Thursday 18th of July 2024

Royal Ascot 2017 Preview – Day 1

Royal Ascot is the Olympics for the thoroughbred; a week’s racing to savour and simply the best race meeting in the World. Tuesday is considered the strongest day with three Group 1’s run on the first day, which kicks off with the one of the leading races of the week, the Queen Anne Stakes (Gr 1), writes Bloodstock Consultant Clive Webb-Carter. 

Run over a straight mile for horses’ four-years-old and up, the roll of honour includes the likes of Frankel the world’s best thoroughbred. This year’s renewal looks to perhaps have the banker of the meeting for many with Godolphin-owned Ribchester (Iffraaj). This Richard Fahey-trained 4-y-o, who was the joint-champion 3-y-o miler in Europe last season, has already the Lockinge Stakes (Gr 1) this year.

If the ground comes up soft his strongest rival will be David Simcock-trained Lightning Spear (Pivotal), who was not only runner-up in the Lockinge Stakes, but was third in this race last year.

The William Haggas-trained Mutakayyf (Sea The Stars) is one who is proven at Ascot having won the Summer Mile (Gr 2) last July and he is at his best on summer ground. Having not raced since fifth in the Dubai Turf (Gr 1) on World Cup night in March, the six-year-old Mutakayyf is often best fresh.

The St James’s Palace Stakes (Gr 1), run on the round course mile for three-year-old colts’, is another of the day’s highlights. This year’s race will be dominated by the Coolmore-owned Churchill (Galileo). This Aidan O’Brien-trained colt followed up being the Europe’s Champion two-year-old by winning both Newmarket’s and the Irish 2,000 Guineas (Gr 1) this spring.

The Richard Hannon-trained Barney Roy (Excelbration) will try and win a race again. Purchased by Godolphin after his taking maiden win last September, Barney Roy proved to be an impressive winner of the JLT Greenham Stakes (Gr 3), before chasing home Churchill in the 2,000 Guineas (Gr 1).

Churchill was chased home by Saeed bin Suroor-trained Thunder Snow (Helmet) in the Irish 2,000 Guineas (Gr 1) and this fellow Godolphin runner, who won both the UAE 2,000 Guineas and Derby during the Dubai Carnival, will be looking to add to his previous Group 1 win last year; he could run a big race.

Laugh Aloud ridden by James Doyle
© Andy Watts /

The first race for the two-year-olds is the Coventry Stakes (Gr 2). Run over six furlongs this race consists of many unexposed two-year-olds.  It has been a year to remember for Jessica Harington having won the Cheltenham Gold Cup with Sizing John and she could well have a couple of Royal Ascot winners which includes Brother Bear (Kodiac). Unbeaten in two starts, Brother Bear put a smart performance in to win a Listed race by three lengths last time out. 

Richard Hannon has a pair of smart colts’ due to line up. The first is the Al Shaqab Racing’s unbeaten Denaar (Acclamation), who put up an impressive display to win his second race at Newbury last time out; a race that was won last year by then top two-year-old Mehmas. 

Hannon also trains De Bruyne Horse (Showcasing) who put up a speedy performance to win the Investec Woodcote Stakes on Derby day at Epsom. Royal Ascot has proved to be a fruitful picking ground for the US-based trainer Wesley Ward and he has Arawak (Uncle Mo). Winner of his maiden at Belmont Park at the end of May, Arawak will, like many of Ward’s runners, try and make all.

Aidan O’Brien’s record in the Coventry Stakes is exceptional having won the race eight times since 1997. His leading runner this year is the winner Declarationofpeace, who is by the same sire, War Front, as his 2013 winner War Command. Another leading contender will be the recent impressive maiden winner Verbal Dexterity (Vocalised), who won his maiden by nine and a half lengths over seven furlongs.

The third race of the day will be for the sprinters, the King’s Stand Stakes (Gr 1), run over five furlongs. This is always a hotly contested race and this year is no exception, with three top-class fillies look likely go head to head. The speedy Wesley Ward-trained Lady Aurelia (Scat Daddy), winner of the Queen Mary Stakes (Gr 1) at last years Royal Ascot, heads the market.

Having won her warm-up race at Keeneland by two and a half lengths, Lady Aurelia will be sharp out the stalls and will make use of her blazing speed. Lady Aurelia’s strongest rival is another daugther of the late US sire Scat Daddy, in Acapulco. Trained by Wesley Ward to win the 2015 Queen Mary Stakes (Gr 2), she was transferred to the Aidan O’Brien’s Coolmore stables in April which was followed by a Listed race win over five furlongs.

Elite Racing Club’s Marsha (Acclamation) is another filly who looks to have an outstanding chance. The Sir Mark Prescott-trained four-year-old won the Qatar Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp (Gr 1) at the end of last season before following up with a good win in the Longholes Palace House Stakes (Gr 2) at this season’s Craven meeting.

Top sprint sire Invincible Spirit has three well fancied runners which includes last year’s winner Profitable. The Clive Cox-trainer runner will be looking to get in the winner enclosure for the first time in a year. Signs Of Blessing (Invincible Spirit) is another Group 1 winning sprinter looking to add to his CV.

Invincible Spirit final runner is Hamdan Al Maktoum’s William Haggas-trained Muthmir. The hardened six-year-old has made a good start to the season with two wins including the Prix du Gros-Chene (Gr 2) at beginning of June. Clive Cox also runs the progressive Priceless (Exceed And Excel), who won the Armstrong Aggregates Temple Stakes (Gr 2) at the end of last month when the better of the 2015 King’s Stand winner Goldream (Oasis Dream), who also lines up on Tuesday. Coolmore’s consistent sprinter Washington DC (Zoffany) will be looking to go one better in Group 1 company having been runner-up in last year’s Qatar Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp (Gr 1).

Clive Webb-Carter Bloodstock Services

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