The centrepiece of British flat racing takes place this week as all eyes turn to Royal Ascot. With eight Group One races, and eighteen Group races in total, there’s also £6.5m in prize money over five days.
Irish interest will be huge once again as runners from stables all over the country will battle to get their name on that prestigious roll of honour. We’ll take a daily look at the chances of the best that Ireland has to offer.
Tuesday, 20 June
14:30: Queen Anne Stakes (Group 1) 1m
Deauville and Cougar Mountain get the ball rolling for Aidan O’Brien in the first race but both have a huge amount to find to be involved at the finish. Ribchester is a warm favourite, and rightly so after his demolition job in the Lockinge, but much faster ground here – and a pacemaker – should mean that Lightning Spear gets much closer to the likely favourite. He looks like a rock-solid place play for Tote punters. Mutakayyef can also have a big say if the return to Ascot sparks a revival – he rates a big, big danger.
15:05: Coventry Stakes (Group 2) 6f
Brother Bear bids to cap off a remarkable twelve months for trainer Jessica Harrington and this son of Kodiac has leading form claims. Aidan O’Brien has a fantastic record in this race so Murillo warrants the utmost respect while US Navy Flag looks up against it in this company. Two to concentrate at bigger odds are Nebo and Red Roman. The selection is the apple of his trainer’s eye and was hugely impressive on debut, from a subsequent winner, and should have come on hugely from that run. Red Roman was also visually impressive last time out at Newmarket and won’t lack for assistance from the saddle.
15:40: King’s Stand Stakes (Group 1) 5f
Washington DC is the Ballydoyle representative here but looks out of his depth. Ger Lyons sends Ardhoomy over as well and this likeable gelding is a much bigger contender than the prices indicate. All of his best form is on lightning quick ground, which he’ll get here, and he looks a massive player. Expect to see him late! Lady Aurelia is the likely favourite and although she bolted up in last year’s Queen Mary this looks a huge ask for a 3-yr-old. Last year’s winner Profitable has very good course form and that counts for a lot here.
16:20: St James’s Palace Stakes (Group 1) old mile
Churchill bids for Group One victory number five and it’s difficult to see what beats him. Most impressive at Newmarket on his seasonal reappearance in the English 2,000 Guineas, he was even more impressive when taking the Irish equivalent at the Curragh three weeks later. He looks a genuine mile superstar. Lancaster Bomber and Peace Envoy also represent Aidan O’Brien but surely only as pacemakers. Barney Roy is by far the likeliest to follow the favourite home for the exacta, having filled the same position in the 2,000 Guineas.
17:00: Ascot Stakes (handicap) 2 ½ m
Irish-trained runners have won four out of the last five runnings and are represented here by just Thomas Hobson from the all-conquering Willie Mullins stable. All of his best form has come on much softer ground though so there’s a bit of a health warning when backing him. British jumps trainers are well represented (as usual) and the best of their entries looks to be Yorkidding. Trainer Mark Johnston is always to be feared in Royal Ascot handicaps – this mare loves rattling fast ground and has built up a great partnership with jockey Richard Kingscote.
17:35: Windsor Castle Stakes 5f
A race that has thrown up a few surprises so not one to get too heavily involved in. Declaration Of Peace and T For Tango fly the Irish flag here and the former will be well fancied following his wide-margin win at Dundalk. Elizabeth Darcy was a very fast winner on debut at Indiana Grand and is with a trainer who knows how to win this race but slight preference (at the odds) is for Simmy’s Copshop. A good winner on debut he was upped in class straight away next time in a Listed race at Naas but the combination of yielding ground and losing a shoe put paid to his chances. He gets the vote to back up that initial first impression.
Find out more about our 5 Days Of Royal Ascot Specials on thetote.com