The feature for many on Day 1 of Royal Ascot, the King’s Stand Stakes showcases the best sprinters in the division, with a competitive field of eighteen all vying for the prize in this year’s renewal. See our King’s Stand tips and betting preview below.
IN SUMMARY: Due to the way she blasted away from the Queen Mary field last season, Lady Aurelia is likely to be hugely popular and the drop back to five is 100% in her favour so she has to be respected. That said, she will need to improve significantly on her recent runs if she or anyone is to be beating Sir Mark Prescott’s MARSHA, who produced a career best on her latest start to win the Palace House at Newmarket in game fashion. She was giving weight all around that day and she likely hit the front too soon, so better can be expected of her now she has race fitness under belt. Of the remainder, Signs Of Blessing looks likely to blaze a trail out in front and cannot be discounted, with Ardhoomey perhaps underestimated in the market under Colin Keane.
1 ALPHA DELPHINI – Talented on his day for Bryan Smart, returning to his best on his latest start to finish third to Priceless in the Temple Stakes at Haydock. He was only beaten around a length and although the bare form needs improving upon, the visor could eek out more from him. Conditions are to suit and Connor Beasley takes the ride, but he’s likely to just fall short of the placings today.
2 ARDHOOMEY – Flew past Washington DC to win a Group 2 at the Curragh in September and he has run two solid races this season for GM Lyons, finishing second in both the Woodlands Stakes and Sole Power Stakes the last twice. Good to firm ground will be of no problem to him and he has to be considered a contender with Colin Keane over to take the ride, as he’s very much capable on his day.
3 COTAI GLORY – Ran a stormer in the this race last season for Charlie Hills to finish second, though he has rarely matched that form subsequently and has been well beaten in two runs this season for connections. He was last seen in the Temple Stakes at Haydock where he could only manage a tame eleventh, behind a few of these and never looking likely to get involved at any stage. At his best he’d have an each way chance, but that cannot be guaranteed and he’s too risky today.
4 FINAL VENTURE – Has been performing to his best this season for Paul Midgley, posting a career best on his latest start to win a Listed Race at Haydock eleven days ago. Clearly in great heart but this is a big step up in class and it looks to be a bridge to far for him, as others have achieved far more and he should simply be outclassed today under rider Pat Dobbs.
5 GOLDREAM – Won this race back in 2015 when getting up on the post under today’s rider Martin Harley, running well enough on two starts this season for Robert Cowell. He has placed on both runs, with him only being around half a length behind Priceless on his latest start at Haydock in Group 2 company. He has conditions to suit and clearly likes the track, so he should give a good account for the in form Cowell yard. He’s an each way contender at a good price, but he’s likely to find at least one too good this time around.
6 GRACIOUS JOHN – Had a productive winter on the all weather for David Evans, posting a career best back in April when second in the All-Weather Sprint Championsihp at Lingfield. That form however isn’t enough in this sort of company and he’d likely want the ground softer, last season well beaten on good to firm ground in a Group 3 at Newmarket. He was a long way behind Marsha on that occasion and he just doesn’t look up to it at this level.
7 JUST GLAMOROUS – Overcame Marsha when winning a Group 3 at Chantilly back in September by a wide margin but he has only beaten one rival in three subsequent runs for trainer Ronald Harris, finishing plum last in the Sole Power Sprint Stakes at the Curragh when last seen in May. Hard to see him reversing form with the horses who so easily brushed him away on that occasion and he’s likely set for another struggle.
8 MEDICEAN MAN – Course and distance winner who often runs his best races at this track, finishing second here back in October in Listed company. He has however run two poor races this season out in the middle east, well beaten in Doha before he suffered the same fate in Meydan. He looks an unlikely winner of this as he’d probably need softer ground so he could throw a spanner in the works, so he’s likely best watched.
9 MUTHMIR – Smart at his very best for William Haggas, winning the Group 2 King George Stakes at Goodwood back in 2015 when ahead of Take Cover. He looked somewhere near that form when winning at Chantilly in Group 2 company sixteen days ago, though more is needed now upped into a veyr competitive race against some rivals in their prime. He has each way claims at his best with conditions to suit, but it’s hard to see him winning this.
