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By Benjamin Leo
20th June 2017 at 1:47pm

Top hats and three-piece suits at the ready – Royal Ascot 2017 kicks off today!

A five-day festival of racing elegance awaits at the Berkshire track and Marathonbet has all the important markets covered.

The world’s finest equine talent, their owners, trainers and jockeys are all set to shimmer in the sunshine as Britain’s most valuable race meeting promises another edition of thrills and spills.

The big question is: are YOU going to be getting a slice of all that cash?

There are 18 Group races – eight of them Group One – for punters to try and fill their boots in.

Here’s Marathonbet’s official look at the big ones coming up from Tuesday to Saturday.

DID YOU KNOW?

More than 50,000 bottles of champagne, 2,400kg of beef sirloin, nearly 3,000 lobsters and 1000kg of clotted cream will be devoured at Royal Ascot this week?

TUESDAY:

2.30 Queen Anne Stakes (Group 1, 1m)

Blinding sunshine over recent days makes day one all about those fast-ground specialists.It’s going to run quick out there – despite clerk of the course Chris Stickels feeling prudent to turn on the taps last week in a bid to soften things up. With that in mind, you have to ask whether Queen Anne Stakes favourite RIBCHESTER (8/11) is going to enjoy conditions as much as we have on the beach this week. It bombed on its only start on firm ground last year in the Qatar Sussex Stakes at Goodwood but has arguably flourished since then. The odds-on four-year-old is one of three Goldolphin entries alongside Toscanini and the Charlie Hills-trained Dutch Connection, but a smart each-way punt away from the favourite could be found in Mutakayyef, who has finished in the first three in 14 of his 15 career starts. Consistent.

 

3.40 King’s Stand Stakes (Group 1, 5f)

This one is fast and frantic over the minimum trip – the 100m of horse racing.

No horse aged over seven has won this in the past 40 years, ruling out the likes of Goldream, Mediciean Man and Take Cover. Fillies and mares also have a poor record  in this over the last decade, with just one female winner out of the last ten renewals. However that could change this time around when MARSHA (3/1) takes to the stalls. Sir Mark Prescott’s charge proved too good at the Prix de l’Abbaye at Chantilly in October before giving weight away to decent rivals in Palace House at Newmarket in April. She’s 7lbs better off in this one and can get the better of last year’s Queen Mary winner Lady Aurelia.

 

4.20PM – St James’s Palace Stakes (Group 1, 1m)

Guineas destroyer CHURCHILL (4/6) could polish off a dream Day One treble of favourites alongside the above two selections if he obliges here.

The one-mile hero is a four-time Group 1 winner and stormed home latest in the Irish 2,000 Guineas at Curragh three weeks ago. Barring a catastrophe, Barney Roy looks like he’ll follow Aidan O’Brien’s charge home while Thunder Snow, who finished two-and-a-half lengths behind Churchill in the Irish 2,000 Guineas, is a larger each-way chance.

This race doesn’t tend to be one for the outsiders. Fifteen of the last fifteen winners of this race returned 9/1 or shorter in the betting while 10 of 15 returned 11/4 or shorter in the betting.

 

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WEDNESDAY:

2.30 – Jersey Stakes (Group 3) (CLASS 1) (3yo) 7f

Plenty of good horses have won this race in recent years, most notably Ribchester in 2016, but just two favourites have obliged in the last 15 renewals. The average SP of the winner over that same period is a huge 10/1, which should cause concern for market principals Le Brivido, Dream Castle and Daban, who all look very short in the betting. CHESSMAN ran well in a handicap at Newbury earlier in the season and with a bit of improvement could return decent each way money at 16/1.

 

4.20 – The Prince of Wales´s Stakes (Group 1) 1m2f

My Dream Boat scored here last year in a surprise win at 16/1 for trainer Clive Cox but the chances of further favourite-bashing look slim this time around. Three horses all look to have a chance of taking glory, with the market led by Dubai Sheema Classic winner JACK HOBBS (11/4). John Gosden’s five-year-old finished third in a large Champions Stakes field here last year and with five-year-olds tending to go well in this, might just get the better of Highland Reel and Ulysses. Frankie Dettori, who partners the latter, has ridden just two winners of this race in the last 15 years.

