The curtain-raiser to the Royal feast witnesses the shortest price favourite of the week, as Baaeed attempts to maintain his unbeaten record in the Queen Anne Stakes. Only Frankel has gone off shorter than the four-year-olds projected odds in this contest, emphasising the exciting colt’s grasp over a somewhat underwhelming mile division.
The first selection of the day arrives in the second race, where I’m hoping PERSIAN FORCE will be able to continue his ascendancy in the Coventry Stakes (3:05).
The Richard Hannon-trained juvenile burst onto the scene in scintillating style, quickening clear to land the Brocklesby by five lengths. In addition to pleasing the eye as the debutant picked off his rivals in good style, the performance also impressed the clock with a good time on the day. His second outing at Newbury cemented his position towards the top of the Coventry market, showing a professional attitude to dismiss his two rivals.
Aidan O’Brien holds a strong hand in a race he has won nine times with Blackbeard and Age Of Kings hoping to bolster that impressive record.
The former will bid to emulate Caravaggio as the last horse to complete the Marble Hill-Coventry double, with the colt also by the same side of O’Brien’s last Coventry winner, Arizona.
Selection: Persian Force
The King’s Stand (3:40) sees the first international battle of the week as Australia and America go head-to-head for the sprinting crown, while the Royal colours will be on show with Kings Lynn. If the international raiders can run to their respective ratings, Nature Strip and Golden Pal will finish first and second in that order and it’s sure to be some spectacle.
The 2000 Guineas winner is certainly the one to beat in the St James’s Palace (4:20) and Coreobus could prove too classy for the Haggas-trained pair of challengers. John & Thady Gosden brought Palace Pier here on the back of a handicap and Mighty Ulysses demands a close watch for the same yard.
The second selection of the meeting arrives in the Wolferton Stakes (5:35) where the Jessica Harrington-trained CADILLAC may be able to justify favoritism after a decisive win at Leopardstown last time out.
Despite failing to fire on his first two outings this term, the son of Lope De Vega travelled strongly before kicking clear of his rivals in classy style, recording an impressive final sectional. A reproduction of that performance may suffice and he appears a fair each-way price. Last year’s winner, Juan Elcano, demands the utmost respect, while Majestic Dawn completes the shortlist.
Selection: Cadillac EW
The finale of the first day sees the Chester Cup victor, CLEVELAND, attempt to defy a 5lb rise in the Copper Horse Stakes (6:10). The son of Camelot relished a drastic step up in trip to land the Cheshire feature last month and it would be no surprise if he was a Group-class stayer in the making.
Juan De Montalban, runner-up in last year’s Italian Derby, must be respected after landing the spoils at this venue over 1m4f last time out. Stowel remains relatively lightly raced and rates a big danger.
On to Wednesday, where Wesley Ward will be hoping Love Reigns will be able to mirror Campanelle by landing the Queen Mary (2:30) on just her second racecourse outing. After recording a blistering debut at Keeneland, she rates the one to beat, while Irish challenger Lady Tilbury could give a bold account.
The Derby preliminaries couldn’t have gone any worse for Nahanni and the Queen’s Vase (3:05) looks like a good opportunity to make amends. Adam Kirby described the pre-Derby celebrations as a “silly thing to do” and the son of Frankel could record a first Group success. Related to St Leger winner Mastery, the unexposed four-year-old could take a step forward now attempting 1m6f.
The second international challenge arrives in the Prince Of Wales’s (3:40), where Shahryar will hope to back up his win in the Sheema Classic now dropping back to 1m2f. Bay Bridge looked a formidable force at Sandown last month and he can take one step closer towards the Arc in Wednesday’s feature.
The Duke Of Cambridge (4:20) is undoubtedly a tricky contest, with Saffron Beach and Mother Earth vying for favouritism. Both demand plenty of respect but it may pay dividends to look further down the market, though, and another chance is given to PRIMO BACIO despite a lacklustre reappearance at Goodwood.
The Ed Walker-trained filly missed her planned engagement at this meeting due to the monsoon-like conditions which descended before the Coronation Stakes last year. Instead, the daughter of Awtaad waited for the Falmouth Stakes where she recorded a career-best effort, beaten a length and a half into fifth. Although she has failed to fire since that day, she remains a backable each-way price in the hope she can bounce back to form.
Selection: Primo Bacio EW
To bring the curtain down on the second day of Royal Ascot, we are met with two fascinating big-field handicaps and the Windsor Castle (5:35), where Little Big Bear will aim time justify a short price in the penultimate race.
So sit back, bask in the glorious sunshine and enjoy an array of the finest thoroughbreds Flat racing has to offer. It’s sure to be a spectacle fit for a Queen.