top weight off an official rating of 43.5, which I think equates to 95. I might be wrong here, but that gives him a bit of a chance off the same mark. He's changed stables twice since then, first to Paul Nicholls and now to Sophie Leech, for whom this will be the six-year-old's first run. He's fit from hurdling and might run better than 66/1, especially if you can nab a bonus place or two.

More likely perhaps is Whiskey Sour from the Willie Mullins yard. Mullins has won this twice in the last three years and three times in the last six. He has other bullets to fire but none with the matching profile to my guessing game trends above. This five-year-old had a successful hurdling season, including winning a Grade 1 at Christmas and running second in the Punchestown Champion Novice Hurdle (also Grade 1) when last seen. He won his final two flat starts last term, both fifty grand big field Galway Festival handicaps - in the space of five days, so comes here progressive in that sphere and battle proven. Christophe Soumillon is an eye-catching jockey booking for the 10/1 chance, though Whiskey Sour will need plenty of luck in the run if adopting his usual hold up tactics.

Look My Way repelled the fast-finishing Coeur De Lion in the consolation Chester Cup last time and ought again to get first run on that rival. But the stiffer test of Ascot could play to the presumed stronger stamina of the latter who may finally bag the big one he's promised for so long - albeit that it will be too late for connections who flogged him at the sale last month (looks like some of the outgoing syndicate bought him back in for £110,000, half of which they could claw back here).

Charlie Appleby is looking to supplement his Derby win with a Royal Ascot score to truly mark his 2018 season. He'll have a number of fine chances in better class races than this, but White Desert should not be under-estimated. It may not have been much of a race he won last time, in the context of this gig at least, but he won it by six lengths. The application of first time cheekpieces may have been a factor, and those are retained. He has solid turf form as well as the services of William Buick, who rides the course well.

A winner at the track last month, Sam Missile bids to double up in this notably better race off a seven pounds higher mark. That will make life trickier but Jamie Osborne's five-year-old remains unexposed at staying trips.

The last two above are, of course, not from NH yards, so as per the arbitrary pruning of the field at the start of this race preview, I'll choose from the other trio. Whiskey Sour's run style concerns me in a race of this nature: he might have a lot to do in the last quarter mile and there will be plenty of horses going backwards and getting in his way in the short home stretch.

Garo De Juilley is worth a very small each way fun punt, as his flat form of old was both progressive - he's on a five-timer - and high class. The ground is a bit of a question mark, how much flat ability he retains is a bigger one, but 66/1 justifies the tickle.

Look My Way is usually thereabouts, stays quite well and is likely to be in the right place turning for home; with his trainer in fine form just now, 16/1 is fair enough even if there is a chance that Coeur De Lion - among many others! - will go by him in the final furlong.

5.35 Wolferton Stakes (Listed, 1m2f, 4yo+)

A change to both the race order and conditions, with the Windsor Castle moved to later in the week and its replacement as the Tuesday nightcap, the Wolferton Stakes no longer a handicap. It might have been marginally easier if it was a handicap in truth as 5/1 the field attests.

I genuinely have no clue how this will play out, so the following is little more than to fill the gap between race five and the end of the piece. With that said, if you're still reading, John Gosden won three of the last seven handicap renewals and has also had two placed runners, from ten sent to post.

Johnny G saddles two here, the better fancied of which appears to be Monarchs Glen. This Frankel gelding seemed to be getting it together at the end of last season with a brace of wins in Listed and Group 3 company. That was prior to a thumping in a Dubai Group 1 first time up this season. If one can overlook that setback - class and the travel are acceptable excuses - and if he can pick up that previously ascendant thread, then 10/1 is fair in a race which is no great shakes. Frankie Dettori rides, his mount wearing a hood for the first time.

Gosden's other runner, Muntahaa, has been disappointing since winning a mile and a half Group 3 last midsummer. But the fact he won a G3 puts him a step ahead of many of these, with race conditions (fast ground, decent pace, big field) reasons to be hopeful.

Elsewhere, Henry Candy has an excellent record when teaming up with Harry Bentley (11/31, +18.49) in the last two years, and they try with the filly, Chain Of Daisies. She looks like she might get a softish lead, and may find this more straightforward than the Group 2 Musidora she contested last time. The shorter straight here than at York is in her favour making 16/1 attractive about a filly with a verdict over Ulysses in her back catalogue (same ground and distance, Group 3).

Good luck!


Royal Ascot 2017: Day 1 Preview, Tips

Royal Ascot 2017: Day 1 Preview, Tips

The greatest summer meeting of them all, Royal Ascot 2017, is a feast of top class racing spanning five sumptuous days. In what looks set to be scorching weather conditions, fast ground specialists ought to be an exclusive play all week, a week that starts with a sextet of fiercely combative heats, among them three Group 1's.

The first of six on the day, and thirty across the week, is the...

2.30 Queen Anne Stakes (Group 1, 1m)

On figures, this is Ribchester's to lose. Godolphin's progressive last day Lockinge winner has the best form, and is lightly raced; if there is a niggle it's whether he wants lightning fast ground. The son of Iffraaj was beaten on his sole good to firm start last term, albeit shaping like he's improved since then. He's a worthy favourite and will make plenty of multiples as the week kicks off.

For small money, I'd rather tentatively take my chances, each way, with Lightning Spear. This fellow does enjoy rattling turf and has little to find with the favourite on a couple of pieces of form. Drawn high - Ribchester is in stall one, the early speed probably low to middle - he has made the frame without winning in all three course and distance spins, including last year's renewal of the Queen Anne. 5/1 is probably fair enough.

As with all races all week, there are plenty of others with chances, including the ultra-consistent Mutakayyef (in the first three in 14 of his 15 career starts). Todd Pletcher's US raider, American Patriot, who loves lightning fast ground may be the most interesting outsider in the field at around 25/1.

