Brendan Duke: My picks from this year’s festival of racing at Royal Ascot

Our man Brendan Duke has taken a look at this year's Royal Ascot. Here's where he's putting his money over the next week...


‘Bliss it was in that dawn to be alive, But to be young was very heaven’.

Wordsworth had a positive take on the French Revolution but it did ensure that Royal Ascot would never be rivalled across the channel. So bliss it is for this middle aged racing enthusiast to feel young for a week as the aristocracy celebrate their ancestors head preserving instincts by donning an expensive hat.

The pomp and ceremony is all a bit bewildering. There will be many more people surrounding the parade when the Queen arrives than when the runners for the Queen Anne enter. No matter, it’s their party and they can glorify if they want to. It’s a negligible price to pay for 5 days of top class racing.

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Now to the business of finding a few winners. There is no shortage of runners in the Queen Anne. 15 in fact. Testament to the open nature of the all aged mile division this season. Paddy have clearly recognised how hard this race is for punters and offer the sweetener of an extra place. Lord Glitters appeals here at 16/1.

A high class handicapper, he is one from two on the straight track at Ascot. I suspect had the first run not been something of a fact-finding mission he’d actually be unbeaten there. Improvement is needed at this level but given he’s only had 13 career starts, just 4 for current trainer David O’Meara, that’s entirely possible. His comeback run in the Lincoln was perfectly acceptable. Trying to give 8lbs to Addeybb on soft ground turned out to be a big ask. The yard was also in poor form at the time.

Ascot straight track king Jamie Spencer taking the ride only strengthens confidence. The ground is a concern but you can’t have everything at these fancy prices.

The Coventry also offers enhanced place terms. It would come as little surprise if Indigo Balance finishes in the four. Winning isn’t out of the question either. He was most impressive in a Curragh maiden last month. Early indications are that the form is strong. While he had the advantage of a barrier trial in Dundalk he will have learned plenty from his official debut and should take a good step forward tomorrow. Whether that will be enough is another matter. At 14/1 I think it’s worth paying to find out.

Willie Mullins empties the clip in the Ascot Stakes.

All five of his runners command respect but I’ll take a chance on one of the home team. Due to physical issues the 6-year-old Dannyday has only managed 10 career starts. He really looked to be going places in the early months of 2016 but injury intervened. His comeback was perfectly acceptable. Not knocked about and running on over what’s likely an inadequate trip nowadays. He’s owned and trained by men with Sir in front of their names. Sir’s tend to take this week very seriously and I suspect he’ll be cherry ripe tomorrow. Off a mark only 4lbs higher than his last win, and with an extra place again available, the 9/1 looks a very fair price.

Wednesday looks tough but again it would be rude not to take advantage of the extra places in the Jersey Stakes. Emaraaty is rightly favoured in the betting. The only blip in his career so far came when well fancied in the Dewhurst last season. His latest effort in trying to give 10lbs to the highly progressive Society Power looks strong form. Everything seems set fair for a big effort this week. I can’t conceive of him finishing out of the 5 and he looks an e/w bet to nothing.

My two bets of the meeting run later in the week. Sioux Nation must go very close in the Commonwealth Cup. He won at the meeting last year and was wildly impressive under a penalty on his latest start. The opposition and stiff nature of the track are concerns but I’ll be very surprised if he doesn’t start favourite and the current 5/1 is worth taking.

Finally to Fairyland. A wolf in sheep’s clothing this filly. Her lamb like temperament should prove a massive help in the Ascot preliminaries. A bigger asset is her ferocity on the track. The colts simply couldn’t cope with her cruising speed in the Marble Hill last time. She breezed home virtually on the bridle. The current 5/2 is a fair price but I don’t think she’ll be any shorter on Friday morning so no harm waiting. She rates the bet of the week.

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