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Royal Ascot Tuesday tips – best bets for day one of the royal meeting

Your best bets for a typically spectacular opening day at Royal Ascot

Royal Ascot

What are the best bets at Royal Ascot on Tuesday?

Our racing expert runs the rule over all six races on the opening day of Royal Ascot.

14:30 Queen Anne Stakes (Group 1) (British Champions Series) (Str), 1m
The opening race of the royal meeting is run over the straight mile and always attracts a high-class field, with the likes of Goldikova, Frankel and Solow (last year) adding their names to the roll call of winners this millennium.

Who’s favourite?
The US-trained Tenpin has won nine of her last 11 races, going close in the other two, and those wins include last season’s Breeders’ Cup Mile. Officially the joint highest-rated runner (with Time Test), she has been put in as a general 4/1 favourite and, with the ground likely to be riding on the soft side of good, punters looking to get involved will take encouragement from her seven-length success in a Grade 1 at Keeneland last October on soft. Now for the negatives. She’s racing on a straight mile for the first time, won’t be running on Lasix (a performance-enhancing drug permitted in the States) and will be without the nasal strip she usually wears. You only have to cast your mind back 12 months to when Animal Kingdom (also trained in the US) was turned over in this race as 5/4 favourite, to strengthen the case for looking elsewhere for the winner.

Who else is fancied?
Last season’s Coronation Stakes winner Ervedya is back for more having added a further Group 1 to her CV at Longchamp in September and made a satisfactory reappearance when second at Saint-Cloud. This represents her toughest task to date, but French fillies have a habit of performing well in this and she handles cut in the ground.

The British challenge is headed by Roger Varian’s Belardo and he is coming off a career-best success in the Group 1 Lockinge at Newbury, where he had several of today’s rivals in behind. A top-class miler on his day and possibly still improving, he will get the cut in the ground he needs to run right up to his best (2-2 on soft). However, the Newbury third, Endless Drama, has only a length-and-a-quarter to make up and that’s entirely possible given he was having his first start for 12 months. He will again be ridden by Colin Keane, one of the bright young stars among the ranks of Irish jockeys.

Any decent outsiders?
It’s 10/1 bar the four already mentioned and this has not been a race for shock results in recent times – Ad Valorem (2006) being the biggest-priced winner at 13/2 in the last ten runnings. Still, Esoterique is entitled to plenty of respect as she found only Solow a length too good in last year’s renewal and has gone from strength to strength since, with Group 1 victories at Deauville (soft) and Newmarket to her name. She was beaten at odds-on her reappearance at Saint-Cloud just ten days ago, though, and you have to go back to 1976 to find the last winner aged over five (another black mark against Tenpin).

Trainer quote: “I am probably not being fair to him [Endless Drama] by throwing him straight into a Group 1 and it might be asking too much. He is as fit as I can have him but he is only going to get better as the year goes on” – Ger Lyons before the Lockinge.

Who’s going to win?
Not the classiest renewal and no standout performer. Fillies can boast a good recent record – one winner, three seconds and one third from seven runners in the past eight renewals – and Ervedya may do best from that sex. However, ENDLESS DRAMA went close in the Lockinge and given he’s a monster of a horse, weighing in at around 570 kilos, that race will have done him the world of good and left him cherry-ripe for this assignment. His previous outing, a close second to Gleneagles in last season’s Irish 2000 Guineas, is another eye-catching piece of form and with just five starts under his belt, it’s most unlikely we’ve seen the best of him, with Ascot likely to suit him better than Newbury.

SELECTION

Endless Drama 2pts @ 7/1 bet365

15:05 Coventry Stakes (Group 2), 6f
The Coventry Stakes, run over a straight 6f, is an event with Mill reef and Royal Applause on its roll of honour (albeit 25 years apart) and it tells of class, rather than speed, being the decisive factor.

Who’s favourite?
Aidan O’Brien can boast seven wins in the race, most recently with War Command in 2013, and the fact that Caravaggio is his sole representative this time round is perhaps a tip in itself. The son of Scat Daddy, sire of Prix Morny and Norfolk Stakes winner No Nay Never, has certainly looked the part in winning both his starts over 5f in impressive fashion, including a Listed contest on Irish 2000 Guineas day in a fast time considering the heavy conditions and despite running green. He’s a worthy favourite then at around the 5/2 mark, though he does have his stamina for 6f to prove and connections also had the Norfolk Stakes (5f) in mind for him.

Who else is fancied?
Ger Lyons’ Psychedelic Funk is also 2-2, both wins coming over this trip, and the manner of his latest six-length success at Naas, where he picked up from a furlong out to draw clear on ground considered softer than ideal, marks him down as a high-class juvenile. His sire Choisir memorably completed a Royal Ascot double when landing the King’s Stand Stakes and Golden Jubilee Stakes at the 2003 meeting, and he’s clearly inherited plenty of that horse’s talent.

