Five of the best days on the horse racing calendar are happening this week at the world famous Royal Ascot. With thirty-five races featuring the best equestrians and riders the sport has to offer, sit back, relax and enjoy the action as we try to lead you in the direction of some winners.
As we did before In 2012 Royal Ascot started with the best rated horse in the world in the opening race, the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes. Nine years ago it was Frankel who opened the meeting with an amazing performance, and this year it is Palace Pier who can win the first of three Group 1s on the opening day of the meeting.
After just one loss in his career the son of Kingman has won three times at the highest level, most recently at the Lockinge Stakes in Newbury, and will be very hard to beat. His only loss so far, however, came over this route and trip last October in the QEII.
Aidan O’Brien, who has trained the winner of the race four times, relies on Lope Y Fernandez and the Order Of Australia (the mount of Ryan Moore) who took his form to a new level when he ran away with the Breeders’ Cup mile last season.
With eleven runners to post and a very short favorite at the top of the bets, May worth risking one at a higher price and hoping they can snag a seat. TOP RANK has been incredibly consistent in its track and field career to date, winning six of its nine races and placing in two of the other three, including the third last time behind Palace Pier in Newbury.
Two previous winners are also in Accidental Agent and Lord Glitters, but are now seven and eight years old respectively.
Aidan O’Brien has won the Coventry Stakes nine times a record and relies on only one horse this year, The Acropolis. Churchill’s son looked impressive when he recently won his premiere, and it might be a tip in itself that O’Brien is just saddling the one contender.
The favorite, however, is Wesley Ward’s Kaufymaker, who is in Keeneland a girl on the dirt won. The two-year-old filly will have John Velazquez on board again and could bring Ward his first win in the race.
Elsewhere, Dhabab for John Gosden and Berkshire Shadow for Andrew Balding come into the race with one win each and are both in the category « could be anything ».
Despite the win, the Ebro River still looked very green at the National Stakes in Sandown, and at a higher price, Golden War for Charlie Hills ran well behind a horse named Masekela at Goodwood at Goodwood Saturday’s Chesham is expected to be tight.
The pick, however, is GISBURN for Richard Hannon, who went up more than six lengths in winning a competitive girl in Newbury. The flashy chestnut looks like he has a bit of star quality and can give his trainer a first win in the race that Hannon Senior won with Canford Cliffs in 2009.
The King’s Stand Stakes revolve around one horse, BATTAASH. The superstar sprinter took this race with flying colors last season and has matured over time.
He has won six of his last eight races and despite sustaining an injury earlier this year, Charlie Hills is confident that he can still reach the old level. The field looks weaker than normal and despite his age, he’s still the one to beat.
The main threat could be Oxted, who looked like a smart sprinter while winning the July Cup last season. However, Mayson’s son has not won a race since then and Roger Teal has decided to reduce the five-year-old to five stadiums, which could be his cause.
Of the others, King’s Lynn could give Her Majesty a first victory in the race, but has to score a career best, while another looking for a first win in the race is Wesley Ward. The American coach has sent Maven, who looked better than ever in the Keeneland win in April and is a lively underdog.
Winter Power looked superb in the last win in York, a form that matched the runner-up at Sandown on Saturday has been praised, and a similar run could make them competitive, but the champion looks tough to resist and when BATTAASH is as good as he was he wins.
The St James’s Palace Stakes are often made up of the best Three year olds of her generation competed and this year we have an outstanding line-up with Poetic Flare as a favorite. The 2000 Guineas winner has been incredibly busy since his start at Newmarket, having raced at the Poule d’Essai des Poulains before finishing second in the Irish 2000 Guineas. His trainer, Jim Bolger, is confident that the three-year-old will be in good shape to compete in four Group 1 competitions in 45 days.
John Gosden has won two of the last three extra-times, relying on the undefeated Mostahdaf, who may have looked great in the last Heron Stakes win. Behind him that day were Charlie Appleby’s Highland Avenue and Ralph Beckett’s Bullace, who were only beaten by a length that puts the pair into the calculation.
Lucky Vega will compete in his last race of his career after a deal for he was agreed as a stallion in Australia and he would like to bring Jessica Harrington a first victory in the race. Last year’s Phoenix Stakes winner never came close to third in the 2000 Guineas before finishing fourth in the Irish equivalent.
Aidan O’Brien has two runners, Battleground and Wembley, with the former looking like his number one hope . Found’s son ended up as the favorite in the first classic of the season after a little later support and with the ground, which should be very fast, we can see him at his best.
