Queen Anne Stakes

The curtain raiser at Royal Ascot has proved to be a banana skin race on the odd occasion for punters in recent times, Lord Glitters, Accidental Agent, and Triple Time laying testimony to that fact, but those shocks aside, the most reliable guide has been the Lockinge run at Newbury the previous month and this year’s renewal should have a big baring on events at the Berkshire venue.

It was well documented the brilliant ride Audience received by Rab Havlin but there’s little doubt he ended up on the quickest part of the track and whether he can repel CHARYN (best price 9-2) again on a much stiffer track is very much open to debate. 

Held up to track the nearside group, Silvestre De Sousa soon realised he was soon going to be cast adrift unless he tried to chase the front runner down and although his mount finished strongly to get with a length and a half of the eventual winner, the ship had unfortunately already sailed. 

However, it was still a magnificent effort by Roger Varian’s grey to come miles clear of the rest and on the evidence presented from that Group 1 affair, it seems strange that the well beaten Inspiral still remains ahead of him in the market despite all logic suggesting otherwise. 

Winner of the other two most important mile races of the season previously, the four-year-old heads into next week in the form of his life, proven at the track acts on any ground and with an attitude to die for, he simply must be the play at his current odds of 9-2.

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Queen Mary Stakes

Without question, the Queen Mary looks the most wide-open of the juvenile contests at Royal Ascot at this stage with cases to be made for a whole host of lightly raced and progressive fillies and among them, KASSAYA (best price 16-1) appeals as one who looks overpriced based on her two performances and overall profile. 

Well-touted prior to her debut at Salisbury, Andrew Balding’s travelled like the market vibes suggested she would but unfortunately for her supporters, once hitting the front over a furlong out, the combination of lack of match fitness and testing ground caught up with her late on and she was picked off by Pont Neuf, who had the benefit of previous experience. 

Heavily supported to make amends at Nottingham the following month, the daughter of Kingman once again impressed with the ease in which she went through the well-run affair at the Midland venue and this time, on better ground, she was able to quicken on demand to put the race to bed in the closing stages. 

Clocking a smart speed figure, as she did in defeat previously, she already has the body of work to suggest she is a pattern filly in the making and with the stiff five-furlongs likely to play into her strengths, this classy, well-bred filly can take high rank when the main prizes are being dished out. 

 

Ante post favourite, Make Haste, is undoubtedly one of the most intriguing runners to go to post and the acceleration she showed when making a sparkling winning debut at Naas was extremely impressive on the eye. She now must prove she can execute a similar job in a more strongly run environment against many potentially top-class fillies and, at this stage, it just simply all boils down to her price being too short without knowing the draw. 

Unbelievably, Aidan O’Brien has yet to capture the Queen Mary, but he does have a nice filly to take into battle this year in the shape of Heavens Gate. Promising on debut, she backed up the impression she created at Navan with a polished victory at The Curragh next time and she looks to have the size and scope to develop into a top-class sprinter. The same as Make Haste, however, she has yet to run in a strongly run race, so she does come with a good degree of guesswork attached. 

Owner Chris Hirst looks to have a strong hand with his pair, Marygate runner-up, Miss Lamai, and unlucky Hilary Needler loser MAW LAM (best price 50-1), and of the two, a case can be made for the latter being seriously overpriced. 

Impressive on her debut at Thirsk, she clocked the sort of time figure that suggested she was fully entitled to be favourite in the classier environment at Beverley and if it wasn’t for missing the break and finding herself in an uncompromising position at halfway, she would have undoubtedly justified heavy market support. For one who has twice proven herself in strongly run races, Adrian Nicholls’ filly has rather insultingly been chalked up at 50-1 with several firms and providing she receives a reasonable draw on the day, there’s every chance she will outrun those ludicrous-looking odds. 

King Charles III Stakes

Since the days of Blue Print and Battaash graced the sprinting scene, there hasn’t been a single horse dominate this division and with much depending on how the draw and pace pan out on the day, literally anything can win one of these top five-furlong races nowadays. 

With that in mind, it may pay to look outside the box in this Group 1 with TWILIGHT CALLS (best price 14-1), who has got the right tools in his armoury to win a race of this nature if things go his way. 

Runner-up up to the top-class Aussie sprinter Nature Strip in this race two years ago despite dwelling coming out of the gates, Henry Candy’s inmate once again did himself no favours with a slow start twelve months on, but that didn’t stop him from running a tremendous race to finish a never-nearer fourth behind winner Bradsell and top-class mare Highfield Princess. 

Off the track for 253 days prior to returning to action in The Palace House Stakes at Newmarket on 2000 Guineas Day, the six-year-old was understandably rusty in the early stages of a blistering gallop set up front, but to his great credit, he rallied strongly to the cause inside the final two furlongs and, rattling home once meeting the rising ground, he managed to muscle his way into a four-way go for top honours. 

Representing a yard that have still to find their feet so far this season, it can only be a matter of time before the Kingston Warren team turn the corner and it would come as little surprise if their stable star were to run his heart out in this race for the third successive season.