The British challenge is headed by Richard Hannon’s Mehmas, a most impressive winner over 6f at Newbury on Lockinge day, when easily defeating the highly-regarded Global Challenge. That horse reversed the form in the Listed National Stakes at Sandown, but the drop back to 5f was possibly against the Hannon runner and Ascot’s stiff 6f should be more up his street.

The Mark Johnton-trained Yalta is unbeaten in two starts and absolutely hosed up over Pontefract’s stiff 6f last time, when hardly getting out of second gear to beat three previous winners. This is a huge step up but connections have had this race in mind for him since his debut success at Goodwood in May, and the son of Exceed And Excel has multiple Group 1 entries later in the season.

Any decent outsiders?
Mokarris was a taking winner on his debut at Haydock and this 220,000gns buy is clearly above average, although his action suggests that a proper fast surface (unlikely here) will suit. Kevin Ryan’s Broken Stones is another who impressed when making a winning debut (at York) and that was despite a slow start, jumping the road and changing his legs at halfway. He too might want quicker ground, though, and will require 7f before long.

This looks a huge ask for Wesley Ward’s unbeaten Silvertoni, the only filly in the race.

Choice quote: “Yalta has a lovely physique and is an exciting prospect. I would say he´ll now go for the Coventry at Royal Ascot” – John Ferguson, racing manager.

Who’s going to win?
Caravaggio will be hard to beat but there is not much between him and Psychedelic Funk on a line through Ambiguity, a horse they have both beaten comprehensively, so the Lyons runner is preferred at the prices. However, this prize might be staying at home with YALTA fancied to land the spoils. A big, strong sort with loads of scope and a great attitude, he can give his stable back-to-back wins in the juvenile feature, having taken it with Buratino (who is from the same sire) 12 months ago.

SELECTION

Yalta 1pt @ 8/1 Sky Bet

15:40 King’s Stand Stakes (Group 1) (British Champions Series & Global Sprint Challenge), 5f
The King’s Stand Stakes is for three-year-olds and upwards and is run over a straight five-furlongs, attracting not just the fastest British-trained runners but also sprinters from around the globe. Indeed, five of the last ten winners were trained outside Britain and Ireland, with three wins for Australia and one each for Hong Kong and Spain.

Who’s favourite?
The Michael Dods-trained Mecca’s Angel has been one of the stars of the sprinting scene for the last two seasons, winning six of her nine nine starts, including when slamming Queen Mary winner Acapulco by two lengths in the Group 1 Nunthorpe last August. She’s the top-rated runner as a result and, while beaten by Profitable at Haydock on her reappearance, she should be up to turning the tables on that horse here, and especially now the ground has come right for her – she was a late absentee from last year’s race when the going went good to firm. Of course, none of the that has escaped the attention of bookmakers and she is now no bigger than 5/2, though a worthy favourite nonetheless.

Who else is fancied?
Profitable is clearly improving fast and, having won the two key trials, the Palace House and Temple Stakes this term, he is entitled to plenty of respect, although he’d perhaps want the ground faster than he’s going to get.

Acapulco bowls up having won both her starts Stateside in 2016, albeit low-grade affairs, and she was a mighty impressive winner at this meeting 12 months ago when beating fellow two-year-olds. However, she was a freakish-looking juvenile – she had the size of a more mature filly – and it could well be that her contemporaries have now caught up, while she is also taking on older horses here.

Any decent outsiders?

The rest are all priced at double-figures (at least 14/1 if you shop around) and those in the 14/1 – 20/1 bracket include last year’s winner and third, Goldream and Muthmir respectively, who both have a preference for fast ground. That simply isn’t going to be the case and John Gosden’s Waady, who has finished third in both the Palace House and Temple, makes more appeal as he handles cut and should be suited by Ascot’s stiff uphill finish, having done best of the hold-up horses at Haydock, finishing best of all.

Sole Power is a perennial starter in this race – form figures of 83115 – and will be finishing as well as anything, while Pearl Secret has found the frame twice and will be better for his reappearance fourth. Perhaps the most interesting of the outsiders is US-trained Mongolian Saturday, whose career highlight is a win in last October’s Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint over 51/2f and has twice been beaten over further since.

Trainer quote: “”She’d been out for nine months when she ran in the Temple and it was too soft for a horse coming back from such a long break. She will definitely come on for the run. I respect Acapulco and Goldream has a big chance if it dries up, but we are confident of a good run. We are the one to beat” – Michael Dods on Mecca’s Angel.

