What you need to know to get ahead – six lessons from last year’s races
INSIDE YOUR ULTIMATE GUIDE
1. Horses can bounce back from indifferent runs in a Classic Expert Eye (Jersey) and Magic Wand (Ribblesdale) were two of the more impressive Royal Ascot winners after failing to live up to expectations in the 2,000 Guineas and Oaks. The more obvious qualifiers this season are likely to be superstar twoyear-old Too Darn Hot, who could bid to salvage his reputation in the St James’s Palace Stakes after twice being put in his place this year, most recently in the Irish 2,000 Guineas, Ten Sovereigns, who is favourite for the Commonwealth Cup despite losing his unbeaten record when 9-4 for the Guineas at Newmarket, while Qabala, who has been strongly fancied for two Classics, may bid for compensation in the Coronation Stakes after beating only one home at the Curragh last time. 2. King’s Stand result could be different this time Blue Point, Battaash and Mabs Cross, the first three home in last year’s Kings’ Stand, are likely to cross swords again in the big sprint on Tuesday. Blue Point came out on top last season, but runner-up Battaash deserved plenty of credit. He got himself into a right state before the race, sweating profusely, and did too much in front, setting the race up nicely for Blue Point. I don’t expect we’ll see him go to the front so early this time. 3. Older mile division crying out for a new star The result of last season’s Queen Anne, when a 33-1 outsider beat a 20-1 shot, illustrated how open the mile division was among older horses, and with some of the same characters still around there’s a great opportunity for a new name to take it by the scruff of the neck. Mustashry and Laurens, first and second in the Lockinge, the first big mile race this season, fit the bill, but the lightly raced Le Brivido, who won the 2017 Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot before being transferred to Ballydoyle, went into many a notebook with a never-dangerous fifth. This race has probably been the target. 4. Don’t be put off if you fancy one drawn high in races run on the round course In the two big-field contests run at the meeting on the Thursday last year, stall 12 beat 15 in the Hampton Court Stakes and stall 16 edged out 12 in the King George V Handicap, while the winner of the 17-runner Duke of Edinburgh Handicap the following day was drawn 14. In fact, the closest a runner drawn in the lowest three stalls finished in those races was seventh. 5. Draw on straight course favoured mid-to-high numbers The ground was fast all week last year and just about every winner on the straight course raced centre to near side. Even when a sizeable group took a chance and tacked over to the far rail in the Albany Stakes on the Friday, the first two home raced up the centre (drawn 15 and 11). With the going set to be similar, I wouldn’t expect much to change. 6. Overseas raiders were less successful Non-british-trained runners accounted for a record 14 winners in 2015 and equalled the feat in 2016. That was just shy of half the races at the meeting, but they’ve fallen away, with 12 in 2017 and a relatively meagre nine last year. Not surprisingly their success tends to depend on how many winners Aidan O’brien saddles. He set a record in 2016 with seven, fired in six the following year but was down to four 12 months ago when, interestingly, none of them were outright favourites. The Ballydoyle supremo is currently responsible for seven of the ante-post favourites – Monarch Of Egypt is market leader for two races.