 

THURSDAY:

3.40 – Ribblesdale Stakes (Group 2) (Fillies) (CLASS 1) (3yo) 1m 4f

Thursday is Ladies Day, so what better time to introduce a race just for Ascot’s finest females. We’re talking about the equines, of course, who line up in this fillies-only clash over one-and-a-half miles.

It’s open to three-year-old horses only and is headed this year by last year’s winning trainer Aidan O’Brien, who sends out Alluringly. She was beaten just over a length in the Cheshire Oaks by Enable in May and came third at a big price in the Oaks earlier this month. Sir Michael Stoute’s Mori could also find herself in contention if repeating her solid performance in a Listed race at Goodwood however NAUGHTY OR NICE looks attractive at the bigger prices. John Oxx’s unbeaten filly races in England for the first time and could find plenty of improvement off the back of winning a 13f Listed effort at Navan last month.

 

4.20 – Gold Cup (Group 1) (CLASS 1) (4yo+) 2m4f

Irish handler Aidan O’Brien is prolific in this race, having trained the winner in 2016, 2014, 2011, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006. He sends out odds-on favourite and last year’s winner ORDER OF ST GEORGE on Thursday and the smart money says he’ll make it a double this week. The versatile five-year-old has bags full of stamina and is a devout stayer – but also proved his worth in middle distances when finishing behind stablemates Found and Highland Reel in the Arc over a mile and a half in October. He has tasted defeat, no less to Gold Cup challenger Torcedor who triumphed in the Vintage Crop Stakes in his first debut season, but if there’s going to be an upset it could be found elsewhere. Qatar Goodwood Cup winner Big Orange warmed up for this by winning the Matchbook VIP Henry II Stakes at Ascot in May and looks likely to follow the favourite home.

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FRIDAY:

3.40 – The Commonwealth Cup (Group 1) (Class 1) (3yo) 6f

This one is for top three-year-old sprinters to put their credentials to the test over six furlongs. Quiet Reflection (7-4f) won the race last year for trainer Karl Burke and jockey Dougie Costello and it looks like another short-priced favourite could oblige again in the form of CARAVAGGIO. Originally targeted for the French 2,000 Guineas, trainer Aidan O’Brien decided to swerve a trip to the continent for Royal Ascot after being left impressed with the horse’s work at home. The horse’s unbeaten run was extended in the Lacken Stakes at Naas last month, with his handler boldly announcing: “We’ve never seen one quicker than him.” Harry Angel and Blue Point make bids for glory but this should be done and dusted in just over 70 seconds.

 

4.20 – Coronation Stakes (British Champions Series) (Group 1) (Fillies) (CLASS 1) (3yo) 1m

Ladies once again take centre stage at Ascot in this one-mile contest for top three-year-old fillies. It’s that man Aidan O’Brien again who looks likely to end Friday on a high if his dominant charge WINTER can continue her rout of the three-year-old division this campaign. A winner of the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket and the Irish edition at Curragh, the horse now has another Group 1 in her sights if she can just navigate her way past John Gosden’s Dabyah – a winner of the Dubai Duty Free Stakes at Newbury in April who finished more than two lengths behind Winter at Newmarket in the Guineas. There have been no winners from stall one in this race over the last 11 outings while nine of the last 11 winners came from stalls five or higher.

 

SATURDAY:

4.20 – Diamond Jubilee Stakes (Group 1) (CLASS 1) (3yo+) 6f

With hundreds of thousands of pounds in prize money up for grabs, only the world’s best sprinters dare line up in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes on Royal Ascot’s final day of racing. It’s a frantic six-furlong bout sure to get punters off their seats for one of the final times of the festival.

What’s best is there’s plenty of value to be had in the betting, with no clear favourite dominating the market. Last year’s Commonwealth Cup winner Quiet Reflection looks to taste victory in Berkshire for a second year running while there are questions over market principal Limato, who finished tenth of 12 – more than ten lengths behind winner The Right Man – on his seasonal reappearance at Meydan in March. THE TIN MAN backers can be confident of a shout, with their horse producing a career-best when whining the Champions Sprint Stakes ahead of Growl, Brando, Signs of Blessing and Quiet Reflection at Ascot in October. Tassels had him back behind at the Duke of York Stakes last month but it was the horse’s seasonal reappearance. With his first run behind him and back on level weights, James Fanshawe’s charge looks a decent price to at least place here.

The average winning SP in the last 15 years in this race is 13/1, while 11 of the last 14 victors FAILED to win their last race.

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