Royal Ascot: Day 1 Preview

One of the best days in horse racing is upon us with the start of Royal Ascot.

Where the best of the best meet, several prestigious races are up for grabs on opening day, with the headline races being the Queen Anne Stakes and St James’s Palace Stakes. 

Ahead of what is set to be a superb day of racing, here is our preview of every race which features several horses to keep an eye out for across the card.

Queen Anne Stakes, Group 1 - 1 Mile 

Twelve runners will head down to post for the Queen Anne Stakes where France and Jerome Reynier will hope to get off to a winning start with Facteur Cheval. 

A winner of the Dubai Turf earlier this year at Meydan, he also has decent Royal Ascot form when finishing second in last year’s QEII Stakes.

Having progressed this year, he could be tough to pass in front. 

Audience routed all before him in the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury and finished well clear of the heavily fancied Charyn who he takes on once again here. That was raced over seven furlongs and there are concerns over whether he will be able to last the extended trip here. However, if he is granted an easy lead he could be hard to peg back.

Charyn is a graded winner in his own right and finished third in this race last year. The drop down to 7 furlongs for the Lockinge didn’t seem to suit and he will be hoping that a return to a mile will see him in a better light. Many believe he should have the conditions to reverse that form here. 

Other horses to consider are Big Rock, Maljoom and Docklands.

Coventry Stakes, Group 2 - 6 Furlongs 

23 horses will head down to post for the Coventry Stakes and it’s fair to say that this contest is wide open. 

Joseph O’Brien had a fine record at Ascot as a jockey and will hope to notch another winner as a trainer

He sends Cowardofthecounty into this race fresh off the back of a taking debut at the Curragh. He beat a subsequent Listed winner in that race and O’Brien will be hoping for another big showing here.

Andesite was another winner on debut and will hope to take another huge leap forward here. Whilst his win at York wasn’t against the classiest of opposition, the manner of his win was decisive and he could be another one for the shortlist.

Aiden O’Brien will hope to launch his Royal Ascot campaign with a victory for Camille Pissaro. 

So often we see O’Brien filling these types of races with lots of horses but Camille Pissaro is his sole entrant so hopes must be high. 

Immaculately bred, he certainly has the scope to win this race and his connections will hope he can build on his runner up effort in the Grade 3 Marble Hill when last seen. 

Charlie Appleby will be hoping for more Royal Ascot success and he saddles two in the race, Symbol of Honour and Al Qudra. 

Symbol of Honour has been victorious at five furlongs and seven furlongs so there are hopes that this versatile horse will be able to handle the drop down in trip here.

Al Qudra is the choice of stable jockey William Buick so that has to tell you something. A winner of a valuable Listed contest last time out, he is another who takes a step down in trip but there will be high hopes of another bold showing. 

Coventry Stakes, Group 2 - 6 Furlongs

King Charles III Stakes, Group 1 - 5 furlongs 

The big races keep on coming and the King Charles III Stakes will see seventeen horses head down to post. 

Big Evs made a pleasing seasonal return at York when hanging on for a win in much lesser company. That race was designed to blow the cobwebs away and he should be far fitter here. A former Breeders Cup winner, he has speed in abundance and will be a very popular bet. 

Regional is an interesting runner, a classy operator at six furlongs, his connections are sending him into a battle yet again for another crack at five furlongs. He loves to lead and his chances of success will be indicated by how well he can jump away. If he can jump to the front his proven stamina could prove to be decisive.

Believing represents the very talented George Boughey and he is another who tends to be more comfortable at 6 furlongs rather than 5. However, he warmed up nicely for this contest with a victory two weeks ago in a listed race over  this shorter trip and if he can reproduce that effort here he could be a danger to all in the field. 

One to watch at a big price could be Crimson Advocate. US bred and trained through the early part of his career he certainly has the speed to contend. 

Denied by Big Evs in the Breeders Cup, he will be making his debut for John Gosden today and could be one to watch with real interest. 

