The best and most exciting flat racing event of the summer kicks off today, and there promises to be five days of exhilarating action in absolutely glorious weather.
14:30 Queen Anne Stakes
The week begins with a Group 1, the Queen Anne Stakes, which is run over a mile. The brilliant Ribchester is the short priced favourite, and he is comfortably clear on the ratings, and looks like he will take all the beating. He won the Lockinge at Newbury in May, staying on very strongly to beat Lightning Spear by three parts of a length, and he looked to have taken a good step forward now as a four year old. The only question he really has to answer is his liking for the fast ground that he will encounter today. He has had just the one run on ground with 'firm' in the description, a third placed finish at Goodwood last summer. He was running on very well that day so didn't appear to be too inconvenienced by it, therefore the chances are he is just very versatile when it comes to the underfoot conditions.
Lightning Spear has a bit to find with the favourite, however good to firm going is perfect for him and at 6/1, he looks a very solid each way selection. In the ten races he has had over a mile, he has made the frame in nine of them, and looks the most likely from this field to be able to take advantage of any mishaps from Ribchester.
15:05 Coventry Stakes
This is run over six furlongs for two year olds only, and is likely to be run at breakneck speed.
I have really liked what I have seen from De Bruyne Horse, and he represents on of two for Richard Hannon (the other being Denaar), who look to have chances. His latest win in a conditions stakes at Epsom was very nice indeed, and he looks primed for this step up in class. He will need to settle a lot better than the only other time he has run on ground this quick, that was his first outing though and he looked extremely green.
Brother Bear, for Jessica Harrington, is a horse that I really like. He won a very useful looking maiden at Leopardstown (second and third have won subsequently) in eye catching style, before following that up by winning a Listed race at the Curragh by an easy three lengths. He is drawn in stall eight which is quite a nice position to be in, and I expect Colm O'Donoghue to break out quickly and be right up with the early lead. If he does so I expect him to be too strong over the final furlong, and this will ensure a place near the head of next year's 2,000 Guineas betting, even at this early stage.
15:40 King's Stand Stakes
This is the second Group 1 of the afternoon, and it's a five furlong dash for three year olds and over.
Marsha is a very classy speedster, and she won the Palace House Stakes at Newmarket last time out, which is a very good barometer for this race. Over the past seven years the Palace House Stakes winner has gone on to win this one five times, including the past four years. Her style of running is very much as a hold up horse, so her pilot Luke Morris will need to be very courageous/lucky, when weaving his way through the field in the final furlong or so. If the gaps do appear, I think she is very much the one to beat.
Lady Aurelia is the only three year old in the field (as well as being a filly), and therefore gets a very handy weight allowance from the rest of the field. She is very likely to run in the complete opposite style to Marsha, with Frankie Dettori flying out of the stalls and trying to make all. She has proven herself on quick ground, and has also won on soft (here in the Queen Mary Stakes last year), so today's ground poses no problems at all, and I think she is going to be extremely tough to get past. If Marhsa meets any kind of traffic then she will have no chance of reeling her in, and because of that, I will be going against the above stats and backing Lady Aurelia.
14:30 Ascot - Lightning Spear - 1 point each way @ 6/1 (Bet365, William Hill)
15:05 Ascot - Brother Bear - 1 point win @ 5/1 (William Hill, Betvictor)
15:40 Ascot - Lady Aurelia - 1 point win @ 4/1 (Paddy Power)