Royal Ascot is the highlight of the UK Flat season and an event where the finest from these shores desperately want to taste success. But it’s also a mecca for equine talent from across the globe with star horses from all corners set for their shot at glory in Berkshire.
And ahead of this year’s five-day spectacular we’ve been taking a closer look at some of the raiding party.
Naturally, you’ll see some familiar names in there with returning star Lady Aurelia, saddled by Ascot aficionado and US trainer Wesley Ward among them.
But there are a few other horses that may have slipped under your radar.
Here’s our take on proceedings…
Country/Trainer: USA/Wesley Ward
Target(s): King’s Stand Stakes
Verdict: Well, we had to start with the obvious one, didn’t we? Last year’s stunning Queen Mary Stakes winner is back with the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes her target on the opening day. Her seven length success in Berkshire was followed by victory in the Prix Morny at Deauville before a third place in the Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket. Most recently seen obliging in the Listed Giant’s Causeway Stakes at her home track of Keeneland and by all accounts ready to roll again.
Country/Trainer: France/Pia Brandt
Target(s): Commonwealth Cup
Verdict: This year’s Commonwealth Cup is shaping-up to be the hottest race of the meeting given its strength in-depth. That’s exemplified by the fact that the impressive Fas is available at double-figure odds. The French colt has already upset the formbook twice this season, firstly by landing the Listed Prix Ronde de Nuit in front of hot favourite Tresorier. He then repeated the trick by breezing to a three and-a-half length success in the Group 3 Prix Sigy. His front-running style could well see his rivals playing catch-up should they allow him to run his race.
Country/Trainer: USA/Mark Casse
Target(s): Coronation Stakes
Verdict: Mark Casse has already tasted Group 1 success at Royal Ascot with Queen Anne Stakes heroine Tepin and he’s lining-up another assault with La Coronel. She has won four of her six races on Turf, including the Grade 3 Appalachian Stakes at Keeneland and Edgewood Stakes at Churchill Downs last time out. There’ll be some tough opposition in the Coronation but a bold bid can’t be ruled out.
Country/Trainer: France/Fabrice Chappet
Target(s): Coronation Stakes
Verdict: This French-trained filly is no doubt the apple of Fabrice Chappet’s eye having secured him a first Group 1 success in the Poule d’Essai des Pouliches last time out. And that wave of euphoria extended beyond the Channel as Irish owners Brendan and Anne-Marie Hayes also joined in the celebrations. She’ll need to be supplemented but having taken to a mile with aplomb there’s a feeling she could go well if taking her chance at Ascot.
Country/Trainer: USA/Todd Pletcher
Target(s): Queen Anne Stakes
Verdict: Can Todd Pletcher mastermind what would be a third Queen Anne win in the last five years for the US raiders? American Patriot landed his first Grade 1 victory in the Maker’s 46 Mile Stakes at Keeneland back in April and is said to be well-prepped for this cross-Atlantic assault. He’s got a tough favourite to beat in Ribchester but you can’t write off Pletcher and connections.
MISS TEMPLE CITY
Country/Trainer: USA/Graham Motion
Target(s): Queen Anne Stakes/Duke Of Cambridge Stakes
Odds: 33/1 for the Queen Anne
Verdict: A familiar name to most of us now having finished fourth in both 2015’s Coronation Stakes and last year’s Duke of Cambridge Stakes. Her form in her native homeland has been better with victory in the Grade 1 Matriach Stakes at Del Mar last time out hinting that she retains plenty of ability. Motion is confident that his mare is bigger, stronger and now more experienced than for her previous efforts in the UK. And he’s also hinted that she’ll be allowed to ‘run her race’ rather than adopt what he’s labelled ‘the European style’.
SIGNS OF BLESSING
Country/Trainer: France/Francois Rohaunt
Target(s): King’s Stand Stakes/Diamond Jubilee Stakes
Verdict: Third in last year’s Diamond Jubilee, experienced sprinter Signs Of Blessing is ready for another tilt at the big pots on offer this June. His subsequent wins in the Prix Maurice de Gheest and Prix de Saint-Georges mark him out as a horse of quality and it could well be that he finds more to take one of the opening day highlights.
Other members of the travelling party to look out for include Bill Mott’s first runner at the Royal meeting, Diamond Jubilee contender Long On Value (33/1).
Elsewhere, Ward’s Commonwealth Cup entrant Bound For Nowhere (12/1) and Didier Guillemin’s The Right Man (12/1 for the Diamond Jubilee) are also set to feature.
Click here for the latest Royal Ascot odds.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing