Ante-Post Preview Tuesday June 19

Royal Ascot Tips: Queen Anne Stakes and Coventry Stakes


Race Preview

HOrse racing Royal Ascot fashion

The Queen Anne Stakes

(Published: 21:00, June 3, 2018) – The Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes, named in honour of the English monarch who established Ascot races back in 1712, is the traditional opening event of the world’s greatest Flat racing meeting that also doubles as a showcase for the world fashion industry and is a top pick on the international social calendar. This curtain raiser invariably attracts overseas stars, a glance back over the last five seasons revealing winners hailing from Ireland, France, USA/Canada, and England.

If the BBC weather website is to be believed then the two weeks leading up to Royal Ascot are likely to be mostly dry with plenty of sunshine and just an occasional shower. That means that the ground is expected to be no worse than ‘good’ and may well be closer to ‘good to firm’ for the first day’s action on June 19.

Group 1 Lockinge Stakes winner Rhododendron heads the ante-post market at around 3/1 with most firms and is expected to line-up for Ballydoyle. Although Aidan O’Brien’s superb filly ran a fine race over 12 furlongs when runner-up to the brilliant Enable in last year’s Oaks, she has proven a better horse over a mile and 10 furlongs since then winning a Group 1 at each distance. She also handles most ground and looks a solid favourite. This stiff mile will bring her stamina into play and she looks a worthy favourite with Ryan Moore likely to take the ride.

David Simcock’s LIGHTNING SPEAR was only caught in the last stride by Rhododendron at Newbury (see below) and was a fine third in this race two years ago behind Canada’s Tepin. We have already recommended the son of Pivotal in our first Royal Ascot preview where we suggested he looked the best value at 12/1 each-way with Bet Stars who have now fallen in line at 8/1.

Lightning Spear goes on any ground and is a specialist at this trip and we remain convinced that he is going to run a very big race and still represents a solid each-way investment.

Lancaster Bomber (8/1 with most firms), stable companion of Rhododendron, finally got the big win he so richly deserved when stepped up to 10 furlongs in the Group 1 Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh recently (see below) having finished third in the Lockinge as well as placing previously at the top level over a mile. It’s not beyond the bounds of possibility that connections could supplement him for the 10 furlong Prince of Wales’s Stakes, but on the assumption he’ll go for this stiff mile instead he should bowl along up front and will make this a proper test.

One of the most intriguing contender is Godolphin’s Benbatl, winner of the Group 3 Hampton Court Stakes last term over two furlongs further than the Queen Anne Stakes. He was last seen winning the Group 1 Dubai Turf over nine furlongs and is one of the really smart performers still handled by Saeed bin Suroor for Sheikh Mohammed.The Dubawi colt tends to go well fresh so his lack of a prior run isn’t a concern and he has attracted steady market support with William Hill one of the few firms still holding out at 8/1.

The only American entry this time is Bill Mott’s Yoshida, winner of a Grade 1 at Churchill Downs earlier this month over nine furlongs. He’s a good horse and goes on any ground, but doesn’t look quite good enough to land the spoils. Legendary French trainer Andre Fabre won it in 2005 with Valixir and has entered Inns Of Court and Jimmy Two Times, while other French entries include Christophe Ferland’s talented Heshem.

The main French hope however bay prove to be Recoletos (10/1 with Ladbrokes), who comfortably beat Jimmy Two Times in Group 2 company on May 1 then stepped up to land the Group 1 Prix d’Ispahan last week with plenty to spare. Fast ground would be a concern for this proven soft ground performer, but if there is any rain he would not be without a chance of bustling up the home team.

Bet365 Mile winner Addeybb bombed out in the Lockinge but it’s not inconceivable that he might bounce back, while at a big price David O’Meara’s tough as teak veteran Suedois could go well if it come sup quick. Betfair go 50/1 about this Group 1 winner double the odds of the best of the rest in the ante-pos market.

ADVICE: Previously recommended – Lightning Spear (12/1 with BetStars).  Additional recommendation – Suedois (50/1 each-way with Betfair).


The Coventry Stakes

First staged in 1890 and run over six furlongs for two-year-olds only, this fine race was raised from Group 3 to Group 2 level in 2004. Since then Aidan O’Brien has won it four times having won it four times prior to it being raised in status. Since 2004 the race has produced some high-class horses such as Henrythenavigator, Canford Cliffs, Dawn Approach and Caravaggio, while earlier great names to have won include the likes of Mill Reef Chief Singer and Royal Applause.

A fortnight ahead of the race we are still uncertain as to who will like up with no early declaration required for this event. We have, however, learned of the intentions of  a number of likely contenders and they form the basis of the current ante-post market which is dominated by Aidan O’Brien’s $1.1 million colt Sergei Prokofiev, short-headed on his debut in a Dundalk maiden before winning at Navan by an impressive eight lengths (see below).

Stepped up to listed company at Naas on May 20, the son of Scat Daddy again delivered in the style of a potential exciting youngster and he is currently a top priced 9/4 with Bet365 to win the Coventry Stakes on his first attempt at six furlongs. There is little doubt that Sergei Prokofiev is a fine prospect, but he represents little value at current odds given the fact there are so many unknown quantities and unexposed rivals likely to take him on.

John Gosden may well run a Scat Daddy colt of his own, LEGENDS OF WAR, a youngster who cost owners Qatar Racing a whopping 900,000 guineas when top lot at the Tattersalls Breeze Up Sales in April. Despite the price tag he did not start favourite on his debut at Yarmouth on May 23, going off 2/1 in a seven-runner field in which Roger Varian’s well regarded San Donato (who cost just 500,000 guineas as a yearling) was market leader. Gosden’s charge showed a fine turn of foot though to pull four lengths clear with the minimum of fuss.

Legends of War is already proven at this trip and on Good to Firm ground, and at 5/1 with Boylesports looks better value than Sergei Prokofiev who is half the price but has not tackled the Coventry Stakes trip before.

They bet 10/1 bar the pair which brings in another Ballydoyle-based colt The Irish Rover whose win over six furlongs in a Newbury conditions race was visually pleasing as he came away to beta Mick Channon’s previous winner Barbill by two-and-a-half lengths. Richard Fahey’s Cosmic Law absolutely bolted up over the six furlongs of Epsom’s Woodcote Stakes having scored previously at Carlisle. Like The Irish Rover he is a son of the US sprinter No Nay Never who won at Royal Ascot, and Fahey’s colt looks very useful. The 16/1 offered by Boylesports may appeal to many as a value each-way investment.

Tim Easterby’s Vintage Brut won the listed National Stakes over Sandown’s stiff five furlongs last month,m beat Sabre and Koncheck in a driving finish. Of the three Clive Cox’s Koncheck may do best over the extra furlong, although connections are reportedly contemplating another crack at their Sandown conqueror in the five furlongs Norfolk Stakes.

ADVICE: Legends of War (5/1 with Boylesports)

Paul Alster

Written by Paul Alster

Paul Alster has been part of the British and international racing media for more than three decades working as a race commentator, TV/radio presenter, journalist, betting correspondent, SP returner, and form analyst. He’s always sought out overpriced runners in handicap races, a quest that excites him as much now as it did at the start of his career.