Queen Anne Stakes, 2.30

As if there aren’t enough big field handicaps at Royal Ascot, we begin the week with a 16-runner Group One that is 5/1 the field!

It appeared at Newbury in the Lockinge – in which plenty of these ran – that Sir Michael Stoute had finally found the key to Mustashry. He had been beset by lots of niggly problems throughout his career, but finally had a clear run and was able to show what he could do.

Quite how much more there is to come from him is anybody’s guess. He was well beaten in the Britannia when fancied a few years ago but does have an Ascot win to his name.

I don’t think there’s any question which horse has the best course record though – and with that in mind I think ACCIDENTAL AGENT has a good chance of reversing the Lockinge form.

He finished third at Newbury, just behind Laurens who was also having her first run of the season, but Eve Johnson Houghton wanted to get a run into him so he was bound to be lacking for sharpness in such a tough race.

That he was able to run so well, the first time he proved he was a genuine class horse since winning this last year, was a massive bonus. With that run under his belt, he is surely entitled to come on a couple of lengths.

Le Brivido is surely the wrong favourite. He was marginally unlucky in the Lockinge but certainly wouldn’t have won, so he’s likely priced up solely on the fact he’s trained by Aidan O’Brien.

I also couldn’t back Barney Roy, personally. I feel the form of his two runs since his comeback is miles away from what is required here. Were he a double figure price I may think differently but at around the 5/1 mark I’m quite prepared to let him go and win without my money on.

Hazapour seems particularly under-priced. Just like Accidental Agent I think Laurens is perfectly entitled to improve for the run and there won’t be much between the two again, but there is in their respective prices, hence the preference for last year’s winner.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Romanised hit the frame at an insulting price, either. Basically, it’s as wide open as the betting suggests!


Coventry Stakes, 3.05

If Arizona wins this for Aidan O’Brien, what price will Sunday Sovereign go off later in the week having beaten him on his debut?

While Arizona had clearly taken a big leap forward on his second run, he was entitled to beat a couple of stablemates who were making their own debuts and it is difficult to weigh up the form as neither have run since and the second takes him on again here.

It was hard not to be impressed with Archie Watson’s Guildsman, a six-length winner at Goodwood. That being said, the race didn’t look strong and while Watson has had an unbelievable season with his juveniles, they don’t tend to improve with experience.

One trainer who appears to have changed his method with juveniles is Richard Hannon. When he first started, you could guarantee his two-year-olds would be hard fit first time out but he definitely leaves something to work on now – so it was particularly impressive how THREAT beat two Godolphin runners at Newmarket on his debut.

Hannon has been very bullish in the lead up to the race and he looks a classy type.


King’s Stand Stakes, 3.40

With the first three from last year all meeting again, we should be in for another cracker.

Realistically, I think it rests between those three again but I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Soldier’s Call muscle his way in.

Of course Battaash once again looked almost unbeatable at Haydock on his comeback but can he back it up? That is the million dollar question. Haydock was his first run since a wind op and also first time out this season. In four seasons of racing he has won first time up on each occasion so he is clearly best when fresh.

Last year I think Jim Crowley rode him to beat Lady Aurelia and burned her off two furlongs out only to be picked off by Blue Point. Staying on rapidly behind them was MABS CROSS, though, and now she is well and truly established at this level she can be backed with confidence.

She never runs a bad race, is 5lb better off with Battaash from Haydock for just over three lengths and if any of those forecast thunder showers hit she will be right at home. With two runs in the bank she will be at peak fitness and the stiff Ascot finish will suit her much better than Haydock’s flat plains.

If only she was 20-1 like last year!


St James’s Palace Stakes, 4.20

While Phoenix Of Spain showed smart form as a juvenile, he has either improved half a stone from two to three – which is possible – or the rest of the GB and Irish crop are not much cop.

Too Darn Hot could quite conceivably turn the tables after the Irish Guineas came just nine days on from his comeback in the Dante over 10 furlongs, but I just think it looks like he was a very mature two-year-old and the rest have simply caught up.

I personally feel the best three-year-old miler in Europe is Persian King, and the horse who has got closest to him is SHAMAN.

He’s playing away from home which makes life tough but prior to his run in the French Guineas he had won a Listed and a Group Three in the manner of a rapidly improving horse.

I also wouldn’t totally dismiss ROYAL MARINE at a huge price, given he won a Group One last year. He ran a really nice race in the Craven under a penalty when Christophe Soumillon was caught in a pocket before staying on, but then he totally bombed out in the Guineas.

He could have been brought back in at a much lower level somewhere but he must be pleasing at home to be running in this.


Ascot Stakes, 5.00

ULSTER should give us a run for our money in the Ascot Stakes.

He gave chase in vain behind Austrian School in a valuable race up at Musselburgh last time out, proving that he was just as effective on turf. Put away since then for this, his mark is feasible and he had subsequent Chester Cup winner Making Miracles behind him up in Scotland.

At a bigger price the veteran FUN MAC was not disgraced in the Chester Cup, a race in which nothing much got involved. He’s run well without getting too close in this for the past few years and was second off 98 way back in 2015. He’s now running off 91 so is entitled to get involved.


Wolferton Stakes, 5.35

This race has a strange shape to it now it is no longer a handicap, and there are a few in here who are very much at home competing at Group One level.

One of those is MAGIC WAND and as long as she is fit enough to do herself justice, she should be able to win getting the sex allowance.

Winner of the Ribblesdale Stakes last year, she went on to be second in two Group Ones in France and her last two races have been in Dubai and America where yet again she ran with plenty of credit. Her rating of 108 does not set an unreasonably high standard but coupled with a 5lb allowance it certainly makes her harder to beat.

Her draw in stall 14 is not very helpful though so I also want RIVEN LIGHT onside because the dual purpose performer was flying home on his return to action in a Listed race to take second, his first run for over 200 days. He should improve for that and looks a big player for Willie Mullins.


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