3.05 Coventry Stakes (Group 2, 6f)

The Coventry is a six furlong dash for two-year-olds only, and tends to shape the very early 2000 Guineas betting. The caveat, which applies seemingly to all of the juvenile heats at Royal Ascot this year, is that a certain American gentleman - Mr Wesley A Ward, Esq. - may have a hand, or a hoof, in the finish.

He tests the water here with a colt owned by Coolmore, called Arawak. Arawak is very difficult to quantify off a single run, and win, in a dirt maiden special weight over five furlongs. What I can relate is that Wesley's best record comes at the minimum distance, and he has only twice had runners in the Coventry, both big prices, both well beaten.

Looking to Peter May's excellent ratings, he was kind enough to share the winning performances with me from previous renewals, and they make for some interesting observations. Firstly, all winners since 2009 had won their prior start. The longest price of any of those Coventry-winning horses when winning their prior start was 5/2, and five of the eight winners since 2009 came from the first four in the ratings (20/1 War Command did not have a rating).

This year, De Bruyne Horse tops the May ratings - featured on the geegeez Gold cards - and he's followed in by Brother Bear. It is Jessica Harrington's colt I like, and have backed. Unbeaten in two starts to date, the latter a facile victory in the Listed Marble Hill Stakes, he's drawn in the middle from where I'd imagine he will stalk the pace and pounce if he's good enough. He's offered at 9/2 currently.

I've also backed Romanised, who was an impressive winner of his maiden and comes here directly off the back of that effort; and I think another once raced colt, Nebo, might be smart. Both of that pair are around 16/1.

3.40 King's Stand Stakes (Group 1, 5f)

A second G1, this time for speedballs over the minimum trip. The Palace House Stakes winner has an exceptional record in the King's Stand in recent years with five winners from the Newmarket contest prevailing in this, including the last four, since 2010.

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The very speedy Marsha represents that form line in 2017, having been a taking winner at HQ six weeks ago. Her run style is to be waited with, which may be viewed as both a positive and a negative in the context of this year's race. It is a positive because there is a ton of early speed and she'll not get caught up in what will quite likely be a meltdown ; and it is a negative because Luke Morris will need to thread a passage through a potential wall of fatigued horses from a draw in stall nine. I backed her at 8/1 straight after the Palace House Stakes, and implied readers might do likewise in this post. She is still 4/1 in a place and I think she'll be a point shorter on the day.

That is better than main market rival, the trailblazing Lady Aurelia, who has to do something like a solo from the widest gate of all, stall 18. She has a little bit to prove for me, and though she's a perfectly credible winner, and may be 'the speed of the speed', I don't want to get involved at around 3/1.

I'm not much of a fan of Signs Of Blessing in the context of this race - cue easy win - a horse whose form is pretty much all on soft ground over six furlongs. This ain't that.

One of the better big prices is Goldream, winner here three years ago, and patently not at the races last term. Now eight, his best days could be behind him, but he's got very close to both Marsha and Profitable this season, that pair the last two winners of the King's Stand. But his age puts me off a little.

Profitable has the opposite draw to Lady Aurelia, in stall one, and he may just find himself away from the main action. That's about the only downside for him and he should again run his race. I slightly prefer his former owner's Priceless, however, and backed that one prior to the Palace House in the hope she would prevail there. She didn't, running a solid fifth, but she did win next/last time out, at Haydock in the Group 2 Temple Stakes on firm ground. 14/1 is still an attractive price, and ostensibly a bit on the big side.

4.20 St James's Palace Stakes (Group 1, 1m)

A mile round the turn for three-year-olds only, with dual 2000 Guineas winner, Churchill, bidding to win a second battle with Barney Roy, runner up at Newmarket. It's a compelling match up, with Churchill bringing a higher level of form and Barney Roy presumed capable of greater improvement after just three runs to date.

Much was made of the Ballydoyle team tactics in the 2000 Guineas, with Aidan O'Brien fielding a squad and controlling the race. He saddles three this time, including the guaranteed pacemaker, Lancaster Bomber: it certainly won't be the first time a lancaster bomber has set the scene for a Churchill victory. (sigh, it needed writing!) Godolphin also run Thunder Snow, second to Churchill in the Irish 2000 Guineas, and now racing on a notably different surface - it was yielding when they last met.

In truth, this makes little appeal as a wagering proposition. I expect the favourite to confirm superiority over his Curragh conquest, and more than likely over his Newmarket underling too. The prices offer little appeal for anything except perhaps a really dull straight forecast.

Nevertheless, it remains a race to savour between an established high class horse and potential top notcher.

5.00 Ascot Stakes (Class 2 Handicap, 2m4f)

Twenty runners in a handicap and a 3/1 favourite trained by Willie Mullins. You'd be forgiven for thinking we were at Punchestown, but no, this is Royal Ascot. Mullins had a battalion entered at the five day stage, but relies on Thomas Hobson - ridden by Ryan Moore - to get the job done. Mullins has run eight in the race, and won it twice, down the years, so odds of 3/1 about this year's challenger are accurate on the representation front at least.

Thomas Hobson was a 100-rated handicapper when trained by John Gosden, but he did his winning on soft ground. Indeed, he's won nothing more than a Class 4 handicap and a maiden hurdle on good ground, and has been well beaten on his only try on good to firm. He certainly won't be a shock winner, and there's a fair chance he'll make his own running in a race that can involve more hard luck stories than a shift at The Samaritans, but he's not lugging my cash at that price.

One that has the right credentials to be involved is Alan King's Oceane. For a trainer who has a lot of runners on the flat, I was surprised that he's only had two previous entries in this race; this year, he saddles three.

