Thousands of racegoers will descend on the sleepy town of Ascot this week, the men wearing top hat and tails, while the women will be adorning a range of designer labels – and umbrellas if the rain persists.
Nothing quite beats Royal Ascot when it comes to glamour or high class flat racing with the best horses in the world travelling at speed. It all gets under way on Tuesday at 2.30pm with the Queen Anne Stakes.
Queen Anne Stakes (2.30)
This race is run over one mile and is a fantastic way to open five days of exceptional racing. Will it be a straight shootout between Canford Cliffs and Goldikova, as the current odds suggest? Canford Cliffs won at Royal Ascot in 2009 and 2010, with Coral offering a stand-out 11/8 that the horse claims a hat-trick of sorts.
However, Goldikova has won an astonishing 13 Group One races and Ladbrokes’ 6/4 about the Freddie Head-trained charge might not last until the off. Perhaps it would be unwise to rule out Cape Blanco, who has serious credentials and can be backed at 7/1 with Paddy Power.
King’s Stand Stakes (3.05)
After the excitement of the Queen Anne Stakes, punters have just enough time to get their breath back (and collect any winnings) before another Group 1 contest and this one is over the slightly shorter distance of five furlongs.
There are going to be several raiders from outside Europe who attend Royal Ascot and Star Witness will be the only one to go off favourite (4/1 bet365 – £200 free betting offer), with Sole Power (7/1 bet365), Kingsgate Native (9/1 Coral) and Bridgetown (14/1 Skybet) expected to mount a stiff challenge.
St. James’s Palace Stakes (3.45)
For many punters, this will be a race where they lump on the favourite in the hope to add 33% to their return and many people believe that Frankel can’t be beaten. It helps to explain why Ladbrokes (£30 free bets) quote 1/3 about the 2000 Guineas winner, with the Henry Cecil horse bidding to win a third Group One race.
Excelebration and Wootton Bassett are the two runners that could cause the favourite a few problems, currently available at 8/1 (bet365) and 14/1 (Paddy Power) respectively. Excelebration landed the German 2000 Guineas and connections are confident.
Coventry Stakes (4.25)
This is a Group 2 race for two-year-olds run over a distance of six furlongs and it is Mezmaar and Power that head the market, with the former on offer at 4/1 with Paddy Power (£100 free bet) and the latter a 5/1 chance with bet365. However, it could instead be worth backing Gatepost at odds of 8/1 (Ladbrokes), with victories at Folkestone and York suggesting there is plenty to come from this juvenile.