It’s day 1 of Royal Ascot and the best day of the entire meeting.
We start with one of the races of the week “Queen Anne Stakes Group 1”. The foreign raiders head the market, French trained Solow & Hong Kong based Able Friend. Both horses come with huge reputation and are clearly outstanding horses in their own right, however I’m taking them on for different reasons.
Able Friend has been smashing up the same horses in Hong Kong but in the style of a very good horse. I’ve watched a few of his races and he's always asked to cut down his rivals on the turn for home before going away with ease. Ascot will be a huge culture shock for Able Friend that’s come from the other side of the world whilst this racecourse will be much stiffer than he’s used to. The main reason for taking him on though, is this race is a straight mile with no bend.
Able Friend will need cover and it won’t be easy to run down proper Group 1 horses that gallop all the way to the line.
Solow has done very well since dropping in trip, he’s won his last two Group 1 races but holes can be picked in that form. Last time out it was a 4 runner race and his main rival Cirrus Des Aigles snapped a shoe in half, he beat a 20-1 & 40-1 shot whilst Solow won’t have run on going quick as today. I do think he's got a better chance than the Able Friend and is the most likely winner but the race has a great EW look to it.
One of the above will flop that’s more than likely so Night Of Thunder & Toormore can pick up the pieces and grab places. Both are trained by Richard Hannon and have been aimed at this for a long time whilst have no worries or negatives against them. It’s possible both might not be good enough if the two overseas raiders are top class but I wouldn’t be surprised if they finished 2nd & 3rd or even 1st & 2nd.
Priced at 5-1 & 8-1 I’ve backed Night Of Thunder & Toormore EW and done a cheeky reverse forecast on the pair.
In the 3:05 Round Two looks a very smart colt, trainer Jim Bolger has gone on record saying this is one of the best horses he’s trained so that’s good enough for me. A return to six furlongs looks ideal and the price of 3-1 looks ok. There's also a good word around for Air Force Blue that wasn't fully fit first time up but still beat horses that have gone on and franked the form.
The King’s Stand Stakes at 3:40 is a great renewal, I can’t go against Muthmir who’s done us quite a few favours in the past. A stiff five furlongs on quick ground is ideal for this speedy type that doesn’t need holding up or wait for the gaps to arrive like a lot of his main rivals. Paul Hanagan should have Muthmir up with the pace from the outset I think he will take some passing when asked to go and win his race.
At 11-2 Muthmir can be backed EW.
No real interest in the 4:20, Gleneagles should win at a short price whilst we don’t have any proper EW terms. If the ground was softer a few pounds on Belardo could have given you a run for your money at 33-1 but it’s hard to see Gleneagles not winning.
I’ve had a few quid on Steady Pace in the 5:35 at 7-1, I was very taken by the Saeed bin Suroor trained 2yo on debut who looked v smart. He then finished 3rd in a Listed contest next time but didn’t have a great draw and reports suggest he came back off colour. Back working nicely at home Steady Pace looks a sporting EW bet to complete day 1.