Royal Ascot is the best Flat meeting in the world and provides five days of the best racing of the year over which time there are 18 Group races. There is a highlight each day at 4.20pm and Cracksman is the best horse in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes on Wednesday. Stradivarius could develop into an even better stayer and can win the Gold Cup the following day. Without Parole is the horse to back in the St James’s Palace Stakes on the first day of the meeting.
The Royal meeting is the Flat’s equivalent of the National Hunt Festival at Cheltenham. However, it is more an early summer championship meeting than the climax of the jumps that Cheltenham has now become. Cheltenham appeals to anyone who bets on horses but Royal Ascot is slightly different because what you are wearing is as just as important as the bets. There is over £5 million pounds up for grabs and the fixture is televised all over the world.
An amazing amount of food is eaten over the five days but the alcohol consumption is no longer announced. Security should prevent any unsavoury incidents so people will feel comfortable as they study the form. There are sometimes odds-on favourites but Cracksman is one of the fancied runners who should prevail. The horse is one of the shortest priced in ante post lists but can be backed at odds-against which indicates the competitive nature of the racing at the meeting the Queen always attends.
Cracksman came third in the Derby and then produced more solid Group 1 form. However, ridden by Frankie Dettori the horse was hating Epsom and the ground in the Coronation Cup which he won with nothing to spare having looked like being booked for second place for most of the straight. Cracksman was not at his best at Epsom but has impressed in his other runs. Eminent could take him on but the horse ran poorly at Chester last month but finished less than a length behind Cracksman in the Derby.
On Derby form the two horses should be closer together in the betting and on each way value Eminent is the horse to back. Reversing the Derby form could be difficult but the trainer can see him running a big race and even beating Cracksman. Martyn Meade trains Eminent and he was quoted in the Racing Post last week saying:
“I’ve got the utmost confidence in my horse. He had a good season last term, it was just winning that Group missed out on: I’m pretty confident”
Cracksman has improved since the Derby but is not unbeatable and Eminent could be the horse to just that but the most likely winner is the favourite.
Big Orange beat Order Of St George narrowly in the Gold Cup last year. The horse is absent this time so Order Of St George could win the race for the second time in three years but Stradivarius is fancied to come first. The John Gosden trained runner was very impressive in the Yorkshire Cup and can give the trainer is first win in the Gold Cup. Order Of St George may have gone to the well too many times and Stradivarius can benefit if age catches up with that horse.
Without Parole has something to find on form and ratings but has the ability to win a race like the St James’s Palace Stakes on the Tuesday. The horse is relatively inexperienced but can run to a higher level than in the past and will be a tough nut to crack. However, Cracksman is one of the bankers of Royal Ascot