Oceane is the outsider of the trio - Who Dares Wins and Rainbow Dreamer his better-fancied stablemates - but he loves fast ground, has very good form at the track, is within hailing distance of his last winning rating, and handles a big field well. I do have a slight reservation about whether he'll see the trip out on the level, but he's a sporting price at 16/1.

5.35 Windsor Castle Stakes (Listed, 5f)

A big field of sub-top class but largely unexposed juveniles over the minimum trip. Tricky territory. Six of the last eight winners also won last time out, including scorers at 14/1 and 20/1, and two Wesley winners, one of them at 33/1 (those days are long gone!). That trims 24 down to eleven, which is a fair start.

Only the Wes winners scored off a solitary previous run, which may (or may not) count against Roussel and Marchingontogether. Interestingly, perhaps, three of the last six winners had already run thrice, and this may be a race where experience counts. Or, more likely, it's just coincidence. Certainly the longer term trends point to twice raced animals as being the prime movers.

Declarationofpeace is an obvious starting point. He was deemed by bookmakers good enough to be outright ante post favourite for the Group 2 Coventry, and yet here he is, two rungs lower down and he's not even the jolly. That hardly screams confidence. It may be that owners, Coolmore, wanted to separate Arawak and this guy, in which case he could see solid support in the run up to the race. That would be significant, all the more so because the others vying for market leadership are both trained by Wesley Ward, who also handles Arawak for 'the lads'.

Reading the soundbites from Wes, he may slightly prefer Nootka Sound to Elizabeth Darcy. Both are fillies taking on the boys, and both figure at the top of the betting. Importantly, perhaps, Nootka Sound has a middle draw while ED is marooned in the two box. Frankie Dettori rides Nootka Sound and this will be point and shoot territory: if she sees the trip out, it will take a fast one to gun her down.

Of the speculative bigger prices, Tom Dascombe's Dragons Tail is fast and his form is working out well. He won on second start, by four and a half lengths, the third and fourth (re-opposing Dahik) having won since. He's 20/1.

Good luck with your Day One wagers, and remember, we have oodles of top stuff for the Royal meeting, whether you're a free or Gold subscriber (more top stuff if you're Gold, natch! 😉 )


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Royal Ascot Day 1 Preview & Tips

Awtaad bids for Royal Ascot glory in St James's Palace Stakes

Awtaad bids for Royal Ascot glory in St James's Palace Stakes

Royal Ascot Day 1 Preview & Tips

Probably the greatest of all flat racing fixtures, certainly the most prestigious, is Royal Ascot. With thirty races across five days it is about stamina and choosing one's wagering battles as much as anything; so, while at least touching on every race in my previews, I'll spend more time looking at some contests than others.

We start on Tuesday with a trio of Group 1's intersected by the Group 2 Coventry Stakes and, materially, we are looking at ground officially good to soft, with soft places on the round course. Based on my location - Hackney, 36 miles east of Ascot - I'd be very surprised if the track is not soft all over, and my day one deliberations will reflect that 'unofficial' contention.

2.30 Queen Anne Stakes (Group 1, 1m, 4yo+)

A field of fourteen is set to line up for the opener, a mile Group 1 over the straight track. Contenders from Japan, France, and America join the usual British and Irish challenge for a truly international renewal.

Ante post favourite has been Tepin, the US-trained queen of last year's Breeders' Cup Mile. Hers was a clear-cut success there, and on rain-softened ground, though it would not have been as wet as it is likely to be when the stalls open for the Queen Anne.

She is a classy mare, having won her last six, including three Grade 1's; and the first of that sextet was in the Grade 1 First Lady Stakes, run on soft ground. She prevailed by seven lengths, suggesting she handles give just fine, though there is also a suspicion that many/most of her rivals that day did not cope with the untypical squelch in the Stateside lawn.

Of more concern is Tepin's lack of familiarity with a straight mile and, perhaps most worrying of all, the fact she'll be racing without raceday medication for the first time in what will be her twentieth start. As well as Lasix, she normally sports a nasal strip to get more air into her nostrils, but that too is embargoed equipment here in Blighty, so she runs clean for the very first time.

Although I think she'll handle the turf fine, I'm not at all sure about the straight mile and the lack of the 'juice' is a big negative for me: she may prove she doesn't need it, but the fact she's never raced under these conditions, and has travelled halfway around the globe to be so inconvenienced means I'm looking elsewhere for a bet.

France has a very strong hand: both Ervedya and Esoterique are high class mares proven in the conditions. Ervedya won the Coronation Stakes at this meeting last year, and has three career Group 1's to her name in a form string that comprises seven wins, three seconds and a third from eleven starts.

Her G1 wins have come on good to firm good to soft and very soft, so she'll be at home (away from home) however the surface plays. She has six pounds to find with Tepin on offical ratings, but that may be of little consequence with the American mare - of whom I'm a big fan, by the way - not expected to run to her best, by this scribe at least.

Esoterique runs for the peerless Andre Fabre, and she too is a triple Group 1 scorer on a wide range of going. She never wins by far, which has perhaps stifled her official figure a touch, but she's still the joint-second top rated in the field, on 119. She gets the same three pound sex allowance as Tepin and Ervedya, and will be spot on for this after a pipe opener nine days ago when second in a Deauville Group 3. 8/1 looks a very solid each way option.

Best of the boys, and best of the British, might be Belardo. An apparently mercurial chap, surely he simply must have cut in the ground. His last four wins, including in the Lockinge where the Racing Post suggests the turf was good, were on good to soft or wetter.

Looking only at his form over a mile on softer than good reveals a more consistent animal, and one that is capable of being involved at this rarefied level. 5/1 or so is short enough but it will be a surprise to few form students if Belardo backs up his Lockinge win, in spite of the poor record of those Newbury winners in the Queen Anne.

