Royal Ascot Count down!
After a big weekend at the Investec Derby it has taken us all a few days to get over it! With the Derby done and everyone in full swing the season is non-stop, and the countdown to Royal Ascot is really on. Now I know we said the Derby is big but this week is huge! This along with the Derby is the week everyone is aiming for.
Five fantastic days of racing with 19 group races in total, all for different ages, distances and sexes. With so much top quality racing on offer it will come as no surprise that only the finest horses will be running and ridden by the best jockeys, and trained by the best trainers, people come from all over the world to run their horses here and we have already seen LADY AURELIA and co arrive on Wednesday morning from the US. Places like Hong Kong, China, Australia and the US are just some of the places we have seen people travel from before, and I am sure this year will be no different, but more on that later.
The Ascot tagline is “Like Nowhere Else”, and this has never reigned truer, there is no advertisement in the racecards or sponsored races, it’s just about the racing and its history. Some people find this stuffy and stuck up but it’s more about carrying on traditions and celebrating our history!
So with all the excitement what can you look forward to? Well we are under a week away but we have a rough idea on who will be going head to head.
The Tuesday kicks off the week in the best way with four group races one after the other. First we have The Queen Anne Stakes (Group 1) ran over 1 mile. Here we will see RIBCHESTER and LIGHTNING SPEAR go head to head once again, RIBCHESTER won very impressively at Newbury on soft ground but it will be interesting to see how he will fair on a quicker surface. LIGHTNING SPEAR is looking for good ground and keen to level the score!
King's Stand (Group 1) ran over 5F, this race always has a strong international feel and this year is no different. American speed queen LADY AURELIA, who lit up last year for Wesley Ward heads up the market. For GB we have MARSHA, another strong filly who shrugged off a penalty to win on 2000 Guineas day at Newmarket. For France, we have SIGNS OF BLESSING, a bold front runner who won on his seasonal appearance in fine style, but I think he wants some rain. PROFITABLE won this race last year and could lead a 2 prong attack from the Clive Cox yard with PRICELESS his other challenger.
The St James Palace Stakes (Group 1) ran over 1 mile, The 2000 Guineas 1-2 lock horns again, BARNEY ROY struggled with the Newmarket dip and will be hoping the flatter ground at Ascot will suit him better. CHURCHILL has since added the Irish 2000 Guineas to his CV and will be a warm order to make it 3/3 in 2017.
The Wednesday sees the older horses take to the track in The Prince of Wales Stakes (Group 1) ran over 1m 2f, JACK HOBBS has not made an appearance since winning in Dubai when the ground was on the soft side, there are some doubts as to whether he wants the ground quicker, which could put his participation in doubt. He would be the one to beat if he turns up. ULYSSES looks a horse that has really improved with age and Sir Michael Stoute's patience with this colt is starting to pay off. He won handsomely at Sandown and has been primed for the race. Elsewhere, Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup winner, DECORATED KNIGHT will look to emulate Al Kazeem who won in Ireland before claiming this race in 2013 for trainer Roger Charlton.
Thursday is ladies day and a big day for the fillies all round but biggest of all it’s Gold Cup day! The Gold Cup (Group 1) ran over 2m3f- ORDER OF ST GEORGE stormed to success in this race last year before finishing an impressive 3rd in the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and he warmed up for this year's renewal with a taking victory back in Ireland. He will be a strong favourite to claim a 2nd Gold Cup, particularly after the news that 2nd favourite Vazirabad will miss this race due to injury. St Leger heroine SIMPLE VERSE looks set to be the likeliest to dethrone Order Of St George. For me though it has to be BIG ORANGE, he always tries and rarely fails, he has been dubbed the people's horse and it’s easy to see why! He won well at Sandown and only seems to improve as long as the ground is not soft he will run an impressive race.
Friday brings two group 1 races first we have The Commonwealth Cup (Group 1) ran over 6f This looks one of the best races of the week. CARAVAGGIO represents the all-conquering Aidan O'Brien stable and this powerful colt won the Coventry Stakes at the Royal meeting last year. He limbered up for this race with a typically dominant display and looks in rude health. There are no shortage of challengers, and Godolphin have 2 classy colts to go to war with. They recently purchased HARRY ANGEL following a scintillating win at Haydock 2 weeks ago and they also have BLUE POINT who is a classy sprinter with excellent course form. All 3 are closely matched on ratings and it is easy to see why many see this as the stand-out race of the week, making it even tougher to pick a winner.
The Coronation Stakes (Group 1) 1m- Dual-1000 Guineas heroine, WINTER looks an absolute certainty for Aidan O'Brien here, particularly with 1000 Guineas 2nd Rhododendron heading to France for the French Oaks. The French 1000 Guineas winner, PRECIEUSE, needs to be supplemented for the race but looks to be the best Each Way option against the favourite.