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Royal Ascot is a week of socialising, top hats and tails, high fashion as well as lots of top-class racing. Tuesday’s opening day really hits you with a bang with three Group One races to kick the meeting off and here’s how I see the day going.
PALACE PIER was so impressive in the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury on slowish ground, but is every bit as effective on a fast surface and we might not even have seen the best of him yet. He was very impressive at Sandown when winning at Group 2 level before his Newbury stroll. But this is tougher, and we need to see what he’s made of. Sir Busker is a fair price and loves Ascot. I can see him running a big race to hit the frame.
Wes Ward’s Kaufymaker comes over from the States having won a 4-and-half furlong race on the dirt at Keeneland. I watched her gallop on the grass at Keeneland and she really took the eye. She is a very free-flowing filly, and it’s notable that she runs in what is normally the toughest two-year-old race of the meeting.
I was taken with THE ORGANISER when he won at York and that form has been franked since. He may even be better on quicker ground. He was subsequently bought by Highclere Racing, and it would be a great story if trainer Joe Tuite was to win the Coventry Stakes with him.
BATTAASH finally justified all the hype when winning at the Royal meeting last year. My concern is he hasn’t run so far this season, but did win this contest last year on his first start and hopefully he repeats that trick. Oxted has looked a little slow to come to hand this term and the biggest danger could come from Tim Easterby’s Winter Power, who was impressive when winning at York. The runner-up Atalis Boy won at the weekend.
Poetic Flare has run in three Classics this season, and this would be a major coup for his stallion prospects if he were to win. The degree of toughness that is required to be competitive in three quick-fire races like this would see his value rocket for trainer Jim Bolger.
Jessica Harrington’s LUCKY VEGA was a short head and neck third to him at Newmarket’s 2,000 Guineas. He ran a really good, solid race at HQ, but got stuck in the ground when fourth in the Curragh equivalent behind Mac Swiney with Poetic Flare the runner-up. Back on this faster surface, I’m willing to take a punt on Lucky Vega getting the job done.
Jumps trainers and dual-purpose handlers are the ones to follow in these long-distance contests at the Royal meeting. I’ve gone for one trained by a Mullins, not Willie, but his nephew, Emmet. CAPE GENTLEMAN has won an Irish Cesarewitch on the Flat and over hurdles at Sandown. He likes decent ground and is a major player.
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Six races in and I haven’t gone for a Frankie Dettori pick yet – but that’s about to change. FOREST OF DEAN has been running on the all-weather this spring and been performing with real credit. He showed when winning a big 10-furlong handicap at York on the fast ground in 2019 that he’s just as good on turf. He has a decent chance in a very open contest.
I’m going for Willie Mullins to end the day on a high in this 1m 6f contest with SALDIER. He was so impressive at Listowel, but has to shoulder a 4lbs penalty for that now, which is annoying. He sets a very high standard under Ryan Moore though, while the improving four-year-old Global Storm is respected for Godolphin and William Buick.
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