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Latest Royal Ascot Betting News, Tips & Previews
DAY I – Tuesday 20th June 2017
The traditional curtain-raiser for the start of the five-day day summer racing bonanza is the Queen Anne Stakes and although the roar from the crowd is not up to Cheltenham Festival standards, a decent reception still fills the Berkshire air as the gates fly open.
This year’s renewal is headlined by RIBCHESTER, who is already trading at a shade of odds-on and is likely to be a lot shorter come the day of the race.
He has had just one start in the UK this season, but what a performance he produced in the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes at Newbury in last month.
Always travelling well, he quickened off the front and put the race to bed in a matter of strides. If he is anywhere near that sort of form come the opening day of Ascot he is going to be a tough nut to crack.
Royal Ascot cannot come quickly enough for Ribchester’s owners, Godolphin, who have yet again failed to have a cut at the four Classics run so far this season. They had to watch as their great rivals in the bloodstock industry, Coolmore, take both Guineas events and the Derby.
The second race on the opening day is the King Stands Stakes and here we see the former American flyer ACAPULCO, who started her career with Wesley Ward.
It was Ward who brought her to Royal Ascot in 2015 when she ran away with the Queen Mary Stakes over 5f and that effort remains one of the most impressive of recent years.
Now with Aidan O’Brien, Acapulco warmed up for this with a comfortable victory in a listed contest at the Curragh last month. Sure to be trained to the minute, she is certain to give it a good go to win her second Royal Ascot race.
Race 3 on the opening day is the highlight, the St James’s Palace Stakes, and this is traditionally fought out by the Guineas winners.
CHURCHILL, who won both the English and Irish 2000 Guineas this year, is a warm order to follow up here and he rightly heads the market.
Godolphin also have a say in this with their representative BARNEY ROY, who was second to Churchill in the English 2000 Guineas and has reportedly come on by leaps and bounds from that run according to his trainer, Richard Hannon.
DAY II – Wednesday 21st June 2017
The second day begins with the Group 3 JERSEY STAKES, which has a rich tradition of providing exciting finishes. Last year was no exception when Ribchester came fast and late to score.
This year’s renewal has DREAM CASTLE at the head of the market following his effort in fifth behind Churchill in the 2000 Guineas. He had a troubled run in that race when hampered running down to the 2f pole and then having to switch to find room to make a run. He did well in the circumstances to finish where he did.
Dropping back from 1m to 7f will surely be in his favour and he could open up the second day as a winner for Godolphin.
They will need to have a good Ascot to stop the unease in their ranks. Within 24 hours of a public outburst from trainer Saeed Bin Suroor over the way operations were being run, John Ferguson, the man given free rein by Sheikh Mohammed to get the team moving in the right direction, handed in his notice.
This is a time of acute public embarrassment for Godolphin as John Ferguson has been alongside Sheikh Mohammed for over 25 year but he admitted his position had become ‘untenable’ and said resignation ‘was the only course of action to take.’
The second race on the card is the QUEEN MARY STAKES for 2yo fillies and this prize went back to America for the past two years.
Trainer Wesley Ward first brought over ACAPULCO in 2015, and she took the field apart under Ryan Moore, who called her an aeroplane. Last year he introduced LADY AURELIA, who under Frankie Dettori was simply sensational, winning by a massive seven lengths.
Ward also won this race in 2009 when he brought over JEALOUS AGAIN who scored under John Velazquez.
Bookmakers are taking no chances this year, and have installed Ward’s HAPPY LIKE A FOOL as the 3/1 market leader.
She breezed ½ mile under the watchful eye of her trainer at Keeneland this week and he confirmed he is pleased with her progress and looking forward to sending his team to Ascot next week.
The Wesley Ward team comprises:
- LADY AURELIA (King’s Stand Stakes)
- BOUND FOR NOWHERE (Commonwealth Cup)
- UNDRAFTED (Wokingham Stakes)
- FAIRYTALE (Albany Stakes)
- McERIN (Norfolk Stakes)
- NOOTKA SOUND (Windsor Castle)
- HAPPY LIKE A FOOL (Queen Mary Stakes)
Race 3 is the DUKE OF CAMBRIDGE STAKES, which is open to fillies and mares of four years and older.
