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Royal Ascot Day 1 - Queen Anne Stakes

 ROYAL ASCOT TUESDAY

Ah, a proper festival without any twigs in the way. And possibly, just possibly, the sun will be out. It baffles me why this day isn't always sold out - it's the best card of the week, by a long way. And it starts with the Queen Anne, the premier mile race of the season. Lovely! 

Expect a blog preview for each of the feature races, with a quick scan of the handicaps. More races to be added later.

And here's a photo of the greatest Queen Anne winner ever, the mighty Frankel. 



The Queen Anne Stakes
Group 1, One Mile, For 4yo+
£750,000
1430 local, 2330 AEST

1. Audience

Shock winner of the G1 Lockinge at Newbury on resuming, same terms here apart from running in the opposite direction. He was supposed to be the pacemaker for stablemate Inspiral that day, starting 22/1 but they simply couldn't catch him. It would be unfair to label him a fresh specialist, he has excellent form overall, missing a place just twice from thirteen starts, but all four of his wins have been after breaks of at least two months (from five such runs, second in the other). He got away being left alone in front at Newbury, I doubt rival jockeys will be asleep at the wheel this time. This field is very similar to the Lockinge apart from Maljoom and the French visitors, Dloayli and Facteur Cheval. Why not a repeat?

2. Big Rock

Gun French colt who bolted in by six lengths in the QEII Stakes on Champions Day here last October, ahead of Facteur Cheval. On Racing Post Ratings (RPRs) that is five lbs ahead of Audience's Lockinge win, but it was on a soft track which always raises doubts with ratings for me (exactly how wet was it, was the track consistently wet, etc.). Since Champions Day, he has controversially changed stables from one of the biggest trainers in Europe, Christopher Head, to an Italian trainer, Maurizio Guarnieri, who hasn't set the world on fire since relocating to France. The Lockinge run was too bad to be true, beaten 15L. Some say he needed more cut in the ground but he ran second to future Arc winner, Ace Impact, in the Prix du Jockey Club on a good track (as much as you can believe French going descriptions) last season. Soumillion takes over from Lemaitre, will need more than that to get my money.

3. Brave Emperor

Ran in the G3 Hampton Court here last year as a 3yo, running second last at 40/1. That was his last run in Britain, since then he's had eight runs, in five different countries, winning at Deauville (G3), Dusseldorf (G3), San Siro (not the football pitch but the track next door, G2) and Doha ('local G2'). Nice work if you can get it, he's collected more prizemoney than most of his rivals here without being anywhere near as good. Name your price...

4. Cairo

Former Coolmore colt now with Alice Haynes. Ran second in the Irish 2000 Guineas last year behind Paddington but hasn't gone on with it. Was close behind Brave Emperor in Doha earlier in the year then finished 10L behind Facteur Cheval in the Dubai Turf, a better measure of his ability. Nope.

5. Charyn

Spent much of last season chasing Paddington, remaining winless from seven runs, but has matured further over the winter to starting meeting the judge first again. He won the Doncaster Mile on the opening day of the Flat season followed by the Bet365 Mile at Sandown, then was the only one to make ground on Audience in the Lockinge, finishing 1.75L back in second. I do love a Dark Angel grey (have had shares in two of them), he'll go very close here.

6. Docklands

Brings a different formline, having run in the Queen Anne Trial here six weeks ago, beating off Maljoom but was claimed late by Quddwah who misses the festival this week. Went to Longchamp after that and couldn't quite peg back the winner in a Listed race on heavy going. Loves the straight mile, won twice here last season including the Brittania Hcp and then ran third in the Balmoral on Champions Day, conceding weight, as a 3yo, to those ahead of him. Don't be put off by Hayley Turner riding him, she's ridden four Royal Ascot winners, three over the straight mile, but I think he's a couple of lengths short of these.

7. Dolayli

Curious French runner. Won three of five in his debut season as a 3yo, had a setback and had a year off then resumed in January starting a string of three wins on the all-weather, including a win over multiple G1 winner Junko. Took a short break then ran twice in May, finishing close up to Tribalist and Mqse De Sevigne, high-class French Group horses, in G2 and G1 races respectively. Still lightly raced for his age, he hasn't seen a good track before, but if anything, Siyouni progeny are better in dry conditions. Connections know what it takes to win at this level, they're not here to get a glimpse of royalty. Chance at odds.

8. Facteur Cheval

Achieved a career-best winning the Dubai Turf on World Cup night in March, hasn't run since. Had gone 17 months between wins, collecting place-money cheques in all six runs last season without winning. Has seen this track before, running second on Champions Day last year to the aforementioned Big Rock. Jockey Maxime Guyon won this race on Solow back in 2015. Super consistent, the one to beat. 

9. Flight Plan

Was given the Best Turned Out award in the Lockinge but ran a long, long last. Then could only manage fifth in the G3 John of Gaunt at Haydock ten days ago. Would be a big shock but but jockey Danny Tudhope has won this race at big odds, with Lord Glitters in 2019.

10. Hi Royal

Placed in both the English and Irish editions of the 2000 Guineas last year but hasn't done much since. Has run in four Group 1 races since for collective defeats of over 140L. His only other run was a third in the G3 Earl of Sefton. Has to wait for his handicap rating to drop like a stone before he'll find a race he can win.

11. Maljoom

Was desperately unlucky here two years ago in the St James' Palace behind the ill-fated Coroebus, then has had multiple injury setbacks. Wasn't far away in the Queen Anne Trial last month behind Quddwah and Docklands, but at least we know he has already achieved better, while that was a career-best for Docklands. He'll have been set for this race, expect a bold run.

12. Poker Face

Started only 9/1 in the Lockinge when finishing seventh, alongside Big Rock, but 15.5L behind the winner. Cruised to the front in the Bet365 Mile but couldn't finish it off, outsprinted by Charyn (who had a 3lb advantage) in the final stages. Very good at G2/G3 level, but he's back on level terms with Charyn here, and that horse will be on the top lines of betting. Might be underrated here.

13. Royal Scotsman

Beaten out of sight in the Lockinge (SP 25/1) then returned to form on Derby Day, winning the G3 Diomed. Led all the way that day, meaning Audience might have something to worry about. I think he's out of his depth but the stable is in form.

14. Witch Hunter

Beaten twice by Poker Face last season, he ran third, albeit 8.5L behind the winner in the Lockinge a month ago, but then flopped as 7/2 fav when dropping back a furlong in the John of Gaunt at Haydock with no obvious excuses. Would be a shock to see him in the money.


SUMMARY

No need to go after the longshots from the first race of the week. I can see Facteur Cheval and Charyn fighting this out, with value thrown into the placings from Dolayli and Poker Face. Let's see how the market moves to determine my action.


FACTEUR CHEVAL, Charyn, Poker Face, Dolayli

Probably backing Facteur Cheval if I can get 7/2 and small e/w interest on Poker Face at 25s.



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