Opening day of the hottest Royal Ascot meeting for many a year and the main bet of the day just has to be on the colour of the Queen’s hat. No, not really.
Two of the Group 1s on today’s card feature odds-on favourites and doubles will be the order of the day across the country, starting with Ribchester in the Queen Anne Stakes at 2.30.
This Richard Fahey trained 4-y-o is already a dual Group 1 winner and was impressive when winning the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury last month, beating Lightning Spear by nearly four lengths. The score between the two is now 5-0 in favour of Ribchester and although the faster ground conditions will help David Simcock’s horse, you’d be brave to think that a reverse is on the cards.
Third in the betting is the William Haggas trained Mutakayyef which was nearly 5 lengths behind Ribchester last time out at Meydan and is unlikely to make that much up this afternoon.
After that, it’s 12-1 bar three and while we can’t recommend a single on the Fav at the cramped odds, let’s put it away until we consider the aforementioned double.
We can’t start the day without a bet, though, so we recommend a small e/w investment on Miss Temple City at 28-1.
Trained in the U.S. of A by H Graham Motion (no, me neither) this 5-y-o mare will be ridden by Edgar Prado, who has taken time off from conducting his orchestra and running his museum to come to Ascot for the mount. She is a triple Group1 winner, all on quick ground and has run with great credit at this meeting for the past two years. If anything, this consistent mare has improved with age and just might surprise a few of the more fancied runners.
The other Banker of the day is the prolific Churchill, who has won his last 4 Group 1 races, including the Guineas ‘double and is a best priced 4-6 to continue his winning streak. Chief and possibly only rival is the Godolphin owned Barney Roy, who was beaten just a length by Churchill at Newmarket after stumbling in the dip and then running on strongly to the line. Not seen since, there may not be much between them today, but our opinion is that the Aiden O’Brien trained favourite will again just prevail.
With nothing else in this race in with a shout, it’s prudent to shove a few quid on the Ribchester-Churchill double at 9-4 (ish) on the grounds that sometimes the obvious is the thing to do.
As for the rest of the card, the Coventry Stakes at 3.05 can be covered with a win bet on Brother Bear at 5-1 and small e/w stakes on Haddaf at 40-1 and Headway at 28s.
The King’s Stand Stakes burn-up at 3.40 should see Wesley War’s Lady Aurelia come home in splendid isolation and a win bet at 4-1 is the advice.
The only handicap today is the Ascot Stakes over 2m4f, for which the joint favourites are the Willie Mullins’ trained Thomas Hobson and Alan King’s Who Dares Wins at 5-1. Sometimes in this game you just have to stick your neck out and wait for it to be chopped off, so let’s say that a horse that doesn’t stay 2m4f over hurdles, won’t stay 2m4f WITHOUT hurdles, so a line can go through the Irish contender.
Alan King is likely to win this race, but not with the joint favourite. Consistent though WDW is, the current rating and extreme trip may find it out and we much prefer the chances of the trainer’s other two, Oceane and Rainbow Dreamer. The former is a course winner and has been placed over this trip, while Rainbow has been targeted at this event since its win at Newbury in April. At 14-1 and 16-1 respectively we can afford to go each way both and, by throwing in a small win bet on Nicky Henderson’s charge Beyond Conceit at 6-1 we have the race covered.
The final race on the card is filed under ‘too difficult’.
Let battle commence.