Ascot Racecourse

Royal Ascot: The Countdown is on

2015-06-11
Royal Ascot is the richest flat meeting in Britain with eighteen Group races and over £5.5 million in prize money on offer. Here is a preview of some of the highlights at this year’s five-day festival.

Tuesday

ascot 1

The Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes opens the meeting and recent winners include Goldikova (2010) and Frankel (2012). This year’s renewal features the French ace Solow and Hong Kong’s Champion miler Able Friend.

Both horses are unbeaten in their last six starts with Able Friend having won four Group 1 races and over £4million in prize money. Solow won his first Group 1 with an impressive victory in Dubai this spring before following up at Longchamp last month. The home defence is led by the Richard Hannon-trained duo, Night Of Thunder and Toormore, first and second in the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury.

The King’s Stand Stakes also has an International flavour with Australia’s Shamal Wind taking on the best of Europe’s sprinters. Ryan Moore has been booked for the ride in a race that Australia has won on four previous occasions. The evergreen Sole Power looks likely to get his favoured fast ground while Muthmir bids to step up to Group 1 company for the first time.

Gleneagles will be expected to confirm his status as the best miler in training in the St James’s Palace Stakes. He will need to be at his best to defeat the Andre Fabre-trained pair, Territories and Make Believe. The former finished second in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket while Make Believe is expected to be supplemented after his win in the French Guineas.

Wednesday

Jim Bolger’s Round Two is a warm favourite to win Wednesday’s Coventry Stakes for Ireland. He won a Listed race at the Curragh last month and bids to emulate Dawn Approach who won this race for the stable in 2012. He went on to win the 2000 Guineas the following season and Bolger has made no secret of the fact that he believes Round Two could be in that class.

Integral bids to win the Duke Of Cambridge Stakes for the second consecutive year for Sir Michael Stoute. Last year’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner California Chrome is the star attraction in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes. He was beaten in the Dubai World Cup on his most recent start and opposition includes fancied Irish raider Free Eagle. Ryan Moore is expected to partner The Grey Gatsby who bids to redeem his reputation after a disappointing run in Ireland.

The big betting race of the day is the Royal Hunt Cup with David Elsworth’s Speculative Bid trying to follow up his dramatic win in the Victoria Cup. Newbury Spring Cup winner Ayaar and unlucky Epsom loser Abseil are among his possible opponents.

Thursday

Richard Hannon’s King Of Rooks, a very impressive winner of the National Stakes at Sandown, is likely to be a hot favourite for the Norfolk Stakes in the opening race on Thursday.

The Ascot Gold Cup is the feature race with Dermot Weld’s unbeaten Forgotten Rules the ante-post favourite. He won the Champions Long Distance Cup in October but will not be risked on fast ground.

Mizzou and Clever Cookie have emerged as serious contenders this season. Luca Cumani’s Mizzou beat Vent De Force in the Group 3 Sagaro Stakes here in April and the runner-up went on to take the Henry II Stakes at Sandown last month. Clever Cookie beat Tac De Boistron in soft ground at Chester in the Ormonde Stakes but needs similar conditions if he is to take his chance on Thursday.

The globetrotting Brown Panther and Simenon will also attract plenty of support. Brown Panther delighted connections with his game second in the Yorkshire Cup under a penalty and had previously won the Dubai Gold Cup.

The versatile Simenon was narrowly beaten by Her Majesty The Queen’s Estimate in 2013 and finished fourth behind Leading Light last year. He ran a pleasing trial at Sandown when finishing fifth after a lengthy lay-off through injury.

Friday

The Commonwealth Cup looks like being one of the most competitive Group 1 races of the week. Limato lost his unbeaten record to Adaay at Haydock last time out and the pair are set to renew rivalry. Richard Hannon’s Tiggy Wiggy reverts to sprinting after finishing a creditable third in the 1000 Guineas while Breeders’ Cup winner Hootenanny represents America.

The Coronation Stakes could see a clash between top Irish fillies, Found and Lucida, second in the Irish and English 1000 Guineas respectively. French Guineas winner Ervedya is unlikely to be risked on fast ground.

Saturday

The meeting concludes on Saturday with Telescope bidding to repeat his scintillating seven-length win in the Hardwicke Stakes. Sir Michael Stoute’s five-year-old looked right back to his best when sauntering to a wide-margin victory at Newbury last month.

The Diamond Jubilee Stakes does not have a Black Caviar this year but Australia’s Brazen Beau is likely to start favourite. The colt will be Chris Waller’s first Royal Ascot runner and is bidding to follow up his win in the valuable Newmarket Handicap at Flemington in March. Compatriot Wandjina, trained by Gai Waterhouse, and Dermot Weld’s Mustajeeb are among his main rivals.

Punters will be hoping to find the winner of the Wokingham Handicap to finish the week in profit. Roger Charlton’s Huntsmans Close looks to have been laid out for this race and David O’Meara’s Algar Lad will also be popular after his fluent win at York’s Dante meeting.