Royal Ascot Approaches …

June 14th, 2018 | Marten's Current Racing Diary

Hi there!

It’s only a few days to go before the start of the 2018 Royal Ascot festival and, after a challenging spell, things are starting to take shape in my mind.

One of the hardest things to account for is unpredictable going – or a significant late change in ground conditions during a major meeting – and unless the forecasters are wildly wrong there should not be any appreciable change in the going by the time Tuesday arrives. It appears there may be a few showers on Saturday, but they would be welcome to ensure the ground remains safe.

The fate of the backers could be sealed on the first day, with a handful of short-priced fancies for the main races.

The gutsy Rhododendron will be popular in the Queen Anne while those, like me, who look forward to the two-year-olds have the Coventry Stakes with the clash between the impressive Newmarket winner Calyx and Aidan O’Brien’s highly-regarded Sergei Prokofiev – named after one of my favourite composers.

Now that the ground is on the quick side one of my best value bets will be running in the King’s Stand – more about that in my Online Preview on Monday evening – while it will be interesting to see how the Classic form holds up when 2,000 Guineas runner-up Tip Two Win and Irish Guineas winner Romanised clash with Without Parole in the St James’s Palace Stakes.

I usually find something for the Ascot Stakes – there is sure to be a gamble nestling in there somewhere – while on the second day I get the feeling we will be seeing an above-average renewal of the Queen’s Vase.

Cracksman will be a banker for many in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes – despite his hard-fought Coronation Cup success, for which there were valid excuses. My old friend Poet’s Word will be trying here for his first Group 1, while connections of Keyser Soze will be hoping their horse manages to squeeze into the foot of the Royal Hunt Cup. At this stage that looks unlikely.

Headway has a chance of giving his owners the Royal Ascot Racing Club something to cheer about in the Jersey Stakes, where he will come up against the talented but mercurial Expert Eye. The second day opens with the Queen Mary Stakes, where we get the chance to see Wesley Ward’s Chelsea Cloisters – one of four two-year-olds that he is running during the week.

From a personal perspective I am particularly looking forward to seeing how Salisbury maiden winner Sun Maiden gets on in the Ribblesdale Stakes. Sir Michael Stoute’s daughter of Frankel and half-sister to Midday bypassed the Oaks for this race, while the Gold Cup sees a clash between the remarkable Order Of St George and Stradivarius, who did so well for us last year but has never been tried over further than two miles.

On Saturday Sir Michael Stoute fields a strong favourite for the Hardwicke Stakes with the progressive Crystal Ocean. Later on the final day Harry Angel tries for the fifth time to win his first race at Ascot in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes.

I will be writing Online Previews for every day of the meeting, starting with Issue One on Monday covering Tuesday and Wednesday (just £5 a day).

Please refer to the Online Shop for further details.

Bye for now