ROYAL ASCOT – DAY 1 (TUESDAY)
14:30 – QUEEN ANN STAKES
Ervedya bids to repeat her win at this meeting last year when she landed the Coronation Stakes for Jean Claude Rouget and Christophe Soumillon. She had a neck to spare over Found that day and despite being beaten when an odds on favourite at Longchamp last time, she will certainly improve for the run and is likely to be much fitter. This one mile trip is likely to suit her much more than the seven furlongs did on her last outing and she has to be of obvious interest.
Tepin has only suffered defeat twice in a nine race career and the five year old has proved a revelation for her trainer Mark Casse. This is her first run outside of the a United States and whilst she certainly has to prove herself on European soil, she looks a very real threat. The form of Belardo’s win in the Lockinge doesn’t look good enough and the likes of Limato has yet to conclusively prove he stays this far.
The home contingent just don’t look strong enough to take the opening prize and it looks to be between France and the USA. With course and distance winning form on her side, Ervedya may just have the ability to come out on top.
ERVEDYA (E/W if 9/2+)
15:05 – COVENTRY STAKES
Richard Hannon won this race in 2009 and 2010 and his best chance this year looks to be Mehmas who was an impressive three length winner over todays’ trip at Newbury last month, before a respectable second last time out when dropped back to the minimum trip. However, jockey Frankie Dettori doesn’t have the best of strike rates here at Ascot and a further negative from a stats point of view is that only one of the previous thirty-two renewals have produced a winner who didn’t win last time out so he is passed over today.
Silvertoni takes a step up in trip after wins over four and a half furlongs at Keeneland and five furlongs at Churchill Downs, both on dirt. Highly respected trainer Wesley Ward has saddled three winners from ten runners here at Ascot so any he sends here deserves a mention and could have place claims if handling the longer trip and new surface.
Last years’ winning trainer Mark Johnston looks to have another leading contender with the unbeaten Yalta. He beat two subsequent winners on debut and beat Wedding Dress by over four lengths when last seen, although Wedding Dress disappointed when last of five at Doncaster on Sunday. Furthermore, it remains to be seen if he’ll handle the conditions as both wins came on good ground, although this comment also applies to many of his opponents.
Psychedelic Funk has won two from two, both over six furlongs with the latest coming on yielding ground where he routed the field by six lengths. Second that day was Ambiguity who has since finished a similar distance behind Caravaggio so if the form holds true then both market principles should be pretty closely matched yet there is a distinct difference in the early markets with Caravaggio available at around 5/2 yet Psychedelic Funk still at an each way 13/2. One reason for this is that Ger Lyons’ record here at Ascot isn’t the most inspiring and has just two wins from twenty-seven runners since the turn of the month so preference is for Caravaggio.
The Aidan O’Brien trained Caravaggio produced an eye-catching display to win at The Curragh on yielding-to-soft ground, staying on strongly over the minimum trip to suggest the step up to six furlongs should suit. The trainer knows how to ready one for this race having won it three times in the last ten years and with the benefit of having raced on ground with a bit of cut he should take all the beating here.
15:40 – KINGS STAND STAKES
Mecca’s Angel will be fully at home in the underfoot condititions and she looks well placed to strike in stall five this afternoon. Paul Mulrennan renews his association with the mare and the mudloving five year can prove a class above these rivals. Whilst she meets recent Haydock conqueror Profitable on the same terms here, she is fully entitled to come on for her recent seasonal reappearance and she can improve past her old rival. She looks to have been done a massive favour with the defection of Acapulco and she looks sure to run a huge race.
Profitiable is another who will not mind the softer ground on offer today. He is improving at a rate of knots and with him only being a four year old, there is every reason to believe he can progress again. He looks the chief danger to the selection and may well well prove more than capable if Mecca’s Angel fluffs her lines. Take Cover is a fairly versatile sort and comes here following a confidence boosting win at Haydock last time. That win came in listed company but that is still too good for many of these rivals and he should have an each way squeak. The rain gods look to have answered the prayers of Michael Dods and his star mare can play the leading role on the world stage.
MECCA’S ANGEL (WIN)
16:20 – ST JAMES’S PALACE STAKES
Awtaad has won his last four including the Irish 2000 Guineas by two and a half lengths from Galileo Gold in May. This was his first attempt over a mile but he stayed on well and seems flexible with regard to ground conditions having won on good, yielding and yielding-to-soft ground.
Hugo Palmer felt Galileo Gold didn’t do himself justice in the above-mentioned race and will be keen for him to make amends here, although has only posted four winners from thirty-seven runners in the last month. It would be dangerous to rule him out especially considering he is still available at just about each way odds (he has never finished outside the top three) but preference for win purposes is The Gurkha.