Some are looking at this race for their banker bet of the week, as LAUGH ALOUD comes into this on the back of some strong form on her last two starts.
Trained by John Gosden for Godolphin, she showed her wellbeing with a Listed race success at Goodwood in May but she bettered that performance last time out when running away with the Group 3 Princess Elizabeth Stakes at Epsom on Derby Day.
She could be called the winner a long way from home as she was travelling so well, and she was immediately made the 2/1 favourite for this Royal Ascot race.
A bet of £20,000 to £10,000 was reportedly taken shortly after the Epsom race and it’s likely she will go off even shorter come the day.
DAY III – Thursday 22nd June 2017
The third day at Royal Ascot is the jewel in the crown, as it features the race the whole meeting centres around: this year will the 210th running of the Ascot Gold Cup.
Now run on what is traditionally known as Ladies’ Day, the Gold Cup is a test for stayers and is run over a trip of 2m 4f.
Previous winners of this coveted prize include Yeats, who won it in four consecutive years from 2006 – 2009, and Sagaro, who won it three times under Lester Piggott from 1975 to 1977, but the most exhilarating and heart-warming victory came in 2013.
Lining up for the Gold Cup that day was a horse called ESTIMATE, who had the form to go close and, more importantly, had been the subject of a major gamble during the week leading up to the race and was being sent off the 7/2 favourite.
Swinging into the home straight, jockey Ryan Moore was getting to work on Estimate and he was slowly beginning to get to the leaders. At the furlong pole, to the roar of the crowd, he hit the front, but as he did so Simenon loomed alongside him and the pair fought hammer and tong to the line.
In the shadow of the post, Estimate stuck his neck out, the crowd went wild and not only had the gamble come off but the winning owner was watching from high in the stands: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth had won the Ascot Gold Cup.
This year’s renewal has ORDER OF ST GEORGE (last year’s winner) as the 5/4 market leader and it would no surprise if he shortened even further as he was sent off odds-on last year.
One that should give him a run for his money is BIG ORANGE, a horse that has become a fans’ favourite, as this giant just gallops and gallops and normally pushes his rivals into submission long before the finishing line.
He has only one speed, but it’s a relentless gallop and if allowed to dictate from the front he is going to be difficult to pass.
The third day opens with the Norfolk Stakes a Group 2 race over 5 furlongs.
Wesley Ward, who won this race in 2013 with No Nay Never, sends over McERIN and the bookmakers currently have him as 5/1 favourite.
The Hampton Court Stakes is a Group 3 event half an hour later and this looks like a wide open affair with the bookmakers going 7/1 the field.
Currently at the top of the market is MIRAGE DANCER, a colt trained by Sir Michael Stoute who was being aimed at the Epsom Derby.
This son of Frankel was pulled out of the race as the trainer wanted to spend more time getting him to fulfil his promise and he could be ready to roll at Royal Ascot.
One that did run in the Derby and is now heading for this race is KHALIDI, a colt trained by John Gosden who had previously won the listed Cocked Hat Stakes at Goodwood.
He failed to handle the twists and turns of Epsom on Derby Day and he’s better judged on his Goodwood run. Currently at double figure odds, he will be a lot shorter come the day.
The Ribblesdale Stakes is the third race on the card and Frankie Dettori has made this race his own, having won it on six occasions.
This year’s market leader is MORI, a daughter of Frankel who was impressive on her last two starts. She won her maiden at Ascot in May and stepped up on that effort when winning the listed Height of Fashion Stakes at Goodwood.
Improving with her racing, she is likely to be partnered by Ryan Moore, who is going for his third consecutive win in this race.
DAY IV – Friday 23rd June 2017
The fourth day of Royal Ascot begins with the ALBANY STAKES, a 6f event for two-year old fillies. This features what many are calling their banker of the whole meeting.
The filly in question is ALPHA CENTAURI, a strapping daughter of Mastercraftsman, who won her first two races in dramatic style.
She dwarfed her rivals in the parade ring on her debut at Naas in May and put them to the sword on the course, powering away from them in the closing stages.
