Royal Ascot – Racing Preview
One of the highlights of the British sporting summer is underway as racegoers head to Royal Ascot for a five-day showcase of spectacular racing.
Here’s our quickfire preview of some of the highlights across the week…
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Queen Anne Stakes
In a wide field, Rhododendron starts off as a firm favourite in this race after recent success in the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury and looks in peak condition for another strong run here. Strong competition could come from the likes of Benbati and Recoletos.
Lightning Spear also ran Rhododendron close at Newbury, so his chances can’t be discounted.
St James’s Palace Stakes
It’s a competitive looking field for the St James’s Palace Stakes, but legendary jockey Frankie Dettori has been talking up his chances of winning aboard early race favourite Without Parole.
He’ll face a stern test of his credentials up against the aptly-named Tip Two Win as well as U S Navy Flag, trained by Aidan O’Brien.
Romanised is another intriguing one to watch – a surprise winner of last month’s Irish 2,000 Guineas.
Prince of Wales’s Stakes
Most experts are anticipating a storming run from Cracksman in the Prince of Wales, reflected in his position as overwhelming favourite in this Grade 1 race.
The Godsen-trained four-year-old leads a limited field in this race, and loves this track, having won the Champion Stakes in October, but will need to keep Poet’s Word at bay, his nearest challenger on that occasion. Aidan O’Brien’s hopes will rest on Cliffs of Moher.
Ascot Gold Cup
Fittingly in a World Cup year where you can’t move for bunting and flags, Order of St George leads the field for one of the most prestigious races of the week, the Gold Cup. Agonisingly close to victory last year when he was just squeezed out by Big Orange, the six-year-old will be hoping to go one better this time around. The impressive Stradivarius, another Dettori ride, is likely to run him close.
If either of those two experience an off-day, Vazirabad has shown he can stay the distance and has demonstrated class in his native France, as a two-time winner of the Prix Royal Oak and the 2017 Prix du Cadran champion.
With 28 horses declared, the Commonwealth Cup can be one of the more lively races in Ascot’s line-up, but there are any number of interesting contenders who could emerge from this six-furlong race victorious.
Equilateral, owned by Khalid Abdullah, has been tipped to make a seamless transition up to Group One level after some impressive run-outs this season, whilst Sioux Nation recently blew the competition away at the Lacken Stakes at Naas and looks one of the classiest runners in the field.
The Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock is a good barometer for this race, and Sands of Mali, trained by Richard Fahey, took the win from Invincible Army. Both will jostle for position once again in the Commonwealth Cup.
A major highlight of Friday at Royal Ascot, this year’s field looks particularly mouth-watering, with no clear favourite ahead of the 7f 213y race.
After winning the Irish 1000 Guineas, Alpha Centauri is unsurprisingly one of the lead contenders, whilst Clemmie and Teppai also have strong claims.
Billesdon Brook pulled off one of the shocks of the calendar year in winning the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket as a rank outsider and will be looking to prove that run was no fluke.
Diamond Jubilee Stakes
Rounding off Royal Ascot with a flourish as the highlight of the final day, the field is wide open for this year’s Diamond Jubilee Stakes.
Harry Angel looks a class act in this field, with a hat-trick of wins at the July Cup, Haydock Sprint Cup and the Duke of York Stakes over the last year.
Aussie rough diamond Merchant Navy is expected to run well, whilst another horse from Down Under, Redkirk Warrior, has real pedigree having won two of Australia’s most prestigious sprints, the Lighting Stakes and Newmarket Handicap.
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