Horses to Watch at Royal Ascot in 2018
This year’s Champions Series promises to be a vintage with Enable and Cracksman among the stars of last year who will be back for more in 2018. Here are six who could scale the heights when summer arrives.
The Charlie Hills-trained speedster put up an outstanding effort to trounce Marsha by four lengths in the Prix de l’Abbaye at Chantilly in October, having also sparkled at Sandown (twice) and Goodwood earlier in the season. His one blip was in the Coolmore Nunthorpe at York in August but, effective on any ground, he will be a force to be reckoned with in all the top sprints this year. He is available at 4-1 for the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.
The Frankel colt improved all year and was a stunning seven-length winner of the QIPCO Champion Stakes on Champions Day. The official handicapper assessed that as the best performance seen in Europe all year, raising his rating from 122 to 130. Likely to be even better this year, when he is likely to have a programme revolving around races between 10 and 12 furlongs. Betfair and Paddy Power quote him at 4-1 for the QIPCO-sponsored King George and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot in July.
John Gosden’s filly was flawless last year, winning five successive Group 1 races in imperious fashion. Three of her triumphs came in Champions Series races – the Investec Oaks, QIPCO-sponsored King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes and Darley Yorkshire Oaks – and no reason to think she will not again excel at up to a mile and a half. Sky Bet make her 9-4 for the King George and Queen Elizabeth Stakes.
Was officially rated the fastest horse in the world after his victories in the Darley July Cup and 32Red Sprint Cup. Superb in the latter race, which he won by four lengths. Not at his best when fourth in the Sprint on QIPCO Champions Day but can be forgiven that reverse and will set a high standard for three-year-olds to aim at in 2018. He is the 5-1 favourite for the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Dug deep to win the Long Distance Cup on QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot in October after narrowly being denied a second Gold Cup success by Big Orange in June. That Royal Ascot showpiece is already at the top of his agenda and whatever beats him will know he or she has been in a race. Most bookmakers quote him at 7-2.
Already has one claim to fame – his battling victory in the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster in October providing Aidan O’Brien with this record-breaking 26th Group 1 winner of last year. The trainer ended last year with 28 wins at the highest level and it will be no surprise if the son of Deep Impact, now unbeaten in three starts, makes his presence felt in this year’s Classics. He is 8-1 favourite for the QIPCO 2000 Guineas and the 5-1 market leader for the Investec Derby.