Jessica Harrington, the filly’s trainer who is better known for her National Hunt horses (she won the Cheltenham Gold Cup this year with Sizing John) couldn’t contain her excitement after that debut success and reported, “She’s the size of some of my jumpers in the yard, and if she is as good as we think she is, then Royal Ascot must be on the cards”
To confirm she was as good as they thought she was, they next entered her in the Listed Coolmore Stud Irish EBF Fillies’ Sprint Stakes towards the end of May. She once again toyed with the opposition, beating the Aidan O’Brien’s filly Actress by an impressive five lengths.
Jockey Colm O’Donoghue had this to say to the waiting journalists after that victory: “She’s such a big girl and she covers so much ground that everything feels like slow-motion to her. For every stride she takes, other fillies are taking two strides.” “The first day I sat on her was when she won her maiden at Naas but I didn’t get to teach her much because she bounced out and made all. “She fills the entire stall and she got a bit of a shock when they opened on Sunday. But that was probably a blessing in disguise as it allowed me to teach her more and she learnt a lot. She really picked up when I gave her a squeeze. You’d have to be delighted with the performance and she’s one to very much look forward to if she goes to Royal Ascot.”
Bookmakers introduced her as the 2/1 favourite for the Albany after that display, but that price didn’t last long, and the best on offer now is 13/8.
Chances are she will be even shorter come the day, and it would no surprise if she were sent off odds-on.
The second race on day four is the KING EDWARD VII STAKES and this is a race normally targeted by trainer Sir Michael Stoute.
He’s won it seven times: with Shareef Dancer (83), Saddlers Hall (91), Foyer (94), Balakheri (02), Papal Bull (06), Hillstar (13) and Across the Sea last year.
Bookmakers are aware of his love for this race and have installed his Crystal Ocean as the 7/2 favourite.
Second favourite is Mirage Dancer (5/1), another trained by Stoute and he seems to have a stranglehold on the race yet again.
The COMMENWEALTH CUP is the third race on the card and this race has only recently been added to the Royal programme.
It was introduced in 2015 as part of a set of changes to the programme of sprint horse races in Europe. The Diamond Jubilee Stakes, run over the same course and distance at the same meeting, was closed to three-year olds at the same time. The race was subsequently named the Commonwealth Cup, and the Buckingham Palace Stakes was removed from the Royal Ascot meeting to make room for this new race.
It has Group 1 status and was won last year by Quiet Reflection, who became the first three year-old filly to win Champion Sprinter honours at the Cartier awards.
This year’s race has Caravaggio as the even money favourite but behind him at 5/2 in the market is HARRY ANGEL, who has recently been brought by Godolphin.
The impressive Sandy Lane Stakes winner stays with trainer Clive Cox but Godolphin declined to disclose the sum they paid to purchase the three year-old, who broke the course record at Haydock.
John Ferguson, Godolphin’s then Chief Executive and racing manager, said about Harry Angel, who was first or second in all four starts: “He’s one of the most brilliant young horses in training and we’re delighted to have purchased him”
The DUKE OF EDINBURGH STAKES is the fifth race to be run and is traditionally a tricky race for punters, as only one favourite has obliged in the past 26 years.
The full field for this race has yet to be finalised and more will be known nearer the time of the meeting.
The QUEEN’S VASE brings the fourth day to a close and is rich in tradition. First run in 1838, the winner received a gold vase from Queen Victoria.
DAY V – Saturday 24rd June 2017
The final day of Royal Ascot gets underway with the Listed CHESHAM STAKES and the bookmakers have Clemmie as their 7/2 favourite.
This filly has run only once and finished third at the Curragh in May, so why should bookmakers make her so short to win her first race at Royal Ascot?
The factor is her breeding. She is by Galileo out of Meow and that makes her a full sister to the recent dual Guineas winner Churchill.
He, too, failed to win on racecourse debut, and Clemmie has apparently come on by leaps and bounds since that run and is expected to go very close when she lines up for the opener on day five.
The second race on the final day is another listed contest, the WOLVERTON RATED STAKES over 1 mile 2 furlongs.
Sir Michael Stoute, who has won this race twice, with Imperial Stride in 2005 and Perfect Stride in 2009, looks to hold the key to this year’s renewal as he is set to unleash Khariaat, who looks most progressive after four starts.
