14:30 Queen Anne Stakes
Run over the straight mile this is a fascinating race to kick off what will be an excellent few days of racing here at Ascot. The course is a lot softer than ideal which may well throw up some juicy priced winners.
This race appears to revolve around the American trained Tepin, who is unbeaten to date. She clearly has the best form in the race and if she handles all of the conditions is the likely winner. However, that is quite a big if, and at the prices she is one to avoid for me. She won't have raced on ground as sticky as she encounters today, and the straight mile here is completely different than what she is used to and has caught out plenty of horses in the past.
The ground has come just right for the Roger Varian trained Belardo and I really fancy his chances today. He was really impressive when winning the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury where he stayed on nicely to win by a length, and the fast pace that is almost assured today will really set the race up for James Doyle so swoop late and take this.
16:20 St James Palace Stakes
Galileo Gold was the impressive winner of the English 2,000 Guineas and was subsequently sent off the short priced favoruite in the Irish version. He didn't get the clearest of runs when it really mattered at the Curragh, however I don't think he would have been good enough to catch eventual winner Awtaad even with a clear run. The two re-oppose today and although I can see Galileo Gold being much closer, Awtaad looks the slightly stronger horse given the conditions.
As mentioned above, Awtaad was the excellent winner of the Irish 2,000 Guineas to make it four wins from five career starts. He will be highly fancied for this today and I can't see any reason to think he will not claim a place at least.
The Gurkha won a maiden in Ireland before being taken to France to contest Group 1 Deauville. There the Aiden O'Brien colt eased clear under Ryan Moore to win by over five lengths and having just the three runs to date, there is sure to be improvement to come. We know he handles today's conditions having won a maiden in heavy going and therefore I think he has an outstanding chance of winning this here today.
14:30 Ascot - Belardo - 2 points @ 9/2 Skybet, Betvictor)
16:20 Ascot - The Gurkha - 3 points @ 11/8 (Paddy Power, Boylesports)