Day 2 of Royal Ascot is upon us and the two year olds take center stage to open up proceedings, with the US well represented. Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf winner Audarya is back for her first start since a trip to Keeneland, but she takes on several heavy hitters in the likes of Love, Lord North and Armory to name a few. Another exciting day in the UK as the world class racing is just getting started at Royal Ascot 2021.
Race 1: GII Queen Mary Stakes – 5 Furlongs, 2 YO Fillies
19 – Twilight Gleaming – If Ascot had separate pool wagering this year, I would expect the US betting to make Twilight Gleaming a significant underlay in the market. However, due to the introduction of World Pool, or commingled pool wagering, this impressive Wesley Ward trainee should be well worth the investment. Had a similar prep to other Wesley Ascot hopefuls and showed a ton of ability in his only start over the grass.
11 – Illustrating – Looked like a very mature type on debut over the undulating turf at Catterick. Looked to handle the ground well and get similar conditions at racetime. Her sire, Showcasing, is no stranger to producing young 5 furlong winners at the Royal Meeting.
2 – Beautiful Sunshine – Heavy favorite in her last two in fillies’ novice company. Shown more than enough ability to compete in this spot. Main question will be the ground, has little experience over the firm going in her short career and as the progression of Ardad as a sire continues, he himself preferred a little give in the ground.
Race 2: GII Queen’s Vase Stakes – 1 3/4 Miles, 3 YOs
8 – Law Of The Sea – Have to throw out the last effort in the Chester Vase. He never looked comfortable and was eased by Frankie as they approached the straight. His efforts prior to that at the mile and a half were very impressive and he should appreciate the ground.
14 – Wordsmith – If there were any questions about the distance after being run down by Sir Lucan LTO, his breeding should cover that. By Galileo out of the dam of top marathoner Kew Gardens, a phenomenal stayer in his own right who also defeated the great Stradivarius over 2 Miles. His last two efforts warrant him to be a heavy favorite. Very capable of winning but value could be elsewhere.
3 – Dancing King – Looking to make it five in a row in a jump to stakes company. Showed a new element to his ability last start having to grind out a tough win towards the line at an extended distance. Drops slightly back in trip today and looks to have more improvement ahead of him.
Race 3: GII Duke of Cambridge Stakes – 1 Mile, 4 & Up F&Ms
1 – Champers Elysees – This daughter of Elzaam has a ton of ability but is yet to show it in 2021. We saw flashes of her talent as the three year old and getting to the Royal Meeting third up this preparation could be just what she needs. One thing she hasn’t had is a lot of races on a firm track. Her top performance came in the Matron at Leopardstown, which was on good ground. Several of her 4th place efforts came with a lot of cut in the track. This could be an ideal spot for her to show what she’s got.
2 – Lady Bowthorpe – Last two efforts make her an easy choice for the favorite in this spot. One of the few horses that has given Palace Pier a run for his money. Her form from the Dahlia Stakes is even more impressive after a narrow margin win over rival Queen Power, who went on to roll in a group two next time out.
4 – Queen Power – The form around Lady Bowthorpe has shown great promise, and Queen Power herself continues to show improvement with every start. Her blitzing of the Middleton Fillies Stakes at York continues the progression we have seen from her this season. The form at the mile has been okay but seems to want a bit more distance.
Race 4: GI Prince Of Wales’s Stakes – 1 1/4 Miles, 4 & Up
7 – Love – The challenge that faces Love will be one of her toughest. Going into open company for the first time in a Group One against recent winners of the Dubai Turf and Breeders’ Cup, not to mention it’s her first start in almost ten months. It would take a very special horse to pull off this victory, however I believe Love is that horse. Her talent was shown off in a big way last year and rain cost her potential favoritism for the Arc. Not a fan of the price per say, but if she moves up in the market at all, she’s a good bet.
6 – Audarya – She is more than capable of competing with the two at the top of the market. She’s known for her Breeders’ Cup triumph, but her efforts in France prior give even more faith in how consistently good she can be. I don’t believe she is as talented a horse as Love, however the odds on ante post betting currently make her a huge overlay in this race.
3 – Lord North – He proved a lot of people wrong when he blew away a strong field in this race last year. Although his losses in 2020 left a bit to be desired, they were at the hands of the likes of Ghaiyyath, Magical and Tarnawa, horses that were considered some last year’s best in the world. He is the deserving favorite for this race based on circumstance and recent performance. With that being said, the value will most likely be elsewhere.
Avoid: 1 – Armory – He’s had a consistently good career and looked good first up in the Huxley Stakes. With that being said, he was never a horse I have been high on, especially in Group One company. The form of horses coming back from Australia has been disappointing and I don’t expect him to be on the level of the top horses in the market. If Armory wins, I lose.
Race 5: Royal Hunt Cup (Handicap) – 1 Mile, 3 & Up
2 – Haqeeqy – Winner of the prestigious Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster to start the year, Haqeeqy stepped up into listed company and was beaten by several horses with good form around them. A strong effort from Sir Busker in the Queen Anne and Oh This Is Us who has back to back stakes triumphs to his name. The highweight in this field, should be a decent price despite potentially being the favorite.
7 – Beat Le Bon – Has consistent form over the ground and distance. Defeated against quality listed stakes runners two back at Leicester, moving back into handicap company is a positive and gets the services of Hollie Doyle, who can never be overlooked in these major handicaps.
8 – Maydanny – Second up this preparation and showed good pace at a mile and an eighth. Drops back to the mile for Mark Johnston and Shadwell. Jim Crowley jumps off, however Haqeeqy is the bigger name of the two so that is little surprise. Dane O’Neill should have a live chance with this horse.
Race 6: Windsor Castle Stakes – 5 Furlongs, 2 YOs
11 – Dig Two – Back to back wins for this son of Cotai Glory, himself a stakes winner over this distance at two. Following the 2nd place effort of Eldrickjones in the Coventry, sire Cotai Glory looks to build on his success at the royal meeting and this horse is capable of doing just that. A winner over this distance at Newmarket, he is an improving type that continues to build his connection with rider James Doyle.
10 – Chipotle – Outside of being my favorite fast casual restaurant, Chipotle looked a good type first time out and backed it up over this course and distance on good to firm ground, albeit against a short field. The effort in the National Stakes wasn’t his best but looks a lot worse based on where he finished. He was staying on late and seems to be a horse that favors firm ground.
17 – Lord Gorgeous – One of the few horses in this field who have stepped up in stakes company and despite a poor placing was not disgraced in that effort. This colt by Bated Breath was tested second up to break the maiden over the all weather at Dundalk and young rider Ben Coen is new to Royal Ascot but continues to prove his ability over in Ireland.
Race 7: Kensington Palace Handicap – 1 Mile, 4 & Up F&Ms
4 – Stunning Beauty – Seems that the key to her success was leaving Dubai. Throw out the form of two starts at Meydan and she’s a totally different horse. She will relish the good to firm going and breeding suggests she could even want a bit more distance being out of a mare who placed in an Epsom and Yorkshire Oaks at a mile and a half.
1 – Lights On – Has form over similar ground at Nottingham, as well as a game victory at Ascot LTO. Never been out of the money in six career starts and seems to be just figuring out how to win. Still see room for improvement going forward with this horse.
3 – Waliyak – Several decent performances over the mile and a quarter and will enjoy getting back to Ascot. Another horse that on pedigree you would think wants longer than a mile, but dropping back to the mile at last year’s royal meeting seemed to work pretty well.