St James Palace Stakes, Group 1 - 7 furlongs

Just seven horses have been declared for the St James Palace Stakes, where the unbeaten Notable Speech will be putting his record on the line in the hopes of landing another prestigious contest. 

The winner of the 2,000 Guineas, his victory was his first on turf so there are a few question marks as to how he will be able to handle this new track. However, there are no doubts about his class, and if firing he is the one they all need to beat. 

Rosallion finished behind Notable Speech in the 2000 Guineas and will hope to reverse that form here. Able to put that defeat behind him, he produced a cracker of a run to land the Irish 2,000 Guineas and once again he will be firmly in the frame here. If you want some value, he has to be the play.

Aiden O’Brien has a fine record in this race and sends in the talented Henry Longfellow. Unbeaten through the first three races of his career, he became unstuck in the French Guineas when meeting significant traffic in running. He could be forgiven for that run and looks like another major contender.

Ascot Stakes, Handicap - 2 Miles and 3 Furlongs 

A valuable staying handicap, the Ascot Stakes usually attracts jumps trainers to the race and over the last few years, Willie Mullins has enjoyed a fine record in the race. He once again looks to have a good chance and he sends in My Lyka.

Whilst his form is nothing to write home about, he is a stayer through and through and will hope to outlast them all as they turn for home. 

Gordon Elliott is another who has won races at this famous flat meeting and Pied Piper looks to be a strong candidate here. Placed at the Cheltenham Festival, he is classy and he has also placed in high level flat races including the 2023 Cesarewitch. If this race turns into a stamina test he is one to be side with. 

Once placed as the favourite for the Triumph Hurdle, Tritonic for Alan King hasn’t quite been able to live up to the hype and will hope to get his career back on track with a success today. Splitting his time between chase and flat racing, he has had seven starts on the flat and has performed well. He may lack the class of some in the field but at a big price he could be a player.

Zanndabad is another who splits his time between the flat and chase circuits but he warmed up for this race with a third place finish in the Chester Cup. Timing his challenge too late, he would have won had the race been a little longer and there are high hopes that if William Buick can time it right here he could be tough to stop this time around.

Ascot Stakes, Handicap - 2 Miles and 3 Furlongs 

Wolferton Stakes, Listed Race - 1 Mile and 1 Furlong 

Another big field awaits in the Wolferton Stakes with sixteen runners having been entered. 

Botanical brings in winning form following a superb performance at the York Dante meeting and he could be hard to stop here if able to reproduce something similar. 

Israr is a former Group 2 winner but hasn’t won any of his last five races. Having found one too good on a few occasions, he will need things to fall right this time around if he is to have a say in proceedings. 

At a huge price Ouzo could be worth monitoring. He has won his last three races but will need to produce another big run here if he is to challenge. However no horse is thriving more than him and he could be worth chancing at a big price. 

Copper Horse, Handicap - 1 Mile and 6 Furlongs 

The first day of Royal Ascot concludes with another staying contest. Once again Willie Mullins will have his eye on another prize and Belloccio will start as the favorite. 

A Listed winner on the flat, he showed he has lost none of his class when cruising to a win over hurdles when making his debut for Mullins last month. Mullins produced the 1-2 in this race last season and will have high hopes of producing a similar result here. 

Ryan Moore who often represents Mullins in these races will instead linkup with Sir Michael Stoute in the hope that Fox Journey can spoil the Mullins party.

In great form, he cruised to victory on his seasonal reappearance at Newbury a month ago and will hope to run another big race here. With stamina to boot, he should be able to match his rivals but does have an additional ten pounds to contend with following his Newbury victory.

My Mate Mozzie has been getting better as a jumper and has placed in Group 1 company over the larger obstacles. No mug on the flat either, he has placed in some top staying flat races and could play a part here. Gavin Cromwell’s reputation in the game is growing and he will be hoping to enhance it even further with his first Royal Ascot success.