The greatest Flat show on Turf so we’ve asked the Southampton striker and ITV’s racing guru to go tot-to-toe to see who’ll have the bragging rights come Saturday evening.
Charlie Austin: Winner of last year’s Prix de l’Abbaye, the Sir Mark Prescott-trained filly Marsha made an excellent start to 2017 by carrying her Group One penalty to victory in the Palace House Stakes at Newmarket last month. Lady Aurelia obviously sets the standard on form and Wesley Ward reports to have her in top form. However, I’m taking her on with this improving filly.
Mick Fitzgerald: All the talk is about Lady Aurelia, the memory of her blitzing the opposition at the Royal meeting last year is hard to wipe. Ryan Moore was raving about her last week and if she can relax into the race and doesn’t blow her fuse early, the others won’t get close to her. At the prices though, I’m willing to take an each-way punt on Signs of Blessing. A good third last year to Twilight Son in the Diamond Jubilee, he won very easily earlier this year, beating Profitable, and seems strongest over this 5f trip.
CA: It looks ahead-to-head between Churchill & Barney Roy. I can’t see the winner coming from elsewhere. Barney Roy was only a length behind Churchill at Newmarket in the 2,000 Guineas and trainer Richard Hannon opted to keep him fresh for this race. However, Churchill improved again in the Irish Guineas and looked even more impressive. Aidan O’Brien’s runner looks banker material.
MF: Lots of multiple bets will have dual Guineas winner Churchill’s name on them and the way Ryan Moore’s face lights up when he talks about him indicates we are dealing with a champion. Richard Hannon is convinced Barney Roy is going to give him a real run for his money and many consider it a match between the pair. One for value is Rivet who can get involved in the places at least too.
Prince of Wales Stakes 4.20pm
CA: Decorated Knight has strong each-way claims and arrives here on the back of winning the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh last month. He was very impressive that day, holding off the late charge of Somehow, he just keeps on improving and at about 10/1 he’s the one I want to be with.
MF: There’s no stand-out runner in this and lots of stables fancy their chances. My original fancy Mutakayyef is a non-runner so I’ll stick with Jack Hobbs who looked good on reappearance in Meydan last March.
Royal Hunt Cup 5pm
CA: One of our horses, Kyllachy Gala, trained by Marco Botti was set to run in this race, but a set-back means he misses it. Pity, as I’d have tipped him up too. The 1m cavalry charge always requires a lot of luck so I’ve gone for GK Chesterton. I backed him when he won the Investec mile at the Derby meeting earlier this month, he’s improving with each run and the best is yet to come.
MF: There’s a lot in here in great form and trainer Luca Cumani has an outstanding chance with his two contenders, El Vip and Banksea. Both should be bang there. One I like at a big price is GM Hopkins. He won this before off a 2lb lower mark and can be forgiven his last run after a shaky start. I like horses with previous good form at this meeting.
The Ribblesdale Stakes 3.40pm
CA: I’ve opted for John Ox’s lightly raced unbeaten filly Naughty or Nice each-way. The form of both her wins has been franked since with Bean Feasa, whom Naughty Or Nice beat in her last start, going on to win the Derrinstown Stud 1,000 Guineas Trial and was unlucky in running, when fifth in the Irish Classic itself.
MF: This is a real puzzle but I’m going to side with Alluringly. She is highly thought of by the Aidan O ‘Brien team and went down narrowly to Enable at Chester. She was disappointing in the Oaks but Epsom doesn’t suit every horse.
The Gold Cup 4.20pm
CA: Order of St George looks to be another banker bet for the O’Brien team. Although he’s short odds, he won this last year and is the one for me again this week.
MF: Another Aidan O’ Brien hotpots in Order of St George who won this last year and boasts some top-class form. He should be too good for these. At the prices, my each-way shout is Big Orange. He was ruled out last year as the ground was too soft but there’s no worries on that score now. At about 10/1, he’s worth an interest.
The Commonwealth Cup 3.40pm
CA: I’m taking on Caravaggio here with Godolphin’s new recruit Harry Angel. He was so impressive when bolting up in the Sandy Lane at Haydock last month and can put it up to the favourite.
MF: This is a belting race and I can’t wait to see Carvaggio against the best three-year-olds around. He went into many peoples ante-post coupons when a runaway winner of the Coventry last year and could blow these out of the way and looked really good at Naas on his comeback run. Godolphin need a star and won’t mind if it’s Blue Point or Harry Angel – but I could see Caravaggio breaking the track record on Friday.
Coronation Stakes 4.20pm
CA: Winter has already done the Guineas double this year and looks another Aidan O’Brien banker bet of the meeting.
MF: Another Ballydoyle benefit? Winter was a worthy winner of both the Irish & English 1,000 Guineas and she could still be improving but her price reflects her reputation.
Diamond Jubilee Stakes 4.20pm
CA: Charlie Hills’ Magical Memory looked back to his best when second at York last month in the Duke of York Stakes. This looks wide open but if he can back up that run he looks sure to go close.
MF: The fast-ground performers will be hoping the weather stays fine. Tasleet really caught the eye at York but I worry that he will need a little rain to get into the ground to show his best form. Limato looks so good when it all falls right for him and is hard to ignore. Henry Candy’s team are on a good run of form. He gets the nod over The Tin Man. Just!
The 6f Wokingham Stakes 5pm
CA: Another really competitive handicap and I’ve opted for last year’s winner Outback Traveller trained by Robert Cowell.
MF: A lot of familiar names here and Outback Traveller won this last year off a similar rating and is bound to go well. Buckstay lacks a recent run but Peter Chapple-Hyam is brilliant at getting one ready first time up. Naggers is still well handicapped but needs a few above him to come out – if he’s to get a run.
One to watch
Another Batt – Windsor Castle Stakes (Tuesday)
CA: This is one of my horses, he runs in the Windsor Castle on the opening day and has a live chance. He won impressively at Ripon on UK debut a few weeks back under Silvestre De Sousa and the plan when we bought him was always to target the Royal meeting. Since owning racehorses, it’s always been a dream of mine to have a Royal Ascot runner, let alone a winner. I’m hoping this lad can run a big race for us on Tuesday.
Alpha Centauri, Albany Stakes (Friday)
MF: The one I am really keen on is Jessie Harrington’s Alpha Centauri. She’s unbeaten in two runs and is entered in Friday’s Albany Stakes. It’s a very open race but she will take a bit of beating.