Royal Ascot couldn’t have dreamt of a better start to its prestigious meeting today with a terrific international clash right from the off.
Queen Anne Stakes
Two of the highest rated horses in training – Solow and Able Friend (trained in France and Hong Kong respectively) – head the field for the Queen Anne Stakes, and whilst we expect the Gallic runner to come out on top in that particular clash, with the dead eight set to go to post, the each way value could prove to be a home grown talent, TOORMORE.
He was a neck second to his stablemate, Night Of Thunder, in the Lockinge recently and yet is nearly double the price in places. Both horses are said to have improved significantly from their seasonal reappearances and that means Richard Hughes’ mount could sneak a place at least at a track where he has run well in the past.
Not only do Paddy Power offer the best odds on our selection, but they are also offering to refund losing stakes, as a free bet, if your horse finishes 2nd or 3rd.
|Toormore (ew)||2.30 Ascot||8/1||Paddy Power|
Next up are the two year olds, and the Coventry Stakes, and despite a strong looking field Round Two is a relatively skinny priced favourite. He has earned the right to head the market on form, but there must be better value elsewhere.
Given his record in the race (he has trained the winner 7 times) Aiden O’Brien’s runners have to be the first port of call and AIR FORCE BLUE looks another strong contender for Coolmore. He is reported to have come on nicely for his all the way success on debut.
The Hannon and Johnston yards have powerful hands between them, but of the others WAR DEPARTMENT looked a smart prospect when spread-eagling a field at Leicester on his only start to date and appears a decent each way shot, given that William Haggas’ two year olds tend to improve for a run.
|Air Force Blue (ew)||3.05 Ascot||8/1||Titanbet|
|War Department (ew)||3.05 Ascot||9/1||Ladbrokes, BetVictor|
King’s Stand Stakes
Haggas also has a big chance in the second Group one off the day, the King’s Stand.
Lightly raced MUTHMIR has always been held in the highest regard by his inform trainer, and trip, track and ground should be ideal. He beat plenty of these at Chantilly on his latest start, but will need luck in running as he tends to be played fast and late.
The same is true of the filly, WIND FIRE, who looks worth chancing at a big price. She has shown much of her best form here and looked to be coming to hand nicely when an unlucky third in the Temple last time out.
|Muthmir (ew)||3.40 Ascot||11/2||Paddy Power, Coral|
|Wind Fire (ew)||3.40 Ascot||25/1||Paddy Power, Titanbet|
St James’s Palace Stakes
The St James’s Palace Stakes is the third Group one on the opening card of the meeting and Gleneagles will be all the rage in the market following his successes in the English and Irish 2,000 Guineas. Currently 4/6 (generally), new customers can get enhanced odds of 7/1 with Coral here.
French raider Make Believe will certainly give him plenty to think about, but at a massive price it might be worth speculating a few quid on AKTABANRAY each way. This horse loves fast ground and met trouble in running when only a couple of lengths behind Gleneagles when the pair were 3rd and 6th in the Grand Criterium at Longchamp on Arc day.
Aktabantay hasn’t run since, but his young trainer believes he has improved significantly over the winter.
|Aktabantay (ew)||4.20 Ascot||50/1||Paddy Power, BetVictor|
Our tips in the later races are:
|Ray Ward (ew)||5.00 Ascot||7/1||Paddy Power|
|Royal Irish Hussar (ew)||5.00 Ascot||33/1||Paddy Power, BetVictor|
|Ashbury Boss (ew)||5.00 Ascot||14/1||Bet365, Paddy Power, Ladbrokes, Titanbet|
|Soapy Aitken (ew)||5.35 Ascot||6/1||Paddy Power|
|Steady Pace (ew)||5.35 Ascot||13/2||Paddy Power, BetVictor|