Royal Ascot Day One Preview
Queen Anne Stakes (British Champions Series) Group 1
Ten times champion trainer Sir Henry Cecil is on record as saying “Frankel is not just the best horse I’ve trained, he’s the best horse I’ve ever seen.”
Frankel gave Sir Henry his 25th British Classic victory when running away with last year’s 2,000 Guineas and the unbeaten Galileo colt confirmed he had recovered from a minor injury scare in the spring when romping home on his reappearance this season in the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury last month. While there’s no such thing as a certainty in any sport, it will send shock waves around the racing world if Frankel doesn’t provide his legendary trainer with his 75th Royal Ascot winner in the opening race at this year’s meeting.
Excelebration has been beaten three times by Frankel but he’s never been disgraced and this will the first time Aidan O’Brien’s four-year-old will race against his old rival on soft going, a surface he’s undefeated on. Excelebration is the obvious candidate for the forecast and the most likely to give Frankel trouble.
Selection: FRANKEL to beat EXCELEBRATION (Straight Forecast)
King’s Stands Stakes (British Champions Series & Global Sprint Challenge) Group 1
Ortensia can take the spotlight away, at least for a while, from her fellow Aussie raider, Black Caviar, by landing the first of the Royal meeting’s big sprints. Like her more famous compatriot, the seven-year-old mare is effective at distances up to 7f but her prime asset is blistering pace and her record over the minimum trip is 11311.
She’s at home on soft going, is unbeaten since joining her present trainer, Paul Messara, and last time out she was an impressive winner of the Al Quoz Sprint on Dubai World Cup night at Meydan in March. She has settled in well at her temporary base in Newmarket and has been pleasing her trainer on the local gallops. Ortensia has excellent prospects of becoming the fifth Australian-trained winner of the King’s Stand in the last ten years.
Course specialist Medicean Man, who looked to be approaching peak form when third at Newmarket recently, could go well at a big price.
St James’s Palace Stakes (British Champions Series) Group 1
The John Gosden-trained Fencing did very well to finish sixth to the exceptionally talented subsequent Derby winner Camelot in the 2,000 Guineas as he’d suffered an interrupted preparation due to puncturing a hoof on the Newmarket gallops. The chestnut then appeared to find the trip stretching him too far when third to Bonfire over an extended 1m4f in the Dante Stakes at York.
Fencing travelled beautifully on the Knavesmire until running out of steam in the closing stages, leaving the impression he would be suited by dropping back in distance. An entry in Goodwood’s Group 1 Sussex Stakes suggests that Gosden also feels Fencing will prove best over 1m at this stage of his career.
Aiden O’Brien’s Irish 2,000 Guineas winner Power looks the main danger.
Coventry Stakes Group 3
Irish raider Dawn Approach will take plenty of beating in this 6f contest for two-year-olds. Jim Bolger’s colt has won all his three starts and created an excellent impression when readily beating Richard Hannon’s highly regarded Goodwood winner, Mister Marc, in a Listed event at Naas on his latest outing.
He won his previous race at the same track by 5l on easy ground, so will not be inconvenienced by the likely soft going. Aidan O’Brien has a fine record in the Coventry and his promising Navan maiden winner Cristoforo Colombo has to be respected along with Charlie Hills’ Englishman, who quickened smartly to win a Nerwbury maiden full of subsequent scorers on his introduction in April.
Selection: DAWN APPROACH
Ascot Stakes Handicap
Hughie Morrison’s Cosimo De Medici gets the vote in the first handicap at the Royal meeting. The five-year-old developed into a useful stayer last year when his best performance came when forging clear in the closing stages to land a 2m2f handicap at Newmarket in September.
Cosimo De Medici should be spot on for this gruelling test of stamina after a creditable fourth to Life And Soul in a handicap at Goodwood over 1m4f on his seasonal bow last month.
Like his father Martin, David Pipe has a fine record in long-distance handicaps on the Flat and the Devon trainer’s Ashbrittle is an interesting contender. The gelding, who was tenth after an unlucky run in last year’s race when trained by Ralph Beckett, has done well over hurdles for his current stable and he won’t mind some cut in the ground.
Selection: COSIMO DE MEDICI
Windsor Castle Stakes Listed
Richard Hannon’s Lyric Dance had 5l to spare when getting off the mark at the second time of asking in a Leicester maiden and then readily took the scalp of the subsequent Listed winner, Chilworth Icon, in a conditions event at Kempton.
Lyric Dance is sure to be warm order but the Mick Channon-trained Bungle Inthejungle could be a better value each-way option. The Exceed And Excel colt is a very good-looking individual and he’s improving fast. After a sighter behind Coventry Stakes hope Englishman at Newbury in April, he narrowly won his maiden at Salisibury from Jubilee Brig, who also runs in the Coventry earlier on the card, the following month and last time beat decent opposition in very smooth style in a valuable event over 5f at Beverley. Bungle Inthejungle will be ridden by Matthew Davies who’s been aboard for his two victories.
Selection: BUNGLE INTHEJUNGLE each-way