It’s the opening day of Royal Ascot, but not the Ascot we’ve been used to! Ascot behind closed doors will be very strange but because it only ever will happen once – I feel quite privileged to be part of it! As jockeys, it will be very much business as usual.
I am actually riding at Chelmsford today and won’t be at Ascot until Thursday, but I’ll still be keeping a keen eye on all the racing.
1:15 Ascot: The Buckingham Palace Handicap
This is such an open and competitive handicap to kick us off! I did like the look of Roger Varian’s Riviera Nights but he doesn’t now run but I do like the look of his stablemate MUTAMAASIK. I finished in behind him at Chelmsford last season and he looks very progressive. The yard is in fantastic form and he’d be the one for me.
1:50 Ascot: Queen Anne Stakes
Much like the last couple of years, this is a wide-open contest. My selection for the race is another Roger Varian horse, ROSEMAN (
14/1)**. He beat Century dream easily last time out and he franked the form at Newbury on Saturday. The rain that Ascot has had won’t be an issue for him. He’s much less exposed than a lot of these and could be the one to improve.
2:25 Ribblesdale Stakes
I’m going to go with FRANKLY DARLING here. She won at Newcastle really impressively to kick this season off and she looked as if she’d relish the extra two furlongs. She didn’t have a very hard race at Newcastle. John Gosden has won this race 2 of the last 3 years which is another positive.
3:00 King Edward VII Stakes
5/6 should prove a tough nut to crack. His form behind the 2000 Guineas winner Kameko at the back end of last season represents solid form and on breeding, he’ll be much better over this distance.
3:35 King’s Stand Stakes
I’m sure BATTAASH will be popular again here. I think you can excuse his last run of last season on very soft ground at Longchamp. He is another horse that I think will benefit from there being no crowd.
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**All odds correct at time of writing