ROYAL Ascot 2017 gets underway with the Group One Queen Anne Stakes (2.30pm), run over Ascot’s straight mile.
A massive field of 16 is set to go to post and features the first of a number of short-priced ‘bankers’ this week.
Ribchester is no bigger than 4/5 and he will feature in pretty much every Royal Ascot multiple this week.
Richard Fahey’s four-year-old was a very impressive winner of last month’s Lockinge Stakes at Newbury.
That was the second Group One win of his career and he was also successful at this meeting 12 months ago in the Group Two Jersey Stakes.
Although comfortable on soft ground, he has won on good-to-firm as well so conditions shouldn’t be a problem.
His form is better than anything else in the field and there is very little not to like – apart from his price.
Perhaps his draw in stall one isn’t ideal, but I don’t think that will be enough to beat him.
Lightning Spear, who finished second at Newbury, is entitled to get slightly closer to him back on a quicker surface, but he still has plenty to find.
I’m not going to suggest backing an odds-on shot in the very first race of the meeting and will instead take a punt on an outsider in the without Ribchester market.
OH THIS IS US has been a revelation this season. He was narrowly beaten in the Lincoln at Doncaster in April but has registered two wins since then at Bath and Haydock.
Richard Hannon’s inmate was unlucky in the Group Three Diomed Stakes at Epsom last time where he was denied a clear run in the final couple of furlongs.
Admittedly this is another big step up in class for him, but he will appreciate the strong pace and I can see him sneaking into the top three or four.
He is 33/1 in the main market and around 22/1 without Ribchester which is decent value.
Quite rightly the Group race action gets most of the attention on day one, although for me the most interesting betting heat of the day is the 2m4f Ascot Stakes (5.00pm).
The National Hunt trainers have bossed this contest in recent years, with nine of the last 10 winners coming from a yard normally associated with jumpers.
Willie Mullins has won two of the last five renewals, both with Ryan Moore in the saddle, and the pair team up again with Thomas Hobson.
Even though this seven-year-old has won over as far as this when hurdling, his best Flat form was over 1m4f while soft ground suits him well.
I’m happy to take him on at 10/3 with 188BET and would instead advise backing Alan King’s WHO DARES WINS at 6/1 with the same firm.
He ran really well to finish fourth in the Chester Cup last month, finishing strongly and looking like this step up in trip would help.
The ground should be fine and he is a fresh horse having had only three starts in 2017.
I’m also going to throw a few quid-each way at Fahey’s SUEGIOO at a massive 25/1.
At this meeting last year he finished a respectable eighth behind Order Of St George in the Ascot Gold Cup.
He didn’t show much for the rest of last season, but now appears to be running back into form.
His second to Yorkidding at Haydock last month was a step in the right direction and he just looks too big a price.
Oh This Is Us (w/o Ribchester) e/w 2.30pm Royal Ascot
Who Dares Wins 5.00pm Royal Ascot
Suegioo 5.00pm Royal Ascot