Ruby Walsh: My tips for the first day of Royal Ascot

The first day of Royal Ascot is here and Ruby Walsh has given us his thoughts on the runners and riders for the opening festivities....

14:30 – Queen Anne Stakes

I believe Rhododendron should win the Queen Anne Stakes (14:30) and you’ll be hoping she’ll improve again from her win in the Lockinge Stakes. That should be enough to see her hold the form with Ryan Moore on board. She’s looks the obvious chance of the English or Irish horse.

Having said that Olivier Peslier is doing some shouting about Recoletos, he’s a different horse now than the one that came here on Champions Day. He’ll love the ground and Peslier’s a rider with an opinion you’d have to respect and the French have a good enough record in the race too.

15:05 – Coventry Stakes

The Coventry Stakes at 15:05 is very competitive. I did like Sergei Prokofiev, I thought he was very good in Navan. I wasn’t as certain after his Naas win last month, was he just green or was he looking for the winning post? I don’t believe there’s much value in him, he’s quite short in the betting.

If he is a really good horse then he should be collecting. For a 24-runner, two-year-old race over six furlongs at Ascot you’d want more value than 3/1. When you look down through these horse who’ve run once or maybe twice, it’s hard to know what’s between them.

15:40 – King’s Stand Stakes

Lady Aurelia is two-from-two at Ascot and this year in the King’s Stand Stakes (15:40) she only gets the fillies allowance. So, she is a few pounds worse off and she has Battaash against her rather than what she took on last year. It’s probably a slightly better race this time around and she’s worse off at the weights. I am a huge fan of the fillies and she’s been impressive to watch here over the last few years. She’ll give a bold show for sure, but she comes here off the back of a defeat and she didn’t have that last year. That would be slightly concerning.

Battaash is a rock solid sprint and he had a good blow out in the Armstrong Aggregates Temple Stakes at Haydock. You really are in one camp or the other, but I reckon Lady Aurelia might just have one more trick up her sleeve.

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16:20 – St James’s Palace Stakes

I do fancy Romanised to claim the St James’s Palace Stakes at 16:20. There was a sweetness to his win at the Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh in May. Shane Foley settled him well in that off a decent pace and he picked up really well to win that. If you look back at his second to Masar last year, that form looks very strong now. I just watched John Gosden’s Without Parole win at Sandown and that didn’t do anything for me. Maybe he’ll be a different horse today, but that showing didn’t scream ‘step me up to Grade One’. Let alone be the favourite for this.

17:00 – Ascot Stakes

Five runners here in the Ascot Stakes. You can look at that two ways. It usually means if you’ve five Derby horses, you’ve none, so when you’ve five runners in a handicap, are they going to be three of the first five home, or are they all going to blow out? Who knows?

There’s not a whole pile of anything between them at home. Whiskey Sour is in really good form, you just wonder if he’s got anything left in hand with the handicapper as he’s running off 100. Chelkar off 96 with Ryan Moore was trained for the race last year but he missed it. He’s a horse we did like, but he’s unexposed, he’d be the dark horse here. We’re not sure where he could end up.

during the Mares’ Hurdle on Champion Day of the Cheltenham Festival at Cheltenham Racecourse on March 13, 2018 in Cheltenham, England.

Lagostovegas is working very well, the only worry with her here is the trip, 2m4f is long way on the flat. She’s a quick filly, in really good form, but stamina is the question here.

Stratum, with Robert Winston on board, saw a lot of the money early in the week – I’m not sure why – his price has moved in from 14/1, when he was each-way shot. I’d want him to be back out to double figures again. He should stay, but he can be a bit keen. He’ll have to improve from his run at Ballinrobe over hurdles, but he’s in good order and should handle the ground.

Meri Devie could be the interesting one here. She ran in a Group 1 before we had her. She’s been a bit in-and-out over the winter, her consistency is a probably questionable, but she seems to be in good form though, Willie is happy with her, Mickael Barzalona rides her, and she should give a good account of herself.

I wouldn’t be surprised by any one of the five if they go and win, I can make cases for them all. Chelkar is the least exposed, it’s so hard to split the others, we don’t know what he is and he has Ryan Moore.

17:35 – Wolverton Stakes

Mirage Dancer is my pick here. This is a listed race now, not a handicap, and he’s the stand out one in the field.

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