Royal Ascot Trials Day (Wednesday 1 May) is the new name for Ascot’s first meeting of the 2019 Flat Season. It features a seven-race card, four of which are specifically trials for some of the big races at Royal Ascot in June.
The main highlight is the Group 3 Sagaro Stakes, which has been used as a stepping stone to success in the Ascot Gold Cup by horses like Colour Vision, Estimate, and Stradivarius. Like last year, this race also forms part of the Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers Million, a bonus that last year’s winner Stradivarius went on to win.
Leading two-year-olds will also get a chance to see if they handle the Ascot track in the Royal Ascot Two-Year-Old Trial, whilst potential Group 1 Three-Year-Old sprinters can do the same in the Group 3 Merribelle Stable Commonwealth Cup Trial Stakes.
More Royal Ascot clues could be revealed in the Paradise Stakes, as last year’s field featured Accidental Agent who went on to win Queen Anne Stakes at the Royal Meeting.
Check out our stats, analysis, and free tips for Royal Ascot Trials Day 2019.
Royal Ascot Two-Year-Old Trials Stakes (2.15)
Only five runners are set to go to post for this two-year-old race and all have potential. Zulu Zander and Ventura Rebel have already shown winning form, but past results suggest they’re up against trying to carry penalties to victory.
Full Verse didn’t win on his debut but, as he cost 600,00 Guineas, he could easily be capable of better. He’s by a son of former Royal Ascot winner Starspanglesbanner, whilst the unraced Can’t Stop Now is sired by the former Aidan O’Brien sprinting star.
However, they may all be bidding for second behind Lady Pauline if the Wesley Ward-trained filly is anywhere near as good as her sister, former Royal Ascot winner Lady Aurelia. She certainly looked good when winning her debut at Keenland by 9¾ lengths and it looks significant that Ward, who won the race in 2016, brings her here before Royal Ascot.
Sagaro Stakes (3.25)
Four of the seven intended runners standout on ratings, but past trends suggest Raymond Tusk may struggle to concede a penalty to the other three. Meanwhile, Weekender and Danehill Kodiac could improve for having their sights set on staying trips this season, but both did get outstayed over this trip or slightly shorter last season.
That’s why it could be worth taking a chance that Dee Ex Bee improves massively for this trip this season. Second in last year’s Derby, he ran creditably in several big races afterwards, despite often looking like he would benefit from staying trips. That again looked the case when he was fourth in the St Leger (two places in front of Raymond Tusk) and he may well have been feeling the effects of a hard season by then. His trainer Mark Johnston certainly knows how to train a good stayer having trained the popular Double Trigger.
Merriebelle Stable Commonwealth Cup Trial Stakes (3.55)
Society Rock, Limato, and Blue Point are three sprinting stars that have won past editions of the is race and there are a couple of interesting runners this year. One of those is last year’s Queen Mary winner Signora Cabello but rumours are mixed as to whether she’s big enough to be a top-class three-year-old this year.
That’s why this could be a walk in the park for Calyx, who connections were considering running in the 2,000 Guineas, but obviously think he’s more of a sprinting type. He certainly showed an electric turn-of-foot to win last year’s Coventry Stakes. That performance was even more meritorious as he was miles clear of the other runners on his side of the track, with all the other fancied runners on the opposite side. A son of Kingman, hopefully Calyx can prove a real star this season.
Paradise Stakes (4.25)
This Listed Race probably revolves around Barney Roy, who won the 2017 St James’s Palace Stakes over course and distance but has been off for 557 days. As a Group 1 winner without a penalty, he could win this with his head in his chest, but his main target is likely to be Royal Ascot, and his connections were convinced he needed 10-furlongs on his last three runs.
That’s why it could be worth chancing the twice-raced Canvassed, who was an impressive winner of his only start as a three-year-old before again impressing when winning his seasonal debut this year. He has to improve a lot but, as connections have given him plenty of time to mature, it’s likely there is plenty more to come. Trainer Roger Varian has also been placing his horses brilliantly over the last few weeks.