The Duke – Royal Ascot Day 1

Some of the newspapers, magazines and celebrity gossip sites would have you believe that Royal Ascot is all about the fashion. And the tabloids will lap up a story about a bit of fisticuffs like a hot Alsatian on a summer day. The racing is the key to a good week. Forget the fascinators, show me the next Frankel.

Indeed, it all starts with a race won by the aforementioned star, the Queen Anne Stakes. Rhododendron is favourite after landing the Lockinge at Newbury. She’s to be feared but Benbatl has gone from strength to strength this season and looked good in the Dubai Turf on World Cup night. Yoshida has looked classy in the States but of the international raiders Recoletos looks the most interesting although may need more cut in the ground. I love Limato but he’s better over shorter. I think a fag paper might split Rhododendron and Benbatl.

The Coventry could be the race to show a new champion and Calyx has been touted as a potential star of the future. Sergei Prokofiev is sired by Scat Daddy who has produced some very speedy types including Caravaggio who won the race a couple of years ago. At bigger prices Indigo Balance and Cosmic Law could get in the frame. I do think Sergei Prokofiev may be hard to beat.

Again, it looks between two horses for The King’s Stand. Lady Aurelia was magnificent in this last year and the year before in the Queen Mary. She will be hard pressed by Europe’s best sprinter at the moment, Battaash. It’s a tough call but I can’t help feeling Lady Aurelia was not primed for a Listed race at Keeneland in her last start. I think she could bounce back and win at the Royal meeting for the third year in a row.

Without Parole is favourite for the St. James Palace Stakes. He’s by Frankel and trained by John Gosden. However, his unbeaten form isn’t as good as others in the race and if you side with him you’re banking he has loads more potential. Romanised won the Irish 2,000 Guineas in great style and if he was trained by Gosden or O’Brien he’d be favourite. Similarly, Tip Two Win was runner-up in the English 2,000 Guineas and the horse who finished behind him in third was Derby winner Masar. I am backing Romanised and I hope he wins. Enjoy every day at Royal Ascot, it’s the best Flat racing of the year

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