Monday, June 19, 2017

Royal Ascot - Day 1

"WINGS OF EAGLES"!!! Hope you got on this Derby touch at 40/1 as mentioned on these pages. Certainly the biggest punt ever mentioned here yet. With the Derby done and dusted (and the result celebrated as it should be!), we now move focus on Ascot week, the highlight for many of the Flat season. Here are my thoughts on some of the races.

In the Queen Anne Stakes, Ribchester is a warm odds-on favourite. It's true this is not a vintage renewal and the races misses the allure of superstar milers of the past. My only concern with Ribchester is that winners of the Lockinge don't have a good record in this race over the past years. My speculation is that Lockinge winners peak early in the season and are exposed thereafter. If there is a horse that can trouble the Godolphin horse, it's Lightning Spear from the Simcock stable. This son of Pivotal was a clear second in the Lockinge on his seasonal return on his less-favoured soft surface. The better conditions at Ascot will be to his advantage but whether that is enough for him to make up the 3 lengths gap from Ribchester remains to be seen. At current odds, Lightning Spear looks like a solid each-way punt.

In the St James Palace Stakes, it's hard to see beyond the 2 market leaders Churchill and Barney Roy, arguably the 2 best milers of the Classic crop. Churchill reigned supreme in both Guineas beating the same Barney Roy at Newmarket and fellow Godolphin miler Thunder Snow at the Curragh. The son of Galileo has a near-flawless record and is the deserved favourite of the race. Should he falter, Barney Roy looks set to pick up the pieces. He still managed to be one length or so off Churchill at Newmarket while struggling with the undulations of the course. Having stayed away from the Irish showpiece, he will be well rested for this race. His connections are bullish and I certainly cannot see him out of the first 2 spots; he will either win or come out second to Churchill.

Wesley Ward, the American trainer with an amazing record at Ascot, is in again and this time with his strongest contingent yet. I think he is in a big shout to add to his tally. In the Coventry stakes, the odds of Arawak look very appealing. The trainer has found a niche of running precocious fast American colts against less-developed European counterparts and Arawak can do him justice yet again. Might be worth an each-way punt.

In the King's Stand stakes, there is a lot of buzz around Ward's Lady Aurelia and if the very fast daughter of Scat Daddy is on song, there is not one of the 17 runners that will match up with her blazing speed. Bar an accident, she should repeat as a Royal Ascot winner.

Win: Lady Aurelia
Win or Top 2: Barney Roy
Each-way: Lightning Spear, Arawak

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