A topsy turvy flat season regains some normality next week as Royal Ascot takes place in its normal slot, although curiously this year followed by the Derby meeting. The short gap from Guineas to the Royal meeting will also negatively impact several of the races, but who’s complaining? The time has come for 5 days of wall to wall class.
There has been a change to the traditional schedule, but day 1 still sees the Queen Anne and Kings Stand as the showpiece races. The mile division has lacked a star for some time and the Queen Anne will be a hard race to call, but the Kings Stand sees the return of public favourite speedster Battaash who has been pipped in this contest for the last two years by Blue Point and is finally free of that thorn in his side. The improving Irish raider Sceptical will be no pushover though and it could be a thrilling matchup.
Japan is the star draw on the Wednesday as he makes his reappearance in the Prince Of Wales Stakes. Twice a Group 1 winner last year and a runaway winner of the King Edward Stakes at this meeting 12 months ago, he is a tall strong horse that threatens to be even better this term. The opposition looks inferior and he could well be meeting banker material for some.
Ladies’ day won’t be quite the same behind closed doors, but crack stayer Stadivarius will be looking to strut his stuff once more in the Gold Cup on Thursday as he bids to emulate the legendary Yeats and become only the 2nd horse to land 3 successive renewals of this historic contest. The recent scratching of Kew Gardens, the horse that defeated him here in the Autumn means that he could be extremely hard to beat in his attempt to make history.
The Commonwealth Cup might not have existed 3 years ago, but it has already established itself as an important contest and has produced a number of really exciting types already. Perhaps this year’s contest lacks star quality, but it still acts as a compelling highlight to Friday’s card and may well produce a star of the future. Pierre Lapin did everything right when winning both his start last season and bids for the unbeaten hat trick. American handler Wesley Ward could post a serious danger in Kimari, just denied in last year’s Queen Mary here, but an improved horse since and arriving fit off the back of a ready win in his trial for this Stateside.
Sprinters again take centre stage on Saturday for the Diamond Jubilee Stakes in a race which looks completely open and is currently 6/1 the field at the Ante-Post stage. Perhaps Cape Byron could be the call having smashed last year’s Wokingham to pieces over this c&d. Good handicappers can often make the step up to top class sprinting company and his improvement may not be through yet.
Join me for a full preview of each day’s card the night beforehand.