He began his career being beaten a neck but since that effort he hasn’t looked back and scored at Pontefract, Doncaster and Chester.
The manner of his victory at Chester on his most recent start marks him down as a possible Group horse and he should be taking this race before stepping into Group company.
The HARDWICKE STAKES is the third race on the card and has a longstanding tradition.
The race is named in honour of the 5th Earl of Hardwicke, who served as the Master of the Buckhounds in the 19th century and it was first run in 1879.
Trainer Sir Michael Stoute has a tremendous record in this race, winning it ten times, and who would back against him winning it for the eleventh time with Her Majesty’s Dartmouth?
This likeable five year-old won this race last year when partnered by French ace Oliver Peslier and has shown his wellbeing by winning the Group 2 Yorkshire Cup last month.
Following that success, the Queen’s racing manger earmarked the Hardwicke Stakes as his next target and he goes there with an outstanding chance.
This year, however, he could face a tougher challenge as Aidan O’Brien intends to send Highland Reel to contest the race.
A thoroughly tough and consistent son of Galileo, this five year-old won the Gordon Stakes, the Secretariat Stakes, the Hong Kong Vase, the King George and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, the Breeders’ Cup Turf and the Coronation Stakes.
Bookmakers make him the 3/1 favourite with Dartmouth at 4/1.
Race 4 on the card is the final day’s highlight: the Group 1 DIAMOND JUBILEE STAKES run over six furlongs.
This will be fast and furious as the world’s older sprinters scorch up the Ascot turf, and the roll of honour is impressive.
It was first run in 1868 and the winners have come from far and wide, with Black Caviar winning it for Australia in 2012 and Wesley Ward taking home the prize to America when Undrafted left his field behind in 2015.
This year, the home defence looks strong with both Limato and The Tin Man pencilled in as runners.
Limato, who has won six of his 13 starts, including the Group 1 July Cup and the Group 1 Qatar Prix de la Foret, will have a new jockey when he lines up for this.
In a strange episode earlier in the season, the regular jockey, Harry Bentley (who was on board for both the Group 1 wins) was unceremoniously dumped for the ride as the horse had underperformed in its final start of last season in Dubai.
Owner Paul Jacobs attributed no blame to Jockey Bentley for the ride but has chosen to replace him insisting, “I want to take all possible steps to banish Limato’s memories of the episode, including changing the sprinter’s jockey.”
He would not be drawn on whom he has in mind to replace Bentley but most jockeys will jump at the opportunity if given the chance.
Bookmakers have priced up the Diamond Jubilee as follows;
- LIMATO 4/1 Trainer: Henry Candy
- THE TIN MAN 11/2 Trainer: James Fanshawe
- MAGICAL MEMORY 15/2 Trainer: Charlie Hills
- TASLEET 10/1 Trainer: William Haggas
- QUIET REFLECTION 10/1 Trainer: Karl Burke
The WOKINGHAM STAKES is a Heritage Handicap which is race five on the card and also over 6f.
The event is named after Wokingham, a market town several miles to the west of Ascot. It was established in 1813, and the inaugural running was won by Pointers, owned by the Duke of York. For many years the Wokingham Stakes was divided into two or three separate classes but it became a single race in 1874.
Trainer Paul Cole has a good record in this, having won it three times with Calibina in 1977, Queens Pride in 1980 and Bel Byou in 1987.
He has a possible in this year’s renewal: Upstaging, which is currently a 33/1 shot but with final declarations yet to be confirmed he is not guaranteed to get a run.
One that is sure to make the line-up is Outback Traveller, who is trained by the sprint king Robert Cowell, and bookmakers are already taking cover as after he was earmarked to take on this race his price has halved from 20/1 five days ago to just a 10/1 shot.
He will be tuned to the minute and the gamble could continue all the way up to the race.
The Curtain comes down on Ascot 2017 with the running of the QUEEN ALEXANDRA STAKES over 2 miles and 6f.
It is Britain’s longest flat race and has a place in the history books as in 1987 Gay Kelleway, riding her father’’ Sprowston
Boy, became the first female jockey to win at Royal Ascot.
Also, the legendary Brown Jack made this race his own winning, it six times from 1929 to 1934.