Racing is back in full flow now after the exciting Guineas Festival at Newmarket and from next Tuesday we’ve got five days of high-class action at Royal Ascot to look forward to.
It will be different at the Berkshire track with no crowds and the usual fanfare and fashion absent, but the sheer thoroughbred quality on the turf won’t be diminished.
Thrilling Clash in the King’s Stand Stakes
Already the scene has been set for a thrilling clash in the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes on Tuesday afternoon.
The 5f sprint has got Battaash as
1/1* favourite, Charlie Hills’ speedster having finished second behind Blue Point in the previous two renewals.
He’s never won at Ascot and some will claim Battaash has a slight problem on the track. Of course, that accusation was thrown at him last year in regards to York before he produced an inconceivable display in shattering the track record en route to winning the Nunthorpe.
At his best, Battaash is the fastest horse in the world and this represents a major chance to win at Royal Ascot.
An unlikely challenger has emerged in the shape of Sceptical for Irish trainer Denis Hogan.
A Godolphin castoff, he was picked up at the sales last year for less than £3,000 but his story has become remarkable after he made rapid progress on the all-weather at Dundalk.
He then demolished his rivals in a Listed sprint at Naas on the first afternoon of Irish racing’s resumption to book his ticket to Royal Ascot and he’s
3/1 to win the King’s Stand.
As if the story needed any more stardust sprinkled on it, regular rider and 7lb claimer Joey Sheridan cannot be at Ascot next week and connections have booked one Frankie Dettori to ride Sceptical.
The King’s Stand showdown is a race not to be missed and given Dettori’s stunning record at the meeting, Sceptical’s connections have surely pulled a rabbit from the hat in securing the veteran Italian.
Horses to Look Out for in the Gold Cup
Of course, Dettori’s main dish of the week is likely to be the hat-trick seeker Stradivarius in the Gold Cup itself.
John Gosden’s star stayer made a pleasing reappearance in the Coronation Cup at Newmarket over a trip much shorter than ideal last week and that run was enough to see him shortened to
4/6 favourite for a third Gold Cup.
Aidan O’Brien’s Kew Gardens trades at
7/2 having defeated Stradivarius in the Long Distance Cup at Ascot last season.
The Gold Cup is over an extra half-mile, however, and the Gosden inmate has proved himself remarkably adept at this trip on this course. Kew Gardens will go into the unknown and, with a pleasing prep run behind him, the reigning champion is going to be very hard to dethrone.
Queen Anne Stakes: Tough to Predict
Coming back to day one, the first Group 1 of the meeting will be the Queen Anne Stakes over a mile.
Many of the entries will be racing for the first time in 2020, which makes things tougher for punters. One that does make appeal is Fox Chairman at
15/2 for trainer Andrew Balding.
The yard have made a rapid start since racing resumed and the Kingman colt boasts form at the meeting, having finished second in the Hampton Court last year.
He was a Listed winner over 1m2f at Newbury on his sole start afterwards and looks the sort to achieve fine things as a four-year-old in the King Power Racing silks. The drop back to a mile shouldn’t be a big concern and he’s one to note going into Royal Ascot.
*All odds correct at time of writing