Who’s going to win?
It’s easy to see why Mecca’s Angel is favourite and she is the most likely winner on ground she loves. However, any value in her price has now gone and, considering that we’ve had just two winning favourites in the last 10 runnings and luck in running is required in such a big field (21), I’d rather back WAADY each-way against her. Seriously progressive last season when winning four times, he has run well on both starts this term, despite things not quite panning out for him, and he should have this race run to suit. The booking of Frankie Dettori another positive.

SELECTION

Waady 1pt each-way @ 16/1 Sky Bet

16:20 St James’s Palace Stakes (Group 1) (British Champions Series) (Rnd), 1m
The St James’s Palace Stakes is for three-year-old colts and is run over the round mile, with three Guineas winners clashing in this year’s mouth-watering renewal.

Who’s favourite?
Aidan O’Brien’s The Gurkha powered to the head of the market following his runaway five-and-a-half length victory over 12 rivals in the French 2000 Guineas last time. A wide-margin maiden winner on heavy ground at Navan in April, he has clearly improved no end for his winter break and is bidding to give his trainer a remarkable eighth success in this race, although he’d be the first Ballydoyle colt to complete the French Guineas-St James’s Palace double (Landseer and Astronomer Royal won in France before being placed at Ascot). The form of his Deauville win is also questionable with the 50/1 runner-up, First Selection, finishing well down the field in the Newmarket equivalent previously.

Who else is fancied?
Kevin Prendergast’s Awtaad was taking his record to 4-5 when a hugely impressive winner of the Irish 2000 Guineas at the Curragh last time, with Qipco 2000 Guineas winner Galileo Gold well held in second and giving the form a rock-solid look. With all four of wins coming on ground with plenty of cut in it, connections will not be worried over the prospect of similar conditions for the start of this meeting – though he promises to be even better when encountering decent ground – and he may not have stopped improving yet.

The aforementioned Galileo Gold looks to have it all to do to turn around the Curragh form with Awtaad, although it can be argued that he would have finished closer with a clearer run and connections were putting some of the blame for his defeat on the yielding ground. He has raced keenly on both his starts this term and, while that didn’t stop him winning at Newmarket, some headgear might be required to help him settle better as it’s hard to get away with running freely at this level.

Any decent outsiders?
It would be a real surprise should anything emerge from outside the top three given the strength of their form and, besides, this is not a race for shocks – Most Surprised (9/1) was the biggest-priced winner in the last ten runnings and there have been eight winning favourites (one joint) in that time, including the last three. That said, Charlie Appleby’s Emotionless remains an unknown quantity after just three starts and looked a top-notcher in the making when running away with a Doncaster Group 2 last September, before suffering an injury on his final start in the Dewhurst, causing him to trail home in last. But it’s a huge ask to win this race first time out and with so little match practice behind him.

Clive Cox’s Zonderland was far from disgraced when sixth on the Rowley Mile behind Galileo Gold and has since won a Listed contest at Sandown in good fashion. Should one of the big three run below expectations, he could run into a place at big odds (20/1 with Betway currently).

Jockey quote: “I’ve sat on him a good bit since the Guineas and he seems to have improved. That’s shocked me. I didn’t think he would be able to improve that much but I’ve spoken to Johnny Murtagh, who said that’s what the good horses do” – Awtaad’s regular pilot Chris Hayes.

Who’s going to win?
It was hard not to be impressed by the emphatic nature of The Gurkha’s Classic win, but the British and Irish form looks stronger and Shamardal was the last horse in 2005 to complete the Deauville-Ascot double. AWTAAD and Galileo Gold took it each other on up the Curragh straight last time, but from the furlong pole there was only ever going to be one winner and the improving Prendergast colt is taken to confirm that form and make it back-to-back Group 1 wins.

SELECTION

Awtaad 4pts @ 9/4 15/8 bet365

17:00 Ascot Stakes (Handicap), 2m4f
The Ascot Stakes (due off 5.00pm) is a handicap run over the marathon trip of 2m4f, which perhaps explains the excellent record of jumps / dual purpose trainers. This year might be no different.

Who’s favourite?
Bookmakers have settled on Willie Mullins’ Pique Sous as favourite at around the 13/2 mark and they are clearly taking no chances with the nine-year-old given his connections – the stable has won two of the last four runnings – and the fact he was a winner the last time he turned up at the royal meeting; obliging at 11/4 in the 2014 Queen Alexandra Stakes. Ryan Moore was on board on that occasion and when the gelding reappeared after nearly two months off in a 1m4f handicap at the Curragh in May. Racing in rear and last two furlongs out, he was spotted making late headway into tenth over what was a wholly inadequate trip and that was just what was required ahead of this assignment.

Who else is fancied?
Mullins looks to have an interesting second-string in Sempre Medici, who has a 463-day absence to overcome but is unlikely to fail through lack of fitness. Dermot Weld’s Silver Concorde was last seen finishing a staying-on third in the Chester Cup, proving he was fully recovered from the injury he picked up in the Supreme Novices’, and boasting a 3-5 record on the Flat he needs giving maximum respect.

