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royal ascot 20 06 2023 sport preview

Royal Ascot Day One – Racing Tips

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Royal Ascot, Day One – 20/06/2023

The wait is finally over, and the highlight of the Flat season is finally here. The 35-races that make up Royal Ascot will get underway at 2:30 with the traditional opening to the meeting, the Queen Anne Stakes.

Check out our teams’ thoughts on the opening race and the St James Palace stakes later in the day (4:20). As well as the feature races, our team of Racing experts have also looked at the rest of the card and found several selections that look to represent some decent value on day 1.

3:05 Coventry Stakes (Group 2)

This race has seemed to revolve around River Tiber for some time. Aiden O’Brien’s colt has looked very impressive with 2 wins at Navan and Naas. He has produced a time figure of over 100 on both occasions and that sets a very high standard for the others to achieve.

However, any value in his price has long gone and in a full field of unexposed 2-year-olds there may be some decent each-way value against him. You have to respect any juvenile that Wesley Ward sends over, but he has never won this race and the suspicion is that Fandom may well be a 5-furlong speedster and whether the stiff 6-furlongs at Ascot will suit is open to question. Frankie Dettori has ridden both The Wow Signal and Calyx to win this race in the last 10-years and his booking to ride Givemethebeatboys could be significant.

Jessica Harrington is having a good season so far, operating at a 29% strike rate and she has a very healthy strike rate at with her runners at Ascot (20%). Her son of Bungle IntheJungle made a winning debut at Navan in May and followed that up with a battling display to win the Marble Hill stakes at the Curragh 2-weeks later. He recorded a time figure of 103 when getting the better of Noche Magica and that only leaves him with a couple of pounds to find with the favourite. He is bred to continue to improve as his dam went on to win over 12-furlongs as a 3-year-old for John Oxx, but his Sire puts a lot of speed and precocity into his progeny, especially his juveniles and he looks ready for this test.

3:40 King’s Stand Stakes (Group 1)

This is a wide-open renewal of this race. Highfield Princess is a worthy favourite after a fantastic 2022 campaign and she confirmed that all of her ability remains with a very promising second place finish in the Duke of York Stakes, with the return to this stiff 5-furlongs looking ideal for her. She will run her race, but she is another favourite where any obvious value in her price has gone.

The Australian pair, Cannonball and Coolangatta, are both good horses but they are 10lbs or so short of the form shown by Nature Strip before he came over to win this race 12-months ago and are worth opposing at their current prices. With a good each-way shape to the market, we will take a chance on Marshman.

After a win at Chantilly on his return, he travelled like the winner in the Duke of York stakes, but a combination of not quite getting home over 6-furlongs and racing on the wrong side of the track probably played against him. It was a similar story at Chantilly last time, where he was drawn high and had to use too much energy to get into a good early position. He was beaten less than a length, which in hindsight looks a superb effort and the market has probably overreacted to recent form figures of 5,3.

5:00 – Ascot Stakes

Willie Mullins and Ryan Moore have a superb record in this race, winning with Simenon (2012), Clondaw Warrior (2015) and Thomas Hobson (2017). Bring on the Night has been very lightly raced since joining Willie Mullins and in fact, he hasn’t been seen since finishing second to Coltrane in this race 12-months ago. He’s 4bs higher this time around but in a race over such an extreme trip that is unlikely to matter too much and there can be no doubt that Willie Mullins is more than capable of getting a horse ready to run after a long break.

This has presumably been the plan for some time, and it could definitely be argued that this year’s race is weaker than last, where he bumped into a genuine Gold Cup contender. From his last 17-runners in this race, Willie Mullins has had 4 winners and 8 placings, and you can back all of his entries each-way and make a tidy profit. With such a good record and a horse who still looks well treated, he is an obvious bet.

6:10 – Copper Horse Handicap

As we have already seen, Willie Mullins has a superb record in Royal Ascot handicaps, and he looks to hold the key to the final race on Day 1 too.

All eyes will be on Vauban. A Triumph hurdle winner running in a Flat handicap on a mark of 101 is very tempting, especially as he was such a smart Flat horse when he was trained by Philippe Decouz in France. He won a Listed race at Vichy in 2021 and if he is able to run to that level, he should go very close, but there is another Mullins runner who makes some appeal on the same mark, but the market has paid less attention to him.

Absurde ran to a high standard for Carlos Laffon-Parias, winning twice and signing off his time in France with a 4-length defeat in a Group 3. He made his debut for Willie Mullins by winning a Novice hurdle at Killarney by 3-lengths last month. This is a completely different set of circumstances, but he should come on for his first start since June 2022 and the booking of William Buick would suggest that connections mean business.

A handicap mark of 101 is very fair based on the form that he showed in France, and he represents some decent each-way value against his better known stablemate.

Our team will be back tomorrow with their top picks for the second day of the Royal Meeting.

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