To go alongside the European Championships in France we now have five afternoons of the best flat racing.
This year has a bit more of a worldwide feel to it with the presence of a few more American runners plus the odd Asian charge.
Here is a quick look through the card on Day 1.
14:30 Queen Anne Stakes
Last year’s winner and top miler Solow misses out through injury meaning this race is a wide open affair.
The French pairing of Ervedya and Esoterique look the two to concentrate on. The latter was second in this race last year and a flat straight track plays to her strengths. This six year old trained by Andre Fabre can go one better this year and is likely to have come on for her first start of the season when second to Attendu when giving plenty of weight away.
Ervedya won the Coronation Stakes at this meeting last June. She was also second on her return to the track when well beaten by Vadamos and she was carrying a Group 1 penalty in that. She came from the back and was doing her best work late, so the stronger gallop should suit.
Roger Varian’s Belardo will love the ground. She was second over track and trip in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes last Ocotber following Solow. He has won two from three starts this season, including the Lockinge last time out. Giving weight away to the fillies they may also be slightly better.
Tepin is the unknown quantity and comes into this having won 9 of her last 11 in the USA. She has encountered soft ground and handled it when beating her ten rivals by a long way. If she has taken the travelling and acclimatisation then she could be a big player.
Advice: Esoterique (0.5pt Each-Way 15/2)
15:05 Coventry Stakes
A Group 2 race for the two year olds and the winner does tend to come from towards the head of the betting.
Caravaggio has won both of his starts in good fashion, especially when stepped up into a Listed race on his second start. The grey recorded a good speed figure when he beat Mister Trader at the Curragh. Aidan O’Brien will have had this race targeted for this juvenile and so far he’s lived up to expectation. The ground shouldn’t be an issue either and he has shaped like the extra furlong would suit.
Psychedelic Funk was very impressive when winning his second start by 6l and the way he asserted himself suggested he was in the top bracket. The form doesn’t look particularly strong but the 3rd has since placed in a Listed race. He is likely to be suited by a big field and the stronger pace it is likely to be run at.
At an each-way price is Mark Johnston’s Yalta. This two year old has done nothing wrong in his two starts. It has been said he has strengthened up since his win at Pontefract, which makes you feel he’ll make his presence felt in this race. The trainers yard had been quiet until the end of last week and there are signs of his horses running back to form. He looks an each-way play to nothing in this race, as I think he’ll hit the frame.
Of the rest then Mokarris and Thunder Snow both looked smart on debut having made winning start. The former handled cut in the ground at Haydock and Simon Crisford is a shrewd cookie when placing his horses. Both of that pair may have improvement to come meaning they are considered.
Advice: Yalta (0.5pt Each-Way 8/1)
15:40 King’s Stand Stakes
Acapulco’s defection to probably run in the Commonwealth Cup reduces the field to 20.
Mecca’s Angel receives weight from her male counterparts and she showed us her class last year on the Knavesmire when winning the Nunthorpe. She’ll have come on for her first run of this season at Haydock but I’m looking to take her on considering favourites don’t have the greatest of records in this race.
Profitable has won both starts this season for Clive Cox and both have come on this sort of ground. He travels well into his races, so the fact this should be run at a quick gallop should suit this son of Invincible Sprit. He does step up into Group 1 company once more but his performances have suggested he cope with that and give Adam Kirby a big winner on the turf.
Another one at a price that can hit the frame is Waady. He has finished third behind Profitable on both starts this season and is a horse that will run on at the finish to probably pick up the pieces and place rather than win. He represents John Gosden, who will have probably aimed to get him fully prepared for this race rather than anything earlier.
Others to mention are last year’s winner Goldream, who sprung a surprise at 20/1 for trainer Robert Cowell, who is synonymous for saddling talented sprinters. Also Pearl Secret, who was 4th last year and 3rd back in 2013. He shaped with encouragement on reappearance and David Barron’s runners always tend to require that first run of the season.
Advice: Profitable (1pt Each-Way 5/1)
Waady (0.5pt Each-Way 16/1)
16:20 St James Palace Stakes
A really good-looking Group 1 with three talented milers in the field. Aidan O’Brien’s The Gurkha was an impressive winner of the Poule D’Essai Des Poulains considering he had to overcome a wide draw. Listen, he is one that looked likely to keep improving and I’m sure the lads will be hoping for a big run from the likely favourite.
Kevin Prendergast has spoken highly of Awtaad and it is fair to say he is a bit of a unit this son of Cape Cross. He’s won all three of his starts this season and made good horses look average. He won the Irish 2000 Guineas seeing off Galileo Gold and the highly touted Blue De Vega. The rain softened ground will further enhance his chances.
Galileo Gold won the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket but didn’t take his chance in the Derby due to a genes test. He needs to find something more to reverse the form with Awtaad here. Emotionless returns following a disappointing run in the Dewhurst where in the post script it was found he had a chip on his left fore knee. This is his first start since then, so he is one to watch rather than back on his return.
Advice: Awtaad (1pt Win 15/8)
17:00 Ascot Stakes
This is one of the longest races of the meeting over 2m4f and it isn’t a race that really appeals from a betting perspective.
Pique Sous returned from a long absence at the Curragh last month and is likely to have come on for the run with the trip he ran over likely to have been too sharp. Prior to that run he was last seen winning the Queen Alexandra Stakes, so this should be fit up his street. His best form is on quick ground, so might be worth taking on. Ryan Moore teamed up with Willie Mullins to win this race last year.
Dermot Weld’s string are flying it’s fair to say. Silver Concorde was a close 3rd in the Chester Cup but the step up in trip has to be a concern for this son of Dansili, who didn’t seem to be finishing his races over 2m over hurdles.
A chance is taken on the Godolphin charge Galizzi, who made a winning return to the flat at Goodwood just nine days ago after being tried over obstacles for John Ferguson. He does carry a 3lb penalty but he looks well treated by the way he put that race to bed. He travelled menacingly and was a very comfortable winner. At his current price he is worth a small bet if he handles the ground.
Advice: Galizzi (0.5pt Each-Way 10/1)
17:35 Windsor Castle Stakes
The final race of the day is another race for the juveniles over 5f and there might be a form tie from the Coventry Stakes to latch onto.
Mister Trader was a winner on debut in taking fashion and on his second start bumped into Caravaggio. Connections should be pleased with that effort, as he was still over 4l clear of the third horse home. He is one that could take them along and kick for home saying catch me if you can. This smart colt is worth siding with in this sort of contest.
Wesley Ward won this race two years ago with Hootenanny and this time around he has brought filly Big City Dreamin to feature. If like the rest of his juveniles she’ll be a big stamp of a horse and be a speedster. She was a winner on debut at Keeneland on the dirt in a six-runner race. Switching to turf, which is on the soft side has to be a slight concern.
The Godolphin pairing of US trained Drafted and Kananee. The former broke the Keeneland track record over 4 & a ½ furlongs on the dirt track in a four runner race where he beat a 1/5 Wesley Ward runner. Again handling the turf then looks an interesting prospect. Kananee has had two runs and just held on when making all at York where the 2nd has come out and won since. York form can be baffling in all honesty but he looked promising. With an extra run over the majority of these could be more professional and worth looking at for a double priced poke.
Advice: Mister Trader (0.5pt Each-Way 8/1)