The ground looks sure to remain on the fast side of good for Day 2 of Royal Ascot which begins with the five-furlong Queen Mary Stakes for juvenile fillies.
I am writing this before the start of racing on day one so have no evidence of a potential draw bias on the straight course. Wesley Ward saddles favourite Twilight Gleaming and she clocked 56.5 seconds when winning by over 7L on fast ground last time. My two against the field, however, are Illustrating and Irish raider Quick Suzy (2.30) with the latter getting the each way vote for Gavin Cromwell.
The selection – 10s with William Hill 4 places – still showed signs of greenness when ran out of it close home over 6f last time, having burnt off all bar the winner inside the final furlong. She has a high cruising speed and I hope that she can keep tabs on Ward’s filly before outstaying the market leader. Illustrating only won an egg and spoon race at Catterick but she did so in the manner of a very exciting prospect.
Mark Johnston has a strong hand in the Queen’s Vase with the progressive pair Golden Flame and Dancing King thorough stayers. They look sure to run well but Wordsworth (3.05) is a brother of St Leger winner Kew Gardens and looks sure to get a lead today having had to make much of his own running when mugged close home by stablemate Sir Lucan at Navan last month. Aidan O’Brien has saddled the winner of this Gp 2 contest four times in the last half a dozen renewals and I hope his good run continues. The 3s with William Hill looks fair.
Lady Bowthorpe’s second in the Lockinge on soft ground is the best piece of form in the Duke Of Cambridge Stakes but there is very little pace in the race – Parent’s Prayer made all at Epsom last time – and I hope to see Double Or Bubble (3.40) make the transition from handicapper to Pattern performer. The ew selection – 9s with 10Bet 4 places – has won her last three over 7f but is bred to get this stiff mile and she raced near the speed at Newmarket on her reappearance.
The Prince Of Wales’s Stakes is my favourite – and I would argue is usually the best – race of the meeting and I am very sweet on the chance of the filly Love (4.20) who is unbeaten on good or faster ground since her racecourse debut and went through her classic season unbeaten landing the 1000 Guineas, Oaks, and Yorkshire Oaks by an aggregate of over 18L. She faces a couple of top notchers in Lord North and Armory with the Gosden gelding considered the main danger. The 7/4 available on Tuesday morning has gone and the filly is 6/4 with Boylesports at the time of posting.
The Hunt Cup is one of the big betting races of the week and the shortlist is long. Trais Fluors was a good winner at Sandown on Saturday and a 4lbs rise may not stop him if in the same mood. I thought the 28/1 with William Hill was too big on Monday.
I would not be the biggest fan of Ryan Moore on the planet, but I hope it is a red-letter day for the former champion jockey who rides Astro King (5.00) for his old boss Sir Michael Stoute. The ew recommendation ran a terrific race from a poor draw at Thirsk last time and is closely matched with favourite Finest Sound on their respective seasonal debuts at Nottingham. There was 12s available on Tuesday morning but, at the time of posting, he has been cut to a best price of 9s with BetVictor 6 places.
The filly Ruthin will be all the rage for the Windsor Castle Stakes against the boys with Dettori taking over in the plate on this daughter of Ribchester. It is one of the weakest races over the five days and not one I have a strong opinion about.
The concluding Kensington Palace Stakes takes place over the round course and the market leader Light’s On will do well to defy a draw out on the wing in stall 17. Waliyak (6.10) finished runner up in the Sandringham first time out last season and I hope to see David Egan make plenty of use of his mount. Roger Varian’s 4-y-old gets further than a mile and she did make all over a mile at Wolverhampton as a juvenile. She was slowly away on occasion last term and cannot afford such a luxury dropped back to a mile this afternoon. There was 16s available at the time of posting and that looks too big.