British racing hopes to bounce back with a mouth-watering schedule of top races from June 1, when the government could allow the return of professional sport. With 20 Pattern races, including the 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas, scheduled for the first week, punters have plenty to look forward to.
The Coronation Cup is set to be run on June 5 and often involves a heavyweight clash between older horses. Last year, Kew Gardens was narrowly denied by Defoe at Epsom but could go one better this year. The 2018 St Leger winner has regularly competed at the highest level for trainer Aidan O’Brien and ended last season by narrowly denying Stradivarius in the Long Distance Cup at Ascot.
The Qipco 2,000 Guineas is traditionally run at the end of May but has been pencilled in for the first weekend of June. It is the long-term target of star juvenile Pinatubo, who heads the betting at 11-10. He had a perfect juvenile campaign for trainer Charlie Appleby, winning all five of his races, and is arguably the most exciting prospect to look forward to on the Flat this season.
Leading owner Khalid Abdullah will be looking forward to June 7 more than most. He owns top Qipco 1,000 Guineas prospect Quadrilateral, who is a clear favourite for the Classic at 4-1. Trained by Roger Charlton, she made a huge statement on her most recent start when jumping up to Group 1 level and maintaining her unbeaten record in the Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket.
Ascot Gold Cup
The Royal meeting is set to take place behind closed doors in its usual slot between June 16 and 20. While there will be some changes to the order of the races, it will no doubt still attract the biggest names in the sport and few have a larger reputation than Stradivarius. He will likely bid for a hat-trick of Gold Cup victories for the top partnership of John Gosden and Frankie Dettori.
King’s Stand Stakes
This blistering 5f cavalry charge is always a highlight at Royal Ascot. Superstar sprinter Battaash has finished runner-up in this contest for the last two years but is well-fancied to make amends this season and is the 7-2 ante-post favourite. He has been a bit hit-and-miss during the last few years but when he is at his scintillating best, as he was when winning the Nunthorpe, he is almost unstoppable.