This year’s Royal Ascot meeting is fast approaching and ahead of proceedings our odds-compilers are fearing the worst given the number of short-priced favourites in the headline contests.
Five of the eight Group 1 races feature well-fancied runners with antepost punters quick to try and steal a march on the layers.
Ribchester looks set to get the bookie bashing underway in the very first race on the Tuesday, the Queen Anne Stakes.
And we think the Richard Fahey-trained charge has got outstanding claims. But what about the rest?
Here’s our take on the Royal Ascot hotpots…
The way Ribchester made all to take this year’s Lockinge Stakes, coupled with the relative lack of depth in this contest, makes him one of the stronger leading fancies.
Lightning Spear finished nearly four lengths behind the jolly at Newbury and as such is rated the 7/1 next best in this market.
That’s a fair assessment and one that further highlights the gulf between Ribchester and his likely rivals.
Verdict: One of the bankers of the meeting.
An enticing 2000 Guineas re-match between Churchill and Barney Roy is in store in the St. James’s Palace Stakes.
That race at Newmarket was set-up perfectly by Aidan O’Brien’s team but even so it was hard not to be taken by Churchill’s lethal turn of foot and professional nature.
However, there’s an argument that Barney Roy will better appreciate Ascot and should he take to the Berkshire track then a win for the favourite is far from guaranteed.
Verdict: Hard to fault the jolly but wouldn’t be backing at the current price.
That man O’Brien has an embarrassment of riches at his disposal with Order Of St George a warm order to complete back-to-back Gold Cup wins.
The five-year-old is versatile with regards to the ground and has prepared nicely by landing another Saval Beg Stakes at Leopardstown.
But there are some lively outsiders amongst the rest of the field, including Long Distance Cup conqueror Sheikhzayedroad and French raider Vazirabad.
Verdict: He’s odds-against and that’s enough to get us interested but others look better value.
*EDIT – This article was published before Vazirabad was scratched from the Gold Cup. Order Of St George is now 10/11 although we’re still keen to take him on!*
This could be one of the best races across the five days with a number of the entrants holding leading claims.
Caravaggio has done nothing wrong to date, winning on each of his five previous starts. Last year’s Coventry Stakes hero has been particularly impressive in this season’s Phoenix Stakes and Lacken Stakes and is difficult to oppose on the bare form.
But with the likes of Sandy Lane Stakes star Harry Angel ready to serve it up this renewal could take on an unpredictable complexion.
Verdict: A hot renewal with plenty of possibilities. Don’t rush in.
Rhododendron was supposed to be O’Brien’s star filly this term. But as it’s turned out stablemate Winter has emerged as the yard’s leading lady.
The recruit from David Wachman arguably didn’t get the full credit she deserved for landing the 1000 Guineas at HQ.
However, her follow-up performance in the Irish equivalent at the Curragh has left no doubt that she’s the real deal.
Gutsy Fred Darling Stakes winner Dabyah is one of the only other viable contenders according to the latest odds. But with her being absent since that triumph in April this contest looks to be at the mercy of the favourite.
Verdict: Another Group 1 race, another Ballydoyle favourite. And this one looks rock solid.
Click here for the latest Royal Ascot odds.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing