Had you followed all of Andy Stephens's betting advice at Royal Ascot last year you would have made a profit of about £700, with his winning tips including a double on second-day winners Ribchester (9-1) and Persuasive (13-2). Below are his fancies for day one of the 2017 meeting
The bigger the field, the bigger the certainty so the saying goes and that theory will be tested in the first race of Royal Ascot this year when Ribchester will have to overcome 15 rivals in the Queen Anne Stakes.
Bookmakers will be hoping the 4-5 market leader finds some trouble in running or gets lit up by a bump or two early on from a potentially tricky draw in stall one.
I’m in no hurry to oppose him, though, because he stands out on form, is racing over his optimum trip, is proven at the track and seems at home on any ground.
He thumped Lightning Spear in the Lockinge last time (he now leads that rival 4-0 in their clashes) and is going to take the world of beating, especially as the keen-going four-year-old will be helped by the presence of two pacemakers (Toscanini and Dutch Uncle) and Kaspersky, drawn near him, who usually strides forward.
I’m happy to put Ribchester in accumulator bets but, for single purposes, will be having a few quid each-way on Miss Temple City at a general 28-1.
The American-trained mare ran a cracker at the meeting two years ago when a close fourth behind Ervedya and Found in the Coronation Stakes, and did well to fill the same position behind Usherette in the Duke Of Cambridge Stakes last year because the soft ground was all against her.
This time the going will be very much in her favour and, given her keen nature, the end-to-end gallop will also play to her strengths. Some will shun her after a 198-day absence since a Grade One win at Del Mar but one of her best career efforts came when winning another contest at the highest level at Keeneland last spring after six months off.
The St James’s Palace Stakes lacks depth and seems likely to develop into a match between Churchill and Barney Roy, but I’m not telling you anything you do not already know there as the pair dominate the market.
Plenty seem convinced Barney Roy was unlucky not to beat Churchill in the 2,000 Guineas but I left Newmarket thinking the best horse had won and keep in mind that Aidan O’Brien had also been concerned that his colt might be vulnerable on his return to racefit rivals.
Churchill followed up in the Irish equivalent without too much bother and I fancy he will extend his winning sequence to eight. The bookmakers will not pay you more if he wins with his head in his chest, so give him a break if he gets the job done again without being spectacular.
From a betting perspective, it will be fascinating to see how Lady Aurelia travels in the market ahead of the the King’s Stand Stakes.
Having been found to bled after her defeat in the Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket last autumn, I reckon she will represent “damaged goods” to the big hitters and layers, so it would be no surprise if Wesley Ward’s filly drifted near the off.
The majority of horses bleed to some extent during their careers (we and their trainers just don’t know it) and the memory of her astonishing Queen Mary win 12 months ago lingers. That performance was also supported heavily by the clock.
Carrying 9st, she won in a time that was 1.14sec outside standard. The previous day, under similar conditions with 9st 4lb on his back, Profitable had won the King’s Stand over the same course and distance in a time that was 3.69sec outside standard.
Given the weight-for-age scale (Profitable would have had to concede 27lb to Lady Aurelia in the Nunthorpe two months later had they met in the race) it was an astonishing effort and Tuesday will be the first time that the flying filly has since raced over a bare five furlongs.
Her fluent reappearance win against older rivals over five-and-a-half furlongs at Keeneland in April shows the daughter of Scat Daddy has trained on and she put in a strong piece of work under Ryan Moore at Ascot last week after which, according to the trainer, the jockey was raving about her.
The 5f sprinters are not a vintage bunch and, in receipt of weight from all her rivals, Lady Aurelia has the potential to give them a hammering.
Ward’s team did not mess about in their spins at Ascot and another to impress was Nootka Sound, who worked much better than galloping companion Elizabeth Darcy.
That suggests the runaway Keeneland winner is well above average - Elizabeth Darcy had herself shone when winning by almost eight lengths first time up - and jockey bookings (Frankie Dettori is on board) seem to confirm she is the stable’s principal player for the Windsor Castle Stakes, which Ward has landed twice before.
Ward also has a leading contender for the Coventry Stakes in the shape of Arawak but preference is for the Ken Condon-trained Romanised, who is available at 16-1.
Romanised looked a colt bound for much better things when winning an 18-runner maiden on fast ground at Navan in late April - showing a bright turn of foot to get up close home after getting stuck on the rail and having to switch around rivals who got first run on him.
Declarationofpeace (third) and Another Batt (fifth) have franked the form with subsequent easy wins.
Romanised is bred to stay at least a mile but his sire, Holy Roman Emperor, was a Group One winner over 6f as a two-year-old.
Finally, the Nicky Henderson-trained Beyond Conceit gets the nod in the Ascot Stakes.
He developed into a leading staying novice hurdler for Henderson during the winter and showed useful form in staying races when last running on the Flat in 2013.
Henderson won the 2011 Ascot Stakes with Veiled and has also had several other runners perform well in the race. He has a knack of identifying exactly the right sort for it and Jamie Spencer should soon have him handily placed from a favourable low draw.
How to bet £20 on Day One of Royal Ascot 2017:
All races at Royal Ascot
2.30 Royal Ascot: Miss Temple City £1.50 each-way at ageneral 28-1
3.40 Royal Ascot: Lady Aurelia £4 win at a general 3-1
5.00 Royal Ascot: Beyond Conceit £4 win at a general 8-1
30p Win Heinz (general odds in brackets)
2.30: Ribchester (4-5)
3.40: Lady Aurelia (3-1)
4.20: Churchill (4-6)
5.00: Beyond Conceit (8-1)
5.35: Nootka Sound (5-1)
Plus £2.90 win on 3.05 Romanised at a general 16-1
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