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Royal Ascot Day 1: Kingman heads three best bets for opener

| 16.06.2014

Royal Ascot is back and we have wasted no time assembling three of the best bets for the first day’s glittering card. Hang onto your coattails and make some room in your wallet!

NAP Kingman (4:25 – St James’s Palace Stakes) @ 4/5

In what is the third and will arguably be the defining part in the rivalry between Kingman and Night of Thunder the favourite is enthusiastically taken to regain the lead once more at 2-1.

After John Gosden’s star made Night Of Thunder look decidedly ordinary in the Greenham it would have seemed unbelievable that Richard Hannon’s 40-1 charge would come back under a month later and reverse the form by five lengths to win by a half-length. But that’s what happened and the rematch has been highly anticipated ever since.

However, while there is a strong desire not to take anything away from the winner at Newmarket that day, the market looks to have called this one spot on and declared Kingman the superior racehorse.

Kingman was sent to win the race too soon in the Guineas and the general feeling was that the contest was a messy one. The obvious argument in response is that if any horse suffered the most from the split and drift it was Night Of Thunder but instinct insists that if the race was ran again there would have been a different outcome.

What is almost certain is that the gulf between the pair is not as wide as it was when they met at Newbury, however, if there is a difference it is in Kingman’s favour.

James Doyle’s partner has raced since and looked to have improved on testing ground at the Curragh where he blew his rivals away with a burst of speed that can now be described as characteristic.

The new man at Herridge stables felt confident enough to leave his first Classics winner out of action until this rematch and while there is no reason to see that as anything more than it is, the fact that is key rival has proven his class once more in the meantime only adds further encouragement to the selection.

NB War Envoy (3:05 – Coventry Stakes) @ 5/1

If it was meant to be a secret that War Envoy was held in exceptionally high regard at Ballydoyle it has been badly kept.

The word on the Tipperary gallops is that the son of War Front is potentially very special and considering what happened the last time Aidan O’Brien slapped that description on a horse no one can be forgiven for not taking the hint.

Although disappointing when last seen at Naas in defeat to Kool Kompany, connections were quick to settle any doubts and with the O’Brien string back in better health everything points to their star juvenile adding to what could be sizeable haul for the Irish juggernauts.

Lively LongshotSteps (3:45 – King’s Stand Stakes) @ 11/1

Roger Varian and Kieren Fallon team up to take on some of the biggest names in the sprinting game with the likes of Shea Shea and reigning champion Sole Power in attendance, however, their hope Steps is by no means out of the equation.

The six-year-old fell out of the stalls at Epsom and although his chance was gone the way he finished to be only three quarters of a length away at the line said a lot about his ability.

With a better break and if one of the big guns fails to fire it would be disappointing if Varian’s charge wasn’t even closer this time.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Sam Foster