Emma Spencer: The Royal Ascot Group 1 Preview
Looking ahead to the showpieces of Flat racing’s most prestigious meet
Royal Ascot is just around the corner and there will be an abundance of quality vying for the lucrative prize money.
While I’m sure there will be plenty of charges turning my head on the day, I’ve already forged some pretty strong opinions on the Group 1s, so this is my rundown of Royal Ascot’s top races.
King’s Stand Stakes
I think Shea Shea is obviously very, very good but I also think he’s vulnerable. The 2/1 favourite has a frightening turn of foot, as we’ve seen when landing some extremely profitable races at the Dubai World Cup meet.
I do, however, think it’s going to be a very different race to what he’s encountered before, with the ground for one being completely different to what he’s been running on at Meydan. His handler Mike De Kock hasn’t got a very good record in England either, and is yet to land a Group contest on British soil.
What he does have in his favour are the trends, with seven of the last ten winners being foreign runners. But my preference goes to a different overseas raider in Sham Express and at 10/1 he is a very good price.
I went to see him the other day and I was very impressed by how well he looked. He’s also won a very good race in Australia called the Newmarket Handicap, which is one of the big sprints over there and I think he’s got a tremendous chance
Prince of Wales Stakes
A lot of people see this race as a match between Al Kazeem and Camelot in a rematch of this year’s Irish Derby. They’re obviously both quality horses but I think Al Kazeem will confirm form again and get the better of O’Brien’s charge.
I must admit I’m not a fan of Camelot. I think he had a very tough race in the 2012 Irish Derby and just hasn’t been the same since.
I’m going to be going for The Fugue each-way. She’s a very good filly and 1m2f on very fast ground is just what she needs.
She was very good in the Ribblesdale at the meet last year, finishing second in a quality field and there should be a bit of value about her.
Ascot Gold Cup
I’m really keen on the Queen’s horse Estimate, available at 9/2. She’s two from two at Ascot and we see year in year out how crucial course form is at the Berkshire track.
Obviously we don’t know if she stays but there’s no reason to suggest she shouldn’t and I think she’s an improving filly that ticks plenty of boxes.
The veteran Rite of Passage, 6/1, was a top class hurlder and has been just as exalted on the Flat, evidenced by his Ascot Long Distance Cup win, but he’s had his problems and it’s not a certainty that he will run yet.
Simenon, 8/1, has plenty of experience winning at Ascot as a dual winner at the meet last year, but this is a step up and I don’t think he’s going to be quite good enough. The same goes for Saddler’s Rock, 8/1, although he was third in the race last year and fast ground will definitely suit.
Everyone’s billing this as a clash between Sky Lantern, the 1000 Guineas Winner and Just The Judge, who won the equivalent on the other side of the Irish Sea.
Personally, I think Just The Judge wants further, with 1m2f likely to be her ideal trip, but I still think she’ll come out on top. But, if she runs I’d put up Hot Snap as my pick
She beat Sky Lantern very easily in the trial in extremely impressive fashion, and then bombed out for whatever reason in the Guineas as favourite.
She’s got to be better than that and I’d be inclined to give her another chance at what is likely to be a good price. She’s got bags of ability and I think it’s quite easy to forgive that run.
Diamond Jubilee Stakes
I think 4/1 favourite Society Rock’s chances are, fittingly, rock solid.
He should have nearly won the race last year when Black Caviar just got there but wasn’t right. He looked restless in the stalls and was away slowly but showed the sort of ability he has when running on well in the final furlong. He won the race the year before and loves Ascot
On his last run, he did well to win the Duke of York under a penalty and I just think that sets the standard.
I would watch out for Sea Siren though and at 10/1 I think she’s very interesting.
Her owners, the Australian Coolmore syndicate that have got a flawless record bringing horses over for Group 1s and I think they’re quite excited about her chances. I went to see her the other day and she looked very well.
It’s sure to be a fantastic week though and I’ll be providing daily blogs throughout the week that you’ll be able to find at Ladbrokes News to keep you in the know.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.