The Gurkha was a wide margin winner over at Deauville, winning the Group 1 Poule D’Essai Poulains on soft ground by over five lengths. Prior to that he won a maiden on soft-to heavy ground by nine lengths (with third a further eight lengths behind) so it is no surprise to see him installed as early favourite based on these performances. Jockey Ryan Moore appears to rate his mount very highly and with a 25% winning strike rate here at Ascot over the last twelve months and an impressive level stakes profit record over the same time period his confidence could speak volumes here.
Godolphin owned Emotionless makes his seasonal re-appearance having been removed from the 2000 Guineas earlier in the season. He was hugely impressive in his first two runs last year before disappointing in the Dewhurst, although was later found to have a small chip on his knee requiring surgery. If back to his Champagne Stakes best then he would be a real contender here however I feel it would be a tough ask to win a race of this nature on seasonal re-appearance.
First Selection could only manage a midfield finish in the 2000 Guineas (won by Galileo Gold) and although improved to place second last time out he was still five lengths behind The Gurkha. He won four of his first five career runs but all were other shorter distances and he looks unlikely to reverse the form over either of the market principles at this trip.
Of the remainder, Cymric finished a short-head second in the Jean-Luc Lagardere at Longchamp last year, a length ahead of 2000 Guineas winner Galileo Gold but has largely disappointed since, while Zonderland arrives on the back of a win a listed race last month but would perhaps prefer better ground.
THE GURKHA (WIN)
17:00 – ASCOT STAKES
Jennies Jewel ought to revel in these stamina sapping conditions. There arent too many of her rivals who can boast wins at this trip and this experienced nine year old is more than capable of making her presence felt. She has never finished outside of the first two places when partnered by Ronan Whelan and given their recent demolition of a similar field at The Curragh, they have to rate high on any shortlist. This mare was placed over three miles at the Punchestown Festival on heavy ground so it would be of little surprise to see her scythe her way through the field in the closing stages.
Willie Mullins landed this last year with the useful dual purpose performer Clondaw Warrior. He relies on Pique Sous and Sempre Medici today and whilst the former is respected, he may struggle to give weight away in an event that will ebb away at his questionable stamina. Ryan Moore takes the ride so he will no doubt hold onto his mount for as long as he can before making a sustained challenge. Martin Harley comes in for the ride on the Rich Ricci owned Sempre Medici and on ground that he will love he looks to be the safer option of the pair. The likes of Galizzi and No Heretic would want much better ground than what appears to be on offer.
Jennies Jewel is as tough as teak and stays longer than the mother in law. It will come as no great shock if this prize once again went back across the Irish Sea.
JENNIES JEWEL (E/W if 9/2+)
17:35 – WINDSOR CASTLE STAKES
With twenty-four runners scheduled to go to post and five double-digit winners from the last ten renewals (one at 100/1) this looks to be a tough race to try and dissect, especially as most are entitled to improve from their first runs.
Tomily posted an impressive six length victory on soft ground at Chepstow last month, a race where third and fifth have since gone on to win. He arrives here looking for a hat-trick of wins over five furlongs and although this will be his toughest test to date he brings arguably the best form to the table. Current odds of around 14/1 make an each way bet appealing but it is worth noting that jockey Pat Dobbs has raced here at Ascot on thirty-eight occasions in the last twelve months but is yet to find a winner.
Kananee has won twice over todays’ trip and has shown enough to suggest he has the ability to get involved in a race such as this. He is partnered with jockey James Mcdonald who has made the frame in 50% of all rides at Ascot in the last twelve months and trainer Saeed Bin Suroor has a decent strike rate at Ascot having saddled four winners and six placed runners from twenty-three here over the same time period.
Aiden O’Brien and Ryan Moore teamed up to win this race last year with Washington DC and attempt to do the same again this year with Pedestal. He was a well beaten fifth on debut over six furlongs on soft ground but came out just four days later to win over five furlongs on good-to-firm ground and has to be respected for a trainer who always does well with his youngsters.
Wesley Ward has a fantastic record with his runners here at Ascot and he sends over Big City Dreamin as he hopes to gain his third winner of this race in the last eight years. Although I feel that his early price is based more on the trainer rather than his filly’s achievements to date, he obviously holds her in high regard and has stated he expects her to excel on turf. My concern would be that she would have preferred good ground but is respected regardless.
Yulong Baobei and Drafted are others worthy of a mention, while the selections can only be described as tentative based on the extremely competitive looking nature of the finale to day one at Ascot.
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