Opening Day at Royal Ascot is here and who better than Rob Dove — one of the top 10 propounders in the UK today — to get us off to a good start. Here are his thoughts on the three Group 1s. Take it away, Dove!
QUEEN ANNE: 9:30 ET
Accidental Agent- last years winner got a near perfect trip wit there being a small headwind got to come right through the middle & get up late, could have a similar trip here but drawn on the wing and might find a couple too good.
Barney Roy- returns from a failed stud career seemingly in good form, had to show a decent turn of speed to win in france off slow fractions last time out & if stepping forward again to his 3 year old form is a major player.
Beat The Bank- 6th in this last year, has shown flashes of good form but comes into this on the back of a dull effort in the Lockinge, hanging under pressure.
Dream Castle- Was good in dubai in the winter after a gelding operation but Dubai form is always questionable coming back to UK, his last run in the Prix d’Isphan was ok , he looekd to have a chance a furlong before fading & they presumably think he didn’t stay with the cut back.
Hazapour- Unexposed at the trip won a Group 3 last time out but the time was unimpressive and the form hasn’t worked out .
Le Brivido- won the Jersey 2 years ago clearly had his problems with just 1 run in 2018 was then moved to Aidan O’brien shaped well in the Lockinge getting caught in a bad position 2 furlongs out before staying on well . Possibly ready to fire his biggest effort yet for the new yard here.
Lord Glitters- last years 2nd fired a very big effort in Meydan behind Almond Eye in March but followed it up with a below form run in the Lockinge, if on a going day should be thereabouts.
Matterhorn- Had a long winter and fired a huge speed figure winning the winter derby but hasn’t proved to be as good back on turf and alot to prove here on the cut back in trip.
Mustashry- Ran a career best in the Lockinge, fast on the clock & highly rated on form. Is he a typical Sir Michael Stoute improver or will he regress to the mean? Well drawn to just track the main pace.
Mythical Magic – ran some nice races in Dubai but again can’t take that too literally & a poor effort in the Lockinge leaves him with alot to find.
Olmedo- last years French 2000 guinea’s winner had been disappointing since but showed signs of a return to form in his last run, the favourites in that didn’t perform though .
Romanised- last years shock Irish 2000 guinea’s winner also had been not showing much since but ran well in the Lockinge tracking the winner but fading late on.
Sharja Bridge- Won the Balmoral handicap over course and distance last October and his first 2 starts this year were ok but needs to improve on them and a poor run in the Lockinge tempers enthusiasm.
Stormy Atlantic- 4th in the QeII over course and distance last October on soft ground was ok but the forms not worked out well and has been picking off easy targets in Germany this year. Well drawn though and should get a good ride .
Laurens- This admirable filly ran poorly in the QeII last October and this track may not play to her strengths vulnerable to those ridden with more patience but she made a nice return in the Lockinge and figures to improve for that run.
One Master- Was a fairly lucky winner of the Prix de la Foret getting a clean run while others got locked up but then ran a sneaky good race in the Breeders Cup Mile being stuck down the inner (not the place to be) most of the way but staying on well to not go down by much. Follwed that up with a solid enough run in Hong Kong. On her return the race went against her, there was a bias to the leaders but she made up some expensive lengths before fading .
VERDICT: MUSTASHRY looks the most likely winnner if he can back up his Lockinge run but ONE MASTER also looks worth an each way play
KING’S STAND: 10:40 ET
Battash- Has run some monster figures but has also thrown in some lesser ones often in Group 1s and last year he was picked off by Blue Point after going hard & giving that rival a good target to aim at. They are drawn wide apart this year and Battash may struggle to get that early cover that may help him fire his best shot. Still a prime contender who deserves a big win based on his body of work.
Blue Point- His form dropped off a bit last year after winning this but looked headed back in the right direction in Dubai, Will he come back in the same form? The draw in 1 doesn’t look ideal as Battash and the main pace is drawn higher. Could be tricky.
Enzo’s Lad- Doesn’t look to be coming here in much form, hard to reccomend
Equilateral- strong traveller who doesn’t win very often & isn’t the strongest in the finish but shouldn’t be far away, maybe one for exotics?
Imprimus- Did well to win last time after stumbling out of the gates, is live on figures and may be underestimated. Has looked special in his last two starts and has a great shot to hit the board.
Judicial-Hold up type who could pick up some pieces but a fair bit to find.
Houtzen- Aussie sprinter who surely needs to improve to be invovled
Mabs Cross- Very consistent and likeable mare was well behind Battash last time but that was him on his best day , expect her to be coming home strongly late.
Sergei Prokofiev- likely to be well bet because of his connections and his sire Scat Daddy has a very good record at the meeting. One to be against.
Soldier’s Call- ran very well in the Abbaye as a 2 year old came back with a decent run and could improve on that but needs to, likely to lead & may help Battash.
Fairyland- Probably didn’t stay in her 2 guineas runs but she was worse on the 2nd run and may not be going in right direction.
Signora Cabello- Blinkers on needs to make a difference as not been in much form .
Would be nice to see Battash win this well but IMPRIMUS looks a contender and a must use in exotics.
ST. JAMES’ PALACE: 11:20 ET
Bell Rock- Ran ok in the Heron and met some trouble in the straight, alot to find with King of Comedy on that run.
Circus Maximus- Dropping down in trip after a moderate derby run blinkers on , the main runner for Aidan O’brien . Likely to be aggressively ridden .
Fox Champion- Made all to win the German 2000 guineas last time that form needs improving on and looks unlikely to get an easy lead.
King of Comedy- very similar profile to Without Parole who also won a maiden at Yarmouth in fast time before winning the Heron. This lad has improved on figures in each start and if he does again here will be hard to handle.
Phoenix of Spain- Big rangy type who appears to have improved nicely from 2 to 3. A very impressive win in the Irish 2000 guineas from Too Darn Hot makes him a solid favourite here. He did get to the front very easily there though on a track that was clearly favouring speed and may have a bit more competition here.
Royal Marine- Was well backed for the Craven but was keen & met some trouble but alot to find on the back of his poor showing at Newmarket.
Shaman- A keen going sort, pressed a fairly strong pace in the French 2000 guineas was passed by the very good Persian King but rallied well in the closing stages to hold off San Donato. The time was quick and the French 3 year olds look a fair group this year.
Skardu- 3rd in the Guineas when winning his side had a good enough trip in the Irish 2000 just tracking the winner but fading and not sure he’s going to improve here.
The Irish Rover- not entirely sure what this is in the field for has alot to prove, maybe a tactical runner.
Too Darn Hot- Champion 2 year old been written off by some as not having trained on but in the Dante he was out done by Telecaster stealing a few lengths on him and having to make them up in the expensive part of the race. Turned out 9 days later in the Irish 2000 guineas and ran ok but suspect he still has more to give.
Van Beethoven- ran ok in the Irish Guineas from off the pace alot to find here but if it’s a strong pace could pick up some pieces late.
Too Darn Hot I think is a likely winner but at the prices SHAMAN looks overlooked and on the clock he’s right up there with the favourites.