There’s no better flat racing meeting in the world than Royal Ascot, and the 2018 Royal Ascot Meeting offers five days of top-class racing. There is an abundance of group 1 action and some amazingly competitive handicaps, whilst some of the best of this season’s two-year-olds are set to do battle.
Day One Royal Ascot Races
2.30: Queen Anne Stakes (Group One)
3.05: Coventry Stakes (Group Two)
3.40: King’s Stand Stakes (Group One)
4.20: St James’s Palace Stakes (Group One)
5.00: Ascot Stakes (Handicap)
5.35: Wolferton Rated Stakes (Listed)
Day One Royal Ascot Top Clashes
Day one of the 2018 Royal Ascot Meeting kicks-off with the Queen Anne Stakes, and the market is likely to be headed by Rhododendron after her win in the Lockinge Stakes. However, as she only just beat the re-opposing Lightning Spear there, who has been beaten several times in Group 1’s at Ascot, she looks vulnerable to a potential improver. Recoletos and Yoshida fit the bill and, respectively, they’ll be bidding to give France and America a second win in this race in the last four years.
The Coventry Stakes is always an intriguing clash of some of the most precocious two-year-olds, and the race has been won by the likes of Canford Cliffs and Caravaggio in the last decade. Aidan O’Brien has trained eight winners of the race and is likely to have the favourite in Sergei Prokofiev. However, it will be interesting to see how if he can cope with John Gosden’s smart Calyx, the son of the 2014 St James’s Palace Stakes winner Kingman.
Blink and you might just miss the King’s Stand Stakes as it features two of the fastest five-furlong horses we’ve seen in recent seasons in Lady Aurelia and Battaash. Lady Aurelia will be bidding for a hat-trick of Royal Ascot wins, but Battaash is also right out of the top-drawer.
The St James’s Palace Stakes brings together form from a variety of this season’s Guineas. The win of Romanised in the Irish 2,000 Guineas should not be underestimated, whilst English 2,000 Guineas runner-up Tip Two Win split Saxon Warrior and Derby winner Masar at Newmarket. Meanwhile, Wootton is looking to redeem himself after flopping in the French 1,000 Guineas. However, it’s John Gosden’s Without Parole the bookies fear most as his performance at Yarmouth last season had the time boys drooling.
Day Two Royal Ascot Races
2.30: Queen Mary Stakes (Group Two)
3.05: Queen’s Vase (Group Two)
3.40: Duke Of Cambridge Stakes (Group Two)
4.20: Prince Of Wales’s Stakes (Group One)
5.00: Royal Hunt Cup (Handicap)
5.35: Jersey Stakes (Group Three)
Day Two Royal Ascot Top Clashes
It’s no surprise that Wesley Ward has the favourite for the Queen Mary, but many punters may prefer the each-way angle offered by Shades Of Blue for trainer Clive Cox. Ward and Cox battled it out last year, with Cox coming out on top thanks to Heartache.
The bookies have the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes as Cracksman versus the rest. However, he split the re-opposing pair of Cliffs Of Moher and Eminent in last year’s Derby and didn’t perform to his best last time.
Day Three Royal Ascot
2.30: Norfolk Stakes (Group Two)
3.05: Hampton Court Stakes (Group Three)
3.40: Ribblesdale Stakes (Group Two)
4.20: Gold Cup (Group One)
5.00: Britannia Stakes (Handicap)
5.35: King George V Stakes (Handicap)
Day Three Royal Ascot Top Clashes
Oaks second and fourth Wild Illusion and Magic Wand step down to Group 2 class in the Ribblesdale. However, after they had hard races at Epsom, this could go to one of the less-exposed horses. Highgarden fits that bill for John Gosden, whilst Sir Michael Stoute has the well-regarded Sun Motion entered.
Meanwhile, punters will be hoping that Stradivarius hits the right notes as he takes on 2016 winner Order Of St George in the Ascot Gold Cup. This exciting clash could be made even better if French challenger Vazirabad throws his hat into the ring after missing last year’s race.
Day Four Royal Ascot
2.30: Albany Stakes (Group Three)
3.05: King Edward VII Stakes (Group Two)
3.40: Commonwealth Cup (Group One)
4.20: Coronation Stakes (Group One)
5.00: Sandringham Stakes (Listed)
5.00: Duke Of Edinburgh Stakes (Handicap)
Day Four Royal Ascot Top Clashes
The Commonwealth Cup has already thrown up some marvellous winners of the race. Muhaarar went on to be champion sprinter in 2015, whilst Quiet Reflection enjoyed more Group 1 success in the same season. Last year’s race was won by Caravaggio, but it was runner-up Harry Angel who went on to be champion sprinter.
This year. Aidan O’Brien’s 2017 Norfolk winner Sioux Nation is vying for favouritism, but the recent money has been for Equilateral who is trained by Charlie Hills, who just happens to have trained the likes of Muhaarar and Battaash in recent seasons.
Friday also could see a clash between the English, Irish and French 1,000 Guineas winners. Alpha Centauri may represent Jessica Harrington after winning the Irish version, whilst Teppal puts her unbeaten record on the line after winning in France. However, the form of Billesdon Brook’s win in the English 1,000 Guineas has been well boosted by runner-up Laurens winning two Group 1’s since. That form could receive another boost if Wild Illusion wins earlier in the week.
Day Five Royal Ascot
2.30: Chesham Stakes (Listed)
3.05: Hardwicke Stakes (Group Two)
3.40: Windsor Castle Stakes (Listed)
4.20: Diamond Jubilee Stakes (Group One)
5.00: Wokingham Stakes (Handicap)
5.35: Queen Alexandra Stakes (Conditions)
Day Five Royal Ascot Top Clashes
The Diamond Jubilee Stakes could be the race of the whole Royal Acot Meeting. Harry Angel will be trying to get his head in front at Royal Ascot for the first time in five tries, However, he’s likely to face his stiffest task to date with former high-class Aussie sprinter Merchant Navy now in the hands of Aidan O’Brien. There’s also another Aussie sprinter Redkirk Warrior and American speedster Bound For Nowhere in the field. Throw in Ascot specialists The Tin Man and Librisa Breeze and this really should be a classic.