Former Talksport man Charlie McCann previews the runners and riders and marks your card on day one of Royal Ascot. View Selections below
York stage a cracking card on Saturday with the feature event the 6f Bond Tyres Trophy one of the most competitive 3-y-old sprint handicaps in the calendar. The ground is currently good to soft and with more rain forecast it could easily become pretty testing by the time they go to post.
Royal Ascot begins on Tuesday and Her Majesty the Queen will lead the Royal procession about 2 o’clock followed half an hour later by the magnificent unbeaten Frankel who has to be pointed in the right direction coming out of the stalls.
Trainer Sir Henry Cecil adores Royal Ascot and I believe he will want Frankel to show his true ability and we may see something special with the forecast good to soft ground ideal for the four-year-old.
Excelebration was beaten 5l at Newbury in the Lockinge and there is little to suggest he will get any nearer to the son of Galileo tomorrow. The O’Brien runner is Evens with BetVictor in the market without Frankel and I think he can follow the Cecil runner home albeit at a distance.
Having backed Wizz Kid last week for the King’s Stand Stakes I cannot desert the French raider although she may arguably prefer softer ground. The hope is there is no track bias as the mare is drawn 15 of 23 and, although she will need luck in running, she merits each way support although for a 23-runner race there are few confirmed front-runners.
Power will go off a warm order for the St James’s Palace Stakes but there doesn’t appear to be the confidence behind the horse as with some from Ballydoyle and I am going to take a punt on lightly-raced The Nile who should appreciate the return to a mile having been beaten by Aljamaaheer at Newmarket over 7f last time.
Most Improved is a horse I have been keen on all winter but draw 15 of 16 may be difficult to overcome for Kieren Fallon in a competitive but sub-standard renewal.
The unbeaten Irish raider Dawn Approach will be all the rage for the Coventry Stakes but I was impressed with the debut success of Cristoforo Colombo at Navan and trainer Aidan O’Brien has saddled the winner of the corresponding race twice in the last five years. The form of that win has not exactly been franked and Dawn Approach has achieved more on the racetrack but the hope is that the selection improves past the Bolger runner.
The progressive Al Khawaneej must go close in the Ascot Stakes over the marathon 2m 4f but the Pipe family have a good record in the race and I like the booking of Paul Hanagan for Ashbrittle who has a favourable draw in stall 4. The selection looks as if he has been laid out for the race and if on a going day can cause a shock.
Lyric Ace is a very sharp juvenile and can get the Richard Hannon bandwagon rolling in the Windsor Stakes which closes day one. A winner of two of his three starts he has won on the soft so there are no concerns on account of the ground and he looks the one to beat in the finale.