With Ribchester a very solid favourite in an ordinary looking year in the opening Queen Anne Stakes, my first major sortie at Royal Ascot will come in the Coventry Stakes (3.05pm) in the form of Aidan O’Brien’s DECLARATIONOFPEACE.
The market for this juvenile contest is made by Jessie Harrington’s Brother Bear, but the Ballydoyle youngster has the potential to be something very special in a race which Aidan has farmed down through the years with eight winners.
His son of War Front stepped up significantly on his Navan debut with a truly awesome performance at Dundalk.
There may not have been much strength in depth to that maiden on the sand, but the time was good and the visual impression hugely striking.
The advice is to take the 11/2 each-way now as I fancy he will start a good deal shorter on the day.
I love having a bash at the big handicaps at the Royal meeting and the 2m 4f Ascot Stakes on Tuesday at 5pm looks worth an investment.
Ante-post favourite Thomas Hobson hasn’t raced on the level for nearly three and a half years and although he has improved out of all recognition over timber, I don’t think he is guaranteed to see out this stamina sapping event in a truly run race. Willie Mullins has four other entries in this lung-bursting contest so it’s hard to second guess him. The each-way call could be SUEGIOO.
This time last year the veteran stayer finished a never-nearer eighth of 17 in the Ascot Gold Cup.
Highly tried since then, the eight-year-old has dropped from a rating of 108 to his current mark of 100 and served notice that his turn was close when beaten a head by Yorkidding at Haydock last month. The current 25/1 will do me nicely.
The Royal Hunt Cup on Wednesday (5pm) looks a really good renewal and EL VIP fits the profile perfectly for this 1m cavalry charge. Unsuited by the slow pace two runs back at Haydock, he showed his class when doting up at Newcastle next time.
Saddled with just a 5lbs penalty he will be contesting Group races before the end of the campaign such is his physical scope. At 14/1 he looks the each-way call.
Although AFJAAN is worth a hearty saver at 12/1.
I know I will get no plaudits for tipping ORDER OF ST GEORGE to successfully defend his Ascot Gold Cup title on Thursday. But it is worth remembering he prevailed last year despite a shocking ride from Ryan Moore.
I reckon the big hitting pro punters will lay into him and the even-money available now with PP has to be taken. The athletic son of Galileo has the Leger hero Simple Verse and the giant front runner Big Orange to worry about most.
Also on the Thursday, I am praying that O’Brien allows RAIN GODDESS to take her chance in the Ribblesdale Stakes at 3.40pm.
I would have garnered a huge extension to Jacobs’ Towers had she won the Epsom Oaks and I have reinvested at 16/1 for this 12f event in the hope she sidesteps her other engagements in the Coronation Stakes on Friday and the Pretty Polly Stakes next month.
It could be a real beano of a week for Ballydoyle and I am hoping that O’Brien runs SEPTEMBER against the colts in the Chesham Stakes on Saturday (2.30pm) rather than next Friday’s Albany Stakes where she’s also entered.
The daughter of Japanese sire Deep Impact travelled like the wrath of god on her debut at Leopardstown and showed a top class turn of foot to boot, there is loads more to come from her.
And finally, MAGICAL MEMORY looks an each-way bet to nothing in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes on Saturday (4.20pm) after badly needing the run in the Duke of York Stakes on the Knavesmire.
The Charlie Hills’ runner is the call on good ground or faster, while his conqueror, TASLEET, is a more-than-able substitute on anything softer.