However, the forgotten horse in the field can still do that be the best bet of the day. Joseph O’Brien’s THUNDER MOON caught everyone’s eye when he won the Vincent O’Brien National Stakes in style last season.
The Zoffany son should be very competitive in the 2000 Guineas but finished last which was certainly too good to be true. Getting back to the fast bottom is a huge plus, and on the prizes, it could be one of the best bets of the week.
While the Ascot Stakes is over two and a half miles, it’s only the second longest race of the week and few are ran in both this and the finals of the meeting, which Queen Alexandra has run in recent seasons, with Simenon winning both in 2012.
Unsurprisingly, in a race so far it was the Jump Boys who dominated, with Willie Mullins winning four of the last nine, and Alan King and Nicky Henderson on the youngest honor roll. Mullins saddles three again with Tom Marquand aboard Royal Illusion, Derby winner jockey Adam Kirby on Rayapour and Ryan Moore, who rode three of those Mullins winners, on likely favorite MC Muldoon, who recently joined Peter Chapple-Hyam’s yard ran well over the hurdles.
Cape Gentleman, who, interestingly, is Rachel Blackmore’s mount, won the Irish Cesarewitch on his last flat start and had a successful hurdles campaign, but here is £ 15 for his Return to the level. Only Hubert won this trip last year at Glorious Goodwood, while the easily driven four-year-olds Lostwithiel, Postileo and Trumpet Man have every chance if they see the trip.
A horse that we know the trip is good for last year’s winner is COUER DE LION, who also came fifth in 2019 and has to be secured in every direction at double-digit prices. He’s only 3 pounds higher, despite jockey Thore Hammer Hansen claiming 2 pounds less than twelve months ago and showing he was in good shape when he finished a good fourth in the Chester Cup six weeks ago.
The Wolfreton Stakes are always a highly competitive listed competition, but John Gosden is usually the man who coached the winner four times in the past decade. Here he relies on the punished Forest of Dean, who will see Frankie Dettori one more time in the blue silk of Godolphin. The 5-year-old was in decent form in all-weather winter, where he faced FELIX no less than three times and suffered two defeats before taking on a G3 win in the Winter Derby, for which he has a £ 5 penalty. reciprocated.
I would expect that the ultra-consistent FELIX has the edge here and is the right person with its unbelievable third place in the Dubai Turf. Oisin Murphy is back on the record and in this performance behind Lord North and Japanese star Vin De Garde in Group 1 on World Cup Night, he judges the form selection.
Euchen Glen is another runner who has been penalized for his recent victory in the G3 Brigadier Gerard Stakes in Sandown. The eight-year-old has been an incredible servant of connections over the past few seasons and is entitled to his place in the line-up. Patrick Sarsfield will be popular for Joseph O’Brien in his runner-up in Prix Dollar last year at Arc weekend and will undoubtedly improve for his most recent comeback runner-up at the Curragh.
Blue Cup, held under Murphy on Derby Day won at Epsom now has William Buick back on board, while Solid Stone and Stormy Antarctic are all final winners worth considering, although the latter is kept in its most recent Windsor form by Solid Stone.
Another far Handicap that remains open, with Willie Mullin saddling the favorite, this time in the form of the two-time grade 1 hurdler, Saldier. He warmed up for the task with a very easy win at Listowel last week and although he looked well handicapped with Ryan Moore in the plate, fast ground would be a problem and he can be taken over at 5/2.
Global Storm defeated Lostwithiel in Newmarket on that trip in May and we received a form notice from the runner-up an hour earlier in the Ascot Stakes. Global Storm looks like a progressive stayer though and a £ 4 rise should still make him competitive.
On To Victory was last listed at Goodwood and is very consistent but has a terrible draw in 19 Even though it’s a long trip, it’s a short run to Turn One and it will likely get jammed a lot unless you fell into it.
There are plenty of solid permanent handicappers out there at higher prices and I wouldn’t be surprised if Hyanna beats her chances, but I’m on the side of THRONE HALL for last year’s winner, Andrea Atzeni.
He looked like he was screaming for an upgrade in the last time in York in third place and a slow one Tempo didn’t fit into a small field in Thirsk when he finished second the time before. He was impressive returning the season to Doncaster, beating many easy progressive handicaps and doing so in style. He looks like an Ebor horse and believes he will be close to the finals on day one at Royal Ascot.
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