IN-FORM racing expert Graeme Johnston (@GraemeJ_83) picks out his best bet from Day 1 of Royal Ascot on Tuesday.
3:05 Ascot | Coventry Stakes | ITV
The Coventry Stakes is the premier early season two year-old race and as ever this looks a great race. A huge field go to post and with no fewer than 17 previous winners, this is hugely competitive despite the market indicating it’s perhaps a two-horse race.
Sergei Prokofiev (11/4 Unibet) has long been the favourite for this race and given his sires phenomenal Ascot record it’s easy to see why. A winner of two of his three starts he looks the one to beat here and I wouldn’t want to put anyone off him too much, however with such a big field I’m looking for a bigger priced runner.
Calyx (11/4 Ladbrokes) shot to prominence with an emphatic win on debut at Newmarket giving the brilliant Kingman his first win as a stallion. He is clearly a talented young colt and won impressively despite being green so is worth his place at the head of the market, but like Sergei Prokofiev he is a short price for such a big field.
The one I like here is the Jessica Harrington-trained Indigo Balance (14/1 Bet365). He won well on debut at the Curragh, where despite being slowly away he travelled like a good horse and put the race to bed when asked.
I was quite taken by his performance, and when asked about her runners this week Harrington said she expects even more from him here. I feel he offers great each-way value.
3:40 Ascot | King’s Stand Stakes | ITV
The King’s Stand will be fast and furious and it’s possible this year’s renewal will be a little faster than normal. Fourteen go to post for this, and despite there being four or five who would have big chances in a normal renewal, I feel this very much looks a two-horse race.
Lady Aurelia (7/4 William Hill) is two from two at Royal Ascot and her win in the Queen Mary was one of my favourite memories from this meeting. She won this race last year in great style too, however since then she has lost all three starts.
Now I know this is her target, her trainer excels at this meeting and she loves the track, but she meets the toughest rival she is yet to face here, and in my opinion, would need to put up a career best to win this.
On his day Battaash (11/4 Ladbrokes) is the best sprinter in Europe, in my opinion, and this is his chance to prove that. He is a fiery individual and has lost more than one race before the start, however when he puts it all together he is an incredible sight.
On his return at Newbury almost everything went wrong yet he won and with the promise of more to come I am backing him here, however I will be waiting to place any bet until post time in case the occasion gets the better of him.
4:20 Ascot | St James’ Palace Stakes | ITV
The St James Palace Stakes is one of the most prestigious races for the classic generation and though it’s maybe lacking a little in star quality this is a fascinating renewal. The big stables are well represented but I’m backing one of the smaller yards to take this prize home.
Without Parole (3/1 William Hill) is favourite for this and for the life of me I cannot understand his price. Okay, so he is a well bred son of Frankel who represents the John Gosden yard, and will be ridden by Frankie Dettori, but his achievements on the track don’t back up his odds.
He won two smaller races by wide margins, however he meets proven Group 1 horses here and, despite the hype, I can’t back him.
Tip Two Win (11/2 Paddy Power) was second to Saxon Warrior in the 2000 Guineas when a huge price and connections are confident he can win this. His form last year was good, however I’m not sure if he will confirm that Newmarket form here, and as much as I would like to see him run well he’s not for me.
I am however backing the surprise winner of the Irish 2000 Guineas. Romanised (11/2 BetVictor) ran out a good winner of the Curragh feature beating two of Tuesday’s rivals and I suspect we are finally seeing the best of him.
He spent last year racing in top juvenile races without success, however he’s developing into a really top colt and I feel he is still underrated. I think he will go very close here.