As the Summer solstice approaches, with it brings the 3rd week of June and the return of the 5 day festival known as Royal Ascot. All races across the 5 days are shown live on Channel 4.
Last year's Royal Ascot made national headlines when the Thursday brought a Royal winner when the Queen’s horse Estimate took victory in the Ascot Gold Cup. This was the first time that one of the Queen’s horses had taken victory in the race.
This year, the Tuesday begins with the Queen Anne stakes over a straight mile which brings about the reappearance of Toronado, one of the high class mile horses from last season. Toronado’s main challenge comes from Verrazano who will be making his 2nd appearance on turf for the Ballydoyle team after spending his early career in the USA.
The race is Toronado’s to lose, but the Ballydoyle team will have enjoyed seeing the way that Verrazano finished 3rd in the Lockinge with an eye-catching final period of the race.
The 2nd Group One race of Tuesday comes with the King’s Stand race with a 5 furlong sprint. Unlucky Epsom horse Steps moves up to Group One company but the question will be whether he can be close enough entering the last furlong to be in a position for his late burst to the line. Usual top-quality suspects Shea Shea and Sole Power will again be battling for victory alongside new star Hot Streak and Guerre who seems of interest from the O’Brien team.
Guerre took a promising victory in a listed race in Ireland and is bred for a sprint, whether or not he can compete in esteemed company yet remains to be seen. 3 year-olds take a weight allowance in this race which will be of benefit to both Hot Streak and Guerre who will carry 5 pounds less than Shea Shea and Sole Power.
The third and Group One race of the day is the King’s Stand race which is another mile race, but this time it is around the round course. The 3-year old milers that battled to the top 2 in the 2000 Guineas are the number one and two in this race.
Kingman who was 2nd in the 2000 Guineas has since taken a commanding victory in the Irish 2000 Guineas whereas Night of Thunder is yet to run since that day.
Kingman is the favourite for this race and despite winning the 2000 Guineas while finishing diagonally across the track, Night of Thunder is second favourite and looks good value at the prices currently offered.
Horses that have undoubted quality but were further down the field in the Guineas were Toormore and War Command. Both would normally offer good each-way value at their prices, but with only 7 horses in the race, the each way terms make it difficult unless opposing one of the favourite.
Tips for Tuesday:
2.30 – QUEEN ANNE STAKES – Verrazano (win)
3.05 – Coventry Stakes – Capella Sansevero (each-way)
3.45 – QUEENS STAND STAKES – Hot Streak (win), Steps (each-way)
4.25 – KINGS STAND STAKES – Night of Thunder (win)
5.00 – ASCOT STAKES – Perfect Heart (each-way)
5.35 – Windsor Castle Stakes – Merdon Castle (each-way)