Royal Ascot preview & predictions
Royal Ascot is here again – one of the most hotly anticipated meetings on the UK Flat racing calendar.
With 35 races over the five days, there’s top-quality action every day, and we’ve taken a closer look at the eight Group 1 races that will be taking place this week.
Queen Anne Stakes – Tuesday
The opening race of Royal Ascot is the Queen Anne Stakes – a Group 1 contest run over a mile for horses aged four years and older.
It’s a race that has been won by some high-quality over the years, including Dubai Destination, Goldikova and mighty Frankel, who demolished the field in 2012.
And Baaeed is a short price to join the list of esteemed winners as he looks to continue his perfect eight victories from eight career starts.
His last three victories have been in Group 1 company, including over this course and distance when landing the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes in October, and he’s the one they all have to beat in this year’s Queen Anne.
King’s Stand Stakes – Tuesday
The King’s Stand is all about speed, and it’s raced over the minimum distance of 5f.
It’s a race regularly targeted by horses trained abroad, and this year sees the American-trained Golden Pal heading the betting currently.
Trainer Wesley Ward won the King’s Stand in 2017 with Lady Aurelia, and Golden Pal will arrive at Royal Ascot on the back of three straight victories in the US.
St James’s Palace Stakes – Tuesday
The final Group 1 race on the opening day is the St James’s Palace Stakes, and it’s a race that is limited to three-year-old colts only.
This means it regularly sees horses that have run in the English, Irish and French 2000 Guineas, and this year is no different.
The English 2000 Guineas winner Coroebus is the current favourite for the St James’s Palace Stakes, and it’s hard to oppose him.
He looked like a horse to follow when winning at Newmarket, and it would be a big shock if he failed to win this week.
Prince of Wales’s Stakes – Wednesday
The only Group 1 on the second of Royal Ascot is the Prince of Wales’s Stakes – a key race for the older middle-distance horses.
It offers them a chance to compete amongst themselves at Group 1 level before the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown and the Juddmonte International at York later in the summer, for which the three-year-olds are also eligible.
Some top-class horses have won the race over the years, including Dubai Millennium and Highland Reel, and last year’s race was won by Love, trained by Aidan O’Brien.
The Sir Michael Stoute-trained Bay Bridge heads the betting this year on the back of an excellent autumn and winning reappearance in the Brigadier Gerard at Sandown.
Gold Cup – Thursday
The Gold Cup is the feature race of day three at Royal Ascot, and it’s the premier staying race of the UK Flat calendar.
Run over 2 miles and three furlongs, the Gold Cup is an extreme test of stamina and is the first leg of the Stayers’ Triple Crown, followed by the Goodwood Cup and the Doncaster Cup.
All eyes will be on Stradivarius this year as he looks to regain his Gold Cup crown, having won the race in 2018, 2019, and 2020.
Commonwealth Cup – Friday
The Commonwealth Cup is exclusively for three-year-old horses, and it’s run over 6f.
Introduced in 2015, it’s the only Group 1 flat race in the UK for three-year-olds that allows geldings to compete, and the US-trained Lady Campanile won last year’s race.
This year’s renewal looks like a wide-open contest, though, with the ante-post betting currently headed by Perfect Power, who was down the field in the 2000 Guineas last time out but drops down in trip here.
Coronation Stakes – Friday
The Coronation Stakes is limited to female horses aged three years old, so it features horses that have run in the English, Irish, and French 1000 Guineas.
However, the betting for this year’s Coronation Stakes is headed by Inspiral, who is yet to be seen on the racecourse this season.
She was the ante-post favourite for the 1000 Guineas over the winter but missed Newmarket due to a setback, and connections will be hoping their patience will be rewarded this week.
Platinum Jubilee Stakes – Saturday
The final Group 1 contest at Royal Ascot is the Platinum Jubilee Stakes, run on Saturday.
It’s run over 6f and is part of the Global Sprint Challenge, and in recent year’s jockey Ryan Moore has been the man to follow – winning the race three times in the last six years.
This year sees horses from the US and Australia potentially lining up in what looks like a red-hot renewal.