Ger Lyons runs the lightly raced Endless Drama, a four year old son of Lope De Vega. In just five races so far, Endless Drama has won a maiden on debut, and then hit the frame without winning in two Listed races and two Group 1's. The most recent was when a length and a quarter behind Belardo in the Lockinge so, with further progression likely, he may again get close to that one.

Whether such a performance will be sufficient to make the frame I'm not sure, and at 7/1 he's one I have to let beat me, even allowing for his potential.

Kodi Bear has still to show he belongs at the very top level, but both of the David O'Meara pair, Amazing Maria and Mondialiste, have form in the book entitling them to consideration.

Amazing Maria won both the Falmouth and the Prix Rothschild (beating Ervedya) last summer, both races a mile in distance. But they were on top of the ground, and this resurgent mare has form on softer than good of 037. On that basis, she's passed over but will be worth keeping an eye when the rain stops later in the season.

Second to Tepin in the Breeders' Cup Mile, Mondialiste came from a mile back that day - as he had done in his final prep, the Woodbine Mile. There is likely to be a searching tempo up front off which, if Pat Smullen can get sufficient cover, this late late runner could provide backers with a really thrilling run.

The six-year-old son of Galileo has good form on soft ground, and rates the pick of the each way prices, at around 20/1.

Cougar Mountain ran a blinder in this race last year, form he's found very hard to repeat, and my concern is that he wouldn't want rain-softened turf. Ryan Moore rides which is a fillip to what remains of his chance.

An solid if unspectacular Queen Anne Stakes by historical standards, but one with plenty of international interest nevertheless. Tepin's connections have been sporting in coming here but trainer Mark Casse is likely to be proved correct in his reservations about competing with so many obstacles in her path.

Preference then is for the French pair of Ervedya and Esoterique, with Mondialiste an interesting each way alternative, in a race where an all female 1-2-3 is a fair prospect.

Skybet are offering money back as a free bet if your pick finishes 2nd or 3rd, and that's a very fair concession (which I've taken!)

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3.05 Coventry Stakes (Group 2, 6f, 2yo)

Nineteen pacy juveniles are declared for the best two-year-old heat of the season so far, the Coventry Stakes. All are open to improvement after such fledgling careers thus far, and many are completely untried on soft turf. As such, betting cautiously - if at all - is a prudent modus operandi.

Caravaggio is the Coolmore representative and is favoured at barely north of 2/1. Even allowing for an impressive late rattle when winning the Listed Marble Hill Stakes on yielding to soft last time, that seems skinny. However, if you are prepared to accept the shortish price, you will have a horse with more in the book than his rivals and with some of that form achieved on sodden turf.

Moreover, the way he finished at the Curragh, having been outpaced, was impressive, and it was achieved in a very quick time.

The next day, on the same track but over six furlongs, a fellow called Van Der Decken made his debut on ground that had changed overnight to soft. He bolted up for owner/trainer, Paddy Twomey, who subsequently cashed in to the Godolphin coin.

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A handy racer drawn in six, close to plenty of speed, he's on the other side from Caravaggio, who has trap 13. And Van Der Decken is 25/1 which is a price I'm happier chucking sixpence at than 9/4 in a race like this, though he may simply not be quick enough.

Others to consider include Psychadelic Funk, Mehmas and Yalta, the first and last of which are unbeaten. It is hard to know what to make of Yalta: he's been impressive in winning two very small field races on good ground, but this is a completely different test. Breeding offers little in the way of hope so, even allowing for his trainer, Mark Johnston, winning the race last year, I'd be happy to take him on at the price.

Psychadelic Funk is not just a great name, he's also a pretty smart horse. His six length demolition job in a novice event on yielding to soft last time was a second win from two starts, and trainer Ger Lyons is an emergent force in the juvenile training ranks. The Choisir colt will be one of a number likely to contest the early speed, which could soften him up to the advances of a more patiently ridden rival.

Mehmas did not have the best of the draw last time at Sandown, where Global Applause leveled the score between the pair. His win over six furlongs at Newbury the time before was impressive and clear cut, with the form working out well. He should again run well with the benefit of greater experience than his main market contemporaries.

Silvertoni runs for Wesley Ward, a fast dirt filly against the turf colts. Ostensibly then she has a mountain to climb. But Wes knows what he's doing here and surely wouldn't overface her with so many other juvie heats, including for her own gender. That is the cue to take a second look. Having watched her Kentucky Juvenile Stakes win, where she led, was challenged and fought back gamely, she looks as though she'll stay and she has plenty of knee action too.

That could allow her to cope with the soft ground making her an interesting runner at a price of around 20/1.

It's a wide open race with a credible favourite and most likely winner in CARAVAGGIO. But 9/4 offers little meat on the bone, making Mehmas a touch more appealing at 7/1. Of the hooj prices, Van Der Decken could outrun quotes of 25/1, and Silvertoni may also get involved if handling the very different test in a race where we'll all be a lot wiser after the event.

Skybet are paying FIVE places (1/5 1-2-3-4-5) - click here for this offer

3.40 King's Stand Stakes (Group 1, 5f, 3yo+)

A fascinating renewal of the King's Stand with a very solid favourite in Mecca's Angel. Michael Dods' mare has form on the soft side of good of 4221151112. That string includes a win in the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes on her only try at the very top level. She should come on for her seasonal bow - a close second to the re-opposing Profitable - and is the one the have to beat. She's a 2/1 chance with the bookies.

The wet turf has seen a couple of high profile defections in Acapulco and Sole Power which has made Profitable a clear second market choice at a top-priced 5/1. He's won both his starts this term - the 21 runner Palace House Stakes and the Group 2 Temple Stakes - improving ten pounds in the official ratings as a result. Both those wins were on good to soft but his form on genuine soft ground has been less convincing and that's the reason I can't back him.