10 ORNATE – One win from fifteen starts, with that sole victory coming when he won a Ripon maiden back in July 2015 which has to be of immediate concern. He has made a good start for his new yard (Robert Cowell), finishing second in Group 3 company at Newmarket but he was well beaten on his latest start behind Final Venture which gives him something to find. Eleven pounds to find with the top rated Lady Aurelia and he looks unlikely to land a blow in this.
11 PROFITABLE – Won this race last season when keeping on gamely to deny his rivals in the final furlong, though he has no perhaps gone on as many would have liked since. His form has largely regressed since and that theme continued when he returned at Deavuille in May, finishing second and easily brushed aside by Signs Of Blessing. A return to better ground isn’t sure to suit as he seems better on ground with some give in it and it seems unlikely he’ll be retaining his crown for Clive Cox. He has each way claims if back to his best, but he looks vulnerable for win purposes.
12 SIGNS OF BLESSING – French raider who was in front about 50 yards from the line in the Golden Jubilee at the 2016 Royal meeting before finishing a very respectable third. He had made the majority of the running that day, setting it up for the closers and the effort probably didn’t get the respect that it deserved. He has been seen just once in 2017, winning a Group 3 at Deauville over this trip. He tanked along in front, giving eleven pounds and a beating to Profitable, if the ground turns soft, he has a huge chance. That however doesn’t look likely and it’s going to be very tough for him to stick this out, with closers likely to be coming from all signs, so he looks to be fighting for places only in this.
13 TAKE COVER – Ten year old for David Griffiths who has come up short in this race in the past three renewals, only able to muster up eleventh in the contest last season and although he produced fine efforts afterwards, he has been well beaten in three runs since. He returned this season when only seventh at Haydock in the Temple Stakes, a good way behind Pricless and Goldrean after fading badly late on. He should improve for the run but a lead in this looks very unlikely with Signs Of Blessing likely to tear away out front, so he looks destined for a struggle again.
14 WASHINGTON DC – Very capable at his best for Aidan O’Brien, beating Aardhoomey three starts ago in a Listed race though he has come up short against a number of these rivals in the past. He has been beaten by Marsha twice in his last five runs and that rival looks to firmly have his measure and it wasn’t pleasing to see him well beaten at Haydock in the Temple when last seen. Will need all the gaps to appear as he charges from the back and he has the best chance with Ryan Moore board, but he looks destined for places only on previous form.
15 WILLYTHECONQUEROR – Can give his running in Listed company for William Muir but that seems his limit as he was soundly put in his place in Group company when last seen in Deauville, left in the dust by the eventual winner Muthmir. A turnaround in form would be a big surprise and he looks set for a very minor role in this under Martin Dwyer, as he is simply outclassed.
16 MARSHA – Continued her upward curve when scoring in the Prix de l’Abbaye to close out her 2016 season, taking the step up from winning Listed races to a Group 1 in her stride. She was again successful when landing the Palace House Stakes on her seasonal debut, giving weight away all round. That was arguably a career best despite it being a Group 3, given the penalty, more so as she was beaten first time up as both a two and three year old. She tanked through the Newmarket contest, probably hitting the front a little sooner than was ideal, looking a little in need of the line close home. She will strip fitter now and she arrives boasting the strongest form, so looks more than capable of beating this field to cement herself as one of the top sprinters in the division.
17 PRICELESS – Has been dropped to five furlongs on her latest five runs and that has paid dividends for the Clive Cox trained filly, winning two of the four. She was last seen winning at Haydock in May in the Temple Stakes ahead of Goldream in good performance and she looks likely to hold that form on equal terms. More is needed if she’s to be threatening the principles, but she is still lightly raced at the age of four and with conditions to suit, she looks a lively each way contender under Adam Kirby.
18 LADY AURELIA – The undisputed highlight stealer from the 2016 meeting. She blew the Queen Mary field to pieces, recording a time on soft ground just 0.09 of a second slower than Acapulco had the year before on good to firm. She won the Prix Morny over six furlongs afterwards but she looked vulnerable close home, with the step down to this trip surely where she should stay. Both a fillies and an age allowance in her favour, she is likely to prove popular with the punters and justifiably so, though her form to Marsha does look inferior and she does need to back up last year’s Queen Mary form, which isn’t guaranteed.