Ryan Moore’s second victory of the week aboard the Willie Mullins-trained stayer Simenon in the final race of last year’s Royal Ascot handed him the much coveted title of top jockey for the meeting and the South Downs pilot is 2/1 joint favourite with Richard Hughes to claim that honour for a second consecutive year.
Moore’s chances are crystal clear: with his fruitful long-term partnerships with Sir Michael Stoute, Aidan O’Brien and Ed Dunlop he has the ammunition and can bank on picking up plenty of useful spare rides from smaller yards in the meeting’s handicaps thanks to his freelance status.
Joint favourite Hughes has been a jockey of the highest calibre for a while now, but his first Classic win only arrived this season, when he scooped the 1000 Guineas aboard Sky Lantern. The Oaks promptly followed on Ralph Beckett’s Talent, but Hughes could find his stable jockey job with big-time handler Richard Hannon a blessing and a curse at the Royal meeting.
Hughsie drew a blank at last year’s shindig and the fact that he’s committed to riding his yard’s plentiful supply of runners wherever they compete on the card may mean he lacks Moore’s ability to cherry-pick mounts.
The same can be said of Joseph O’Brien – a 3/1 top Royal Ascot rider chance – whose father’s Magician rates as the only ante-post jolly currently in his portfolio. He also has tallness in common with Hughes and the fact that his lowest riding weight in the last year is 8st13lbs will limit the amount of handicap rides he can hope to pick up.
Furthermore, O’Brien’s record at Ascot has been relatively modest in his career so far, with two wins from 24 rides across the last five years. Like O’Brien, Paul Hanagan has found the Berkshire circuit a far from profitable hunting ground with six winners from 101 rides in the same time frame.
One man who had more reason to curse Moore’s final race win at last year’s meeting than most was William Buick, whose fourth aboard Zuider Zee in the same race saw him lose the top jockey title to his rival by a single place after the pair had tied for five winners each.
Buick booted in all five scorers for boss John Gosden last year in races varying from juvenile events, to handicaps, to Group 1s and he’ll be assured a range of quality rides from the Newmarket handler again this year.
At 10/1 to be Royal Ascot’s top jockey Buick rates the value alternative to the in-form jockey’s championship leader Moore.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.