Brendan Duke: 5 Irish raiders who can fly the flag at Royal Ascot

Pretend it's Cheltenham. Only it's summer.


My favourite week of the year is upon us. Having received a very generous offer of hospitality, myself and one of my two suits will be spending next week in the Queen’s garden. Hard to justify having more than one suit really. I only wear them to the occasional wedding, and at funerals. Funeral appearances are mercifully rare. Still if one is holidaying in Thailand, a go on a jet ski branded with a large ‘No Insurance’ sign, and visiting a tailor seem to be my two must-have experiences.

An exceptionally wet week in the UK means the going is likely to be soft. It’s basically dry between now and Tuesday. Then the fun begins. The forecast I rely on is predicting 12mm’s between racing finishing on the Tuesday and beginning on Wednesday. This is news to the clerk of the course. He hopes to start on good ground, and envisaging little or no rain for the week, says good to firm should appear in the description as the week progresses. Here’s my best guess. Good on Tuesday, bordering on soft Wednesday, good to soft Thursday, and good for the last couple of days.

As with any racing road trip, my aim for the week is to recoup the expenses. I will be relying quite heavily on my compatriots having a good week. Below is my best 5 Irish runners at the Royal Meeting.

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The Queen Anne kicks off the jamboree on Tuesday at 2.30pm. As with last year, it looks a below par renewal. Another boil-over is possible. Le Brivido looks to have gone a bit moody to me. Favourite backers are putting a lot of faith in Aidan O’Brien. Not a bad strategy to be fair. Hazapour will carry my cash. He has proven a bit disappointing but with only eight runs behind him, there is time to put that right. He ran a huge race in the Derby last year. He travelled better than anything to the 10 furlong pole. Unfortunately his free going tendencies took a toll late on.

He was again headstrong when finishing last season, and beginning this one, with tame efforts. His second start of 2019, when winning the Amethyst Stakes, was a revelation. He settled beautifully, and ran out a ready winner. Perhaps he’s finally getting the energy conservation message they’re almost certainly trying to drum into him at home. The Amethyst was a weak race, and improvement is necessary. I think we will see some. The booking of Dettori only strengthens confidence and X looks a nice price.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, Ireland holds a strong hand in the Ascot Stakes at 5pm. Denis Hogan’s Kerosin has the veteran in rude health, and past exploits suggest a mark of 93 isn’t excessive. He should arguably be on a hat-trick. A luckless passage resulted in a close third on penultimate start. He made no mistake at Navan last time. Both those races boast solid form. He had the benefit of a fine ride from a 10lb claimer at Navan. He’s up in class, and trip on Tuesday.

The trip wouldn’t concern me. He saw out Navan’s stiff two miles strongly. Oisin Murphy looks a positive booking. Paddy are offering 6 places here. Kerosin appeals each way at 14/1*.


Should my weather forecast prove correct, Red Tea must have a good chance in the Duke Of Cambridge on Wednesday 4.20pm. This filly will relish the stiff mile, and easy ground. She looks to have improved since joining Joseph O’Brien. A Curragh handicap romp was followed by a close third in a Group race at the same track. She missed the break that day, not for the first time, and was disadvantaged by track position. In the hope that she can break on terms and 10/1* looks a generous price.

She wouldn’t have to improve all that much to go very close.

Sunday Sovereign can kick Thursday’s proceedings off with a bang. This horse has looked the real deal. He improved markedly on debut when giving Arizona, current Coventry favourite, a good beating at the Curragh. He again showed blazing speed when following up at Tipperary. He has the speed for five furlongs, and the stamina for six. A deadly combination at Ascot. He’s currently around 4/1 jolly for the Norfolk Stakes at 2.30pm. That looks like the preferred race for connections. He has other options though.

The Norfolk should draw a big field of unexposed types. I’d be surprised if we don’t get 4/1 on the day. There’s little point in backing him now. I’ll make a point of backing him on Thursday though.

The nominated target for Lope Y Fernandez is the Chesham Stakes on Saturday 2.30pm. He’s the most impressive two-year-old I’ve seen this season. He will take a world of beating. As befits his lofty price tag, he caught the eye of the paddock watchers beforehand. He was no less impressive during the race. He coasted along, and responded impressively to the compassionate shaking of the reins. That form is untested but I suspect the race will work out. We won’t be getting a big price on Saturday. Around 7/4 would be my guess. You won’t get a 175% return in the bank mark you.

He looks banker material.


I’ve a couple of others on my radar. I can’t clarify running plans though. Won’t be backing any of them unless declared. Royal Lytham looked a horse of massive potential when winning at Navan. He’s entered in the Coventry Stakes , and if he goes there I would take a chance at a double-figure price. I thought Fleeting could have won the Oaks with better fortune. She would take a deal of beating if taking up her engagement in a desperately weak Ribblesdale Stakes at 3.40pm on Thursday. It’s possible the bookies see her Epsom run as a fluke. Needless to say, I heartily disagree.

Eminent Authority is a horse you will be hearing plenty about in the future. He would hold a sporting chance if running in the Queen’s Vase on Wednesday 3.05pm. He’s only learning his trade but could take a big step forward for a stamina test on easy ground.

*Prices and entries correct at time of publishing

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What do you think?