Pearl Secret looks sure to act on the deep ground. He was fourth in the Group 1 Prix de 'Abbaye at last year's Arc meeting and occupied the same position in the Temple Stakes last time, two and a half lengths behind the leading pair. With the rain in his favour - he's been in the frame in all four runs on soft or heavy ground, form of 1112 - David Barron's seven-year-old will be finishing best of all and looks attractively priced at 16/1.

Waady, too, has form on soft, albeit in winning a Class 4 handicap. He's taken bronze on both starts this term, the most recent of which was when a head in front of Pearl Secret in the Temple. He's drawn highest of all after the defection of Sole Power, but has Mongolian Saturday inside him, that one often racing close to the pace.

The American raider is an interesting contender. He's a very good - and ultra-consistent - sprinter, as I alluded to in this post. There, I wrote,

He's had 33 lifetime starts, but it is his form since the beginning of last year that takes the eye. Victory in the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint, over five and a half furlongs on a yielding track, capped a sequence of 15 consecutive top four finishes.

Fourteen of those were in the first three, and the last seven were all in the first two. He's very fast and ultra-consistent.

Since the Breeders' Cup, Mongolian Saturday has had two spins in massive Grade 1's in the far east, both over six furlongs. Whilst he ran with credit, he missed the board both times. But consider this: in a career that has taken in eleven races at three-quarters of a mile, he's won just once - on lifetime debut back in May 2013.

Compare that with a five and a half furlong record of 12121, and a five furlong record of 7141322.

The straight five at Ascot rides like five and a half with its uphill finish and this lad will act on any going.

Two more positives for a horse I feel may be significantly over-priced at 20/1 are these:

  1. When he won the Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint, he was drawn in the car park slot (14 of 14). For a horse who likes to race close to the speed, he did very well to overcome that.
  2. He races clean. No Lasix for this lad, which means there should not be the diminution in his ability that some US runners incur when off the 'elixir'.

There will be plenty of poorer value 20/1 chances next week than this fellow

I tipped him at the Breeders' Cup, I backed him at the Breeders' Cup, I was wowed by his down-to-earth approachable sporting connections at the Breeders' Cup, and I hope he runs a MASSIVE race here.

Last year's winner, Goldream, would prefer it faster, as would the likes of Muthmir, Take Cover and Move In Time. Take Cover is an important horse in the context of the race because, drawn 1, he is almost certain to lead that side of the race and is highly likely to be the horse Mecca's Angel's jockey, Paul Mulrennan, looks to track.

Without a huge amount of pace elsewhere in this field, they could split into groups or gravitate towards the lower numbers. Either of those scenarios would compromise the chance of Mongolian Saturday amongst others.

Goken is a pace angle in the middle of the draw, and he could offer a tow to Pearl Secret, the latter being the most attractive each way alternative to the favourite in a race that is probably a bit more shallow than it first appears.

MECCA'S ANGEL has a great chance in this and would be attractive if offered at 5/2 or bigger in the morning. But for me the bet is Pearl Secret each way.

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4.20 St James's Palace Stakes (Group 1, 1m, 3yo)

A high class renewal of this Group 1, with the winners of the French, English and Irish 2000 Guineas - The Gurkha, Galileo Gold and Awtaad respectively - drawing swords.

Hugo Palmer's Galileo Gold was impressive at Newmarket and a short price to double up on the Curragh. But the prevailing soft ground that day was right up Awtaad's street and he proved an unequivocal two and a half lengths superior. Veteran trainer Kevin Prendergast's three-year-old son of Cape Cross is unbeaten in his last four starts, and has upgraded his rating to 120 from an opening mark of 95.

As with a number of his opponents, it is unlikely he's reached the zenith of his ability, but what we can say is that he'll be ideally suited by conditions.

Another for whom that comment applies is The Ghurka, who has won his last two starts by a combined fourteen and a half lengths. Most recently he was seen running away with the French 2000 Guineas, by five and a half lengths. That form has been franked in the French Derby, and Ryan Moore's mount looks the one to beat with proven aptitude for the underhoof conditions.

There is little between the Irish and French Guineas rapiers in the betting, the English blade expected to be blunted somewhat by the recent weather.

But this may be more than a two - or three - Guineas horse race. Emotionless was comfortably the highest rated of the field as a juvenile, his 2016 campaign delayed by injury. He belatedly enters the fray now and, while fitness has to be taken on trust, his smashing win in the Champagne Stakes puts him within hailing distance. His final run of three as a juvie was when last in the Dewhurst, an effort that was too bad to be true - he's not been seen since.

It might be that he steps forward from this and he could be more of a danger in something like the Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, and that's largely how I see it from a betting perspective.

Clive Cox's Zonderland could have been interesting on better ground but has it to prove on softer; and there's no reason why First Selection, so comprehensively outpointed by The Ghurka in France, should reverse last time out form.

That said, if the French Guineas form proves to be significantly better than the domestic versions, Simon Crisford's runner could reward each way support at 33/1.

But, in truth, this looks a coin toss between The Gurkha and Awtaad, unless Emotionless is bang ready first time up. You pays yer money, you takes yer choice. No bet for me.

Ladbrokes are money back as a free bet if The Ghurka wins this race - click here for this offer

Paddy are money back as a free bet if your pick is 2nd to the SP favourite - click here for this offer

5.00 Ascot Stakes (Handicap, 2m 4f, 4yo+)

The handicaps at Royal Ascot are preposterously competitive, and I'm afraid you'll largely be on your own this week. Or, put another way, you shouldn't expect too much support from these pages!

National Hunt trainers have typically had the jump (geddit?) on their flat counterparts in this, Irish NH trainers especially so, and the winter mob are typically well represented.

Irish trainers have won this six times from 46 starters since 1997 and perhaps their quintet of entries is as good a place as any on which to focus.

Historically, you wanted a younger less exposed horse, too, but with two horses aged seven and one aged eight winning in the last six years, that may no longer be the case (if indeed it ever was - winners being a pretty weak statistical measure unless across a decent sample).

