A field of sixteen go to post as Royal Ascot 2017 kicks off with the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes, with some extremely talented and classy horses competing for the brilliant prize. Our Queen Anne Stakes tips and betting preview is below.
IN SUMMARY: Progressive as a three year old, RIBCHESTER picked up where he left off when storming away to win the Lockinge Stakes at Nebwury on his British return despite his pacemaker missing the break, making all in impressive fashion. The return to quicker ground should suit him even better and he performs well here at Ascot over this course and distance, so it’s very hard to see him getting beaten as he’s the class of the field. He had Lightening Spear well held in second in the Lockinge and although he should improve for the better conditions, the likely main danger will come from Mutakayyef, who was a brilliant third in last season’s Juddemonte International at York.
1 AMERICAN PATRIOT – American raider for Todd Pletcher who won a US Grade 1 on his latest start at Keeneland over the mile distance, all out to get up close home in a bunched finish. Clearly not in the same ball park as last year’s winner Tepin but he has the assistance of Frankie Dettori and he remains progressive, with the good to firm ground to suit him. He would have an each way chance if Frankie can work his magic on the son of War Front.
2 COUGAR MOUNTAIN – Won the Group 2 Joel Stakes as a three year old back in September but he hasn’t returned in the same form in three runs this season for Aidan O’Brien, with his best run coming when a third in the Group 3 Amethyst Stakes behind Custom Cut. That leaves him with lots to find and although the ground will suit, it would be a huge shock if he can match his third in this contest back in 2013.
3 DEAUVILLE – Front runner who is the chosen Aidan O’Brien runner for Ryan Moore, winning the Huxley Stakes at Chester back in May over the 1m 2f distance and he’s certainly not short of the pace for the mile distance. He will have a contested lead with Godolphin deploying a front runner, but if ignoring those fractions and going his pace it wouldn’t be implausible that he could hold on to a place as the ground will suit him hugely.
4 DUTCH CONNECTION – Has won all his races at the seven furlong trip for Charlie Hills, with the latest of those four starts ago in the Group 2 Lennox Stakes with an impressive performance to shrug off his rivals. He hasn’t however been seen since two poor runs in France and the US and he looks vulnerable on his return from a 227 day absence against race fit rivals who look to have superior form regardless. Likely to be better Group 1 opportunities for him in the future.
5 DUTCH UNCLE – Bought for 36,000gns for the sole purpose of acting as the pacemaker for Lightning Spear, with his form nowhere near getting him involved in this under Martin Harley. Will fold away tamely in the final few furlongs.
6 ENNAADD – Came clear for an emphatic win at Kempton on the all weather back in November and matched that with a good second behind Tabarrak in the Paradise Stakes here over C&D, though that form isn’t enough in this company despite the brilliant form of the Roger Varian yard at present. Andrea Atzeni retains the ride but hard to see him landing a blow in this as he faces a tall order against some very tough rivals.
7 JALLOTA – Useful six year old for Charlie Hills who has run well in defeat the last twice, finishing second in the Group 3 John Of Gaunt at Haydock when last seen ten days ago. This however is a different kettle of fish and is simply a bridge too far despite having conditions to suit and Silverstre De Sousa taking the ride which is an obvious plus as he is riding out of his skin at present. Regardless, that isn’t enough to see him competitive in this.
8 KASPERSKY – The ride for Australian jockey Michelle Payne, the six year old has run respectably the last twice for Jane Chapple-Hyam, last season finishing second in a handicap at Nottingham when last seen. This is obviously far tougher though and despite conditions being in his favour, he has nothing in his record to suggest he can land a blow in this, so is best ignored despite the interesting jockey booking.
9 KOOL KOMPANY – Won the Listed Doncaster Mile back in April but he has been unable to match that form in two subsequent runs for Richard Hannon, keeping on well at Epsom in the Diomed when last seen but never able to threaten. Jumps up massively in class and this looks an impossible task under Pat Smullen, having eleven pounds to find with Ribchester and he’s best watched.
10 LIGHTENING SPEAR – Smart son of Pivotal for Qatar Racing who has won five of his fourteen starts, including a career best when third in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes over course and distance on Champions Day. He was however a length behind Ribchester that day and despite his brilliant record fresh, he was well beaten by the same rival in the Lockinge at Newbury on return and he looks to face a tough task in reversing terms with that rival now race fit. The better ground could see him getting closer to him, but a turnaround in fortunes looks very unlikely and he’s fighting for places only under Jamie Spencer.
11 MUTAKAYYEF – Had a brilliant season in 2016 for connections, looking better than ever and posting a career best when storming away to win a Group 2 over C&&D in July 2016. His partially unlucky third in the Juddmonte International at York in August shows how smart he can be on his day and he has race fitness after a respectable effort in the Dubai Turf at Meydan in March. He runs well here at Ascot and has the ground in his favour, so he looks to be the main threat to Ribchester on the bare form figures.
12 OH THIS IS US – Improving four year old who posted a career best when storming through to win the Spring Trophy at Haydock in May, with that form working out well as the second Absolutely So went on to win the John Of Gaunt Stakes two weeks ago. This however is far tougher and although he was unlucky in the Diomed when last seen, he looks likely to be found wanting with a huge amount to find with a few of these.
13 RIBCHESTER – improved all season as a three year old, winning the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot before landing a maiden Group 1 triumph in the Jacques Le Marois. He began his 2017 campaign in the Lockinge at Newbury, looking as if he had come on again for another winter on his back, travelling like a tank before easily disposing of Lightning Spear. That Lockinge form sets the clear form standard of the race and a repeat of that performance by him will see him very tough to beat. He’ll have likely improved since judging by how progressive he was last season and he is the one to side with as conditions have also fallen into his favour.
14 TOSCANINI – Useful enough on his day for Richard Fahey, winning a Group 3 at the Curragh back in August but he isn’t up to a race like this and his sole purpose in the contest is to act as the pace maker for Ribchester. He wasn’t able to do that on his latest start when botching the start in the Lockinge; hard to see him playing a role once they hit the two furlong pole, as he should drop away tamely.
15 MISS TEMPLE CITY – Has ran well twice here at Ascot, finishing fourth in the Coronation Stakes back in 2015 and she matched that effort when fourth in the Duke Of Cambridge Stakes when last seen at this venue in 2016. She has run well enough in the meantime back in American for the Graham Motion yard, winning her latest start in the Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes at Del Mar in December. Conditions will suit and there is no reason to suggest she wont run well again here and she could snatch a place at her best.
16 SPECTRE – French raider who is capable at Group level at her best, finishing second in the Group 1 Prix du Moulin de Longchamp back in September. That form does leave her with something to find and she has been out of form in three runs this season, so she looks to be facing an impossible task under Stephane Pasquier. She will appreciate conditions, but that is about the only positives that can be drawn and she looks booked for a struggle.