Racing tips for Royal Ascot: Battaash can make it third time lucky

Battaash has finished second in the King's Stand for each of the past two years.
Battaash has finished second in the King's Stand for each of the past two years.

Nick Seddon runs through the card on the first day of Royal Ascot, and picks out his best bet in every race...

13:15 - Buckingham Palace Handicap 

The Buckingham Palace returns to kick off the meeting, and it's a painstakingly difficult start to the week for punters. A case can be made for the vast majority of the 24-strong line-up, and Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum holds a particularly strong hand, with each of Daarik (4/1), Mutamaasik (15/2) and Motakhayyel (14/1) sitting prominently in the market. All three are upwardly mobile types, particularly the first-named, who has racked up a sequence of three wins in his last four starts on the all-weather. He faces a 7 lb rise here, though, and has to prove he's as effective on turf, and it is interesting that Jim Crowley has opted to take the ride on Motakhayyel.

He was below par when last seen over a mile here last summer, but he looks worth forgiving for that run bearing in mind he was progressing well prior to that. The step back to seven furlongs should suit, and he could prove to be on a competitive mark from a more favourable high draw. With that in mind, it looks worth siding with him each-way at around 14/1, with the majority of firms offering extra places.

Buckingham Palace Handicap
Motakhayyel silk

Motakhayyel (EW)

won

13:50 - Queen Anne Stakes 

It could prove to be a fine start to the Royal meeting for Crowley, as he looks to have a good chance on Mohaather in a wide-open looking renewal of the Queen Anne Stakes - a 14/1 chance who makes appeal as a value alternative to the favourite Circus Maximus. He was an upwardly mobile type last season, looking a smart performer when winning the Greenham Stakes at Newbury, before suffering a setback that kept him out until the autumn.

Admittedly, that renewal of the Greenham wasn't the strongest in hindsight, but he produced a fine effort to finish a close-up fifth behind King Of Change in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes last October. It's interesting that Crowley has chosen Mohaather over a proven Group 1 performer in Mustashry, and bearing in mind that there could be more to come yet from Mohaather on just his sixth career outing, he's fancied to make his presence felt in this division this term. 

Queen Anne Stakes
Mohaather silk

Mohaather (EW)

lost

14:25 - Ribblesdale Stakes

This is a typically wide-open renewal of the Ribblesdale, which will likely serve as a strong pointer for next month's Epsom Oaks. The William Haggas filly Born With Pride is a notable absentee on account of the going, leaving Frankly Darling as a short-priced favourite for the John Gosden team. She, like a few smart ones from the yard before her, made a taking impression when getting off the mark at Newcastle at the beginning of the month, stretching clear to win a maiden over a mile and a quarter.

This represents a big step up in class, but she's bred to be smart and represents the exact same connections as last year's winner, Star Catcher. However, the value could lie with a runner with proven form at a higher level, namely Miss Yoda, who was a game winner of Lingfield's Oaks Trial earlier this month. She deserves extra credit for that performance bearing in mind that she had to come from a far from promising position in running, and while she's not quite as progressive as some of the other fillies in this field, she has a good attitude, and looks worth supporting each-way at the prices.  

Ribblesdale Stakes
Miss Yoda silk

Miss Yoda (EW)

lost

15:00 - King Edward VII Stakes

Like the Ribblesdale before it, this will likely offer some key pointers for the Epsom Derby, and it's very difficult to look past the odds-on favourite Mogul. He was a very smart juvenile last term, winning twice from his four starts, and was an excellent fourth when last seen behind Kameko in the Futurity Trophy back in November. He was staying on well to the line that day, meaning the extra half a mile should bring out plenty of improvement, and with that Futurity form looking stronger by the week, he can showcase his Derby credentials by justifying favouritism. 

King Edward VII Stakes
Mogul silk

Mogul

lost
Royal Ascot Tips

15:35 - King's Stand Stakes

The King's Stand Stakes revolves around Battaash, who has finished runner-up behind Blue Point in each of the last two renewals of this race. With Blue Point now retired, he is an odds-on favourite to make amends, though as there always is with  Battaash, there's that risk that he may be having an off day. Indeed, he suffered one of those when last seen in the Prix de l'Abbaye at Longchamp last October, finishing behind the re-opposing Glass Slippers, but he isn't suited by the stiff five furlongs in Paris.

Granted, this isn't his most favourted track either, and he arrives here with a record that reads 0-3, but those bad days are becoming less and less frequent with age, and the lack of a large audience will almost certainly play into his hands. Battaash did very little wrong when second in this last year, being caught on the unfavourable stand-side rail and finding just a top-class rival too strong late on, but he's a top-class sprinter on his day, and the fastest horse in training. Conditions should play into his hands here, and he can show his class by belatedly a success at the Royal meeting to his CV.

King's Stand Stakes
Battaash silk

Battaash

won

16:10 - Duke of Cambridge Stakes

A typically competitive renewal of the Duke of Cambridge Stakes, in which it could be worth siding with Queen Power. She was a game winner of a listed contest over a mile and a quarter at Newbury last May, form which has since proven to be very strong, with the likes of Star Catcher and Lavender's Blue in behind. She followed that up with a solid run to finish fourth in the Ribblesdale, and while she was below par on her final start of last season in Group 3 company at Windsor in August, she got right back on track to finish second in the Group 2 Fillies' Stakes at Newmarket earlier this month - showing a good attitude in the process. She's still pretty lightly-raced for her age, making just six starts so far, and is fancied to build on that reappearance by taking another step forward here under Silvestre de Sousa. 

Duke of Cambridge Stakes
Queen Power silk

Queen Power

placed

16:40 - Ascot Stakes

Tuesday's card is rounded off by the Ascot Stakes, a staying handicap over two and a half miles. Jumps yards have a fantastic record in this, particularly Willie Mullins, who's won three of the last five renewals, and Nicky Henderson can strike this time around with Verdana Blue. The eight-year-old is much better known for her exploits over hurdles, lowering the colours of stablemate Buveur D'Air in the 2018 Christmas Hurdle at Kempton, but she's a useful performer on the level, and wasn't beaten too far when fourth behind Dee Ex Bee in last year's Group 3 Sagaro Stakes at Ascot. She carries top weight here, but her official mark of 100 looks more than fair, and she can prove her class.

Ascot Stakes
Verdana Blue silk

Verdana Blue

placed
Royal Ascot Day One Odds
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