Godolphin’s Ribchester to Star on Royal Ascot Day One
The world’s biggest and best horse racing meeting, Royal Ascot, begins today. In the first race on day one we have one of the week’s biggest attractions running, Ribchester, who is a strong favourite to take the opening Group One.
The Richard Fahey trained and Godolphin owned miler was dominant in the Lockinge on his last start and if he arrives here in the same form, he will be very tough to beat. He was nearly four lengths clear of the second that day, Lightning Spear, who aims for revenge here today but has a mountain to climb to get to Ribchester. On such an important week, it would be a great boost for the Godolphin camp to win the opening race.
Elsewhere on the card, dual Guineas winner Churchill aims to land a unique treble in the St James Palace Stakes for Aidan O’Brien. He has won four Group One races in a row and will be a tough nut to crack, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see Barney Roy reverse the English Guineas form from Newmarket. Richard Hannon’s runner came second in the race and it was a race where nothing went right for him. He is another runner owned by Godolphin and they could find themselves having a cracking opening day to this meeting.
In the big sprint race of the day, the King’s Stand Stakes it will be fascinating to see Lady Aurelia taking on her elders. She has a featherweight in this and will no doubt try to dominate the race. If she can get the lead then she has a great chance of giving Wesley Ward another Royal Ascot win. Priceless is the horse I like in the race, he ran very well to win a Group Two last time out and I get the feeling there could be more to come now that Clive Cox has worked out what his optimum distance is.
With two races on the card for two year olds we may get to see a star of the future today. In the Coventry Stakes I like De Bruyne Horse, who has posted some impressive form so far and is still improving like many of these. He has already performed at the Epsom Derby meeting, so the big crowd today is something he has experienced before. In the Windsor Castle, which is the final race on the card I think the outsider Simmy’s Copshop is an interesting contender. He won well on debut, beating a horse that has won twice since, including in a listed race and then came third at Naas in a race where he lost a shoe and a race that wasn’t run to suit. He will love the strong pace here and has a decent shout I think.
The final race to mention is the Ascot Stakes, a race that has attracted many jumps trainers. Willie Mullins sends Thomas Hobson over from Ireland for the race and on this mark he should be very competitive. He has turned into a useful hurdler since joining Mullins and could be very well handicapped here back on the flat.