The Voice of Value: Royal Ascot Day One Tips


ROYAL ASCOT is the highlight of the flat racing calendar for most and even if you’re not a fan of the pomp and circumstance that goes with it there is no questioning the quality of the horse racing.

I won’t be having a bet in every race each day this week but as it happens there are four solid bets that I like for the first day, which is arguably the best day of the week.

2.30pm – Queen Anne Stakes

It’s very difficult to see past RIBCHESTER here who improved again to win the Lockinge last time out. Perhaps the only risk might be if the ground is on the firmer side of good given that he seems to have a preference for good ground or slightly softer. That’s probably nitpicking though and he should win this quite comfortably. Lightning Spear is the second pick on form and he might be worth considering each way but Mutakayef is also worth considering each way because he will get his preferred good to firm ground. There isn’t anything that really appeals to me at bigger prices so my recommendation here would be to keep an eye out for bookies doing special offers or an enhanced price on Ribchester on the morning of the race. At the time of writing Ribchester is even money with Paddy Power and SkyBet and I think he should be more like 4/6 so I’ll have some of that and hopefully he can get our Ascot off to a strong start. SkyBet are offering up to £20 back as a free bet if you lose the first race for most existing customers so take advantage of that if you can.

3.05pm – Coventry Stakes

Brother Bear and Du Bruyne Horse both appeal on form, pedigree and the quality of their trainers but the one that I think could potentially be great value is one at a bigger price in the shape of NEBO, trained by Charlie Hills and ridden by Jim Crowley. He has only had one race but he beat a few well-bred horses that were gambled on that day and the form of that race is working out really well. If he is as good as the form suggests he could be the best horse in this race so I’m taking a punt on him at a nice each way price. Make sure you use one of the bookies paying 4 places.

3.40pm – King’s Stand Stakes

A fascinating race. Absolutely captivating.

Marsha won the Palace House Stakes last time in some style, giving weight away to her competitors. That was very impressive and she is hard to ignore here. Lady Aurelia was quite simply breathtaking last year at this meeting, winning the Queen Mary in a style I have never seen before for a top class sprint and might never see again. She shot off like a rocket and didn’t let up with Frankie just having to hold on for dear life. She was so far ahead it looked more like a three mile chase when they crossed the line. In racing circles the rule of thumb is that Wesley Ward’s horses don’t necessarily train on significantly from their two year old season to their three year old season – basically the man is an absolute master at getting his horses to peak for their first season – so that performance last year is being treated with caution by some very good judges who think that Lady Aurelia won’t progress as much as others this year. This is also a race open to horses of any age – not just three year olds – so she has that to contend with too. Although that win last year was visually stunning I’m not convinced the opposition were up to much (relative to the Group 2 status of the race) and the opposition this year in this Group 1 is much tougher. I think any value in the price for Lady Aurelia has gone now and I am therefore passing her by.

The one I like is the French horse SIGNS OF BLESSING who battered Profitable last time out in a Group 3 race in France. Crucially, it looks to me like he is better over 5 furlongs rather than the 6 furlongs he ran over at this meeting last year. He can shoot out of the stalls quickly, establish a lead and see them all off. Fasten your seatbelts for this one.

4.20pm – St James’s Palace Stakes

Another race with a short-priced favourite and this time it’s Churchill who is the odds-on jolly. It’s obvious why after two wins in both 2,000 Guineas races either side of the Irish Sea and it is very difficult to see past him this time. Barney Roy is the clear second-best and although he was close enough to Churchill at Newmarket, the Aiden O’Brien colt looks to me like the type who will continue to improve as the season progresses and I would be surprised to see Barney Roy reverse the form. Churchill isn’t the swashbuckling type who will win by several lengths (so I would avoid any temptation to back him to win by a distance) but he should get the job done again. The more adventurous of you might fancy a punt on the forecast but even then you’re not getting huge value. Churchill looks like one for the daft accumulators and not much else.

5.00pm – Ascot Stakes

Now we’re talking: a juicy big handicap to get our teeth into, with the added bonus of a bit of a jumps racing angle into the race too. Given the stamina test (2.5 miles) it is attractive for horses who ordinarily run over hurdles. The favourite Thomas Hobson is one such horse and while the appeal of a Wille Mullins trained horse with Ryan Moore on board is obvious the horse doesn’t look well handicapped to me and you need both a horse that stays the distance and one that is well handicapped for this. The answer for me is BEYOND CONCEIT who is trained by another jumps trainer – good old Nicky Henderson. He is no stranger to sending out winners in flat races and he won this very race a few years back. Beyond Conceit will stay no problem (he went close at Cheltenham over 3 miles in the Coral Cup) and is well-handicapped when you look at some of his previous flat races and his recent hurdles form, especially that close second place in the Coral Cup. I can definitely see this one emerging from the pack as they come round the final bend.

5.30pm – Windsor Castle Stakes

There is a huge field for this one but it’s not as tricky as the big handicaps because they are all off the same weight so in theory the best horse should win. The difficulty we have is the shortage of form given that they are all two year olds. This is one that I think the market has gotten spot on – I reckon Declarationofpeace is the best horse in the race and if he gets a good start he should leave these in his wake. Given the number of runners I don’t think 7/2 is particularly good value though and there is the chance that one of the two Wesley Ward runners – Nootka Sound or Elizabeth Darcy – is a monster but having not seen the horses in the flesh myself and not being too sure about their limited form I’m going to pass them over. I may have a sporting bet on Declarationofpeace near the off but I don’t think there is any particularly great value in the current price.

Good luck for day one – I’ll be back with more tips for the rest of the week so remember to pace yourself and don’t blow your betting bank on the first day. This week is going to be a marathon like the Ascot Stakes rather than a 5 furlong sprint in the Windsor Castle Stakes.


  • 2.30pm – Ribchester – 3pt win at evens with SkyBet or Paddy Power
  • 3.05pm – Nebo – 1pt each way at 12-1 with William Hill, Ladbrokes
  • 3.40pm – Signs of Blessing – 2pt each way at 13-2 with Coral, William Hill
  • 4.20pm – No Bet
  • 5.00pm – Beyond Conceit – 2pt each way at 15-2 with Bet365
  • 5.30pm – No Bet
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