Tuesday 18th June sees the start of another fantastic Royal Ascot meeting with day one kicking things off in spectacular fashion. No fewer than three Group 1’s and a Group 2 get us going for the week, with the Queen Anne Stakes over a mile the traditional curtain-raiser.
Battaash v Blue Point the Day One Highlight
You really know you’re in for a wonderful day’s racing when you don’t put up Lockinge winner Mustashry in the Queen Anne or a potential clash between Phoenix Of Spain, Too Darn Hot and Magna Grecia as your highlight, but the five furlong King’s Stand Stakes could really be something else.
Battaash is enigmatic and can lose his chance at the start, but the quite awesome winner of the 2017 Abbaye and dual scorer in both the King George Stakes and Temple Stakes is the fastest thing in the world on four legs when he’s on his game and will line-up as favourite to avenge last year’s defeat behind Blue Point.
Having pinged the gates Battaash was too free last year and didn’t see his race out, though things should be different this time meaning we are in for a real speed feast on day one.
Who Will Turn Up in The Prince of Wales’s?
Wednesday’s Group 1 feature is the 1m2f Prince of Wales’s Stakes, but despite some of the game’s top names listed at the head of the betting it is so far unclear as to who and what will turn up.
It’s a rather classic time for fillies and mares, so even without the presence of Enable who waits for the Eclipse Stakes in July, we could see last year’s Arc runner-up Sea Of Class (William Haggas) take on Ireland’s best in the shape of Aidan O’Brien’s Magical.
Sir Michael Stoute has a decision to make regarding his improving five-year-old Crystal Ocean, as despite being a general 5/1 shot for this and deserving of a go at Group 1 level he is very good over one-and-a-half miles and could wait for the Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes on Saturday.
Last year’s Derby winner Masar has been off the track since his glorious Epsom victory but is another possible in this line-up, while for the same connections we cannot afford to rule out French winner Ghaiyyath.
Strad Going for Another Million
Having won the inaugural stayer’s bonus of £1million last year, Gold Cup hero Stradivarius remains on track to do it again having taken the Yorkshire Cup in fine style. He won’t have things all his own way at Ascot this time though with Mark Johnston’s Dee Ex Bee a classy and improving stayer who looks set to give him most to do.
Gold Cup day is also the unofficial “Ascot Oaks” day, but in the Ribblesdale we are again uncertain as to how many fillies from Epsom make the line-up. Pink Dogwood, Mehdaayih and Manuela De Vega are possible but look for significant improvement from Musidora runner-up Entitle.
Stoute Looking to Upset Guineas Queen
While we once more remain uncertain as to how many of Aidan O’Brien’s Derby battalion will line-up, we are sure to see his superb dual 1000 Guineas heroine Hermosa in the Coronation Stakes but she’ll have to be at her best.
Sir Michael Stoute’s Jubiloso could be anything after her demolition job at Newbury with a first Group 1 prize now in her sights. Previous classic hopefuls Maqsad and Qabala are no forlorn hopes either.
More Speed To Round Off The Festival
The Wokingham Stakes is the handicap highlight of the final day with Bacchus looking to double-up after last year’s win for Brian Meehan, but the Group 1 Diamond Jubilee has the highest quality and is a race in which Invincible Army is looking to prove he is the real deal – though he has his work cut out to beat French raider Inns Of Court.