Silver Concorde would have had a decent chance on slightly better ground, but the rain which will have made parts of the round course close to heavy I'm guessing, might just have done for him. Pique Sous has run his best flat races on top of the ground, but has plenty of soft ground form over hurdles, and this one is trained by Willie Mullins and ridden by Ryan Moore. That wouldn't be a combination to dismiss lightly!

In fact, they've won four times from eleven starts when teaming up, for a profit of +11.5 points at SP, and that's good enough for me.

At the other end of what is a congested set of weights, Gordon Elliott and Willie again have Irish entries in the form of Sempre Medici and Eshtiaal. The former was good enough to run in the Champion Hurdle a few months ago, for which he was no bigger than 16/1, and he might be chucked in here off 91 if converting that timber-topping form to the level.

Soft ground is no problem to him, and he was third off a two pound higher mark in a Premier Handicap at the Curragh this time last year. That was over fully a mile shorter, tactical toe which should allow him to get a position in this very big field.

Eshtiaal doesn't look good enough, and doesn't look like he wants soft ground. He's overlooked even his trainer should never be under-estimated.

Jarlath Fahey runs Jennies Jewel, a mare good enough to run second to Vroum Vroum Mag over three miles here at Ascot. She got closer to that rival than did Sempre Medici in the Champion Hurdle at Punchestown, a literal interpretation of the form which might be a liberty too far.

Still, she won't mind the mud and she's drawn two, so she may try to lead all the way.

Of the home team, No Heretic and Hassle make most appeal; and the ex-John Ferguson hurdlers running for Charlie Appleby will be interesting to watch, especially former Arc fourth, Penglai Pavilion, for whom I have closet affection.

I might have a very small interest on Sempre Medici and Hassle. Then again, I might not...

5.35 Windsor Castle Stakes (Listed, 5f, 2yo)

If the fifth race is tricky, the last is borderline impossible. 24 runners here hurtling across - and down - the track.

Mister Trader is top on Peter May's excellent speed figures - a feature of Geegeez Gold (try them/it for a pound this week) - have Mister Trader clear top-rated on the back of his fine second to Caravaggio in the Marble Hill. Should the Ballydoyle colt run well in the Coventry, then Darren Bunyan's runner will shorten from its current generous-looking 8/1.

His problem, however, is that he's all speed and, drawn in four, he surrounded by other speedsters. It looks very likely that low will have the edge in the early pace, and something that can rate off what I imagine will be too fast fractions ought to have a strong chance of picking up the pieces.

Hugo Palmer's Copper Knight could be the one. With more experience than most in this field he will have less scope to progress. But he has form on soft and his last run - when tail end Charlie in the National Stakes at Sandown - was too bad to be true.

Tomily is another I like. He too has the benefit of experience, and he too is drawn low. He has a win on soft ground to his name as well. The reservation is getting embroiled in the anticipated speed duel and compromising his chance as a result. But he's won his last two starts by six lengths apiece, so who is to say he can't go even faster? 12/1 is fair each way value all things considered.

Wes Ward wuns Big City Dreamin, a winner of his only start, over four and a half furlongs on dirt. That's nothing like what he'll face here, and you wonder whether the entry is more about getting a good price at the pre-Ascot sale in which he's entered than anything else. Not for me.

More interesting of the US raiders is Eion Harty's Drafted, also a winner of one over the same course and distance as Big City Dreamin. Owed by Godolphin, Harty has always been given the right to bring one over if he thought it was up to the job. Notably, this is the first time he's exercised it.

Stall one means I think he's on the right side of things, and though he's likely to be a fast starter,  was able to sit off the lead and scoot clear on debut. The ground is another question mark, though I can find very little info on his sire, Field Commission, to know whether he's fathered many soft ground turf runners.

Any number of possibles in a crazy affair. I'll take a chance with Tomily for very small money.

After all, there are another four days to go!


p.s. what's your best bet for Tuesday? Leave a comment and share your views.

p.p.s. did I mention you can get Geegeez in your corner for eight days, covering Royal Ascot and beyond, for just £1? Click here to upgrade.

Monday Musings: A Profitable System?

A simple but Profitable system for Ascot?

A simple but Profitable system for Ascot?

Monday Musings

By Tony Stafford

It’s Derby week and I’m sure you expect me to delve into the two mile and a half Classics taking advantage of my many years’ experience. With that in mind I had a nice day on Epsom Downs last week, at Breakfast with the Stars, where there were a number of stars, equine and human, and even more Breakfast of which your correspondent and for one that I can vouch for, Mick (Michael) Channon junior, partook with great alacrity.

It was later that morning when I started to project my thoughts a little further forward, having spent a pleasant half an hour in the company of Alan Spence, who has been having a good time of it with his horses this season.

Thoughts turned into research; research into statistics and stats into a sure-fire profitable system. How appropriate that the next horse to test the seemingly unbreakable thrust of my argument, is Profitable, owned by A D Spence!

Amazing. The system is one I bet cannot be replicated anywhere else in the history of English racing, at least not with such spectacular returns. It involves a Group 3 race run in either late April or early May, and a Group 1, around six weeks later. My research also encompasses an interim race, this time Group 2, with all three races being over the minimum distance.

So step forward, Newmarket’s Palace House Stakes on 2,000 Guineas day, the Temple Stakes (optional) at Haydock three weeks later and the King’s Stand three and a half weeks after Haydock.

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The Newmarket race has been going for more than half a century and I fondly remember the first winner, Galivanter, a Major Lionel Holliday home-bred trained by Major Dick Hern, who won in 1961. Plenty of army stuff there!

