The opening day of Royal Ascot is always one of the most eagerly-anticipated days in the racing calendar and this year it looks set to live up to all the usual expectations. Each of the three Group 1 contests have assembled a glittering array of equine superstars, headlined by Palace Pier, Battaash and Poetic Flare.
Fans are going to be in the stands for the Royal Ascot meet which goes through Saturday.
Racecard from Racing Post here.
TUESDAY, OPENING DAY RACE PREVIEWS – The Queen Anne Stakes (2.30pm) is back in its usual position as the Royal Ascot curtain raiser and racegoers look set to be treated to a memorable renewal. Palace Pier will be a warm favourite to get Frankie Dettori off to a flying start and he is currently the highest-rated racehorse in the world, having returned to action this year with two easy victories including the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes last time out.
He won the St James’s Palace Stakes last year and John Gosden’s star four-year-old will take all the beating. Order Of Australia, the choice of Ryan Moore, could provide some strong opposition though having been a Breeders’ Cup winner in November while track specialists Sir Busker and Bless Him could also run well at big prices.
The brilliant Battaash bids for back-to-back wins in the King’s Stand Stakes (3.40pm) but the world’s best sprinter faces a field full of quality and will need to be close to his best to win on seasonal reappearance as a seven-year-old. The three-year-old filly Winter Power gets all the weight allowances and looks a rapid improver having won a Listed race at York stylishly in May while Liberty Beach won the Group 2 Temple Stakes at Haydock having been third in this last year.
Her Majesty The Queen is represented by King’s Lynn who put up a career-best effort at Haydock in May and is not without a chance. Two fascinating American raiders also line up in the shape of Extravagant Kid, a Group 1 winner in Dubai when last seen, and Maven for Royal Ascot favourite Wesley Ward.
James Bredin, racing manager for owner DARRS, Inc., said: “Extravagant Kid is doing great. I flew out to Dubai to saddle him, and he looks the same now as he did then. He is eight years of age now, so he is a great traveller. I think the key to shipping a horse is that you have to keep them eating and drinking – and he has done all that.
“We opted for the King’s Stand Stakes because Ryan [Moore] felt the strong uphill finish over five furlongs would really suit him. It probably plays like a six-furlong race anyway, but if it turns out we have got it wrong, we will blame Ryan!
“Extravagant Kid is a quirky old horse and wasn’t really finishing off his races until recently. He ran a super race at the Breeders’ Cup to finish fourth from the widest draw, when he was never able to save any ground. If you look at Trakus, he ran something like 28 feet further than Glass Slippers and was beaten just over a length.
“His owner David Ross claimed him out of a race at Gulfstream three and a half years ago. In America, you put your claim slip in before the race is run, so you don’t really know how things are going to work out. The horse was 20/1 that day and it has turned out to be a very astute claim. Mr Ross is over here now, quarantining in London, and is really looking forward to having his first Royal Ascot runner.”
Ward could already be on the board by that point as he saddles the highly-rated Kaufymaker in the Coventry Stakes (3.05pm), the opening two-year-old contest of the meeting. She won her only start to date so far on the dirt in America and bids to become the trainer’s first ever two-year-old winner at Royal Ascot over further than five furlongs.
The final Group 1 of the day is the St James’s Palace Stakes (4.20pm) over the Old Mile course. The 2,000 Guineas winner Poetic Flare lines up having since been beaten in the French and Irish versions of the mile Classic for colts but will be back on his favoured quick ground here and has a strong chance. Battleground was disappointing at Newmarket but won at Royal Ascot last year as a two-year-old and has been well supported in the lead up.
Mostahdaf is a perfect three from three for John and Thady Gosden but this is a big step up in class after a Listed win at Sandown. Thunder Moon is another that needs to bounce back from a disappointing run in the Guineas but he was an outstanding juvenile and might yet make up into a top-class three-year-old.
Grand National winner jockey Rachael Blackmore has a strong chance of adding a Royal Ascot success to her phenomenal 2021 when she partners Cape Gentleman in the Ascot Stakes (5.00pm).
A Grade 2 winner over hurdles, Emmet Mullins’ five-year-old has only run once in a handicap on the Flat when winning the Irish Cesarewitch and could still be well treated here. Willie Mullins is also well represented with three runners while Coeur De Lion bids to repeat last year’s success in the race for Alan King.
ROYAL ASCOT FULL SCHEDULE
TUESDAY JUNE 15
14:30: The Queen Anne Stakes (Group 1)
15:05: The Coventry Stakes (Group 2)
15:40: The King’s Stand Stakes (Group 1)
16:20: The St James’s Palace Stakes (Group 1)
17:00: The Ascot Stakes (Handicap) (Class 2) (0-100)
17:35: The Wolferton Stakes (Listed)
18:10: The Copper Horse Stakes (Handicap) (Class 2) (0-105)
WEDNESDAY JUNE 16
14:30: The Queen Mary Stakes (Group 2)
15:05: The Queen’s Vase (Group 2)
15:40: The Duke of Cambridge Stakes (Group 2)
16:20: The Prince of Wales’s Stakes (Group 1)
17:00: The Royal Hunt Cup (Heritage Handicap) (Class 2) (Open)
17:35: The Windsor Castle Stakes (Listed)
18:10: The Kensington Palace Stakes (Handicap) (Class 2) (0-105)
THURSDAY JUNE 17
14:30: The Norfolk Stakes (Group 2)
15:05: The Hampton Court Stakes (Group 3)
15:40: The Ribblesdale Stakes (Group 2)
16:15: The Gold Cup (Group 1)
17:00: The Britannia Stakes (Heritage Handicap) (Class 2) (0-105)
17:35: The King George V Stakes (Handicap) (Class 2) (0-105)
18:10: The Buckingham Palace Stakes (Handicap) (Class 2) (0-105)
FRIDAY JUNE 18
14:30: The Albany Stakes (Group 3)
15:05: The King Edward VII Stakes (Group 2)
15:40: The Commonwealth Cup (Group 1)
16:20: The Coronation Stakes (Group 1)
17:00: The Sandringham Stakes (Handicap) (Class 2) (0-105)
17:35: The Duke of Edinburgh Stakes (Handicap) (Class 2) (0-105)
18:10: The Palace of Holyroodhouse Stakes (Handicap) (Class 2) (0-105)
SATURDAY JUNE 19
14:30: The Chesham Stakes (Listed)
15:05: The Jersey Stakes (Group 3)
15:40: The Hardwicke Stakes (Group 2)
16:20: The Diamond Jubilee Stakes (Group 1)
17:00: The Wokingham Stakes (Heritage Handicap) (Class 2) (0-110)
17:35: The Golden Gates Stakes (Handicap) (Class 2) (0-105)
18:10: The Queen Alexandra Stakes (Conditions) (Class 2)