Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh
It is less than a
month till the most grand event in the flat racing calendar takes
place – Royal Ascot 2017. Top hat and tails are the standard
gentlemen’s wear for the meeting, while the female species will
be dressing up in their finery to make the five-day festival a sight
to behold, on and off the track.
As you would
expect, a Royal presence will be at Ascot for the meeting, as Queen
Elizabeth II and other members of the British Royal Family will
arrive each day in a horse-drawn carriage, with the Royal procession
taking place at the start of each race day and the raising of the
Queen's Royal Standard. Over 300,000 racegoers will attend Royal
Ascot in what promises to be another fine showcase of racing.
With 30 races to
take place over the five days, it has been a little difficult to
choose, but here below is a brief preview on four of the more
interesting contests over the festival to whet the appetite.
Queen Anne Stakes
– Tuesday 20th June
The race is run
over a distance of one mile for four year olds and over, and is
always a popular betting heat given it is the first race of the five
day meeting and the
tipsters are always eager to get off to a winning start. Former
winners include the legendary Frankel (2012) along with French
raiders, Solow (2015) and Tepin claiming the last two renewals.
Ribchester, owned by Godolphin and trained by Richard Fahey, is the
current market leader at around 7/4 after an impressive win in the
Lockinge Stakes at Newbury recently and sets a strong benchmark.
Minding, who beat
Ribchester in last years’ QEII Stakes at Ascot last October, is
another potential challenger, but also has the option of moving up to
ten furlongs in the Prince of Wales Stakes the following day. Galileo
Gold will have to put a below-par performance in the Lockinge behind
him if the former Guineas winner is to feature, while Aidan O’Brien’s
Springs is offered up as a lively outsider.
Stand Stakes – Tuesday 20th June
The sprint race
over five furlongs for three year olds and upwards is part of the
Global Sprint Challenge with some of the leading contenders from
overseas taking part in this dash to the winning post. Recent winners
include the legendary Irish sprinter, Sole Power who won back-to-back
in 2013-14, while Profitable
won last year’s event from largely unheralded trainer,
Clive Cox. American handler Wesley Ward has Lady Aurelia at the head
of the betting at the best price of 9/2, while his recent inmate,
Acapulco, now trained at Ballydoyle with Aidan O’Brien can be
had at 5/1.
Sir Mark Prescott
has the fast improving Marsha also at around the 5/1 mark, while
Signs of Blessing is the first French trained horse near the head of
the betting, trained by Francois Rohaut. Profitable can be had at
around 16/1 to replicate the win of last year.
Ascot Gold Cup –
Thursday 22nd June
Trainer Aidan O'Brien
Raced over a marathon trip of two miles and four furlongs, the Ascot
Gold Cup is the true test of stamina for flat thoroughbred horses.
Superstar Irish trainer, Aidan
O’Brien has farmed this race in recent years with seven of
the past eleven winners. Yeats won four on the bounce from 2006-09,
while Fame And Glory (2011) and Leading Light (2014) have also
claimed the spoils. Last year’s winner, aptly named, Order of
St. George is another Ballydoyle inmate and is the ante-post
favourite at the top price of 15/8 with leading bookmakers.
challenger, Vazirabad is next in the betting for trainer, Alain De
Royer-Dupre at 7/1, but is yet to be tried at the marathon distance.
Ralph Beckett’s Simple Verse is another potential runner,
without experience over the distance but could show further
improvement as a five-year-old at 12/1.
Stakes – Saturday 24th June
The final Group 1
of the meeting takes place over six furlongs and is for four year
olds and upwards. The Diamond Jubilee is often a race with a plethora
of runners, with many horses ground dependent on their chances. With
little hope of offering the winner for such a difficult contest to
fathom, we will just suggest some to keep an eye on for future
reference. Henry Candy’s stable star, Limato currently heads
the early betting at 5/1.
and The Tin Man trained by Charles Hills and James Fanshawe
respectively can both be taken around the 8/1 mark. Karl Burke’s
Quiet Reflection had a stellar year in 2016, although it remains to
be seen if his stable star retains all of his ability, but is
definitely worth consideration at around 10/1 in what promises to be
a very difficult race for punters.