The Temple has an even longer history, but having been a feature of the old Sandown Whitsun meeting and run either on Bank Holiday Monday or the following evening, it switched to Haydock for the first time in 2008. Such are the differences in the two tracks, I have confined my studies to the Haydock period <lazy sod, Ed>.

Ascot in 2016 is also a fair bit different from its pre-2006 model, as the straight course has been re-aligned so that at the finish it is 42 metres further north (nearer the High Street) than previously. Inevitably the character of the track has been at least marginally altered.

So that’s fine, you say, where is this profitable system?

Ok, there have been eight King’s Stand Stakes run on the modified course since 2008, the period of the study. I took note of all the Palace House Stakes winners in the period and noticed that only four of them took the quick return to Haydock, none winning. Six of them went on to run at Ascot and four of them won.

Of the four that ran in all three races in the same year, Equiano, now a stallion at Newsells Park Stud in Hertfordshire, performed easily the best. Trained in 2010 by Barry Hills, he was second, beaten by dual winner and still active Kingsgate Native at Haydock. Equiano had also won the 2008 King’s Stand when trained in Spain on his first appearance in England.

In 2009 the Henry Candy-trained Amour Propre, a gelding, won at Newmarket, missed the trip to Haydock before finishing unplaced behind Australian sprinter Scenic Blast at Ascot. In 2011 Tangerine Trees, like Kingsgate Native still active on the racecourse, was easily beaten both at Haydock and in the King’s Stand (last of 19 to Prohibit).

Mayson, the 2012 Palace House scorer, got off the mark with his first stakes winner, Global Applause, in the National Stakes at Sandown last Thursday. He missed both Haydock and Ascot, but then took the July Cup (6f) before finishing runner-up in the Prix de l’Abbaye on his final appearance.

Otherwise, all the Palace House winners followed up at Ascot. Equiano’s second success, much more anticipated than his unconsidered first came at 9-2. The remarkable Sole Power, another durable gelding, took a close fourth at Haydock before his first Ascot win at 8-1.

Sole Power made it a double double – missing the trip to Haydock this time – at 5-1; and, last year, Goldream, having won the Newmarket race for sprint specialist Robert Cowell, bombed at Haydock, but came bouncing back at Ascot at 20-1!

So in other words we have six contenders for a Royal Ascot bet, with only two losers. The other four collected 37.5 points profit, making it 35.5 points overall, or almost 600% to level stakes.

So, what do we do about this year, you could ask? Well for the first time, the two key races have provided the same winner, the eponymous Profitable – by name and by nature. The last Temple Stakes winner to succeed in the King’s Stand was Cassandra Go in 2002, when of course it was run at Sandown. Sole Power has won all three races, but has had a fair few goes at it, and never in the same year.

Profitable, now four, and by Mayson’s sire Invincible Spirit, has apparently caught the eyes of several would-be suitors following his latest win in the Group 2 Temple. There he had to contend with softer ground than ideal, and the attentions of the talented Mecca’s Angel, who had beaten the flying Acapulco on soft in the 2015 Nunthorpe on her previous start.

The insistent attempts by sections of the media to suggest the Haydock result should have been reversed after the pair came close through the last furlong would have been less unfair had their proponents first contemplated the potential downside for the winner’s connections.

Profitable is one of the few top sprinters in independent (non-Arab or Coolmore) hands, and as a colt also a highly-attractive and rare stallion prospect, being by a noted sire of sires. Whether his value would have been adversely affected by a demotion – I’m sure it would have; who cares if a goal is incorrectly ruled out, it’s not a goal?– the result on the ground was almost certainly unaffected by their coming close together.

So with all that in mind, how can Profitable, rated by Timeform as recording the best Time Figure of the season, better than any of the Guineas winners, still be available at 8-1? Clive Cox is in flying form, too. Fill your boots. Wonder what price ADS has on his voucher?

My appearance at Epsom was principally to run the eye over Harry Champion, who went along to keep company with Hugo Palmer’s Oaks contender, Architecture. He did a nice job and acted well enough on the track, although his rider reported the ground was too soft. If Architecture wins on Friday, stay around for Harry in the last off just 8st 3lb.

Budapest Bullet fired a blank

Overdose - didn't live up to his billing

Overdose - didn't live up to his billing

Royal Ascot attracts runners from all over the world, as we have seen once again this week. Whilst visitors from America, South Africa and Australia are permanent fixtures, with sometimes the same horses coming back, as far as I can establish, only one horse from Hungary has competed at the meeting. Read more

International challenge builds up for Royal Ascot

Animal Kingdom - Ascot opener?

Animal Kingdom - Ascot opener?

Hard to credit it, but next week it’s Royal Ascot week, with five days of top quality racing. Once again there’s a substantial international challenge to the British runners building up, and the first day alone has overseas runners at the head of the market for two of the feature races. Read more

Business as usual for Black Caviar

Black Caviar

Black Caviar

Black Caviar returned to racing on Saturday for the first time since her dramatic win at Royal Ascot last summer. It was business as usual as the Australian mare took her unbeaten record to 23 in the Lightning Stakes at Flemington. Read more

Caviar primed for Diamond Jubilee

Black Caviar is ready for her moment in the spotlight in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot tomorrow. After the announcement of the draw revealed she would come out of stall 15, on the outside of the 15 runners, Black Caviar’s trainer Peter Moody said he wasn’t worried by either that or the going.

He shouldn’t need to worry about the draw – five of the six winners since the re-laying of the track in 2006 have had an outside draw for what until this year has been the Golden Jubilee Stakes. But racing on a softish surface will be something new. Moody said, “ We’ve not even contemplated not running as we are very positive thinking people. She’s never raced on a soft surface but has trained and trialled on it at home. They say Ascot is one of the best draining straight tracks in the country so we’re not worried about it at this point.”