The Irish challenge is boosted further by the presence of Jarlath Fahey’s Jennies Jewel, who was taking advantage of a generous Flat mark when laughing at her ten rivals in a 2m handicap at the Curragh in May. A 147-rated hurdler who got to within four lengths of Vroum Vroum Mag and Diamond King at Ascot in January, she is a thorough stayer who will relish this marathon trip.

Any decent outsiders?
Charlie Appleby’s Galizzi has just a small penalty for his Goodwood win just nine days ago and, providing he doesn’t ‘bounce’ on his second quick run back after a layoff, he could go well at a double-figure price. Chester Cup winner No Heretic represents Nicky Henderson, who sent out 2011 winner Veiled, and the eight-year-old has to enter calculations off just a 4lb higher mark.

Others worthy of a mention in an open race are Gordon Elliott’s Eshtiaal, Sir Mark Prescott’s Moscato, an encouraging second on his reappearance at Haydock, and Hassle, who was last seen winning a maiden hurdle at Fakenham on his debut for Dr Richard Newland and has a 4-14 record on the level.

Who’s going to win?
The bookies are right to keep Pique Sous on their side – I certainly wouldn’t want to lay him – and he has to go well. However, connections of JENNIES JEWEL were quick to mention this race after her latest Curragh success and her impressive jumps record needs upgrading further given that she often spoiled her chance by slowing down into her hurdles. She’ll stay every yard of this and rates a solid each-way bet, but save a little for HASSLE too. His Ascot form figures read 12334 and his current trainer has a deserved reputation for improving horses switched to him from other yards. Neither selections will mind the resting conditions.

SELECTIONS

Jennies Jewel 1pt each-way @ 9/1 bet365 (¼ odds, 1.2.3.4)
Hassle 0.5pt each-way @ 18/1 Sky Bet (¼ odds, 1.2.3.4)

17:35 Windsor Castle Stakes (Listed), 5f

The Windsor Castle Stakes is for juveniles and is run over 5f; with fillies getting a 5lb allowance. It gives the smaller yards the chance to shine on the big stage, with Aidan O’Brien having to make do with just one success; Washington DC 12 months ago.

Who’s favourite?

This is the race in which California-based Wesley Ward first burst on to the Royal Ascot scene seven years ago with Strike A Tiger and his Hootenanny made it two for the stable in 2014. So, when he says that Big City Dreamin has been pointed at this race since she won the first juvenile race of the year over 41/2f at Keeneland and will be “very tough” to beat under Frankie Dettori, you have to take notice. But the recent rain is a worry for her and she’s an uneasy favourite.

Who else is fancied?
Drafted is another Keeneland winner (in a faster time than the Ward runner) making the trip over from the States, where he is trained by Eoin Harty for Godolphin. A grey half-brother to Keep The Money, who won five times between 5f and 6f, he has been described as “the perfect horse” to travel across the Atlantic by his trainer, who is reaching for first-time blinkers and a tongue-tie.

A big run from Caravaggio in the Coventry Stakes (3.05pm) would be a strong pointer to Mister Trader, who finished second to him at the Curragh last time, following a comfortable debut success at that track in March. He made all on that occasion and tried the same trick last time, only to be collared in the last 100 yards, so expect him to show up early.

Any decent outsiders?
Plenty. Battaash, Fayez, Ardad and Kananee are all unbeaten and therefore merit plenty of respect. Pedestal, Aidan O’Brien’s sole representative, was an impressive winner at Tipperary last time and will have the services of Ryan Moore – he could be over-priced at 16/1 given his connections, though he finished well beaten on his debut on soft ground.

Mick Halford’s Yulong Baobei finished second to Cuff, who is a possible for Friday’s Albany, at Naas last time, where she may have seen too much daylight causing her to run green. An impressive winner of a Dundalk maiden on her debut and out of smart sprinter Choisir – a dual Royal Ascot winner – she could go well at a price.

Trainer quote: “He worked on turf over five furlongs at Arlington, and it was a fantastic piece of work” – Eoin Harty on Drafted.

Best bookie offer?
Several firms are offering four places instead of the standard three, with bet365, Betfred and Winner also going one quarter the odds.

Who’s going to win?
This is not a race to overboard on and the market could prove to be the best guide, but there seems to be plenty of confidence behind Drafted and he’s tempting at around 6/1. At bigger odds, though, I’m going to take a chance on YULONG BAOBEI, with bet365 dangling a carrot of 20/1 and four places (5/1 a place then).

SELECTION

Yulong Baobei each-way @ 20/1 bet365 (¼ odds, 1.2.3.4)

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