Royal Ascot 2019
Thursday 13th June 2019
Lockinge Provides Clues for Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot
The Queen Anne Stakes over the straight mile is the first of eight Group 1 races that run at Royal Ascot. Many of the top British and Irish thoroughbred racehorses are targeting the eight-furlong event, which opens the prestigious five-day meeting on Tuesday, 18 June. It is not the first top-level race over this distance in the season, however, and the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury, which took place around a month beforehand, can give punters clues about the race.
The versatile Mustashry landed the Lockinge in ready fashion but has also won events over seven furlongs and up to a mile-and-a-quarter. Trained by Sir Michael Stoute, who saddled three consecutive Queen Anne winners between 2000 and 2002, the Hamdan Al Maktoum-owned gelding is bidding to become the first six-year-old in modern times to win this race. With Mr Green, Mustashry is the second favourite to win this event at 9/2, surpassed only by Le Brivido. The bookmaker offers both ante-post, which are already available now, as well as "live-right-now" bets that will become interesting with the start of the race. Despite Mustashry's favourable position in the Queen Anne Stakes, he did go into the Lockinge on the back of a run and that means rivals who take him on again could strip fitter for it.
Chief among those is the tough Karl Burke-trained filly Laurens. A far more consistent animal in Group 1 company, the four-year-old needed her first run of last season. Laurens made great strides after chasing home shock 66/1 outsider Billesdon Brook in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket, winning four of her next five starts. She was far from disgraced on her second start in open company when chasing home Mustashry after 210 days off the track, and it would be no surprise to see the daughter of Siyouni resume winning ways at 7/1.
Accidental Agent sprang a surprise when outrunning odds of 33/1 for trainer Eve Johnson Houghton and winning the Queen Anne 12 months ago. While the five-year-old son of Delegator hasn't scored since then, he shaped well when close behind Mustashry and Laurens and beaten just three lengths in the Lockinge. It was an improvement of two places since last year for Accidental Agent. As a course and distance winner, he cannot be discounted at 10/1.
French import Le Brivido was an eye-catching recruit to the Aidan O'Brien stable at Ballydoyle in Ireland for this season. The five-year-old has been unlucky on both his starts for his new handler after leaving the care of Andre Fabre and was denied a clear run at a key stage in Lockinge before making real headway in the closing stages. As a fast-finishing fifth and beaten only four lengths, granted a smoother passage through the Queen Anne Stakes if he takes up his entry, Le Brivido - a Royal Ascot winner over seven furlongs in the 2017 Jersey Stakes - is respected at 4/1. He is leading the ranking at the moment.
Barney Roy also recorded victory at the meeting two years ago when taking the Group 1 St James's Palace over the round mile. While his career at stud failed, owners Godolphin were happy to put him back into training. Now he's joined Charlie Appleby's stable after previously being trained by Richard Hannon. Barney Roy came on for his first start in 557 days by winning a listed race in France. Back on form, the five-year-old gelding has to have claims at 7/1, although it's worth remembering a straight mile usually demands more than running around a bend.
Roger Varian has enjoyed a terrific start to the British Flat turf season, and Zabeel Prince has won both his starts this campaign, including a Group 1 over in France. This six-year-old gelding is very lightly-raced and beat Mustashry in the Group 3 Earl Of Sefton Stakes over nine furlongs on reappearance. That Newmarket form has a strong look to it as each of the first four homes have come out and won since. At the same odds as Laurens (7/1), Zabeel Prince has to come into calculations too.