Royal Ascot: Day 1 Preview

The Royal Ascot meeting begins on Tuesday

Alan Marron previews Day One of Royal Ascot


2.30 Queen Anne Stakes (Group 1) (British Champions Series) (Class 1) (4yo+) Winner £340,260 16 runners 1m

The first Group One of the week and this race oozes class and quality.

MUSTASHRY is a standout contender in this race for me based on his impressive win in the Lockinge  at Newbury last time out. He showed an amazing turn of foot and left his rivals for dead within two strides.

Sir Michael Stoute is a trainer who excels with this type of horse, who he has strengthened up from his three year old career. He is a course and distance winner and I can see him improving again from Newbury and being well in contention at the business end of things.

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3.05 6f Coventry Stakes (Group 2) (Class 1) (2yo)

Visually, for me, we seen an exceptional performance on 1000 Guineas day at Newmarket when the Richard Hannon-trained THREAT absolutely bolted up to win his maiden.

The form has an average look to it as the second horse that day hasn’t reappeared since and the third and fourth were both beaten a neck next time out.

Threat won by two-and-a-quarter lengths on his debut and, for those who watched the race, he ran right through the line and Tom Marquand struggled to pull him up a good bit after it.

If he has improved at all from that he will be a strong contender in this race and may give the Coolmore battalion plenty to think about.

3.40 5f King’s Stand Stakes (Group 1) (British Champions Series) (Class 1) (3yo+)

The main question in this race is whether Battaash will get himself too worked up before the race and actually have his race run before it starts.

They have to mount him in the chute as he gets on his toes and this could make BLUE POINT extremely good value  to retain the King’s Stand after his victory in the race last year.

He was very impressive in the winter season in Meydan with a win over five furlongs and two victories over six furlongs. Charlie Appleby has his team in flying form and this could be a start to a very good week for the boys in blue.

4.20 1m (7f213y) (Rnd) St James’s Palace Stakes (Group 1) (British Champions Series) (Colts) (Class 1) (3yo)

For those who followed my Curragh previews for Irish Guineas weekend at the Curragh, you would have seen I was very sweet on PHOENIX OF SPAIN and he justified my support with a very impressive victory.

With normal improvement I honestly can’t see any horse overturning the form here and thus leaves Phoenix Of Spain as my nap of day one.

Jamie Spencer gave the horse a very confident ride from the front last time out and he stayed on very strongly to win going away. The likelihood of the O’Brien team trying to spoil it with the addition of a couple of pacemakers looks the way this race will be run, but Phoenix Of Spain can adapt to the position he adopts in the race and should have too much for many of his rivals.

John Gosden recently mentioned this week that he has Too Darn Hot in the best form he has had for a long time and he could be the biggest danger.


5.00 2m4f (2m3f210y) Ascot Stakes (A Handicap) (Class 2) (4yo+ 0-100)

The first handicap on the card and this race has, in general, been dominated by National Hunt trainers who try and get their big day in the sun after their winter exploits.

The most-interesting runner in this race for me is the Nicky Henderson trained GUNNERY. Formerly trained by Peter Chapple Hyam and then Alan King this horse looks like he might be laid out for this race. He finished sixth in the Queen’s Vase at the Royal meeting last season when ridden by Jamie Spencer. The same jockey is on board this time around and it could be a typical Spencer waiting ride and then produce him at the furlong pole.

His first run for Nicky Henderson was a very good run over hurdles at Bangor when he finished second beaten three quarters of a length by Dream Machine, who closed him off up the rail close home. That would have brought his fitness on a good bit and he looks a solid each-way selection here.

5.35 1m2f (1m1f212y) Wolferton Stakes (Listed Race) (Class 1) (4yo+)

Willie Mullins is no stranger to Royal Ascot success and he could start off his week here with the enigmatic RIVEN LIGHT.

He was a neck second last time out at the Curragh, where he ran into all sorts of trouble and was unlucky not to get up.

The most interesting thing for me here is that he has only been put up 1lb in the ratings from 111 to 112. He would probably prefer slightly softer ground, and that looks to be the only question mark, but with Colin Keane renewing the partnership from the Curragh I can see him running very well here.

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*Odds were correct at time of publishing the article