6 Horses to Watch at Royal Ascot

Royal Ascot is very nearly upon us, and we’re excited to say the least. Five days of world-famous fillies competing for more than £5m of prize money – what’s not to like?

You can take a look at our Royal Ascot free betting tips and form guide page which looks at each of the 30 races in detail and picks the most reliable, lucrative Ascot racing tips.

But here we’re taking a look at the 6 horses that – win or lose – everyone will be keeping an eye out for.

Which fillies and colts could be set to light up this year’s event?

1. A Shin Hikari (Prince of Wales Stakes)

After dominating a top-drawer field in the Priz D’Ispahan in Chantilly – so reaffirming his big-race credentials both in Europe and on heavy ground – the Japanese A Shin Hikari is the world’s highest-rated horse and has been made the heavy favourite for the Prince of Wales Stakes. He oozes star quality.

It’s true that the five year old’s temperament can come into question, but there’s no disputing his ability. A Japanese horse has never won at Royal Ascot. Could A Shin Hikari be that horse?  

2. Gold-Fun (Diamond Jubilee Stakes)

The Diamond Jubilee Stakes once again features a number of the world’s most eye-catching horses, but it’s Richard Gibson’s Hong Kong-based Gold-Fun who could be the race’s most intriguing international contender. The inexplicably-hyphenated gelding has been one of the Far East’s most consistent runners in recent years, winning 10 times during his career in Hong Kong, although he’s not raced outside of the country since the heady days of 2012. If anyone has the maturity to make the journey with the minimum of fuss, it could be this seven-year old.  

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3. Galileo Gold / Awtaad / The Gurkha (St. James Palace Stakes)

Forgive us for including three horses instead of one, but this triumvirate of 2016 Guineas winners promises to be one of the highlights of Royal Ascot – if not the summer racing season. The St. James Palace traditionally faces the winners of the English and Irish 2000 Guineas against each other, and the added presence of French guineas champion The Gurkha only serves to whet the appetite further. Picking a winner is tough, but Awtaad probably has the slight edge after winning out over Gallileo Gold in the Irish 2,000 Guineas.

Hugo Palmer, Galileo Gold’s owner is very excited about three of the season’s most impressive horses facing off against each other. H said to the Racing Post: “The St James’s Palace is meant to be the championship decider between the two Guineas winners and if The Gurkha comes as well what a race we have to savour – better than the Derby.” It’s tough to argue with that.

4. Mongolian Saturday (King’s Stand Stakes)

Enebish Ganbat has never had a runner in a UK race, but the pedigree of his horse Mongolian Saturday over the pond is unquestionable. The veteran US horse won the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint in October at odds of 20-1 and has since been aimed for the King Stand Stakes. At a current price of 16-1, he’s not one of the front runners but his class could see him do something special.

Ganbat reportedly forbids his staff from calling Mongolian Saturday by his given name, instead instructing them to call him Champion. Eyes will be on this veteran US runner to see if he’s victorious in Ascot’s big sprints.

5. Acapulco (King’s Stand Stakes / Commonwealth Cup)

Acapulco is a big deal – and a big horse. The huge three-year old filly was described by Wesley Ward as ‘monstrous’ and ‘like a leopard’ after she obliterated the field at last year’s Queen Mary Stakes, and although she followed that race up with a gung-ho second-place finish in the Nunthorpe Stakes at York she’s been primed for making another big splash this week.

After an easy first win of the season in a warm up at Churchill Downs, the Magnier/Tabor/Smith filly is being teamed up with Ryan Moore for a shot at either the King’s Stand Stakes or the Commonwealth. More intriguingly still, Ward told the Daily Mail that “there is a possibility” she’ll race in both.

If she appears in one, it’ll be interesting. If she turns up to the Commonwealth Cup on Friday having already won Tuesday’s King Stand Stakes, it’ll be huge.

6. Undrafted (Diamond Jubilee Stakes)

Another Wesley Ward horse has flown into Ascot looking to make it two years on the spin. Undrafted beat the much-fancied Brazen Beau last June to win the Diamond Jubilee Stakes and has had an impressive time of it since. At 6, he may be advancing in years but he’s in good nick and recently won the Shakertown Stakes at Keeneland (an event he finished third in last year).

The last horse to win the race in consecutive years was Right Boy in 1959 when it was the Cork and Orrery Stakes. Other horses may be fancied slightly better, but Undrafted is in decent shape for doing something special.

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(Image: Mike Fleming under CC BY-SA 2.0)
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