The first day of the royal meeting hits you with pure quality as you bound through the three Group 1 races and a Group 2 for 2-year-olds which is a grade higher in all but title!
We kick off with the Queen Anne and I am going to be brave here. There is a lot of me that wants to go for Accidental Agent (8/1) on the back of his good run in the Lockinge.
The worry is the ground looks like it could be good to soft or even softer if we get some of the rain that’s swirling around. I am just hoping that with it being the first race on day one, and on the straight course too which dries out a lot quicker than the around course, we will get away with it.
The fav Le Brivido (7/2) will be peaking for this. The concern for him is he’s been really slow out the gate the last two times and they may just get a run on him like they did in the Lockinge.
Laurens (8/1) is another who has to be on the short list as she will handle ground conditions and if it gets very soft her stamina over the mile will help. I am sticking with Accidental Agent to back up his win in this last year.
The Coventry has been a hell of a race for unearthing a star and you’d wonder if there’s any in here lurking that have not shown that so far?
One I was really impressed with was Threat. This Cheveley Park-owned colt was really impressive at Newmarket and has to go into the ‘could be anything’ bracket.
Arizona (9/4) has form that is plain to see and Aidan has won this before so knows the type needed. It was funny watching his win at the Curragh how much Ryan Moore sent him about his business and very often they showed a real improvement for it.
I think Arizona if he comes forward from that win will be tough to beat but I think Richard Hannon has a nice horse on his hands with Threat (3/1) and he could be the value.
The King’s Stand Stakes again has Battash (2/1) and Blue Point (11/4) fighting it out for favouritism. It is hard to get away from the fantastic Ascot record of Blue Point and I think that is what will just sway it in his direction for me.
There was no fluke about his win last year and as long as it is not very soft he gets the vote.
The St James’s Palace is a great race and Phoenix of Spain (13/8) is a worthy favourite on the back of his impressive win in the Irish Guineas.
He readily accounted for Too Darn Hot (9/4) and could just be a very good young horse. Shaman (10/1) could be the value bet in here to nick a place with his very good second to Persian King in the French Guineas on heavy ground.
We are still guessing a little as to how soft it will be and that makes him attractive at an each-way price. I do think Phoenix of Spain will take a bit of beating on the back off that Irish win.
The record of jumps trainers in this race is such that many punters run to see what Willie Mullins and co are running here. It’s no surprise then to see Ryan Moore riding for Willie and Buildmeupbuttercup with the blinkers on for the first time will be popular.
I am going for a bit of a cliff horse for me and that is Snow Falcon (8/1). He is better known as a chaser but this lad is no mug. He will not mind what the ground is and, at the prices, this lad could be each-way material.
The last race of the day sees Elarqam as favourite after a recent win at Goodwood over another of today’s rivals Willie John.
I was over with Joseph O’Brien recently and I know how much he would love to have a Royal Ascot winner and his Latrobe will run well too. Elarqam (4/1) gets the nod, but it is a tentative one.
*All odds correct at time of posting