Assistant trainer Tony Haydon, who has been supervising Black Caviar’s daily routine since she arrived in England, is equally relaxed. He had the day off in Cambridge yesterday before issuing a very confident statement. He said, “Without sounding cocky, I don’t think we need a plan and it doesn’t matter really what happens. She’s good enough to get herself out of any trouble. The ground won’t be an issue. The only way she wouldn’t handle it is if she was lying on it.”

Jockey Luke Nolen had the chance to familiarise himself with Ascot's gentle undulations when he rode Medicean Man into fourth place in Tuesday’s Kings Stand Stakes, so he will be fully prepared.

In a none too subtle Antipodean dig at Frankel’s connections Moody said the owners of his horse “had the balls to put her on a plane and travel halfway round the world” in contrast to Khalid Abdullah and Henry Cecil who “would never take him (Frankel) away from home.”

I don’t think that matters in the slightest. I’m just thrilled that we can see the two superstars of flat racing during the same week at Ascot.

Royal Ascot Betting Trends

DAY ONE: Andy Newton gives you all the trends and stats that matter ahead of the opening day of the five-day 2012 Royal Ascot meeting. Read more

Trainer Stats: 14th June 2012

Cecil Heading To Ascot In Form

This week Andy Newton gives you five flat and five NH yards to look out for.......... Read more

Frankel and Caviar sidestep Ascot clash

Frankel and Black Caviar both have Royal Ascot on their agenda. But the long hoped for clash between the two won’t be taking place there, as the two horses have been entered for different races. Read more

The Tatling hangs up his shoes

If you're anywhere near the telly this afternoon try to watch the 3.45 at Wolverhampton, as it's the last chance you'll have of seeing that grand veteran The Tatling on the racecourse. Read more

Royal Ascot 2011 Day One Preview

Frankel goes for St James Palace Stakes glory

Frankel goes for St James Palace Stakes glory

We're all set for Day One of the Royal Ascot 2011 meeting, and Tuesday's racing may just be the pick of the whole week.

In the video below, I've gone through my fancies for the races, but if you don't have 45 minutes to listen to me rambling, then I've added my thoughts in text format summary underneath that.

Read more

Royal Ascot 2011 Preview

London Racing Club's Royal Ascot Preview

London Racing Club's Royal Ascot Preview panel

Royal Ascot was on the agenda last night, as four insightful and opinionated gentlemen comprised London Racing Club's Royal Ascot preview night. A full house was informed, entertained and amused for a healthy couple of hours, and yours truly managed to bag one of the raffle prizes: two tickets Read more

Royal Ascot 2009: Six Killer Stats for Day One

Top hats and tails at the ready, dear reader, for we're about to embark on that most regal of equine festivals, Royal Ascot 2009. And, to help us to the winner's circle at this top notch horsey-fest, I've stolen researched six key trends for the six races tomorrow (and probably put my friendship with Gavin on the line at the same time!).

These stats are of course cribbed from the Royal Ascot Bible, aka Festival Trends.

So, without further ado, and in the name of cutting the fields down to MUCH more manageable sizes, here we go:

2.30 Queen Anne Stakes: More mature milers contest this tremendous opening salvo of the Royal Ascot meeting. The last seven winners had all won in Group 1 company already. Seeing as this race was only upgraded to Group 1 status when the first of those seven won the race, this would appear to be a very significant stat. Add to that the fact that there are only two horses in the race that can boast such top level form, and you ostensibly have a coin flip between Gladiatorus and Paco Boy.

3.05 Kings Stand Stakes: A race for serious speedballs. The last five winners had all finished in the first four on each of their starts that season. Although this stat may not be bulletproof, it does whittle the field down from 15 to seven. It also excludes my ante post fancy, Scenic Blast, who finished fifth on one occasion this season. So I'm hoping for a stat-buster myself here.

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ScenicBlast Ante-Post

3.45 St James Palace Stakes: Top class milers win this. A dozen of the last bakers' dozen (or 12 out of 13 if you prefer) winners finished in the first four last time out, and most of them in Guineas races of some description. If you like this stat, you can eliminate half the field at a stroke.

4.20 Coventry Stakes: The first of the juvenile races, and normally it's a belter. An interesting stat that won't necessarily find you the winner but could reward each way support, is that around a third of all win and placed horses were US bred. There's four in the race tomorrow, and there's rarely more than that, so take note.

4.55 Ascot Stakes: The second longest handicap in the flat racing calendar, and run over 2m4f. 12 out of the last 13 winners were aged 4-6. 13 are this year, but seven are not, so cross those off your list. In fact, I agree with Gavin about a 25/1 shot with a serious squeak here!

5.30 Windsor Castle Stakes: The lesser of the two juvenile events on Day One, but some nice types go to post anyway. All of the last ten winners had between one and three runs to their name prior to entering the stalls at Ascot. This helps us eliminate eight of the 22 starters with a degree of confidence.

So there you are. Six stats or trends to trim four score horses and ten (90 in new money) to a concentrated 49. So, 41 down, another 35 to go!

Naturally, you can get more help from Festival Trends, the videos and emails for which you'll have seen already.

[Incidentally, if you've watched the Queen Anne preview video, you'll note that one of the two horses put up - Virtual - is now a non-runner. The manual has been updated after the 48 hour declaration stage to reflect this, and Gladiatorus is now the choice for both trends and ratings.... though personally, I'd be slightly worried about the Godolphin horses not quite appearing on tip top form at the moment. That said, 8 of the 14 runners in the last week have been in the first three, so maybe they're peaking to perfect pitch pronto...!]

I'll be back tomorrow afternoon and, assuming Gavin hasn't ex-communicated me for revealing too much of his hard work,  I'll take a look at six more stats that you can use to bash those bookies on Wednesday.

Until then, the very best of luck with your Royal Ascot Day One wagers. Let's get this road on the show!!!

p.s. Get Festival Trends here! 😉