Royal Ascot 2018
Thursday, June 14, 2018
Key Runners at Royal Ascot
We are now just days away from the start of Royal Ascot and this year’s festival is shaping up to be another star-studded classic. Punters can look forward to a raft of Group 1 races featuring the leading runners in the business. The organisers have increased the overall prize purse by 10% and it has surged past the £7 million mark, but the sheer prestige is enough to attract the very best trainers in the UK and further afield. The festival runs Tuesday, June 19, until Saturday, June 23, and there is at least one Group 1 race every day, so you can expect to see a raft of superstars, but here are some key runners to keep an eye on:
The £400,000 King’s Stand Stakes is the feature race on day one of the festival and Charles Hills’ four-year-old is the ante-post favourite for glory. He has won five of his last six races and displayed blistering pace throughout the season. It looks set to develop into a thrilling battle between Battaash and Lady Aurelia, who got the better of him in the Nunthorpe Stakes at York last August. Hills is up for a rematch though, buoyed by Battaash’s impressive victory in the Group 2 Temple Stakes last month.
The Prince of Wales Stakes takes centre stage on the Wednesday and leading middle-distance runners in the business will battle it out for a share of £750,000. Cartier Horse of the Year contender Cracksman is dominating the headlines in the build-up to the big race, and he also leads the betting. Find a well-reviewed bookmaker like YouWager, get the best odds on the market from a trusted bookmaker and get involved, because great things are expected of Cracksman. He is the 5/4 favourite and that looks like an great price on a horse that heads into Royal Ascot on a sensational five-race winning streak. He ended 2017 as the top ranked three-year-old in the world after following up wins in the Great Voltigeur Stakes and the Prix Noel with an emphatic seven-length victory in the Champion Stakes. He has continued to beat all comers this season, and he will take some beating at Royal Ascot.
The Commonwealth Cup looks wide open, but Sioux Nation, Equilateral, US Navy Flag, Invincible Army and Sand Of Mali are clustered at the top of the betting. It might pay to look for each-way value in this hotly contested race, and the unbeaten Main Desire looks interesting at 20/1. She looks under-rated after returning from a lengthy injury with a gutsy victory in the Westow Stakes, and she could spring an upset at Royal Ascot.
Order Of St George
Aidan O’Brien will loom large over Royal Ascot, and he will hope to see Order Of St George make amends for last year’s Gold Cup defeat. This stamina-sapping contest always attracts a field of superstar stayers, and last year this son of Galileo could not quite justify his favourite tag. He went off at 5/6, but suffered a narrow defeat at the hands of 5/1 shot Big Orange. He is hoping to go one better this year, and he is vying for favouritism with Stradivarius.
Star sprinter Harry Angel has secured five wins and three runner-up finishes in nine career starts, and that run has taken in some ferociously competitive races. A sensational three-year-old season saw him better his elders to claim successive Group Ones in the July Cup at Newmarket and the Sprint Cup at Haydock, and he looks even stronger this time around. He eased back into things with a comfortable victory in the Group 2 Duke of York Clipper Logistics Stakes last month, and he is fancied to get the better of Merchant Navy and Australian hope Redkirk Warrior in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes.