Royal Ascot 2018
The greatest show on Earth.
For those who don’t follow UK racing, shame on you, Royal Ascot is the finest flat racing meeting in the world each year, knocking other high profile meetings in to a cocked hat, or top-hat in Ascot’s case, with not one or a maximum of two days of the best racing has to offer but five days that will make or break every punter, especially me.
Personally, I still think Tuesday is the best day, perhaps because we wait all year and the anticipation is as important as the actual racing, or perhaps because I still have the stamina, the wallet, and the dream of riches to come until the gates open for the first race at least.
I have always loved the Queen Anne Stakes over a mile that opens the day but I can’t really see that stand out option this year. If I do have a bet, and I will, then it’s a little each way on Yoshida for me if only because us Brits are fiercely patriotic when it comes to our betting patters and he seems sure to be overpriced in the circumstances.
Nope, my Tuesday bet will be a small one on CALYX in the Coventry Stakes for trainer John Gosden and jockey Frankie Dettori. We do not really know what he beat on his one run to date at Newmarket, but we do know he did it in breath taking style winning by five lengths despite showing all the signs of inexperience you would expect on his racecourse debut. He looks to have inherited plenty of speed from his father Kingman and although this is a tough race, he can only improve with more racing.
Moving on to Wednesday and my day will make or break on the first race thanks to Wesley Ward’s CHELSEA CLOISTERS who will be carrying my champagne fund in the opener.
As mentioned by cleverer people than me, the Brits have come unstuck on occasions in American races with the speed of the local horses break which sees them gone while ours are still moving in to gear. The daughter of First Samurai was out like a shot on her Keeneland debut over four and a half furlongs to make most of the running to come home eight lengths clear at the line.
If she gets away like that again I cannot see the others having anywhere near enough left to catch her and she ought to land the odds for the stable who won this in 2009 with Jealous Again and in 2015 and 2016 with Acapulco and Lady Aurelia.
On to Thursday and by now both me and my wallet are usually getting tired, but if I can’t get excited by the Gold Cup then it’s time to shut the coffin lid. It is always a good race despite the two and a half mile trip, but this season could be the best for some time if they all stand their ground, of course.
Order Of St George will be a tough nut to crack having won this race in 2016 before finishing a short head second to Big Orange last season but this field looks even stronger. John Gosdens Stradivarius is his nearest market rival with little between them on the early odds but has minor stamina questions to answer, and the value may lie with French raider VAZIRABAD in the hope that he handles the expected faster ground.
He has won over further than this on soft ground so his stamina is not in issue, while he has won fifteen of his twenty-two starts and heading to two and a half million pound in prize money yet still seems to be improving at the age of six. Do not expect to see him until late in the home straight here as is his style but he oozes class and at 5/1 or so warrants a punt however small.
Two days to go on Friday for those racegoers with more stamina than the Gold Cup winner and all eyes will be on FAIRYLAND in the Albany Stakes that kicks things off at 2.30pm. She has already proved she handles quicker ground despite being a daughter of Kodiac with wins at Naas and The Curragh when impressively taking the Listed marble Hill Stakes in late May.
With all the right noises coming out of the Aidan O’Brien stable about her wellbeing, a huge run is eagerly anticipated. No jockey bookings are known at this time but hopefully Ryan Moore will be on board and if so he can steer her home here before even better events await in the autumn.
Those of a certain age (old) may well remember when the Saturday was not part of the “Royal” meeting and those who turned up in top hat and tails were laughed at by the rest of us. But these days that is not the case as they spill over to another day, though to be fair the class of the racing is out of the top drawer and fully deserves to be known as “Day Five”.
I do like a top-class sprint especially if I can find the winner, and in HARRY ANGEL I feel I am looking good to come hope with the bookmaker spoils. He really is top class over the six furlongs he faces in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes and is a pretty confident selections despite the strength in depth in this field.
One run and one win this year at odds on in the Group Two Duke Of York Stales at York in mid-May will have put him spot-on for this. He has the form to win this regardless and is expected to keep on improving at the age of four in the famous Godolphin blue for trainer Clive Cox.
Sean’s “One A Day” Royal Ascot Selections
Calyx 3.05pm Tuesday
Chelsea Cloisters 2.30pm Wednesday
Vazirabad 4.20pm Thursday
Fairyland 2.30pm Friday
Harry Angel 4.20pm Saturday
Win singles and a small fun Lucky 31 (singles doubles trebles etc for thirty-one bets in total.)
Royal Ascot commences on Tuesday, picture Liesl King